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The illustrator Ruchi Shah reflects on how illustration changes or retains form as it travels from one medium to another.

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Cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.
Illustration
The making of the cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.

While the Canvas becomes the message, Illustration becomes the medium

The job of a canvas is to effectively communicate the purpose of illustration. At the same time, illustration is a fitting medium that communicates the purpose of design. Together, they allow a designer to look at things from unlikely angles, allowing one to economise resources and break distinctions. This makes illustration a hybrid of different disciplines like art, craft, architecture and photography. Thus, narrating pictorial stories of the constantly evolving world.

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Front and back cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.

Stories happen through Connections

Whether literal, physical or humorous, it is the connection that makes the style complement the idea. Space-agnostic illustrations are more skill-driven than conceptually steered. Thereby making the style of illustration following the idea. In such cases, the key is to know what can and what can’t be achieved through your form. The possibilities and limitations often declare the idea. Once you know your style well, it becomes easy to explore your idea further.

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The world through my window. Poster for an annual competition held by Association of Illustrators.

In the artwork, ‘The World through my Window’, the idea is a jumble of what has caught the illustrator’s fancy while travelling, expressed through a pop-art-ish route. The messy, clean and cozy windows that she observed kicked off the visual approach in her mind. The approach took inspiration from her cluttered workspace that is always scattered with curios, boxes, containers and papers. All these objects rearranged themselves to create the visual. With small niches and spaces it worked perfectly as big or small windows and buildings. The artwork is buzzing during the day, but actually comes alive at night. Being created with a mixture of coloured semi-transparent papers, it can be lit up during the night.

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The Rainmaker. Illustration for a children’s book.

The medium tells you what to do

An illustrator should let the form of illustration take shape according to what the medium allows it to do. This essentially means one needs to know the medium well. Does it bend? Does it fold? Where does it want to go? What does it refuse to do? The answers to these questions determine how one should go about the form, using the chosen medium. Keep exploring, make mistakes, characterise these errors and finally, build on some of them. The enhancement of the imperfections sometimes becomes the key to making a perfect visual.

Illustration
Illustration
Purestone. Entrance graphics for a London based agency.

The brief was to design the entrance of ‘Purestone’ – a London-based digital marketing agency’s office. Part of a rebranding project, it was done in collaboration with Kyle Henderson. The 25ft x 10ft long space, had to be attention grabbing for potential clients, giving the office a strong identity. The style of both the designers on the project had a lot of detailed and bold line work, making it possible for occasional overlapping. Incorporating the window with a view of urban London that sat exactly in between the space, a visual was created that complemented style of both the illustrators on the project. As the space had a lot of geometrical niches and corners, a seamless graphic was preferred to run across it. The style nicely adjusted to the scale of the space and was received enthusiastically by the onlookers.

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The Rainmaker. Illustration for a children’s book.

Expertise is to know how to give context to everything

Of course, knowledge and skill remain irreplaceable. But expertise also comes with awareness that anything and everything can be used to express yourself. Either by essence or by form, if materials are captured and framed with singular or multiple contexts, brilliant results can be achieved. Turning snags into starting points for constructing the visual and keeping a balance between pausing and exaggeration define it. Unlearning trumps learning and knowledge of that facilitates expertise.

Illustration
The making of the Umbrella, the Rainmaker.

For the project, ‘The Rainmaker’, different skills were combined into one installation, where everything remained substituted. The fabric turned into rain, plastic pipes poured out paper puddles and real people became mere props. The idea was a transition between a sense of reality to conceptual and stylized depictions. The archetypal British summer was the inspiration behind creating the visual around rain, which the designer literally attempted to ‘make’. This was justified with a screen-printed fabric on which it was raining cats, dogs, fish, alligators etc., giant paper-cut ‘water’ and an intricately hand crafted umbrella, creating an image of the urban world above it, using mundane materials such as black strings and wires and things found in everyday life. This carefully arranged scene was a full-blown installation, letting people take the centre stage.

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The making of the Umbrella, the Rainmaker.

Sum up to your talent everyday, every moment

Learning and exploring are the two essential ways by which you can keep moving forward. Achieve that through travelling, developing new habits, observing anything and everything, miscellaneous conversations, following the trends in nature and the haphazardness of our responses to those trends. A culmination of all of these will be exemplified in your work.

Illustration
Umbrella for the Rainmaker Illustration.

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

 

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Kriti Chaudhary

A graduate in Visual Arts from Camberwell College of Art, Kriti Chaudhary’s chance introduction to clay during her early years of product design made her realise the immense expression, tactility the medium offered and she found herself drawn to the ceramic medium. She is currently practicing as a designer-maker in New Delhi.


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Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

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Ruchi Shah

Ruchi Shah studied advertising from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai, followed by a Masters in Visual Design (M.Des) from IDC, IIT-B. She has been a visiting Charles Wallace Fellow to Camberwell College of Arts. Currently, she works as a freelance illustrator based out of Mumbai.


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Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

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Balasubramanian

Balasubramanian, better known as Bala, has supervised the animation of much acclaimed 3D TV series ‘Higgly Town Heros’ of Walt Disney, the international award-winning animated short ‘The Bad Egg’ and has directed multiple award-winning 3D TV series ‘Little Krishna’. Currently, he is the art and animation director at QYUKI Digital Media.


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Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round

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Jasminder Oberai

A self-learned photographer, Jasminder Oberai dabbles with almost every form of photography. His venture, The Footmarks, have associated with Canon India where it organises and conducts photography workshops and photo tours.


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Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

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It’s interesting how all of us grow up with individual memories and experiences. It’s fascinating how transforming these memories to stories can create opportunities of telling unique tales that can emotionally connect to a universal audience. Animation filmmaker Balasubramanian explores his own memories and maps them to create engaging visuals and films.

KING SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. As the ruler
MYSTERIOUS SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. In his mystic world

Everybody is Somebody

All of us grow up in a certain environment, surrounded by visuals, which are unique in their own right. For an artist and storyteller, it’s imperative to go back to these memories to find figment of characters and stories. Everyone’s upbringing defines the visuals, mood, emotion, choice of colour, lighting etc. that one works with. One should be aware of it. After all, it’s always an emotional turmoil and an urge to communicate that makes one a creator. Be true to these feelings and you’ll end up creating engaging stories that will connect and speak to the audience.

RELIGIOUS SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. Performing a tantric ritual

The Story is the Key

The process of narration can begin with a story, or a character, or justa few visuals. Any which way, it all boils down to one core story which is what you are working on. And this depends on a lot of factors. Who are you talking to? Which cultural mindset do they adhere to? What is the lifestyle and belief set they dwell in? And many more such questions that need to be answered before you take it forward. Next up, the story gives way to the elements of the craft – design, look-&-feel, camera angles, colours, lights etc. The key is to keep your story simple. If struck right, it will never fail to hit the audience and move them from within.

Ideation for an Illustration
WARRIOR SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. The fearless warrior

For Your Eyes Firstly

A film is primarily a visual medium. Therefore, it makes sense to pay extra attention to what you are sketching. The visuals should be appealing enough to keep the audience glued and be attentive to the narration. While the story dictates the visuals, it is usually the choice of colours that define the mood. And to top it, use a careful arrangement of lights to heighten the drama and movement of the frame.

THOUGHTFUL SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. Glimpse of his incredible brain
FIGHTING SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. The magnificent warrior

Normal is Boring

There is no fun in being normal. As filmmakers, our job is to blow up proportions of a character or a story that turns it into dramatic, engaging and moving. Exaggerating characters and elements is, therefore, one of the most prominent tools. Caricaturing is an age-old phenomenon. Therefore, the idea of exaggeration brings with it lots of challenges and opportunities at the same time.

POWERFUL SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. Displaying supernatural power
FURIOUS SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. The indestructible force

Hold on to Your Thought

There are umpteen visuals, sounds and incidents happening around you that hold seeds of stories. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open and grasp everything that you can. You never know what is going to strike you, when and where. And once you have got the thought, hold on to it. Spend time with that streak of an idea and develop it into something that becomes a part of yourself, in a true and honest manner. That’s how you become a storyteller that’s uniquely you. Hit upon an idea, form a story and then leave it to your instincts to do the rest.

RIDING SAGE. Part of an unreleased project. On an incredible journey

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

 

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The photographer Jasminder Oberai shares quick tips and tricks to capture the landscape in better frames.

Capture Landscapes in a Better Frame

Understand Light

The first and foremost requirement of good landscape photography is light. One has to understand how light behaves and must be able to ‘see’ light. Nothing will work if the quality of light is not good. Light is the soul of your image and it will always be the differentiating factor between a dynamic or lifeless image.

Capture Landscapes in a Better Frame

Being There at the Right Time and Moment

Life of a studio photographer is a lot about f/8 and 1/125, but it’s a jungle out there for a landscape photographer. There is only one source of light i.e. the sun and that is what makes the life of a landscape photographer most challenging. You must keep in mind that light continuously changes in intensity throughout the day. The sun will rise and set at different angles and different times.

 

It is important to do homework before going for the shoot to ensure you do not get disappointed. Go through the weather forecast, find out exact time for sunrise and sunset and time your visit to perfection to maximize your chances for great shots. Missing the right moment makes you miss a great shot.

Understand your Camera

Apart from being able to see and understand light, you must also know your camera like the back of your palm. Light changes very fast and rarely does it give you sufficient time to fiddle around with your camera settings. If you are not familiar with your camera, you are going to miss that golden moment and it will show in your final output.

Master your Exposure

It is the key to good landscape photography. You must understand how meter works in different lighting situations. For instance, while clicking snow, the biggest challenge lies in camera’s metering system. Brightly lit and fresh snow is about 1.5 to 2 stops brighter than 18% grey which is what your camera meter expects to see. This will result in snow appearing grey in colour. You should compensate with putting your meter setting to +1/3 or +1 stop to make it look perfect white. However, be careful that it does not blow out the details from snow.

Play with Light and Shadows

Where there is light, there will be a shadow. Understand the play of light and shadow and chose your angle and composition carefully to bring out a nice contrasting relationship between the two. Presence of shadows adds depth to the image and they add life to otherwise dull and flat images if composed and exposed well. Take care to leave some details in shadow areas.

Clicking in the Twilight

It is one of the most interesting landscape photography techniques. Do not leave the scene after the sun has set. Instead, take out your tripod and shutter release to shoot most interesting landscape photographs. The low light landscape photography poses its own challenges but the results make the efforts worth every penny. The best time to shoot twilight landscapes are around half an hour before the sunset and may last around half an hour after the sunset. To get best results, minimize the chances of camera shake. Mirror lock option adds to the quality of image produced.

Panoramas Capture the Expanse

There is no better way to show the vastness of a stunning landscape. No wide angle lens can ever do justice. Keep the camera at the same level to shoot all pictures to be used for the final image. Overlap your images at least by 15% to 20%. Meter the entire scene manually to ensure proper exposure. Finally, do some post-processing before stitching the images to create the final panorama.

Compose it Well

To create an image that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, understand the rules of composition. It always helps in creating visually pleasing landscape images. Never put the horizon in center. Use Rule of thirds to place the horizon properly in your image. Leading lines take the eye of the viewer from one point to another, thus helping the viewer stay longer on the image.

Know the Rules to Break the Rules

Rules may give you a starting point, but they do not determine the ultimate effect of your image. Do not be afraid to break or ignore them. As in own words of the celebrated photographer Ansel Adams, “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs”

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

 

Order Your Copy!

Tapping into a world that’s wonderfully chaotic, digital artist Satish Gangaiah integrates new-age technology with traditional art to bring out the central and common pursuit of his core project – people.

Wonderfully Chaotic
Light Me a Dream
Wonderfully Chaotic

For the series, Urban Contours, Satish steps into the shoes of the personalities, transforming each chosen subject to more approachable characters. Wonderfully Enigmatic people with endless emotions feature in every artwork. All characters enjoy their own space, their own perspectives in this world. They all stand alone with their own different stories and perceptions.

Wonderfully Chaotic
Wonderfully Chaotic

The urban influenced illustration style paints interpretations of the world while the colours bring honesty to the frame. Gaining inspiration from various imbalanced, irregular environments, the protagonist is always put amidst the middle of this pandemonium. All characters are made to be expressions of their strong personalities, displaying what they believe in and what they are. With a look and feel that gives credit to the world around us, the common story running through every creation fluctuates between freedom and just being ourselves.

Wonderfully Chaotic

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

 

Order Your Copy!

Satish Gangaiah

Satish Gangaiah completed his graduation from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat specialized in painting and illustrations. He creates concept based illustrations, painting, graphics and animation on the emotions revolves around the normal life. 


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Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

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Whether a hero or a villain, God or Goddess, in an illustration they’re all storytellers. Artist and graphic novelist Abhishek Singh believes that a character is the fulcrum upon which the entire story rests. He lays out the process by listing up few key aspects of character building which results into storytelling.

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The Wise King Bali - An Onam Story
character-abhishek-singh
The Guardian

The character is your plot and the plot is your character.

The story is set in an environment which gives the narrative a frame of time and space, providing more context and believability to the whole idea. Also, the environment has both physical and psychological effect on characters, presenting them with opportunities and challenges to move forward and complete the story. Characters and plots share a symbiotic relationship. They have to intersect ideologically, synergise each other and grow together.

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The Knower of Solitude - Kevalya
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Fierceful

Dramatise to accentuate the experience.

Making your character look more dramatic and unreal accelerates the senses of the viewer and enhances the narrative. For example, adding many hands and faces makes them mythical, taking the story beyond the realms of imagination. For an illustrator, everything is symbolic. The gestures are the invisible language of the universe. The colours represent the various sound and scalar frequencies of this quantum universe which adds intensity to the narrative. The ornaments they adorn help identify their purpose. Making the characters superhuman is the easier part, blending the story into them is where the challenge lies.

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Shiva as Bhairava
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Kansa

Play dress-up with your character.

Costume and props give the character its identity, like Krishna’s peacock feather. They also give the character a sense of history, like where he comes from and what he does. Of course, a lot of it has cultural relevance. For instance, if he’s got a bow and arrow, he’s a warrior. And in the story, he comes from a mythical past with a mission to destroy the demons. Similarly, if he’s got guns as his weapons, he’s a futuristic soldier. Everything must compliment in your character to really assimilate a sense of believability.

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Bhadrani
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Avatar

It’s all in the expressions.

The expression is how you perceive what’s happening in the story. That’s why try to get everything in your work to emote, both literally and subtle. They are an integral part of the character and hence, they hold an important place in the entire creative process. As part of the character, expressions add up to the numerous elements that define the former. And as a part of the narrative, expressions reinforce the movement and action.

character-abhishek-singh
Krishna
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Krishna
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Chariot God

Colours tell the story as much as the drawings.

Colours create a mood. Treat them like emotions. If you want depth, include shades from the same palette. For intensity and drama, use greys and blacks with a dab of a highly contrasting colour to highlight the character. Colours give definition to the character and add to the meaning of the story. Black and white on the other hand creates a high contrast image, where the eyes seamlessly can navigate through the image.

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Who is that which dances to the sound of silence
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The Knower of Solitude - Kevalya
character-abhishek-singh
Bhudeva- Lord of the earth (a roopa of shiva)

Elements are the time travel machines.

Every component in your design stands for something. The use of mythological elements helps bring back lost ideas from ancient texts. Futuristic elements tease the realms of the viewer’s imagination and set them in a state of wonder. It’s all about what story you wish to tell. Pick the elements that will place the character and in turn, the viewers, in the right space and time. Whether it’s about the past or the future, it’s for the elements to create the illusion.

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Episode-05 "The Zicron"
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The Miner and the winged Jarita
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Transformation

Detailing helps. Not too much of it though.

Detailing can add as well as kill. It can take away from the mood of the picture or add great depth. It also helps set the focus areas of an image. It’s for the artist to decide how much is too much. Across the journey of creation, one needs to know when to go with the flow and when to stop.

character-abhishek-singh
Be like Water
character-abhishek-singh
Warfront
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Krishna

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

 

Order Your Copy!

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