Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Hey guys! Who doesn’t love food?! I love being an illustrator, but cooking has been one of my new favorite hobbies, probably second only to eating. I recently got to do a piece for the Vegetarian Times, and I did a write-up on it for The Loud Cloud too! (it has all the same info as here, but its laid out nicer, hehe)

I don’t often get a chance to draw delectable dishes for an assignment, so I was excited to try my hand at this one! The article, “Carbs Demystified,” includes a lot of technical information about carbohydrates—good carbs vs. bad carbs, glycemic load, glycemic index, and net carbs. Part of the great thing about being an illustrator is that you learn a myriad of interesting facts from the articles you’re assigned (sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, despite their name!) but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what the focus of the image needs to be. The A.D. on this story, Scott Hyers, helped me out by specifying that the illustration shouldn’t get into the technical info or define good or bad, but instead should just show a general choice between foods.

As someone who will spend 15 minutes deciding what type of cookie to eat, I understand the overwhelmingness of choice. Since there are amounts of carbohydrates in every food group, I figured a diverse representation of food would be the best way to go for my sketches. The food had to be all vegetarian, of course. I know there are different levels of strictness in people’s diets, so I checked with Scott to make sure I wouldn’t be in the red if I included egg or dairy products.

While sketching, I enlisted the help of my trusty cookbooks for some examples of tasty-looking dishes. I admit to being biased—all the food I sketched happens to be food I enjoy eating too! I liked the idea of a traveler finding his way through a jungle of food, and also tried some other approaches, like catching whatever meal you want on your plate. In the end the gastronomical explorer was chosen, and I set to work!

Throughout the project, I looked at my childhood doodles for inspiration. I’ve had a huge sweet tooth my entire life, and one of my go-to drawing subjects as a kid were various types of desserts. I was excited about bringing together kid-Kali and adult-Kali in one illustration! I remember drippy chocolate-glazed cakes and fruity cupcakes were some of my favorite scribbles to do, so I made sure to include an updated version of each in my final illustration.

Any time I deal with a lot of objects in one illustration, coming up with a solid color scheme is extra-important so all the objects don’t look too cluttered or disconnected. Colors like red, orange, yellow, and green have been shown to trigger hunger, and I wanted to go with a bright, summery feel. It took me a while to balance all the different food colors, but in the end I was pleased with the results. All in all a very satisfying project, with the only downside of making me perpetually hungry!


Nancy Muller said...

I would eat EVERYTHING on that table, Kali. Everything. What a sublimely delicious illustration!
And I love love love the childhood drawings— proof that you have always been awesomely sweet.

Frank said...

You've really captured the deliciousness of healthy carbohydrates.