The Phantom Tollbooth | Skillshare Projects



The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth has been one of my favorite books since I was a kid. I really enjoy both the quirkiness and the humor that this book contains. I haven't read it since middle school and was interested in reading this book with a whole new perspective. This book is very intelligent. It's full of both puns and amazingly well-constructed ideas. Overall the main theme of this book is learning and growth. It is about a boy (Milo) who is both bored and jaded by everyday life. He recieves a package in the mail that contains a magic tollbooth and a coin. He gets into a small electric car, pops the coin in the tollbooth, and enters a magic land where he goes on a grand adventure. He visits different kingdoms such as Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, the Doldrums, and Mountains filled with Demons.

This entire book is very rich with different themes and concepts. I feel that it would be very difficult to combine every single part of the book into one letter. What I want to do is to focus on one aspect or try to take one theme that repeats itself throughout the book. The letter I wanted to make is a J since it is the first letter of the author's last name (the author's name is Norton Juster). The visual style for my project will be based off of cartoons from the 50's and 60's. I feel like it is a good fit because it is playful and whimsical. Also, the book was published in 1961.

Inspiration: (from Cartoon Modern)    


Idea 1:

There is one portion of the book where Milo and his companions run into an orchestra. The orchestra begins to play but no sound is emanating from the ensemble. You soon find out that they do not create music, but color. Because of the orchestra, the sun both rises and sets. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the book. I wanted to make the J out of an instrument and have color and different elements from the book shoot out from the opening. Also, I wanted to play with scale and have an oversized brass horn with a small musician. This part of the book seemed to be special to the author. An editor wanted it removed but Norton refused.

Idea 2:

One reoccurring theme in the book is royalty. The magical world that Milo gets transported to has a small mythological backstory. It involves kings, princes, and the two princesses named Rhyme and Reason. The two existing kingdoms in the story Dictionopolis and Digitopolis are ruled by King Azaz and the Mathemagician. I wanted to created the J in this drop cap out of a king's beard and make the hairs ornate and decorative.

Idea 3:

My last idea is a bit more general and straight forward. At the beginning of the book is a large map that displays all the different areas and kingdoms. I wanted the make the Sea of Knowledge into the J and have a bunch of story elements surounding it.


I experimented with a few textures and scanned them in.

Drop Cap Skeleton:

Since my drop cap will be heavily illustrated, I wanted to base the skeleton after a real typeface.

Color Palette:

First Round of Execution:

Even though I want to explore 2 of my ideas, I decided to start off with Idea 1. This is still a work in progress.

I just wanted to have a little fun and illustrate a few characters attempting to play the quirky instrument.


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