by Taylor Slattery | November 29, 2022
Bomboland is a breakthrough Italian studio whose unique approach to illustration makes their work a cut above the rest. Quite literally. What makes this studio so unique is that at a time when the tools used to make digital illustrations are not only more accessible than ever, but also do a great job of emulating traditional styles, they opt for the path less traveled. If you thought managing layers in Illustrator was difficult, imagine doing the same thing with paper.
Bomboland, a duo comprised of illustrators Maurizio Santucci and Elisa Cerri, has been experimenting with cut paper for well over a decade now, and their experience shows, with their vibrant illustrations landing them major clients in both the product and editorial spaces, like Luxottica, Wired, and Toyota to name a few. Their often imitated but never replicated style is the result of years of knowledge and expertise gained through trial and error, making them some of the de facto experts of the space.
There are no shortcuts to doing what they do, and for that reason, they are not secretive about their process, showing it in full for this video here, which was created as part of a partnership with Graffiti agency. The video, which documents the creation of a series of illustrations for a calendar of the Cassa Rurale Alto Garda, is a real eye-opener for those of us whose image-making process starts and ends on the computer. After first sketching out the composition in Photoshop and then and then refining it as a vector illustration in Illustrator, which for many of us would be the point at which we call it quits, for Bomboland, the fun is just beginning. After finalizing the illustration, they set to work carefully translating the image to paper with scissors and Exacto knives.
Bomboland utilizes a variety of techniques to play with lighting and create depth in the illustration. By using foam spacers between layers and carefully gluing and folding certain elements like arms, eyelids, and noses, their characters reach out to the viewer, inviting them into this curiously 2D yet 3D world. The combined effect is something like magic. The way the textures of the paper interact with the warmth of the lighting and the intricate interplay of light and shadow resulting from all of the illustration’s various physical pieces bring the scene to life, creating an effect that simply can’t be recreated digitally.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.