3D Illustration, Process

The Elegant Path

Backcountry Magazine is the leading publication in the USA covering all things skiing off-piste, including editorial and literary writing on Telemark, AT and ski-mountaineering adventures. They recently approached me to illustrate a two page spread for the January edition. The story, called The Elegant Path, described a backcountry skier’s morning ascent up through a snow-covered pine forest, where he mentally works through the issues of the past week, work stress, family obligations, etc. The piece was very esoteric, and described the author’s feeling of flow as he moved through the trees, finding the path of least resistance, all stresses leaving his body as his mind became centered.

I envisioned a photo illustration and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try light-painting. Moving a light source across the camera’s frame as the shutter is held open, the light’s path is recorded in time. I decided to team up with my good friend and photographer Fred Bohm, from Freed Motion, and we figured the best solution would be to build a miniature papercraft forest, and shoot it from above.

At Peril the trees were designed in Illustrator, then drawn with a Graphtec plotter onto black construction paper. The trees were cut out by hand and pieced together with hot glue.



The scene was then set up at Freed Motion’s studio. Notice the single LED, connected to the end of a coat-hanger (below) which was used to paint the light-path.  Multiple shots were taken in order to get the perfect path, as well as shots with ambient light to create shadows on the snow. The shots were then composited in Photoshop, and color-corrected. The end result resembles a low-poly, 3D rendered environment…and it’s pretty cool that it was all made of paper.





Overall it was a fun project to work on, and it’s always great to collaborate with another creative studio here in Denver. Below is the final spread, courtesy of Backcountry Magazine.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 12.05.16 PM


One thought on “The Elegant Path

  1. Pingback: The Elegant Path: Behind the Backstory

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