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The Emperor’s New Clothes Fairy Tale

Updated on January 30, 2020
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

My illustration for E is for The Emperor's New Clothes
My illustration for E is for The Emperor's New Clothes | Source

The FairyTale Alphabet Book

As a background for this story, I have to tell how it all began. If you an old friend, you probably know I’ve written and illustrated a children’s alphabet book using fairy tales and folk tales from around the world as prompts for the letters of the alphabet. Some years ago I started it as a thesis project for my illustration degree. The whole project transformed and morphed many times before I was done. I am planning a series with several more folktales and fairytales from around the world for each letter of the alphabet.

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.

— Sophia Loren
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thumbnail sketches for the final illustrationThumbnail sketch 2Thumbnail sketch 3Thumbnail sketch 4
Thumbnail sketches for the final illustration
Thumbnail sketches for the final illustration | Source
Thumbnail sketch 2
Thumbnail sketch 2 | Source
Thumbnail sketch 3
Thumbnail sketch 3 | Source
Thumbnail sketch 4
Thumbnail sketch 4 | Source

Collage Illustrations

First, I decided I didn’t want the typical “A is for Apple” type of book or animal alphabet book; those have been done. It was my love of fairy tales that started me on this theme. Second, my advisors saw some of my collage work and suggested that I make the illustrations in collage instead of watercolor. Knowing that would take much longer, I began right away. But even then the transformation continued.

Value Sketch for the final illustration
Value Sketch for the final illustration | Source

Global Fairytales

After doing R is for Red Riding Hood and J is for Jack in the Beanstalk, I thought I was going to have trouble finding fairy tales for all 26 letters if I stuck to the typical Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And that’s when it hit me to be more global. Why not research fairy tales and folk tales from all over the world? This added to my work but in the end, it became very satisfying. You probably know this fairy tale from the many tales told by Hans Christian Anderson of Denmark.

Color Composition with the collage of the boy added
Color Composition with the collage of the boy added | Source

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

The Emperor’s New Clothes, A Danish Fairytale

In a certain country long ago, there was a very vain emperor who cared about nothing except wearing the best and most expensive clothes. One day two weavers come to his kingdom, who promise him they will make him the best and fanciest suit of clothes. The weavers are liars, called con-men, who convince the emperor they are using a special fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or "hopelessly stupid". The weavers, of course, are actually only pretending to sew the clothes in order to charge the emperor a lot of money for nothing.

When the weavers showed the fine fabric to the ministers of the emperor, they too said they could see it because they didn’t want to be accused of being stupid. No one can see the alleged "clothes", but they all pretend they can for fear of appearing stupid.

Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they pretend to dress the emperor. He is very excited to show off his new suit of clothes so he prepares a parade through the town. All the townsfolk have heard about the special fabric and also do not want to appear stupid so they cheer for the emperor’s new clothes when in truth he is wearing nothing. Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and laughs. The people also see the humor and begin laughing also. The emperor realizes it is true but continues the parade so he won’t appear stupid for paying for no clothes at all.

Published with Lulu

This fairy tale has been shortened to fit into my book along with all the other letters of the alphabet. If you would like to read the full version, you can Google the title and find several versions of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

My book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales from Around the World, was self-published last year with Lulu.com because Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing) refused to allow illustrations that spanned the central gutter of the page. They demanded at least a half-inch margin around the outside, which I could have done, and a half-inch margin through the center margin, which would destroy the look and cohesiveness of the double-page illustrations. I had to find a different publisher who would allow the illustrations the way I wanted them. KDP obviously does not understand illustrated children’s picture books.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The finished collage of the boyThe finished collage of the background legsThe finished collage of the E
The finished collage of the boy
The finished collage of the boy | Source
The finished collage of the background legs
The finished collage of the background legs | Source
The finished collage of the E
The finished collage of the E | Source

When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul… a small piece of someone else’s life.

— Anonymous

Final Thoughts

I hope you like my story and my fairy tale alphabet book idea. Lately, I’ve been doing some research to begin another one. There were so many stories I had to pass over with the first book because there was just not enough room or letters in the alphabet. I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Peggy Woods,

      I'm so happy you like them. I hope the books sell too. I'm thinking about starting a third volume but haven't done it yet. I actually have two other books on the back burner to finish first. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Ann Carr,

      You know I do that same thing, but I don't think people mine if I have another thought to share. Although I try to only comment once, I'm not perfect. Thanks for commenting again.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      This one is a familiar one but has such a good moral that it always bears repeating. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Another great fairytale story and collage interpretation from you to make us smile. You excel at doing this! I hope your books are selling well.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      The Emperor's New Clothes was a favourite of mine when I was young, as I found it funny and thought he and the people were really silly. It appeals to the young, that sort of thing. I like the little boy on his bicycle, laughing. Children are always refreshingly honest, aren't they, saying just how it is!

      I was never a great fan of fairy tales, though, because so many were sad or violent, so I can't think of any off the top of my head. If I do come across one, I'll let you know.

      I never cease to wonder at your excellent artistry, Denise.

      Ann

      PS: I've just read down the comments and realised that I've already commented, though in an entirely different way. That's not a good sign for my memory, is it?! Anyway, thought I'd leave the above, regardless. A

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Denise I like this fairytale and you have shared another good tale. I enjoy reading fairytales brings back memories.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      5 months ago from Fresno CA

      DreamerMeg,

      You are so right. I wanted this to be timeless and not dated with the costume or whatever. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      17 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence Hebb,

      Me too. I'm so glad you like them. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      What a great idea! Loved the re-telling of the fairytale.

      Lawrence

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Crampton,

      These articles are only meant to be a little insight into my process. All the stories and illustrations are compiled into my book The FairyTale Alphabet Book, FairyTales and Folk Tales from Around the World. I loved making it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Ann Carr,

      Thank you so much. What a valuable and important thing to be able to teach dyslexics. If my book could be of any help I would be so overjoyed. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Marie Flint,

      I like the swindlers being Robin Hood types. That's a nice twist to the story. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bushra Iqbal,

      I'm so happy you like my picture. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 

      18 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Loved your idea of having the small child on a tricycle. He is always shown in old clothes in all other versions but this story will never date because there are always con men and con women wanting to cheat people. That part of life never changes!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I was familiar with the Hans Christian Anderson story, but I enjoyed hearing about it again. Of course, I also enjoyed looking at your illustrations. You are creating an interesting and informative series of articles.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      18 months ago from SW England

      Well, Denise, this is a fantastic, innovative way of presenting the alphabet! I wish I'd had it as an aid when I taught dyslexics.

      Wonderful idea to research tales around the world (and a great way to do geography too!).

      I love your quotes, beginning and end; very apt.

      Ann

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      18 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      I noticed that you are keeping your subtitle style with "A Danish Fairy Tale." This fits in best with the series you are creating. Of course, we know the author to be Han Christian Andersen.

      I did view one interesting version on YouTube in which the "swindlers" were actually offsetting the king's selfishness. The payment they received from the king for their work was spent to help the needy in the village, a kind of Robin-Hood theme.

      I love your collage technique, and the little boy smirking on the cover is very appropriate.

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Anya Ali 

      18 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Good idea for a project! And I love the picture!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      MG Singh,

      Thank you. I have loved working on it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      18 months ago from Singapore

      I have read this fairy tale as a boy. You have a great project on hand. Best of luck.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      In doing the research I found stories that I was not aware of either. It was hard narrowing it down to just 26. It has been a learning experience for me. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Liz Westwood,

      I appreciate that. I have about 5 stories/letters of the alphabet accounted for in the next book already. Only 21 more to go. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      Well, that is kind of you to say, if a little graphic. I do my best to ooze. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Eric Dierker,

      Yes, that is why I wanted to focus on the boy and not on the undressed Emperor. The picture people get in their heads would be much better than any illustration of him that I could come up with. You get it! Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      I'm glad you like this one. I hope that showing my process doesn't destroy the mystic of art for anyone. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      I'm glad you like it. It is one of my favorite stories as well. And so important for today. You can't always believe what people tell you even if everyone else seems to be believing it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      John Hansen,

      Thank you very much. It has been a labor of love mostly. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt,

      I know fairy tales are pretty commonplace, but I love them and the messages they reveal. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      18 months ago from Washington State, USA

      What an imaginative concept and I LOVE that you are using collage as your medium. Your global search for tales will expose so many stories that most of us are not aware of. This is simply fantastic!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      18 months ago from UK

      This sounds like a great project. We had this story when our kids were young. Best wishes with your next project.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      As I've stated before, I adore this series and you just ooze with talent.

      blessings

      bill

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderful article. I slipped into places of happy memories reading it. And of course I learned a lot.

      In my life with my four as they were/are little I told these types of stories, instead of reading them. Hmmm. I figured the pictures they painted in their head might be better. As good of illustrator as you makes me rethink that.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      18 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A memorable story and I read to my son many times. You created a unique presentation and reminded of this tale. Illustrations are beautiful!

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      18 months ago

      Another wonderful story Denise and one of my childhood favourites. Beautifully illustrated and presented. Great work.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Gondwana Land

      Thank you for sharing this Denise. I hope the many hours spent on this project pay off. Your book looks and sounds wonderful. You should be very proud of your work, you are a wonderful artist.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      18 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Very interesting. Well presented. Thanks.

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