Snow White and the Hunstman

In honor of the recently released prequel I'm posting my Snow White and the Huntsman Inspiration post. I started writing this post a long time ago but wanted to rewatch the movie before I posted, however now seems to be the perfect time. As with my previous inspiration post on a movie I can't post any images so to see what I'm referencing watch the movie or view my pinterest board or google search.

When I started to think about movies that visually inspired me this was one of the first that came to mind, I think I had seen it most recently and hadn't expect to be so inspired, so it stuck in my head. The entire movie has some amazing visuals but what I loved the most, which might not surprise you if you read my last movie inspiration post on Maleficent, was the beautiful spot in the woods Snow White stumbled upon. Full of made up flowers based on familiar flowers but the wrong color or shape, familiar animals such as foxes and deer but also faries, cyclops mushrooms, and more. The scenery is so similar to out reality but full of little details that make it just a little bit more.

Snow White finds stumbles upon a place in the forest that is so different from the rest that the juxtaposition helps elevate it to an otherworldly place augmented by little details added to its wildlife that are beyond our world but without completely diverging from the familiar. It feels as if you could stumble upon such a place while you explore. There's an ethereal feeling to the moment when Snow White greets the stag at a very old tree, all creatures come together and the world is at peace.

I love the little details in the fairies, with their little elf ears and wings that practically disappear when they are walking but you can see the pattern wings on their bodies. How the large turtle passing is covered in moss, flowers, butterflies, and other small living things that live in harmony and are a part of him. How the mushrooms keep watch on all things that pass from their single eye. There is a unity in the landscape, in the peace between species, the colors and feeling of awe in a visit from a stranger.


Sometimes you don't purposely seek inspiration, you just stumble across it. It's like finding a gold mine. In this case maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising, but I didn't remember the previews for the movie and hadn't remembered Sleeping Beauty catching my interest much as a child.

When I watched Maleficent and saw the Moors for the first time I just wanted to pause the movie and soak it in. The fantasy world they created was gorgeous, it felt real, and focused heavily on a natural setting, with it's own creatures, and so much detail. It is the epitome of what I love to create in my work.

The Moors were created by the world building expert, Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Life of Pi) and because of his work this movie is one I can keep coming back too and see something new every time. The composition of each frame is perfect. The way you move from a wide shot into a close up and it feels so natural. The scene is set so your eyes take in the entire scene and then move to focus on piece of the frame and that is where the camera ends up zooming into.

In the beginning the Moors is a world of earth tones bathed in golden light. It is mountainous and green, filled with waterfalls and lakes. Anything seen in the distance gets a bit hazy with an illustrative touch that mimics the original movie. Every piece of the world has character and emotion, the trees are anthropomorphized with human features that show emotion. In this world made up purely of mountains, trees, and water that supports all its living creatures there is a sense of respect and reverence in all who are welcomed there.

When Maleficent loses her wings the Moors becomes a darker place as her environment reflects her emotions. Chiaroscuro is used very successfully to change the feeling of the environment to match that emotion without fundamentally changing the character of the place. It is a place of beauty that been driven into a harsher reality from the shattering of blissful ignorance and innocence.

Including scenes set at night during the darkest time in the land and the darkest time of day while still maintaining the beauty and wonder gives you faith that it can all be restored, that all is not lost, or quite as bad as it seems. With creatures called Waller Bogs, who are both cute and gross, playing and slinging mud and Dew Faires who glow with blue light in the night the Moors still feels untouched and pure.

I love how the characters are so unique, yet they bring in pieces of our reality, and each creature has an otherworldly beauty but is also ugly. A child shows wonder while some less openminded might show disgust or horror. This movies setting and emotion truly reflects that of an open minded child against that of a greedy close minded adult as it was intended.

This reminds me to consider how I might edit the scene of an image to reflect the emotion of the moment and individual featured.

Visit my Inspiration - Movies Pinterest board to reference movie stills of the scenes I discuss above:

Reference article with Robert Stromberg:

Sunset and plant on Charles River

The Name of the Wind

I read somewhere* that brain scans before reading a book vs after reading a book show changes in brain function, so for at least a short period of time a book really does change the way you think, literally.

I find this amazing, I love reading, and the idea that it so directly affects how you think is fantastic, authors must be ecstatic to learn how influential they can be. 

So I say read a book and change your perspective!

I especially love fantasy books. Now there’s a lot of reasons people give for loving fantasy but I think a few here are key. Imagining a world beyond our own but so close it just slips through our fingers, imaging our own abilities as humans to be far greater than they are, connecting with characters who’s struggles are so similar to our own but who’s world is so different, they put you in a mind to think about a problem from a different point of view.

The Name of the Wind is the first book in the King Killer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. The second is called A Wise Man’s Fear, and the third has yet to be released…. I’m just dying waiting for it to be released! Rothfuss completed drafts of all three books while as an undergraduate for 9 years. He edited each book for years before publishing so we’re all still waiting to hear how it ends. The books are a story within a story, with the main character telling his life story interspersed with pieces of the present. The friend who recommended it likened it to The Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter, so obviously I had to read it. I can’t say thank you to her enough, this series is now my absolute favorite, even over those two! The setting feels like something from another worlds medieval age, very similar to Lord of the Rings world (but the war hasn’t happened in the story he’s telling… yet) and the magic comes in different forms, with different studies in university, these studies include Naming, Sympathy, Alchemy, Artificing, Sygaldry, Mathematics, Languages, Medica, Rhetoric, etc. Just reading those names gives you an idea how different this concept is from what you might initially think of when you read a book with magic. They relate to a true understand of the nature of something we gave a name, the connectedness of all things, metal smithing, chemisty, math, language, medicine, philosophy, and more.

What I love most about The Name of the Wind, the actual concept I see behind it’s magic, is that you can connect the “magic” to philosophy and knowledge, to something less mystical and less unexplainable (than a wand and some  words strung together), to something more natural, to a deeper understanding and connectedness to the world around us. That the idea of studying and university is still so key to greater understanding and greater abilities is also a great reminder to always keep learning!

This gives the book greater depths, it makes you connect more to the world around you, to consider things you may have forgotten or never considered.

At least that’s how it makes me feel, so I recommend it, for a change in perspective.

*read in "A book can change your life" article in FastCoDesign,

Alice in Wonderland watch at tea with the Mad Hatter


Fairy Tales are full of descriptions of wondrous worlds we wish truly existed. It’s amazing to see them come alive when different people interpret what is written visually. It’s awe inspiring to see a fantasy world look so real and tangible in film or photo when truly so far removed from our reality. I love these stories and their movie interpretations for the direct and indirect inspiration they provide.

To set the scene wide and zoom in on little details, to spend so much time building creatures and plants that don’t exist in our world but follow the same laws of physics and anatomy so much so that they truly look real. It is a fine line to walk and one that makes us feel like a fantasy place is real and make a more human connection with something that does not exist.

So many artists have created such amazing worlds interpreted from the writing of others or from within. This is my dream, what I one day strive to do with my own conceptual work, to never miss a detail, to build a fantasy world that is so believable with such great attention to detail. This is a long term goal of mine and in between I plan to just have fun learning :)