Monday, 1 June 2020

SYOA LfH: Chapter 3 BTS

As you know, the Chapters for the Letters from Hogwarts Stitch Your Own Adventure are being released every 2 months. The month in between I'll be giving you a glimpse behind the scenes. I'll be showing you some of the reference photos, some stats and thoughts on the choices/options, initial design sketches, times my test stitching team wanted to kill me...

It would also be good to feature some photos of what your outcome is so far. so, please feel free to email them to scunningham85 -at-

There is a facebook group to discuss all thing SYOA, which you can join HERE

Behind the Scenes: Chapter 3

I knew that this chapter was going to be one of the biggest challenges for me. There are a LOT of design elements in this one. I ended up putting a deadline on myself (before 1st Nov 2018) to get the design work done for this. This was in part because I knew that I needed to get three more chapters done after this (because I would need to give the test stitchers time to stitch this thing), plus at the time I ran a Secret Santa in the facebook group that I moderate. Approx 460 people took part in that Secret Santa, so it's was a bit of a time suck.

If you want some maths before I start going into the design process for this Chapter...
There are now 81 different pattern elements that make up the SYOA at this point. Now to figure out the possible outcomes in this Chapter is a little trickier than previous chapters.

Possible outcomes at end of chapter 2 = 3,456

Possible outcomes for:
Divination = 10*9*8 = 720 (assuming you're not doing same tea leaves twice)
Ancient Runes = 28^10 = 296,196,766,695,424 (because you could use the same rune multiple times)
COMC = 4

Outcomes for Chapter 3 = 720+296,196,766,695,424+4 = 296,196,766,695,698

Outcomes for SYOA to date = 3,456 * 296,196,766,695,698 = 1.0236560257e18

For those of you that don't math, that is 1,023,656,025,700,000,000 possible outcomes, just following the pattern alone.

Before I start plotting things out in the program, I always try to sketch something out. This chapter I had a fair clear mental image of what I wanted, I just needed to capture it.

The idea of having the tea leaves in the divination class was one of the earliest ideas I had when I came up with the SYOA, and personally it's the dearest to me for that reason. The text book in the pattern is based on the artwork used for the book in the films.

The tea cup proved to be quite a challenge actually, and took several attempts over a couple of days to get right.

 Initially I REALLY wanted to have the tea cup with lots of tiny little scratches and microfractures like you get in old very used teacups, because that is what these are... VERY used teacups!
In the end I actually had to google an image of a teacup from above so that I could get the shadows right. The colour choice of pink and the chip out of it are, of course, a head nod to Professor Trelawney warning Neville about breaking them in the books.

Did you notice as well that the tea leaf options were literally every one mentioned in the book series, including the joke ones between Ron and Harry?

When it came to Ancient Runes, I again wanted to have the book that was in the film. And admittedly I used a little bit of licence in this.
This is the initial book that third years would use for Ancient Runes. It's not bad, and I certainly would have been able to pattern it easily enough... but when you compare it to the advanced text book, it's just not as pretty.

So, while it kinda breaks the story a little, it was just too pretty for me NOT to use. Technically I could have used this following one:
And while it is beautiful, it's less clear that it's for Ancient Runes. The Advanced book would also give me a chance to play with lettering and back stitching, especially with the number of threads on the needle to create script like effects. It's a method I learned from stitching up a LOTR pattern by someone else. Which is why I find it invaluable for me to stitch things designed by others, cause I always learn methods that I can try to incorporate into my own work.

This was my initial sketch of the panel. I was going to have all the stones permanently in the pattern, and you just added the back stitching for the runes, but changed my mind from a practicality point of view. For the runes themselves, well, I had a decision to make. What type of runes to use.

These are "ancient runes" that were on the original version of Pottermore, so they are JK Rowling approved and technically canon. But they aren't exactly what people think of when you say "ancient runes"... and I am sorry JK, but they look a bit naff... which is why I went with more nordic runes, which are used heavily in the films anyways (you're most likely to see them in the Azkaban wanted posters).

Unlike Divination and Ancient Runes, I knew from early on that I didn't want to have the Monstrous Book of Monsters in the pattern. It's an awesome design, but can you imagine the amount of backstitching that would be required to get the furry look properly?! And while yes it would have opened up possibilities for a drop in element on what you bound the book shut with, I didn't want to put you all through that haha. I wanted the focus to be on the animal that you studied for your first class. Which ment taking a further back view than than the other two classes and doing more of the setting.

In order to have the beasts in the class described in the letter, I couldn't be as vague as I was with the other two classes. So I had to split the letter more for that class than the other two, that's why there were more accidentally possibilities with Uncle Alan (it was nothing personal against him honest!).

All of the beasts I used have detailed classes in the books (yup, including the Niffler, they weren't new for Fantastic Beasts!), so I tried to emulate them as much as possible. The only major problem in that was the unicorn class. Unicorns, as described in the books, are particular about who approaches them... basically they are not a fan of guys. This is fine for the named characters in my story, but I want my narrator to be YOU. That's why I had to take a bit of artistic licence and change it a little to make sure your character could interact with the unicorn without making assumptions about your gender or breaking the canon entirely.

Three of the beasts also are very heavily horse based in shape, so I had to learn how to draw them first.
This was an early sketch to try to work out proportions

After multiple attempts and online tutorials, this was the outcome. I then took this basic structure and adapted it to the other beasts.

My test stitchers were pretty much fighting over what they were going to stitch. I think that if anyone tried to take the unicorn away from Tara then she was going to cut them. This was before I had even drawn them out, Tara was nearly on the verge of cutting me given that the unicorn was one of the last elements I designed for this chapter!

And after all that... she switched to Divination and stitched the unicorn seperately!


Photos have been submitted by:
Angela Smith
Emily A
Traci Kohl
Ed Lobenhofer
Izzy Martin
Maxine McCurdy
Heather Anstaett
Jennifer Wilson
Wendy Smith
Leah DiChristopher
Natasha Ewert
Dawn Wilhelm
Lisa McLoughlin
Lisa Barmby-Spence
Miriam Pizann
and of course, Team Test Stitch