INVISIBLE  CITIES  

 ‘ART  OF  SOPHRONIA’  
 
By  Jennifer  Ball  

Introduction  
The  purpose  of  the  project  was  to  provide  us  all  with  the  opportunity  
to  become  a  concept  artist.    Understanding  what  that  term  meant  
and  what  that  type  of  art  might  look  like  –  then  creating  concept  art  
thumbnails,  finally  producing  our  concept  art  project.    
   
We  each  were  given  19  descriptions  of  cities  that  italo  Calvino  
created  in  his  mind.        We  read  each  description  and  then  sketched  
101  thumbnails  that  depicted  the  cities.  We  could  work  traditionally  
on  paper  or  use  Photoshop  software  and    a  graphics  tablet!  Initially  I  
chose  to  work  traditionally  but  as  my  confidence  in  Photoshop  grew  
I  was  keen  to  practice  my  skills  in  this  area.    
 
From  the  thumbnails,  we  chose  one  city  to  develop  further  and  
finally  present  as  three  digital  paintings!  My  experience  was  very  
limited  and  I  found  this  project  incredibly  difficult  but  as  I  look  back  I  
am  amazed  at  the  way  in  which  my  paintings  have  developed.      
 
I  chose  the  city  of  Sophronia  –  a  city  made  up  of  two  halves.  Calvino  
describes:  ‘in  one  there  is  the  great  roller  coaster  with  its  steep  
humps,  the  carousel  with  its  chain  spokes,  the  Ferris  wheel  of  
spinning  cages.    The  other  half  of  the  city  is  of  stone  and  marble  and  
cement  with  the  bank,  the  factories………’  just  these  sentences  
were  enough  to  spark  my  imagination.  Almost  immediately,  
Sophronia  became  real  and  I  could  see  the  fun,  colourful,  vibrant  
fairground-­‐like  town  set  against  a  backdrop  of  the  more  dull,  
functional  and  industrial  skyline.  And  so  Sophronia  was  born.    I  am  
proud  to  walk  with  you  and  introduce  you  to  my  city.  
 

Influences  
Creating  thumbnails  from  my  head  was  limiting  imagination  and  ideas.    I  
explored  real  world  references  and  researched  shapes,  colour,  buildings  and  
perspective.    
 
There  was  a  real  temptation  to  create  half  of  the  city  as  simply  a  fun  
fairground  experience  without  even  considering  that  in  order  to  gain  any  
credibility,    the    city  required  an  infra-­‐structure.  The  Post  modern  structures  of  
bridges  and  buildings  on  my  influence  map  helped  me  to  identify  shapes  that  I  
could  use  in  my  city.    
 
I  was  really  keen  to  include  a  Ferris  wheel    into  my  painting,  using  it  as  a  place  
where  people  might  live.  The  London  eye  became  my  reference  point  and    I  
placed  the  Ferris  wheel  at  the  foreground  of  my  exterior  establishing  shot.  
 
Lowry  has  inspired  me  since  being  a  child.    The  simplicity  of  his  paintings  and  
the  story  that  they  told  seemed  to  speak  to  me.    Although  he  use  dull  shades  
and  colours,  they  speak    of  industry,  business  and  life  in  general.    The  
juxtaposition  of  the  more  fairground-­‐like  part  of  the  City  was  also  inspired  by  
scenes  from  the  film  ‘Inside  Out’  and  “Wreck  it  Ralph’.    The  bright,  garish  and  
exciting  shapes  draw  in  the  viewer  and  for  the  film’s  duration  you  are  
transported  to  a  fantasy  world.  

Original  sketched  thumbnails  -­‐  Sophronia  

Drawing  the  rollercoaster  bridge  in  perspective  

Before  adding  the  
ferris  wheel……..  
 
and  then  the  skyline  

Building  the  actual  skyline  –  the  city  scape……..  

and  introducing  the  
other  half  of  the  
city  

 
Sophronia  begins  
to  emerge  and  
colour  is  
experimented  with    

Thumbnails  of  interior  establishing  shot  

Thumbails  of  low  angle  exterior  shot  

Final  concept  drawing    -­‐  Exterior  Establishing  Shot  

Final  concept  drawing  -­‐  Exterior  Low  Angle  Shot  

Final  concept  drawing  -­‐  Interior  Establishing  Shot  

Concept  Sophronia