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Portraiture, as an art form, is much older than photography. Great portrait masters have spent their lives learning this art. Vikas Sharma, a self taught photographer, finds himself in the same pursuit. He shares some of the rules of portrait photography, with the hope that one breaks them.

1. Eyes do the Talking

They are the foundation of a portrait. What do you want to do with them? Strong eyes, spontaneous, piercing, dull, happy or sad? Eyes looking away from the camera? Or closed, perhaps? Look at the subject’s eyes and decide what kind of story they speak. You can read the subject’s mind just by looking into their eyes.

2. Composing the Story

Just as an artist draws on his blank canvas, think about how will you compose within your viewfinder. Are you going to show the surrounding or just a blank background? Again, this will be dictated by what you want to show in your portrait.

3. No Talking at the Back

The strongest portraits are the ones, which emphasise the subject by using a simple blank background. Keep things simple, unless there is something really exciting in the background that complements the story. If you are unable to control the background due to the limitation of a studio, use a shallow depth of field to blur out the background.

4. Light-up Your Thoughts

While this is an infinite subject in itself and the most important one too, keep it simple. Keep it soft. Look at how great artists like Rembrandt have played with it. Think about what you want to achieve. Will it be flat? Is it low key? Or high key? Will, it has the dimension or will it have drama? Will it be warm or cold? Or perhaps a combination of all these. Whatever you decide make sure the picture is about the subject and not your lighting talent.

5. The subject of the Discussion

Know your subject, make them comfortable. They should enjoy and have fun. Nervous or uncomfortable subjects don’t make good portraits. Don’t even show them a camera unless you know they are ready for the picture. If possible meet the subject in an informal setting before the day of the planned shoot. Get to know them and listen to their stories. It will give you ideas on what kind of portrait you want to shoot.

Also if you are a begainer, then make sure to:

a) Invest in a good portrait lens

– 60mm to 135mm is a good focal length range.
– Get a fast lens with the aperture of 2.8.

b) Pre-plan on lighting

– Be ready with a reflector if you are shooting outdoors.

c) Shoot a million pictures

– You definitely can with a digital camera.
– Try different angles, get high or down low.
– Focus on the eyes.

d) Use an aperture setting

– Between 1.4 to 8, depending on the lens.

e) Always shoot camera raw

– Do not apply any in-camera filters like contrast, saturation etc.
– Keep all those things for postproduction in Photoshop.

f) Learn Photoshop

– It’s your darkroom of the digital age. Commercial images today are 30% photography and 70% Photoshop.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

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Aakash Ramesh

Aakash Ramesh is a Chennai based artist, specialising in pencil portraits.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

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Even with the conquest of digital technology in every realm of life, something is best enjoyed the traditional way. A portrait, for instance. Pencil artist Aakash Ramesh sticks to the old style and sketches out the realistic portrait of a popular personality. He shares the steps of the process.

Step 1 – Papers and References

Selected a good plain sheet of sketching paper. Placed the smoother side of the sheet over a plane. Chose the best reference picture with good shades and lightings. Took a print out of the reference picture in an A4 sheet by scaling it to the size planned. Grid the reference picture with a 2H pencil to avoid darker impressions, at the dimension of a 1-inch scale as shown.

Step 2 – Outline

Used the grid lines to fix the position of each element of the portrait falling into the perfect size while sketching the outline. Made the outline of the portrait with an HB pencil, which was lighter and could be erased and corrected at any point in time. Once the outline was finished, took up detailing using the shades of 2B and 4B pencils. To have a good start with the detailing, as a practice, always begin with the eyes as they are the most important factor and an element of a portrait.

Step 3 – Eyes

Used ‘Paper stumps’ or ‘Paper Tortillions’ to smudge the darker parts of the eyes as the character in the portrait had used darker eye cosmetics. The reflections of the eyes are very important as they make the eyes look real. Sketched the eyelashes individually and smudged it using the stumps. Made the shades below the eyes subtle so that the pencil strokes would not be visible. Took up the eyebrows and made them sharp at the edges as per the reference. It’s advisable to use a dusting bristle brush to wipe off all the pencil powders around the portrait in order to produce a quality output without messing it.

Step 4 – Nose

Used the stumps instead of the darker pencil strokes to detail the nose. It was the only projected part of a portrait and the shades should have been very subtle so avoided darker lines.

Step 5 – Cheeks, Lips and Skin

For this particular portrait, there were several shades required to create the cheeks, like in the reference picture. The character in the reference had a smile. To get the skin texture, used the ‘tissue papers’ for smudging the pencils strokes made over the side portions of the face. Gently rubbed the sketching sheet with the tissue paper so that the strokes smudged and smoother shades appeared.

 

Be careful to have no patches or dark shades while smudging with tissue papers, especially of your own fingerprints. Lip lines had to be darker while the shades were to be lighter by smudging. After finishing the shades in the lip, gave details to the texture of the lips with gentle strokes, using the 2B pencil.

Step 6 – Hair

Hair was the trickiest part of this portrait. The reference picture showed how darker and the deeper the shades of the hair were. Every hair had to be shown in detail to make it look realistic. At the beginning, strokes had to be made with the flow of the hair from the root of it because only by this an illusion of creating the hair with perfect shades could be attained. Made sure not to shade at the parts where it had to shine or glow.

 

Used various pencils to show the depth of the flow. Used 4B and 6B pencils, had them sharpened and made gentle and firm strokes. Took care not to make an impression on the paper by not giving it a harder press. Details that were required to make the hair look real were also making all the single hair look separated. This would make the hair to wave through the air.

Step 7 – Detailing

The final objects of the portrait would be the neck and the dress. The texture of the dress used in the reference picture varied due to the lighting. So used different pencils to show the difference in the shades. Strokes should not be visible as they would make the portrait look messy. Smudged the strokes until the texture cloth was created. Kept it gentle as there were chances of damaging the sheet due to over smudging.

Step 8 – Finalising

Used the ‘kneaded eraser’ to show the highlighted regions of the portrait. There was a small reflection of the lighting near the right cheeks. Used the kneaded eraser gently to wipe out the shades and make it look like a glow. Took off all the grid lines from the sheet as a last step. Erased all the unwanted shades around the portrait. Arrived at the final image.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

Order Your Copy!

Vikas Sharma

Vikas Sharma is a self taught photographer and digital retouching artist based in New York. He has worked with and for major Indian and American advertising companies for over ten years.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

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Giulio Iurissevich

Giulio Iurissevich studied economics and law and dabbled with many jobs finally settling as a graphic artist and illustrator. He has worked for many reputed international brands, held multiple exhibitions and has been featured on many international publications.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

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Avinash Jai Singh

Avinash Jai Singh, a regular small town boy who has an amazing sense of visual art and capturing moods from his camera. A photographer and illustrator by profession, his work showcases a beautiful harmony of portraits, colours and lighting, thereby depicting beautiful stories and emotions.


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Manav Sachdev

Manav Sachdev did Bachelors in Visual Arts from Govt. College of Art and Craft, Kolkata and a diploma in Animation from Maximus Autodesk, Mumbai. He has worked as a concept artist in a gaming company and an illustrator in a design agency.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore. So Order Your Copy Now!

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We are all perfect behind the confusion we create. From this realisation comes out images from the colourful and quaint world of graphic artist Giulio Iurissevich. In an informal chitchat, he guides us through the avenues of his mind to a reality that is full of the unknown.

Pordenone. Artwork for the blues festival.
Pordenone. Artwork for the blues festival.

Confusion is the real artist who takes small steps before leaping in completely to the world of unknown.

DC Comics . Artwork for the anniversary celebrations of Warner Bros.
Iodio. Artwork for a magazine cover

CG: You have had a rather chequered career. When you finally took up art, did that help?

Giulio: Before taking up art, I did removals, worked at the grocery store and played as a DJ. I felt very unhappy and out of place during this period. Before I could figure out why, I’d used up almost all the energy I had, trying to be what others wanted. Then I began to suffer. And great pains have been known to break many defences. I started listening to my heart and started doing what I loved most, create images. The myriad images from my random life stuck on. On the canvas, the outburst that comes out, is just a retrospective of the experience of my subconscious.

Wasp. Personal work for private collection.
Artaq. Award winning urban street art.
Wl’italia. Design for the book cover.

CG: Is the chaos that one notices in your artworks, a result of this?

Giulio: Yes, the chaos of the mind. I try to find out perfections through these forms and explore what is really beautiful behind them. This confusion is the real artist who takes small steps before leaping in completely to the world of unknown. I believe that art is an abstraction and when you get lost in what you do this is meditation. And here you can meet yourself. My most authentic images are the ones that I have done without thinking, without calculation.

DC Comics. Artwork for the anniversary celebrations of Warner Bros.
Pordenone. Artwork for the blues festival.
Quiet 4 a Wrong Reason. Selected to be part of Luerzer’s Archive’s best 200 illustrator worldwide collection.

CG: In absence of a pre-plan, how do you arrange the potpourri of symbols and visuals in your frames?

Giulio: Some of my images have their own lives. They have found their symbols and visuals on their own. They have created themselves, with me just watching and attending the experience. Everything starts with an intention. But along the way, almost all of the journey becomes spontaneous. The genuine desire to create art triggers the engine of creativity. The rest is just about picking up images that express your intention.

Pordenone. Artwork for the blues festival.
Beforehorsefight
Last Day of Summer

CG: So, what is the intention generally, in the images that you create?

Giulio: I never think of my viewers while doing my images. They come out on their own, without making an effort to mean or communicate anything. I leave my images open to interpretations. Each person has his own individual life, colours, sounds, vibrations and it’s better not to shove anything down their brains. The only instance where this is not true is when I work under commissions and under tight deadlines. Precisely why I’m gradually migrating from commercial illustration to art.

Viola-kid
Bride

CG: Whether illustration or art, technology is the common thread between the two. How much of your art is influenced by technology?

Giulio: Technology and machines are only tools. Technology is good if you use it without depending on it, without anaesthetising yourself and your pain. If you can make yourself one with machines, surely you will see something original coming up. Everything can be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for.

Mango Insight
Indaco
Lollipop

CG: As an end note, what is it that are you looking for through your images?

Giulio: The story behind my story. The beauty behind evil. The harmony in chaos.

Marrow
Animales Salvajes

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

Order Your Copy!

Every day, one encounters all sorts of people – happy, angry, sad. These emotions are all displayed on their expressions, which give birth to different stories. Therefore, it’s the expression that’s the starting point for character artist Manav Sachdev. From expression to stories, he reflects on his design tenets.

Blob. As the name says, it has no shape or definition and is lost and helpless
Shiva

Silence Speaks A Thousand Words.

Expressions, though a mute element, tells the complete story of a character. It holds in itself the complete ecosystem in which a character dwells. On gaming, one does have the opportunity to narrate and explain the character in motion. But on 2D medium, the expression of the character defines its persona. The body language, environment, costume and props of a character are all derived from the character. While the expression holds the key, every other element complements the authenticity of the character.

The Tribal Warrior – Kings Guard

The Rules For Creating A Character Are Variable.

In the field of gaming, the character comes out of a strong script and they have certain attributes like age, weight, strength, power etc. attached to them. One also needs to keep the variable of animation in mind. Whereas creating characters for other mediums, one has the freedom of creating a certain expression and form of the character. Of course, research and allegiance to the script play a big part. But an artist has the freedom to imagine without thinking much about making it suitable for animation.

Little Jack
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Little Jack Fishing

What You Observe Is What You Create.

There is an extensive amount of research that is required for character design. It is important to be observant of the world around which helps one to visualise and create characters. Realism plays an important role in character design. It’s not about copying a character but observing it and then executing it in one’s own way. Exaggeration is the next step. It depends on me how much one wants to imagine and also what the script demands. Across the process, one needs to have a strong visual sense to create an authentic yet imaginative character.

Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Mortal Heroes
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Rajasthani Nomad

The Subject Chooses The Artist.

Everything around an artist is a source of inspiration. It is the hunger of learning something new every day, to observe something new and to execute something new that keeps an artist going. It’s a big world out there and we have a lot to learn. Let yourself loose in these inspirations. And before you realise, these inspirations will automatically push you into imagining and creating.

Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
The Funny Side of Technology
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Rules But No Rules

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore. So Order Your Copy Now!

 

Order Your Copy!

Symbols and metaphors offer an interesting layer to play around with and discover what lies beneath. Taking a cranky bit on everyday life can lead to fun stories. Designer-illustrator Avinash Jai Singh attempts to evoke emotions through a simplistic approach to metaphors.

The Conversation

Everything Stands for Something

On a design, every line and curve is a storehouse of emotions. It’s amazing how simple forms and shapes, when given the right twist and tweak, can mean episodes of a story. As opposed to imitating reality, a basic shape with enhanced or exaggerated features can keep you engaged and involved.

 

Geometry with the right gestures can bring up emotions. Characters, visual elements and environment are just steps in the process.

Nibmaniac
Chill-Out Puttar

Characters Represent a State of Mind

How you choose characters is how you perceive the world. For instance, the choice of jelly-like characters can be indebted to a childhood fascination. The way it moves and its wobbly motions are actually a rebellion against the proper form. As kids, you are taught to mimic and echo reality.

 

Good grades depend on your ability to sketch exactly like nature or books. This may not be liberating enough for some. Which is why one goes to pick characters that represent the thought that lies beyond the conventional.

Music Factory
Music Factory

What the Character Speaks not, the Environment does.

Once you decide the proportion of the character in the context of the situation, creating the environment becomes easier. It is like setting up a novel, one frame at a time. Emotions and gestures are very important here. The environment needs to support the mood and feel of the character.

 

It needs to subconsciously show if the characters are happy or grumpy. Unlike animation, a still frame doesn’t tell you about the sad scene or the happy one. So, the environment makes up for that bit. It’s like the background score for a silent frame.

Audio City

Humour Induces Change

Art has the potential to create an analogy. It can become so big that communities and audience are forced to think. And humour is the most friendly way to put across an idea that can connect, communicate and catalyse. It’s simply a metaphor for dissecting all the complexities of today’s society.

 

Keeping visuals happy and positive often makes them work in the audience’s mind. It’s not about changing the world or practical things around us. That’s not what art is supposed to do. But if worked out right, visuals can definitely change perceptions.

Sub-Woofer

Enjoy the Beauty in Uncertainty

Many times, the visual elements have nothing to do with the design or the story. It’s their shape and existence that triggers something. It’s often more about objects around at that moment or a book that one has come across. That’s what is beautiful about being an illustrator.

 

You don’t have to prepare for it like a photo shoot. Once the idea of the story is sculpted, the environment around it just evolves. The direction it takes is totally instinctive. This beauty of uncertainty is the most fun part of the entire process.

Heroes

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore. So Order Your Copy Now!

 

Order Your Copy!