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Jessica Rabbit
"Why don't you do right....?"

Jessica Rabbit

Once in a very rare while, I take a break from horror to create something a bit more easy on the eye. Don't get me wrong - it's not boredom. I have loved horror and gore my whole life and I cannot see my passion ever fading. But, once in a while, it's just nice to try something a bit different. So I opted for a cartoon character.

"Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was a truly extraordinary achievement in film making. Back in 1989, the production had no CGI to fall back on and every animated character was hand-drawn, hand-coloured, and manually integrated with every frame of live action footage. It's actually hard to believe such a film could even be made these days in the digital economy. Of course, as well as being a true marvel of film making, the film also gave us a gang of iconic characters to enjoy, including the legendary, sexy Jessica Rabbit. Even though this sensual character has now been mostly disowned by an increasingly puritanical Disney studio, meaning the long-mooted sequel will likely never see the light of day, fans of the film still adore her.

There are many themed shoots of Jessica Rabbit out there so the idea of creating a new one isn't exactly original. One thing that is clearly very obvious when you look at the other shoots is that Jessica Rabbit is an extremely difficult character to get right. Many attempts go too far into the cartoony features and end up looking like weird drag queens, whereas others don't take the cartoon features far enough and so they just look like "some girl in a Jessica dress". Somewhere between real life and Toon Town there is a "sweet spot" in which the reality of the model can shine through but the unusual cartoon beauty of Ms Rabbit is present enough to suggest the character. The challenge, then, was to find that sweet spot and create images of Jessica that are convincing enough to get Roger Rabbit excited, but without totally losing the real model in the process.

Finding a model would have been the first challenge, but fortunately I know a young lady named Red who was perfect. She has the long red hair, the slim build, and she can perform and dance. Some of her assets are not quite to the same over-inflated scale as Jessica's but hey, that's what Photoshop is for. Yep, I'm talking about her boobs.

A trip to Ebay got us everything we needed for the shoot. The red dress, long purple gloves, the 1940s microphone. It was great not to have to use a wig, thanks to Red's very suitable locks.

Red arrived with her hair carefully pinned in place because she'd had it styled early in the morning by her stylist Jason, so all we had to do was makeup (skilfully applied by Tina) and sort her dress, corset and bust out (delicately handled by Claire). My mum had some rather posh red curtains in her loft which I duly took possession of.

I did the shoot in two "environments". Firstly, the red theatrical curtains provided a backdrop, and later I took the curtains away for a dark, featureless background to create more moody pieces. Lighting consisted of a number of soft boxes and colour gels.

In editing, Red's features were somewhat morphed to more closely match the cartoon character but without going too far. In the film, her features - from her face right down to her boobs, bum, and endless legs - are all caricatured to quite an extreme, so converting a real person to that level might have look absurd. Instead, I took the cartoon features to only a small percentage of the real thing. It seemed to work well.

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Thanks for reading folks. Keep loving horror :)

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