Comparison of fabric collage template to original photo
Creative Chrysalis

120 – Passive Observer

June 8, 2021 By

The amusement park dark ride that I’ve been working on has a large open front where people can get into the vehicles (wheelchairs) that carry them through the attraction. Naturally there should be a spectator. I took a photo of my son who happened to be wearing the hoodie and sweats that seemed right for this lone figure.

photo showing templates and cut fabric
Tiny scissors are essential for detailed cutting.

I used my full-size drawing to determine what size the figure should be. A black and white print is sufficient to understand the shading. Since it is difficult to decide what exactly is shadow, and what is highlight, I drew onto tracing paper first to confirm where the edges would be (see top photo, middle), and then I traced a copy onto freezer paper. Tracing is so much easier with the use of a lightbox. I kept my original tracing intact while I made templates for pants, shirt and shoes. If something goes wrong and I need to make more copies of these templates, I trace the original again, so all the edges will be in the same places. I used an x-acto knife to cut the intricate freezer paper shapes.

The highlight (light) color is the entire shape, with no intricate inside cutting. I put fusible web onto the back of the dark shadow fabric before I iron on the template. The tiny details are cut into the fabric with very sharp scissors (since I have already cut the paper, I will not damage my fabric-only scissors.) The outer-most edges of both light and dark fabric shapes are exactly the same, making it easy to position the dark on top of the light and fuse into place.

fabric collage of a person
The fabric collage character has the melancholic look that I wanted.

While writing, the word spectator brought specter to mind. How very appropriate for a rather dark, melancholic figure in this particular place of the amusement park. A definition of specter: 1 : a visible disembodied spirit : ghost. 2 : something that haunts or perturbs the mind.