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!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sabriel Posts & the "God Molecule"

Hey guys! Wow, I've gotten a bunch of comments on my most recent Sabriel post! Thank you, I really appreciate all your thoughts and support--as I've said before, none of us at the Picture Book Report are getting paid for our work on this project, so hearing from you guys really makes it all worthwhile. I got a request to make it easier to find all the other Sabriel posts, so now if you scroll down the column on the right side of the page, you will find a section named "Labels" with a handy link to all the Sabriel posts! (I'm considering labeling all my other posts too, for easy browsing)

Okay! So it's way past time for me to get back to posting weekly pieces, right? The past month of so I was in a bit of a slump--feeling creatively burned out, wondering where my illustration/life/future is going, and having some mild health problems that just sort of added to the bad vibes. It seems common in creative-types to cycle between these on-and-off times. Resting and focusing on non-art pursuits (cooking! exercise! reading!) seems to have done the trick and I'm feeling better now and ready to go!

So, to put you in a good mood for the weekend, here's 2 spreads that accompanied an article about dying! ;P It was actually a pretty cool assignment from Tom Kachadurian, a great AD at Spirituality and Health magazine. The article talked about the use of a psychedelic drug, nicknamed the "God Molecule", to help people with terminal illnesses deal with their eventual death. Apparently the drug induces a hallucinogenic state where you feel totally at one with the universe and a higher power, as if you had died already, so the participants don't feel as scared of actual death anymore. Tom wanted to go for a swirly psychedelic look without getting too much of a 60's/70's vibe, and I wanted something calming and epic for such an intense experience.

My thoughts went to a galactic-type feel...like the participant is floating through the universe. It was a double-page spread, so I tried some different views with rich blues, whites and red/oranges (that I ended up combining in the end). I also tried an overlay of the human nervous system (approximate, at least), but Tom thought it looked a little too scary and skeletal.

I tried both a closeup and expanded view. With the expanded you get more of the calming, floating feel because you can see more of the body. I kind of like the head sketch on its own, but it does feel a more creepy than calming!

So, we end up with a space-goddess, with some swirling energy and a burst of enlightenment! I remember watching an X-files episode with aliens in it while working on this assignment. I wonder if there was some subliminal influence... Swirly marks come really easily to me, but once I go crazy with them I have refine a bit to ensure there isn't a distracting amount of swirls or strands or colors! I tried to go for a more watery look, like ripples and eddies of energy.

In addition to doing the space-goddess spread, I also did some edging on the following two pages. I actually really like the spread I created for these pages, it's simple but I spent a while balancing everything.

I hope you like 'em! Thanks to Tom Kachadurian at Spirituality & Health!