These Incredible 3D Illustrations Are Hand-Carved From An Unexpected Material

When you look at the illustrative works of Isobelle Ouzman, it”s pretty easy to get lost in them. They open and unfold to reveal hidden paths that promise new and exciting worlds. Come to think of it, they”re a lot like good books. As it happens, that”s exactly what she uses to create these wonderfully layered illustrations. With a steady hand and a good deal of patience, she”s able to turn discarded books into beautiful works of art.

Consider them the opposite of pop-up books: Instead of leaping off the page, Ouzman”s images dive into the depths of the book and draw you in.

Ouzman uses the layers of pages to carve out an opening that resembles a path. The creations also metaphorically resemble the journey of the characters in the story, with the reader following along. Using pens and watercolors, she creates intricate, subtly colored details that make the images come to life. They”re often forest scenes, full of dark trees and magical-looking plants. These scenes remind us of fairytales, and the color gently glowing farther down the path beckons us in.

Sometimes, the text is obscured. Other times, it”s allowed to show through, creating a unique effect and paying homage to the original text.

If you”re wondering where she gets these books, Ouzman says she usually rescues them from the trash, finding them in recycling bins and in dumpsters in Seattle, and receiving them as gifts. Like another book artist we covered, Ouzman maintains that by turning these unwanted books into art, she”s giving them a new chance at life; otherwise, they”d be completely wasted.

“I”m just trying to bring them back to life,” Ouzman explains, “[and] make them mean something once more.”

Yes, each of these tiny layers was cut by hand. The pages are glued together when complete, so the whole piece is fairly stable.

A work in progress. The whole of the book will be used to create the image. Other materials include an X-Acto knife, pens, watercolors, and lots of glue.

(via My Modern Met)

You can see more of Ouzman”s work, which also includes more traditional (and equally amazing) illustrations, on her website and Tumblr.