building Derry

1. The City of Light and Shaddow

Stephen King IT ES Derry Fanart Pennywise Robert Gray model diorama

Any project plan is dominated by a basic idea that you want to realize more than anything else – it is a visionary guideline, a basic tenor of intense atmosphere that you want to come to life. With Bookholm’s »Catacombs« it was the concept of an ant farm as a cut-away, with »Inazea Anazazi« it was posing and facial expression of the character and with the model »Traumschaffende« (Dream Creators) it was the concept of a specific emotional experience.

 

In Derry’s case it was light moods. Any time I tried to envision Derry and his underground tunnels, I felt it was less a geographical issue but more a prevailing mood of a special atmosphere: It was the cityscape of the Fifties, bathed into the orange and golden colors of summer day at sundown – the wet and moldy tunnels, glowing in the green light of death. Orange vs. green - two worlds contrasting to each other in complementary colors.

 

Prior to the start of the Derry Project it became clear that for the intended effect of the scenes the use of light would be of major importance – above and underground as well.

The underground tunnels were relatively easy to manage. Since Derry’s underworld was supposed to be built inside the cabinet where, of course, would not be too much daylight anyhow, the only opportunity left was to illuminate the scene.

 

It was necessary to prepare light sources during the construction (in this case green-painted LED string lights) that would paint the tunnels in a creepy light.

 

Basically, this method was great because the arc of suspense could be manipulated perfectly. There is light where it should be bright and there is darkness where shaddows are needed – everything in hand.

Stephen King IT ES Derry Fanart Pennywise Robert Gray model diorama

Things were different with the upper world. How do I create the warm light and shadow play of a lovely summer evening without using a floor lamp to illuminate the scene?

 

I decided to follow an idea that has always been tempting to me – I wanted to include the moody light straight into my paint job, painted light and shadow effects instead of creating those by real light sources.

Since I have been into oil painting quite a lot in my younger years, I knew how to apply shadow casting and contrasts whereas the coloring turned out to be quite tricky.

Colors always take effect with each other and eyes can easily be deceived. What appears to be gray in yellow light is green in fact; actually anthracite turns to a dark muddy ocher... etc. Holy mackerel! To avoid a headache I decided to get help from town and country photographs plus graphical software on the question: what shades in what point. (»Please, suggest the coloring for exactly THIS shaddow… Ooh, what a kinky graygreenbrownish purple…«). The results were transferred into my coloring.

 

To complete the effect, a red glooming sky formed the background – this draped on a plate in the back that was to be integrated with the prospective conversion of the cabinet itself.

2. Distorted World

The floor plan of Derry’s surface with a view towards downtown was supposed to largely cover the layout of the tunnels below: A downtown streetscape (as known from the novel) outlined with buildings on both sides. A nice basic idea: the same floor plan above and below, however, appearance and atmosphere fundamentally different. So far, so ambitious. But how do you build a long drawn streetscape in scale 1/25 with a maximum depth of 60 cm?

 

A pretty unhappy enterprise considering the local realities because no matter what you do after 60 cm you will have inevitably reached the rear board. The length of 60 cm gives room for about two buildings on each side which would never appear to be a line of houses. In my distress I finally took to a technical trick that I dearly hoped would finally work: the perspective distortion.

This explains why all my buildings were finally built distorted and bent. They grow smaller toward the rear board down to half its size just like the power poles. In so doing I used the vanishing point projection – one on the ground, another one for the distortion aloft – from which I took on-site measurement of my buildings.

 

My point lines became visible by crisscross wired strings that marked the slanted roof-edges or other bending. It was all 100 percent experimental but it did work. The view down Witcham Street toward the center of town now provides the desired depth effect within a small space.

 

All I can say is: I feel infinitely relieved.

3. Rock'n'roll All Over

As I said in my presentation, the realization of the Derry Project was preceded by a very long search for a suitable outer design. For many years I flirted with the idea of an »IT-Project« of my own. It always failed because I could not think of an adequate concept that would cope with the spirit of the original. I wanted IT to be something special.

One morning the solution came from my long-time companion and muse Markus. Between coffee and desk he told me about his dream the night before. It was the dream of an underground scenario that took place in different cabinet drawers. The dream in drawers depicted a world that was meant to open up in slices. And look – it didn’t take more: A longtime question was answered with these few words: My Derry was bound to be integrated in an old stereo/tv unit – and even without drawers, you could flip it open. Well, whatever could have been a better framework for King's »IT«, this ode to the Fifties, this sentimental-bloody token of love for an era of deceased rock stars with their quotations and allusions, better than a classic stereo unit?

 

A quick web check on furniture of the Fifties told me that corner units used to be in vogue at that time. Those angled cabinets used to have a low, triangle-shaped design and thus a wider base and more room for construction than the classic straight units. Just perfect for my planning.

The rest of the story may be taken from my construction report. Once I obtained an original stereo cabinet, I had to grind it down, do a paint job with the proper black color (-> »Into The Black«) and then start with the Derry construction itself.  

 

And with this in mind we come at last to the photographs of my construction documentary.