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The human brain is a fantastic library of images. The more you watch the world around you, the more it gets enriched. All one needs to do is to observe every detail around very closely, suggests animation filmmaker-illustrator Vajra Pancharia. He discusses pointers that help him create engaging visuals.

Visuals
Cave birdy
Visuals
Dojo Training Centre
Visuals
Concept illustration for a game
Visuals
28 days later after infection

How you see is what you draw.

You derive your mood and emotions from your surroundings. That’s how each element works for you. For instance, nature, for almost all of us is always beautiful and serene. So while painting landscapes and environments you tend to bring out spatial and ethereal feel in them. Of course, the concept plays a great part in determining the details. Similarly, many a times, the surroundings push your emotions to an extreme. That’s when your characters become dark and edgy.

Tomcruise
Visuals
Environment

The story decides the character.

The heart of the story should be the soul of the character. While the story acts like a container, the character is the content. They both work hand in hand to drive the narrative. Above all, aesthetics and clarity matters a lot. They complement each other if you feel the core of the story and bring the small nuances from it visually to the characters. A small gesture, which is appealing, can tell the entire story effectively.

Interior Sketch
Wolverine

Perspective is your camera on paper.

The world around us is in a 3D space. But we tell our stories through a 2D medium, like paper. That’s why one needs to use few tools to aid the narrative. The most important of them is perspective. It makes viewers’ attention focus towards a certain area in an artwork. Visually, perspective can be used to enhance storytelling, adding more dynamism to some parts. It can also mellow down certain areas to give importance to others. If used wisely, perspective can surely do a good job of conveying an idea.

Naseerudin Shah
Happy holi
Visuals
Hangout

Colours make your stories move.

Colours are the most dynamic part of an artwork. In the real world, they change so quickly that capturing the mood becomes quite challenging for an artist. One needs to learn colour behaviour and understand how it affects the viewer. The best way to go about understanding it is to paint from real life with traditional mediums. This increases your visual sense and helps you choose the right colours which can be later applied on the digital medium.

Relate to exaggerate.

You get best ideas for your character from the surroundings. First identify who, your neighbour, maid, postman, bus conductor, or people in a mall, resembles your character best. Then spot the characteristics, both in behaviour and appearance, which make them what they are. These are the qualities that can bring out the emotions. A good way to understand these features is to enact them out in front of the mirror. That way, you are able to absorb these qualities and translate them into your designs.

Visual development for a game level
Visuals
Environment Concept

Be open and observant.

There is a storehouse of positive energy that surrounds us. It manifests itself through characters, images, stories and every element of nature. You need to keep your eyes and mind open to grab all of it. Ideas, imagination, aesthetics, colours, forms and everything else that make your visuals are born out of this energy. It is the key factor that gets translated into your visuals. Everything else is incidental.

Visual development for a game level
Visuals
Forest Design

Published in Issue 15

In this issue, we invited leading Gaming professionals to share their inspirations along with their suggestions to improve the Gaming Art in India. Featuring some of the big names of Gaming Art likeVinay Vikram Singh, Sandeep Menon and Neeraj Menon along with International renowned Russian studio, ‘Grafit Studio‘ and many more talented creatives.

 

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Animator and Illustrator, Lavanya Naidu, expresses how one can find more, happiness, room to grow, not only professionally but also personally, by focusing on producing work that is rather challenging and cherishing at the same time.

Morning Stroll

Potato and Pea curry for dinner

Neighbours

CG. All your illustrations are fun, represent happiness. How do you choose your characters and topics of illustration?

Lavanya. I try to be an optimist about most things in life. I guess my work too in many ways, reflects the same. I want to be able to induce in my audience, I want to be able to share that positive energy. A lot of my work, characters and environments are based on simple joys and human emotion. I draw inspiration from my relationships; my friendships; the people (and sometimes animals) I see around; everyday moments worth freezing on canvas; worth appreciating and taking a second look at.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Bright Sunny Days

An illustration created for a friend celebrating her relationship.

CG. You use a very lively colour scheme that is, both, vibrant and subtle. Could you please tell us how you arrive at it?

Lavanya. My colour scheme has developed over time, and still has a long way to go! I began asking myself why does the sky have to be blue when it really isn’t always blue? There is a myriad of colours that we can play with. I began experimenting with different palettes and started understanding how the absence and presence of light change colour. It’s an ongoing journey and tremendous fun!

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Healers

Afternoons with the neighborhood watch

Summer

CG. What is your approach towards acquiring clients, and how do you fulfil their needs?

Lavanya. I have been extremely lucky to have had some wonderful clients. Most of my clients have approached me, having had looked at my work on Behance or my blog. I make sure to keep all of my pages updated with new projects, as soon as I can. I respect another person’s time and money as I would expect that in return, so it is of utmost importance that I deliver on or before a reasonable deadline. I usually take on work that I know, I would love to do so that I can be true to that commitment. Professionalism is key, it helps you filter out the unnecessities and focus on the actual task at hand.

Flamingo in My Garden.
A beautiful diversity of birds of the Indian subcontinent come together in this lovely story.

The Dark Glen. Cover art for Tinkle Comics.
What started off as a cover, soon turned into a comic inside as well!

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Where's the Mummy

CG. What do you feel is the balance between marketing, portfolio and quality of work when it comes to acquiring work? Do you think there’s anything more a designer needs to do?

Lavanya. We live in an age where there is an endless choice, and it gets harder and harder to make an impact on your audience. Our attention spans are fleeting. However, if you love what you do, and you can put that into your work, people can feel it. If instead of focusing solely on staying relevant, we can focus on producing work that challenges us and that we are passionate about, it gives us more room to grow both personally as well as professionally.

Something fishy. No Smoke Without Fire – a personal short animation film. Background explorations for an upcoming personal
short in progress.



I would say that quality of work is usually the most important aspect when acquiring work, followed by sharing it on different forums, where peers and professionals can see and critique your work, as well as sharing it on more public forums where people can relate and experience your work too. The learning never stops, so ask questions and keep at it.

The Bookworm.
A personal illustration dedicated to my best friend, a voracious reader, even in dim lighting.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Art made for TEDx Bangalore’s annual event.

CG. What inspires your style of work?

Lavanya. I am an avid observer and am stimulated by those around me; by everyday interactions, sometimes more complex emotion, or relevant subjects around the world that resonate with me. There is so much we have in common, so much to share, so much that can bring us together, that is what inspires me.

A Flamingo in my Garden.

To the Future. Personal art dedicated to my best friend and our enormous love for dogs.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
You Came. Personal work
Concept art for an upcoming personal animation film.

Published in Issue 37

Recent demonisation and changing Taxes has pushed most of us in planning our finances more seriously. So to answer some of the basic questions for designers, freelancers and creative studios, we interviewed some of the creative legends to guide and share their wisdom. The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing.

So don’t wait, just order your copy NOW!

 


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Highlighting illustration aspects such as lighting and colours, Naveen Selvanathan also dwells on his own personal story as an artist.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

Naveen has made quite a journey as an illustrator since he started out as a professional artist at Sony India. From his early days studying engineering to taking up an animation job post a related course in Chennai to further pursuing a Master’s in Fine Arts in the USA, he has made his way through.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

Today he’s involved in prestigious projects with Dreamworks in LA, California, currently focused on Puss in Boots 2 for the past couple of years.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. Please take us through your early days in art – How did it all begin? How did events progress thereafter and how did you experience them?

Naveen. I was always interested in art as a child but I did not know how to make a living as an artist. So, like all of my friends, I studied engineering. However, by the time I finished my engineering course, I realized that I did not want to work as an engineer and that art was my true passion. So I joined a short animation course in Chennai and managed to get a job as an animator. I worked there for a couple of years before moving to the US to pursue my Master of Fine Arts degree.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. How did you get into DreamWorks Animation and what role did you play there? Please also take us through one or two of your significant projects there.

Naveen. My director for Spiderman into the Spiderverse, Bob Persichetti, invited me to work on his next project, Puss in Boots 2, that he was directing at Dreamworks. That’s how I joined the studio. I have been working there for the past year and a half on the same project.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan


CG. How can one get the balance between lighting and colours right, so that they complement each other well?

Naveen. You have to think about lighting and colours in tandem since lighting decides how an object appears in the painting. A red object may appear orange-based or purple-based, depending on whether it is lit by the evening sun or the cool skylight in the shadows. You have to design your lighting based on what you want to convey through your work. A fashion illustration will be lit very differently from a painting of an action sequence, for example. We can learn a lot about light design by studying movies and photography.

Illustration by Naveen Selvanathan

CG. Can you point out some works or artists that represent this balance well?

Naveen. Among traditional artists, I look up to John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Kim English, and Matt Bodges for inspiration.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. Did personally moving to LA show any effect on your work process, results or so? How did it impact you as an illustrator?

Naveen. LA is where the Hollywood animation industry is mostly based. So many of the prominent artists have made it their home. Apart from that, many animation and art conventions take place in LA. Being surrounded by so much talent and having exposure to the industry has definitely improved my work and kept me inspired.

Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)

CG. Please tell us about your time with Disney Interactive Studios – What projects did you work on and what was unique about the work process there?

Naveen. Disney Interactive was a social gaming studio where I worked as an artist doing simple designs for their games. It paid my bills while I attended art workshops in the evenings to improve my portfolio and achieve my true goal of working in feature animation.

Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)

Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)

CG. Is it pressuring to work for big names and projects? How do you handle it?

Naveen. There is more pressure associated with big-name projects as you are surrounded by top talent who produce amazing work. You feel like you have to always be at the top of your game. I handle it by taking it one day at a time and trying to play to my strengths.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. How would you compare two greats such as Dreamworks and Sony, having worked for them both?

Naveen. Sony was the first feature animation studio to give me a chance by hiring me and providing a working visa. So I would forever be grateful to Sony. It was a great learning experience to work on productions there and watch top artists in the industry work. I have to say that the work at Dreamworks is a lot more relaxed because I joined as an experienced artist, not feeling the pressure to prove myself.



CG. Please tell us about your role for Smurfs and elaborate on it from brief to end result.

Naveen. Smurfs was my first feature film. I learned a lot of skills on that project, ranging from painting props and characters to painting locations, as well as lighting and colour keys.

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (Paint only)

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (Paint only)

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (Paint only)

CG. How much of a role do lighting and colours play in your work and what techniques do you use to apply them effectively?

Naveen. Lighting and colours play a very important role in my illustrations. I keep my light and shadows in layers so that I can play with the values and keep the overall illustration crisp and graphic.

Illustration by Naveen Selvanathan

CG. What have been your greatest lessons through working with such diverse organisations?

Naveen. I’ve learned that if your foundation is strong, you can survive in any studio and project. Along with that, always being willing to learn new ways and techniques from others, is something that always helps.

CG. Please shed some light on the significance of formal education in your illustration journey and what’s your advice to current art students?

Naveen. I would say, getting trained in the basics of art – such as anatomy, perspective, graphic design, lighting, and colour – is extremely important to enter, survive and thrive in the animation and illustration industry. What you learn is more important than where you learn it.

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What do you do when design schools don’t seem to work for you? Tanmay Mandal, a Prague based illustrator and concept artist shows us how you can pursue your passion in the creative field, through perseverance and more.

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal
The Ritual

Tanmay Mandal is a natural artist, however, his professional journey in the field of art began much later. Art being his natural calling, Tanmay finds great satisfaction and joy in his work. He is one of the fortunate few who find motivation and inspiration in the work itself.

Joker

Batman Fanart

Tanmay’s vivid art style is a display of hyper-realism, ethnic details, with dramatically created characters. Some of the themes that Tanmay enjoys creating are along the lines of Indian mythology, Egyptian goddesses, DC characters and more.

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal
Isis The Godess

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal

Being greatly influenced by the Mahabharat and Ramayana series in the ’90s, Tanmay’s art pieces showcase a recreation of magnanimous mythological characters. The discovery of Shilpa Shastra also played a role in the development of Tanmay’s distinct style.

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal
The Enchanted Melody of Krishna's Flute

Hanumaan and Bharat

However, what makes Tanmay’s art stand out is the play of mysterious dark themes. This is possible only with a deep understanding of principles of art, light, colours, and the emotion of the character. Apart from the foundational knowledge of art, Tanmay believes that one must also understand the personality of the artwork, perhaps in the form of witnessing them in the surroundings or already being familiar with the subject. Thus staying connected to one’s roots, helps one recreate familiar scenarios in a new way. This also gives the artist their own unique identity. On the other hand, pushing one’s boundaries is just as important, allowing one’s imagination to venture without direction.

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal
Nataraj



Durga

While Tanmay’s art pieces have a distinct taste of hyper-realism to them, he however never really predetermines his style. His art style is ever-evolving, always aiming towards quality and great standards. Thus in his professional work, it takes Tanmay about two to three weeks to complete an illustration. However, his personal work takes longer.

Crucified Zombie

Apart from Adobe Photoshop, Tanmay also relies on Procreate as a digital sketching tool.

The Goblin Thief

Tanmay’s experience through his years as a professional artist has taught him that perseverance is key, and the creative hunger should be kept alive.



You can experience Tanmay Mandal’s creations at his Artstation portfolio.

 

And for more exciting behind-the-scenes coverage of other artists & illustrators from around the world be sure to follow Creative Gaga on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Concept Art by Tanmay Mandal
Marine Mammals

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Concept and 3D artist Bhaskar Rac, who’s been working extensively in character development, 3D sculpting and the likes, expresses how one can come up with and hone one’s own style, without needing to follow popular fads or trends.

Abducted bride

Illustration for Antariksha Sanchar Dance Show

Red. A Fanart based on famous Transistor game.

Refreshing Ideas is the Intention

The idea is the starting point; its nature, relevance, and quality come into play even before the stage of executing it through the medium. The intention is to bring freshness into the storytelling or characters.

 

To entertain people is quite a tricky task, and you have to have a fresh mindset to playfully bring something new to the table every time.

Create Your Style
Mandala

Create Your Style
The Maharaja

So, it’s always recommended to not just stick to any one style or idea for too long, as its magic starts to fade away after being over-repetitive.

 

The solution, thereby, is to not categorise oneself with a style or medium. When it comes to the major approach, it simply about has preliminary sketches from the brief, and collecting all the related references, structuring, line drawings and then rendering.

Create Your Style
One last bullet

Create Your Style
Create Your Style
Wicked Wazir

Striking the Balance is of the Essence

Without expressions, figures are basically lifeless mannequins. So, it is always better to try and find a balance between simplicity and expressing with colours, feelings, emotions, lines, contours and the likes.

Create Your Style
Untitled

Create Your Style
The legend of Anarchy

If everything is too saturated and complicated, the illustration starts to crumble. The old and prevalent idea is always to capture the main essence of the subject, and let loose off the other things in the background.

Create Your Style
Splinter Cell

Create Your Style
The Interrogation

Colours, for instance, have their own importance in telling the difference between moods and temperature. At the same time, too many colours can be asking for too much attention, thus feeling overdone and confusing.

Create Your Style
Turquoise

Loyals

It doesn’t matter if one goes by the book, even when it comes to choosing colours if the process of drawing is dedicated to more attention and details. If the contrast or values are handled right, colours may not even be needed; it’s like expressing more with lesser words.

Create Your Style
Kolam

Create Your Style
Julius-Chopps

Do what Matters

The illusion of giving a good light takes the lion’s share in bringing the overall impact, whether it’s a simple line drawing or fully rendered artwork. Contrast and values are important to bring any photograph or illustration closer to its subject. If this fails, it’s hard to bring out what’s important against what’s in the background.

Create Your Style
The Gift

Create Your Style
The Royal Guard

Depending on the composition, textures, surface material, shape or form of anything we are placing as a subject, there can’t be a simple preset to it. This has to have experimented on at various levels.

Create Your Style
Kintsugi

Create Your Style
Crystals

There has to be a streamlined and thorough process to creating anything, else the result might be too chaotic in nature. The refreshing part of this industry, to succeed, no one has to copy others. Draw a lot; learn fundamentals; stay open to new techniques and technology, and keep experimenting.

Create Your Style
The Borrower

Create Your Style
The Rational Exorcist

Published in Issue 39

As the festivity is all around, every brand or business is trying to impress the Indian audience. But what really works for us Indians? What is an Indian design? And how we can make designs for India?

To understand it, we interviewed some Indian creatives who are successfully creating designs for the Indian audience. We support keeping ourselves connected with Indian cultures, languages, history, aspirations and more, will help find the Indian context in everything we create. This issue of Creative Gaga is a light read for someone looking for inspirations or insights on Indian design and how the Indian audience can be enticed. So go ahead and order your copy or subscribe if you want to keep receiving a regular dose of inspirations!

 


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Seerow Unni, a keen animator, takes us through his approach and process. He sheds light on how he arrives at improvising in the course of designing, and why it is so vital to enjoy each and every aspect of the progression.

Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level

The core intention is to convey the message.

For that, it is essential that one enjoys each and every moment of the process of creation, no matter how small or big the work. For example, rather than just as a simple image or illustration, one may perceive everything as a scene, like in a movie. This leads to adding details, emotions, fun and more to a scene. Similarly, when we get it right, fun or wit and humor are the easiest ways to make people fall in love with what we create. Improvisation, likewise, is a part and parcel of the experience. From the very beginning, one may sustain the habit of keeping a close eye on the developments that are happening in the world of creative designing. For instance, I had started with the traditional canvas and then with time, shift to the digital medium.

Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level
Key is to Enjoy the Process and Improvise at Every Level

One may continue to keep familiar and updated with the works of renowned digital artists. This automatically teaches to adapt to the needs of the changing times.

Diversity is a boon in the form of a challenge.

Dealing with different clients from diverse fields means they all have different requirements. They all demand a new approach, something that’s entirely path-breaking in the making of their animated film. This gives the freedom to keep the entire setting as well as characters so different from previous work. One must look at this as an opportunity instead of as a challenge and, no matter how big or small the work is, enjoy it to the fullest. Even if you are good in it, keep practicing and never stop sketching. It is equally important that you follow the famous artists and be updated about the trends and changes in design. There is no shortcut to success; as hard work always pays off in the end.

Changing with the times involves observing the direction.

The trend this year is shifting towards clean and minimal design from the complex, elaborated ones. Flat designs are going to be in the limelight. The idea is to keep things simple and minimal. In fact, minimalism is probably going to be a huge trend this year, not just in design, but in all walks of life. The challenge to come up with new ideas would be of a galactic proportion. But simplicity is the way to go forth, and it has got a lot of untapped potentials. We will be able to see these elements everywhere from movie titles to logos and other mediums. As far as perception goes, our audiences have always been game for positive changes. They will embrace the change with open arms.

Published in Issue 41

Every year brings many opportunities and hopes along with celebrations. For this issue, we reached many visual artists and designers to know their expectations from the year 2018. This issue’s cover designer, Shreya Gulati is exceptionally impressed by the advancement of technology in design, especially how VR & AR has impacted new ways of creating. Honing and sharpening one’s skills is always a quest for every creative. So, whether you have many or none expectations for the year, this issue is a must-read. Go ahead and order your copy here