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Using Humor in Art

Who doesn’t love to laugh? Certainly me. I’ve always loved humor and applying it in unusual places (as long as it’s appropriate). I even applied humor to a PowerPoint presentation I had to do in high school.

But I also enjoy making my artwork funny. Some of the pieces include a rooster riding a unicycle, a man playing an instrument with a lion in his boat, and a dingo eating a baby (which was not my original idea, but a tragedy turned into a comedy). You can find them on this blog through older posts. I’ve also done silly “Harry Potter” fan art when I was younger. I still have the drawings in my room. However, I won’t share them online. Not just for possible copyright reasons, but also because I don’t find them funny anymore. My family would consider them weird at the time. Now I agree with them.

While still on the fan art topic, I photo-shopped Rafiki holding up Kenny from “South Park” and made it my computer screensaver. Just like with the wacky “Harry Potter” drawings, I think it’s best not to post the laptop background. But a few people have admired it.

Comedy is often not easy to execute successfully. However, I’ve made people laugh with a video I animated about a snake swallowing an entire wedding cake, which you can find on YouTube if you search, “Sunayna Prasad here comes the snake”. I think I could make a great comedian, but I don’t think it’s worth it for me.

Nevertheless, I still enjoy cracking people up. Not only with my artwork, but many other ideas, as well.

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Mini Art Show: Rooster on a Unicycle

What a better way to wake up every morning, right? A rooster riding a unicycle. It’s a twist on the cliché of a rooster cockadoodle doing on top of a barn as the sun rises.

Actually, it was inspired by my neighbor, who has a noisy rooster. I’ve always wondered if it was hungry, or just expressing itself. I used to have guinea pigs and they used to squeak when they were hungry.

Anyway, back to the image. I’ve always loved humor in pretty much anything positive, including art. I’ve done a collage of a man playing music with a lion in his boat and a dingo eating a baby (which actually happened, sadly, but was changed to a humorous saying). You can find them on another post.

So, as you can see, the rooster is in the countryside and there’s a barn in the background as well as hayfields. The rooster is probably bigger than real ones are.

Another thing about this piece is that I used Chartpak markers—something I haven’t used in years. I forgot how much they bleed and how strong they are. In fact, when I used them in college, everyone and I were instructed to color on the back for our drawings.

After I colored in the pencil outlines, I traced over color edges with a pen. That’s actually a common practice for artists.

There you have it.

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Mini Art Show: Cupcake Tower

Who has seen a cupcake tower before? I have, but only in pictures. Cupcake towers have become very popular over the years, especially at weddings.

But how many can fit on the stand all together? That’s tough when you never had one you could easily handle. Looking at pictures can only provide you so much. You can count the cupcakes you can see in the image and estimate how many are not shown. However, that’s still difficult.

It’s also hard to find exact measurements and the accurate number of cupcakes needed per base on the stand. Luckily, I found one.

Why did I do this, you may ask? Because I wanted to challenge my illustration skills. No, I am not planning a party. This was just for fun.

Enough about the stand—onto the cupcakes. I gave the cupcakes different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, carrot, and strawberry. The frostings are vanilla, pink vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cream cheese. I actually made myself a cupcake library for me to copy and paste. That way, I can save time and keep the cupcakes more accurate and even.

I dragged a high number all together. I don’t recall the exact count. But who cares? Like I said before, it’s only for pleasure.

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Simple Shapes vs. Outlining Drawings

Who has drawn before? Pretty much all of us. We learned it in school. However, only a section of us have developed a passion or talent for them.

Most of us were probably taught to outline our drawings first as children. And that is fine. But if you go into illustration or animation, you’ll have to learn about drawing using simple shape blocks. Why? Well, consistency. The smallest can be greatly noticed by the general public.

While I still outline some drawings, when I want to be serious, I now use simple shapes. The image below shows a drawing I did using simple shapes.

It wasn’t meant to be finished as it was used as a reference template for someone I’ve worked with. Yet, you can see the simple shapes as building blocks for each character or element.

There are times where it’s acceptable to outline or be very simplistic. Like in math, you may have been asked to draw out problems but not use details. The focus was the problem and not the art. But I’m no math expert.

Anyway, if you’re in a hurry, by all means outline everything first, like you were probably taught as a kid. But if you’re a serious artist who wants to hone your illustration or drawing skills, then simple shapes are a must. I was taught this in college.

I don’t have a picture that I clearly outlined. Well, I’ve practiced using other drawings. But I threw them all away due to space issues in my room. Also, they weren’t my ideas.

Yet, I can tell you the technique. I would select a semi-realistic image and decide on the person’s age range and gender. The choices for age range were baby/small child, older child, teen/young adult, middle aged adult, or senior. I would use an image from the face to chest instead of the whole figure. I would tell myself to observe the outlines but not to trace. Pretty much no image came out exact. However, most did turn out similar. And I accepted that.

I would practice at least a couple times a day. Then I would move to the next level of making them look like cartoons of themselves. That was very, very difficult.

Why semi-realistic, you may ask? One, it’s the style I’m most attracted to. Two, it’s neither too realistic or too cartoony. Many people prefer cartoonish style over realistic. But I feel cartoonish is a little too easy for me.

I would like to return to that soon. You could try these techniques too. Good luck.

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Drawing by Hand and Coloring in Photoshop

Who’s done this before? Raise your hand. Ha ha, just playing with you. But believe it or not, it can be fun. I’ve done it so many times.

I do have a graphic tablet that I can draw on. Although I’ve gotten better control at it, I still draw better with pencil and paper—the old-fashioned way.

However, when it comes to coloring, digitally is more fun. Think about it. You’ve got unlimited colors, digital tools, and best of all, no mess to clean up. It’s all on your computer or tablet (like an iPad).

Below is an example of an illustration I did where I drew by hand and colored digitally.

Can you see the pencil lines? I don’t know about you, but I can. They look kind of rough. There are a few digitally-drawn lines as you can see on the sidewalk, street, and even the bricks. And the colors are obviously digital.

Here is another image drawn traditionally and painted digitally.

Although this might not look nearly as exciting as the one with the teenage boy above, the pencil lines are more obvious. The colors were originally done with chartpak markers, which leave extreme marks. Some hues were re-painted in Photoshop.

While these were fist done with pencil outlines, sometimes I trace the pen over the pencil and erase the pencil marks, like in this image below.

Chairs

Those lines look crisp and clear, not to mention much smoother. That is because they were done with high-quality pens. And, of course, the colors are digital.

Yes, Photoshop and any other Adobe program is costly. But if you have it or want it, once you get good at it, coloring your hand-drawn images is super fun.

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How to Use Reference Images for Illustration

An example of an illustration I did using reference material

What is a reference image, you may ask? A reference image is a picture you use to inspire your drawing or illustration. You do NOT copy it exactly, unless, of course, it’s for personal use only. However, if you’re going to upload it online or make money off of it, then at least some aspects have to be changed.

For example, you draw a portrait of a person. You use a photo to guide you. But to make it your own and not be considered plagiarized, you should change, say the eye color, remove a piece of jewelry, etc.

Another trick I’ve come up with on my own is mixing and matching facial features to create illustrations of people. I would use different images from various sources, like Google or my school yearbooks. I would draw one person’s set of eyes, another’s nose, another’s smile, and so forth, on one character. As long as it doesn’t look obvious and you change some details, you’re fine.

Reference images are also useful for body positions, scenery, backgrounds, and more. In fact, if you go into illustration or animation, then reference images are musts. You need to make the art appear credible. Drawing just from your imagination will cause more people to consider you illegitimate.

Of course, no artist is perfect. In fact, many cartoons have inconsistencies with their art. For example, a character’s eye color may change. Or a tree may disappear. This is easily noticed by audiences.

So there you have it. Now have fun illustrating using reference images.

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Mini Art Show: Perseus and Medusa

An illustration I did for college

How many of you enjoyed learning about Greek mythology? I certainly did. That was why I chose to illustrate scenes from “Perseus and Medusa”.

This was an assignment in my illustration class at college. It was the final one. We had to illustrate a fairytale NOT adapted by Disney. I was passionate about “Perseus and Medusa”.

Above is where Perseus has just chopped off Medusa’s head. Want to know the story? You’ve got Google for that. Or you may already know.

While my professor was unhappy about this, I had copied an illustration I did of Perseus holding Medusa’s head and pasted it into the cave background I drew. Except for the blood, which was done digitally in Photoshop, I drew the outline by pencil and pen and colored in strong markers. Not the Crayola kinds kids use. But professional kinds. There was a little bit of Prismacolor and a little bit of something else that was stronger and bled more.

I used a reference image to illustrate the cave. Thanks to learning figure drawing, building Perseus was no problem. He has muscles as a way to represent both strength and heroism.

You should know that Medusa is hideous and dangerous, especially when one looks into her eyes. So I had to choose colors that represented monsters. And because gazing into Medusa’s eyes can turn you into stone, Perseus’s eyes are closed.

And why this simplistic style, you might ask? It was the easiest at that time, which was two years ago. Also, a lot of people illustrate Greek myths in simplistic styles, especially if they are illustrating for children.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for more mini art shows. Thanks.

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Mini Art Show: Parrot at the Zoo

Who doesn’t love macaws, parrots, and other tropical birds? They have beautiful bright colors. Some can develop speech and mimic sounds. “Polly Wants an Art Show,” the bird above may say. Ha, ha.

So I was practicing my illustration skills. I decided to try a somewhat simplistic technique. See the solid colors and the simple designs of the “jungle”? Yup. You probably do.

Now why was jungle in quotation marks, you may ask? Because this was (pretty much) copied from a photo I took at the Central Park Zoo. The macaw was actually behind glass and behind it was a painted rainforest.

Except for the platform (I don’t know the word) and the bird, of course, pretty much everything else was official. I don’t even remember if the pink flower was real.

Some elements were distorted for ease and simplicity in the artistic style. The trees were, for instance, as were the leaves. Colors might’ve been changed too. But I am not totally sure. I might have the original photo I captured. Yet, I don’t know where it is.

The outlines may look a bit choppy. That’s because they were done in pencil and scanned into the computer, where I colored them in using Photoshop. And if you think lines need to be crisp and clean all the time in art or illustration? Think again. Many artists use rough outlines. Some use none at all because the style is intended to be outline-free. That is the case for some types of styles (like “South Park”) or realistic paintings (like the “Mona Lisa”).

Why dark green leaves, you might also wonder? I never knew why, but darker, bluer greens always felt more jungle-like to me while lighter, yellowish greens felt very grassy and sunny spring or summery, like a backyard. Of course, it varies per region. Rainforests in Central America looks quite different from those in, say, Africa. At least from the pictures I saw. Obviously, pictures aren’t enough for research.

All right, enough said. I hope you enjoyed this post.

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Mini Art Show: Birthday Card Design

 

sale birthday card 1

It’s my birthday this Thursday, November 22nd (whoo!). I’ll be turning 25.

So in honor of that, I decided to post a birthday card design that I made myself. That’s right. I illustrated the cupcake and decided on the text font, color, sizes, and alignment, based on my graphic design studies and greeting card research. I did this in Photoshop, but the cupcake image was hand drawn. I then retraced and colored it on the computer.

I chose pink since it is a light color and expresses (usually) positive feelings. And birthdays are often associated with positivity, such as a time to celebrate. Of course, as much as we’d all wish, birthdays are not always happy. I, myself, have had some miserable birthdays throughout my life.

But that’s a different topic. Anyway, I decided to make the cupcake look cartoony and give it eyes and a smile. It adds a very energetic feeling that makes many think partying rather than a more realistic or soft style, which would make a lot of people think sophisticated, relaxed, and quietness.

The text was done in a serif font (which is when the letters have tails at the ends of their lines compared to sans serif fonts, like Helvetica) because I wanted to add a little bit of sophistication and have it resemble the way letters are often styled on cakes. Bakeries may exclude the fancy style of writing on the cakes, but it varies. I never really paid much attention to the style of writing on cakes.

However, I do notice that fancier calligraphy is common on occasion cakes, especially for formal events, such as sweet sixteens, mitzvahs, and other catering events. I live in New York on Long Island, and while many other parts of the country usually only use catering halls for weddings, where I live, people do them for other milestones.

Anyhow, the “You” is large because I felt that it would make the word feel more personal to the birthday person. I’ve even had the cards printed and provided them to my friends for their birthdays. One person has complimented on the design looking professional.

Note, that this was not a college assignment. I chose to do this on my own. I thought it would be fun as well as a way to hone my graphic design and illustration skills. I even have this image on my online portfolio along with other independent art.

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Fun with Photoshop

Lighting effect 3

Above is a lighting effect I did in Photoshop. That’s right, Photoshop is more than just editing photos, although that is the main purpose of it.

You can draw, paint, shade, and anything you would do with traditional painting. Errors are easier to fix. You don’t have to start over and redraw the thing you made a mistake with. Best of all, there is no mess to clean up. It’s just your digital palette which can be shown as a gradient bar or swatches. You can name your colors, too.

Just be aware that Photoshop is expensive and can be complex or abstract for those just starting out. I’ve used Photoshop for over seven years. It was one of my high school graduation gifts, along with a MacBook Pro.

You should also avoid letting it spoil you. Don’t allow the easy error-fixing shortcuts make you frustrated when you have to do traditional media . That happened to me when I was 19. I was a bit disappointed (although didn’t express it) to have to erase the eye on the portrait I was drawing and had to redraw it instead of transport it to the right spot quickly. That would be magic. And of course, that’ s not possible.

Another approach I’ve done several times was draw something by hand using pencil and then scanning it into Photoshop to color, like in the image below.

Little Girl Scan

Yup, you can color in Photoshop using the paint bucket tool. Photoshop recognizes lines and will color only in between them as long as there are no gaps. Even the tiniest ones can get unwanted elements colored in by accident.

Speaking of which, Photoshop uses pixels. If you draw an image in Photoshop and try to blow it up, it will look blurry. You can raise the dots-per-inch (DPI) to 300 and that’ll make it less blurry. But Illustrator might be better for enlarging a picture. That’s another topic, though.

Blending is also something you can do in Photoshop. Below is a portrait I did where I blended colors to add dimension to the subject.

20150613_195551_resized coloredYou can see the smudges, tints, tones, and highlights. It also looks tangible, especially the lips. I was trying to experiment with realistic textures in digital painting. Few simple digital art programs would offer something this complex.

So if you’re considering using Photoshop, take these into account. Get to know the program. Although I’ve used it for over seven years, there are still some techniques I have yet to learn.