French Knitting at Battersey

Making "London Wonderland"

A collaborative series between photographer Nicholas Goodden and illustrator Cécile Vidican


When Nico asked me to collaborate on this series, I immediately thought of superimposing simple line drawings onto his beautiful landscapes. I'd done of few of these before, but nothing on this scale.

I wanted to insert illustrations that wouldn't detract from his photos but would add a new dimension to them, while still highlighting the architectural landmarks he was staging.

I had to first choose which photos would work well for this project. Pictures with a limited range of colors or with enough "blank" space to use as a canvas worked well (large areas of sky, clouds or water for instance). Because I was adding visuals, the original photograph couldn't be too "busy" or I would risk overcrowding it.

Battersey Power Station

I then came up with themes that would either echo the building's design--like the four chimneys of Battersea Power Station as the pegs on a French knitting kit--or refer to something specific about the landmark's name--the Gherkin as a pickle is the obvious one here.

Image credit: The Green Dragonfly

I started by drawing the ball of wool on paper, in pen and ink. Then came the piece of knitting, which is much harder to draw than to actually produce as I discovered!

Using Photoshop, I then colored the line drawing in with transparent shades of creams, and laid it over an image of instant noodles, for a subtle curly yarn effect. I'm relatively new to Photoshop, having taught myself the basics over summer last year, so this series was a great problem-solving exercise.

Most of the illustrations in this series were hand-drawn, and filled in with translucent colors so that Nico's photos would not lose their integrity and risk becoming just a background. Keeping the line work visible means that the illustrations retain their full cartoonish quality which hopefully add to the surrealist feel of this series.

A few of the images were drawn digitally in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet (Pickled Heart for instance), or made from modified images without line art (Sea in the Sky).