Khyati Trehan is a visual artist that thinks outside the box and redefines the creative process through her scientific approach to create distinctive art and elevate it through 3D animation techniques.
Khyati Trehan is a visual artist who lends a scientific edge to each of her creations. Significantly, her design for the cover for the New York Times: Sunday Review is a standout. As well as editorial illustrations, typefaces and standout visual art in her wheelhouse. She also uses textures, dynamism, movement (AR Lens), and animation to breathe life into her artistic endeavours.
CG. How did you develop your keen sense of signature style in your artwork?
Khyati. I’ve always worked towards broadening my skills in the pursuit of becoming a versatile designer, which isn’t the best formula for developing a singular signature style. So I’m not sure I have one. That said, a lot of my visual art practice involves play, intuition, and learning. That method has automatically surfaced bits of me in my work and helped me make choices that come naturally to me instead of borrowing from what’s trending or from other designers I admire.
CG. How do you come up with the textures and rendering techniques for your artwork?
Khyati. A large part of working in 3D is about borrowing and learning from the real world. And the real world is imperfect. Textures help bring that imperfection to renders as well as bring more dimension to a piece that, even though is 3D, is still experienced most often through a flat interface. If there’s a sunny spot in a house, you’ll find me sitting there nestled with my cats Kira and Rukia. I find myself naturally being drawn to the same warmth, which has an impact on the way some of my scenes in 3D are lit.
CG. Where do you draw inspiration from and make sure that the message you want to communicate through your art is communicated to the audience?
Khyati. Art Arm: A large part of my visual art practice is selfish. I get to make what I want. In those cases, my source of inspiration can span from the entirety of our current reality, a recent memory to an object that’s on the couch next to me.
Design Arm: When you’re in design school, image-making with an audience in mind is sometimes equated to dumping all sorts of symbolism and metaphors in the work. In my opinion, that’s satisfying for the designer but does nothing for the people on the receiving end. While some of the most effective pieces of communication focus on one clear idea and capturing the right feeling.
CG. Which software and techniques do you use to create and render your unique creations?
Khyati. I use Cinema4D to model & compose and Vray to texture and light a piece. Lately, I enjoy the challenge of creating balance amongst complexity, which sometimes translates to making little bits that are their mini works of visual art, and then carefully composing them together till the whole piece feels just right.
CG. The art you create has a clean crisp scientific perspective, what are the influences that make you want to create such unique standout artwork?
Khyati. That’s new to my ears but I’ll take it! Well, I read a fair bit of scientific non-fiction (Bill Bryson, Oliver Sacks, etc) in my school years which served as inspiration for my college Project ‘the Beauty of Scientific Diagrams’ where I integrated the initials of a scientist with the diagram of their invention. The discipline seems to have re-entered my life, with most of my recent commissions for the NY Times and the New Yorker is about illustrating articles and books by biologists and physicists.
CG. How do dynamism and movement play a role in your artistic process?
Khyati. Specifically, adding dynamism and movement is a step in making the ARG (Alternative Reality Gaming) pieces feel alive. While it’s not always easy to introduce animation into visual art projects, whenever I do have that option, I take it.
CG. How was the experience of creating the cover for the New York Times: Sunday Review?
Khyati. I was so excited to get the opportunity! It was a highly iterative approach with a lot of guidance from the art directors. Since it was the cover, the stakes were high and there was a lot of labour and several rounds of feedback involved. I had a much easier time the second time around, working on a piece of visual art for the book reviews section.
CG. What animation techniques do you use to bring your creations to life?
Khyati. Sometimes, I stick to simple PSR (Position, scale, rotation) based animation, especially if I plan on moving the artwork to AR (Augmented Reality) eventually. One of the superpowers of 3D software like Cinema4d is Dynamics, which is a way to create physically accurate animations by subjecting 3D models to world physics like collisions, gravity, soft body animation, friction, bounces etc. The technique of adjusting settings and waiting to see what happens can bring about so much serendipity, it’s limitless!
CG. How do you use AR Lens to infuse life into your art?
Khyati. While art hangs on a wall or animates on your screens, augmented reality allows the user to take the art with them wherever they’d like. When someone shares back my piece animating in their living rooms or along their jawlines, it belongs to them just as much as it does to me. As a visual artist with almost no coding background, visual node programming adds a little padding to the learning curve, but I haven’t even begun to explore all the possibilities in AR.
CG. How do you choose your collaborators?
Khyati. I get excited about collaborators and clients that bring me on at an early stage and I can help develop the core idea. I always feel more inclined to hop on to projects where the premise or industry is unfamiliar. I’ve done my best work in an environment where as much freedom is granted as possible. My idea of a safe space is being in an environment where I feel trusted by collaborators & clients. It’s where I don’t feel a fear of sounding stupid. As some of the best visual pieces sound stupid in words.
CG. How do you morph different typefaces to personalise your art?
Khyati. There are ways to strip lettering to its skeleton and use the 3D method to essentially give it body in interesting ways while still being inspired by the type’s calligraphic origin of stress. Specifically, one simple technique is using something called ‘spline nurbs’. Mainly, think of it as making a letter with plain wire, and then using clay on top of that form to bring dimension and create a sculpture.