The Witch Who Turned Girls into Birds

This is the last (for now) of the illustrations I have created for my self initiated project that was inspired by fairy tales. I set out to create ten images (In the end I did eleven) as a way to improve my illustration skill. This image was done several months after the last image hence the difference in style. I'm currently enjoying a bolder, simpler style; this is the only image out of the 11 that was done in Illustrator (with the texturing in Photoshop). All the others were created entirely in Photoshop.

Jorinde and Jaringel by Jon Milet Baker Jorinde and Jaringel by Jon Milet Baker

This particular illustration is for the Brothers Grimm tale of Jorinde and Joringel. It is the tale of a witch who lives in a secluded castle, and a couple of lovers. The lovers, despite warnings, stray too close to the witches castle. Joringel is frozen in place like a tree, unable to move or talk while the witch turns Jorinde into a Nightingale. Joringel become free once the witch is gone and flees to a nearby village. Pining for Jorinde, Joringel takes a job as a shepherd and one night has a vivid dream about a magical flower that can break the witches spells.

He sets out on a quest to find this flower, searching in valleys and woods near and far when finally on the ninth day he finds it. He returns to the castle and senses the witch approaching, but this time he is not turned into stone. See int he flower, the witch turns and runs into the castle and Joringel follows her into a great hall filled with bird cages. She grabs one, runs for the exit and Joringel chases after her. As he catches up, he touches the witch and the Nightingale in the cage with the magic flower. The witch is destroyed and Jorinde is reunited with her lover.

Lessons learnt about fairy tales

In researching this project I read a lot of fairy tale and one thing that struck me is that other than the popular, well known fairytales the others are pretty obscure. I no doubt heard the above tale, for example, as a child at some point but it is quite an under-rated tale. I think that it is as good as any of the more popular ones. Equally though, there are also many very random tales, with little or no meaning or narrative.

I think for me, being interested in mythology, it was the realisation that many of these tales draw inspiration from far older tales and myths. Not only that, some have origins in far distant lands. A clear example of how ideas develop over centuries.

Lessons learnt in illustration

In regards to the tools - I guess the key thing for me was that I finally cracked illustrator and now love it. One of the barriers for me was the pen tool, I preferred how that worked in Photoshop, for example that I didn't have to keep remembering to press A, before P, to access the direct selection tool mid drawing a path. Additionally I came across a fantastic Illustrator primer on Skillshare by Brad Woodard and a series of excellent Digital Tutors tutorials (I highly recommend both for anyone teaching themselves this excellent tool).

In regards to discovering my own style? Well, it's ever evolving but this image is where I am currently at. It is also evident to me I like flat colours, silhouettes and nothing too overly rendered.