The Blue Max Project

© 2016 Thomas Emme Some Rights Reserved

How the Kaiser helped me build a Book Plate

Sometimes my project takes me to strange places.  

My goal was to develop a book plate for the front of Rupp's Skizzenbuch.  I had a mental image of a pair of columns with a German and English soldier trying to attack each other.  I consider Rupp a bit of a doodler and wanted it to be creative.  I was also searching for images that someone who was artistic might reference from the era he lived in. 

I started searching for historical images and immediately found some good sources.  In the 1890's as part of national art competition the National Kaiser Wilhelm Monument was built to honor Kaiser Wilhelm I in Berlin.  His grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II was actively involved in the development and you can read more about it in Wikipedia. 

National Kaiser Wilhelm Monument

The monument was torn down in 1949 by the GDR (German Democratic Republic).  The base still exists and apparently there is a ladder down to an underground vault where daring artists sometimes place their work.  I ran into this amazing image that was just what I needed for the top of my book plate

The next thing I need are the columns.  I searched under German Monuments / German Columns and the Altar of Pergamon in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin popped up.  The altar, sometimes called the Altar of Zeus was discovered by a German Engineer, Carl Humann in 1878.  Germany negotiated with Turkey for the rights to the artifacts and it was transported to Berlin.  A museum was built to house it in 1901 and was rebuilt in the 1930's.  The Pergamon Museum is still active, but it sounds like this display is currently closed while the room housing it is rebuilt.  Here is the wicki link.

Pergamon Altar

The base of the altar depicts the Giants battle with the Olympian Gods (seems appropriate!).  I found this drawn image of the columns and used them to create the structural frame of my Book Plate.

So next I needed the actual soldiers.  I found multiple images and pieced together mock ups in Photoshop.  This is a bit like animation in Monte Python, simple copy and paste of arms,  legs and bodies in the right position.  I pulled from about four different images.  I want to make sure I credit Paul Thompson's copywrited image below.  You can see more of his wonderful creations at

I especially liked the image of the German soldier throwing the fish....easy to switch out the fish for the hand grenade ( although I was tempted to keep the fish).  

First Image - Combine the images as a paste up.

Second Image - Trace over the paste up image in Sketch Book Pro .

Third Image - Print the trace drawing on cards stock, ink up and apply some ink wash for the border.  I actually added Kaiser Wilhelm II when someone pointed out I had the wrong Kaiser for WW1.

That's the whole story, I hope you enjoyed it.