Thursday, December 27, 2012

Page 25

I believe this will be my last post on the blog for the year 2012. To look back, one of the biggest accomplishment of this year was to quit my job and start work on my book. I had many thoughts muddled in my head during the mid year as to what direction I should take my work to. But with the year coming to an end, it seems pretty sorted for now. Apart from the book, I am glad for the onset of Perch Project too. I am very thankful to Hazel for this, doing this project alone wouldn't have been possible. A bow of honour to all the people who have shared the enthusiasm towards Perch Project. Your 'likes' and 'shares' are not just mere social network tools, but a fuel to the project's belief and will to grow further. The fat bird of Perch Project blesses you all. No doubt that next year awaits a work avalanche with many plans brewing, but I hope to take it well and merge it with some travel plans too. 

To talk a bit more about the book, I doubt that if I can have a definite calendar for it to wrap it up. Many other projects need to start growing simultaneously, and the book is something I wouldn't want to hurry on. Although, I have to be cautious to not let it slip off. 

Last week, I finished the 25th page of my book. This page came from a snug hole memory of my childhood days. The days when the whole locality used to gather up at the few homes where a T. V. set was available to watch the evening films being shown on Door Darshan. We had a 'Weston' television, neighbourhood  kids, and some elders would gather in our drawing room for the Saturday films. Jaggery, puffed rice and roasted gram was the popcorn of a small town. Those who had other task to move on to or couldn't find a place inside would watch the film through the window grill. 

I believe such evenings don't belong to just my childhood, but of many others who grew up in late eighties and early nineties. I have tried to capture those evenings in the page 25 of the book. I imagined it to be more of a crowded page, but subconsciously the elements from the drawing room's decor propped into the page too while I was penciling. It seemed justified to let these things retain its share in the page. Here are the three step process of drawing, inking and colouring the page - 

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Whenever I am in the MG Road vicinity, tea at Koshy's and then strolling down to Blossom's on Church Street has become an old habit. At Blossom's I would drop my bag at the counter and climb the stairs up to look for new graphic novels and hunt for old editions of classics. During one of such activities, I came across the P. G. Wodehouse series published by Penguin with covers done by an illustrator who signed off as 'Ionicus'. The cover had crumpled edges, but the artwork it embodied had crisp, clean lines demarcating the skilled use of watercolours. It had a simplicity and beauty one would like to belong to, and the pictures told the reader what awkwardness was stored in the book. From that day onwards, I have often spent a lot of time excruciating my eye filtering such publications out of huge stacks lying in the back shelves of Blossom's. With luck, I have found four so far. I believe, the staff only shell out a few copies out to keep luring me in time after time. And like a cat, I know the precious bait too well to surrender. If any of you lucky ones have got a copy of Ionicus's illustrated cover, please do mail me a scan of it on I will be extremely grateful to you for this. 

Ionicus was the pen name of Joshua Armitage (26 September 1913 – 1998), an English illustrator.
He is best known for drawing the covers for a wide range of Penguin editions of P. G. Wodehouse, though he also contributed cartoons and drawings to Punch for more than 40 years, and provided cover designs and text illustrations for nearly 400 books in total.
- Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Precious Gift

But you must also know this, Thoma, you must accept the inescapable truth. Even an alcoholic gives his son a gift. A precious gift, in fact. You will never ever be a drunkard. That is how it is, that is how it goes.

The happiest man in the world are the men who swore that they would never become their fathers. That is how the alpha males became endangered. Their sons decided that they would not become their fathers, they would be decent men, they would not sleep with strangers through the night, they would buy curtains, they would transfer food from large bowls into smaller bowls and put them in the fridge, they would not be their fathers. In a world full of new men who did not want to be their fathers, what chance did the alpha males have?
- The Illicit Happiness of Other People, Manu Joseph 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Brainwave. Issue 25. Doomsday Alerts

Apart from being a hermit, and working on my graphic novel, I have been doing occasional freelance work for Brainwave. The next issue's theme was decided long time ago by the Mayans when they ran out of wall space to extend the calendar dates. Which has over the years helped a lot of production houses and news channels in killing air time with their Nostradamus gymnastics. Leaving the horrendously looped conspiracy videos aside, here's my take on the cover - 

I also did a spot illustration for the 'Geek Speak' section. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Cat has Perched.

After the small success of the post on Common Myna done for Perch Project, Hazel and I decided to get a bit more challenging with the next post. We chose the Domestic Cat as our next animal to be rescued. In the beginning we thought that the availability of information won't be a trouble for this post, but we were overwhelmed by the amount of text. Generally, large amount of instructional text can leave a reader a bit daunted, therefore we opted to break it into charts, worksheet and illustrations that can bring in relief to the reading eye. Hazel being the more knowledgable one, got busy with writing the text, making charts and worksheets, while I had to draw the cat. I knew right from the start that unlike the birds, a furry cat would surely be a lot more difficult. To be honest, I am not a pro at using watercolours, and when doing science illustrations that are meant to be precise and do the job of identifying the drawn subject well, one shouldn't falter. Not to forget, getting the anatomy right is an ardent task too. Some of my initial drawings of the kitten looked like sausages. I kept drawing it day after day but nothing good turned out. Finally, when the time was not in my favour, I decided to cheat by using pencil colours. I console myself over this by telling myself time after time, 'It was all for the right cause.' Here are some of the better ones done during the process - 

The final days of putting the Perch post up were pretty crazy. If one goes through our chat history, they would find enough evidence to prove us lunatics. Here's one - 'Also, can we make the poo a bit 3d?'
You can check out the post here. We have also made a facebook page - Perch Project, 'Like' the page if you would like to get future updates from Perch. 
You should read Hazel's post too - Domestic Cat on Half Chai.

Monday, November 26, 2012

स्वप्न बुनकर

सपनों के जलतरंग की बुनकर,
कभी देखा हैं धारों को धागों से गिनकर।
वो क्यारियाँ होती हैं उन्मुक्त,
फिसल जाती हैं बनकर सुषुप्त।
फिर भी तुम उन्हें पिरोती हो,
बुझी आँहों को सिरे से संजोती हो।
बचपन के बोंये बीज बिखेर,
गांठों में गिरे फूलों का रंग संवेर।
कढ़ती हो सर्दियों की गर्म धूप,
ओढ़ती हो इसमें अपना मन स्वरुप।
कोई क्यों छीने तेरी ठिठुरते उम्मीदों की रात,
कभी कुछ सपने सुन लेंगे तेरे जागते आँखों की बात।

- ख़ुफ़िया कातिल के तरफ़ से एक मित्र को जन्मदिन की भेंट।


Monday, November 19, 2012

झरोखों की धूल

इन सुस्त कमरों के झरोखों से,
कालें सीलन पड़ें कोनों से,
जब झाँकती आती हैं धूल,
तो आज भी उनसे हाथ धो लेता हूँ।

कुछ टूटती इमारतों के ज़ोर से,
कुछ पुष्प मंजरों के शोर से,
इस अनंत कण की वर्षा में,
आज भी कुछ बूँदें पी लेता हूँ।

देखता हूँ उन्हें किरणों पर गिरते
अनमने भाव से मिलते बिछड़ते।
उनकी फिरकतों की हरकत से
आज भी इस मन को बहला लेता हूँ।

इन झरोखों की धूल से ,
आज भी अपने पहरों को परतों में गिन लेता हूँ।

- ख़ुफ़िया कातिल का धूमिल प्रणाम    

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The major problem, one of the major problems, for there are several, with governing people is that of who you get to do it. Or, rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well known and much lamented fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I finally finished reading the five novel compilation of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' yesterday. To write such a book one has to be a genius and a champion of wit mixed with a general sciency mish mash. Apart from his regular gymnast with the space-time-probability axis, Mr. Douglas Adams' knack of inventing character names is highly commendable. It's like he just noticed an object, played around with it's spelling and then named it a small little planet at the center of the third probability axis of infinite improbable drive. Apart from his usual excellence in making up things, he quite enjoyed taking a dig at other irritating aspects of being an earthling, say religion, McDonalds, credit cards, telephones, astrology etc. And one of the great things about the book is how quotable it is. Flip open any page and you will have something clever written down. You can literally calendar your social network feeds with these quotes. Here's one more - 
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Perch Project

It was about four months back when I had gone home for a small vacation, I found a baby Myna bird lying on the ground near my mom's car early in the morning. I looked around and couldn't find the nest to put the bird back into. If I had left it over there for long, the ants would have taken care of it. Helpless that I was as I had little knowledge about rescuing a Myna, I called up my friend Hazel who knows about taking care of birds and animals well. I am very sure it's a news in the animal kingdom about which door to knock when in danger, they all end up coming scared, broken and tired to get their nursing done at her place. So after a few calls exchanged, I had some basic idea about the very first things to do when you find a baby Myna. Sadly, the myna didn't survive for more than a day. That's the time when the very first seed of Perch Project was sowed, an idea to create a publication or portal where basic first aid information can be provided to the public about birds and animal rescue commonly found in the urban scenario. Although, there are existing platforms for such information but it's mostly not put in the Indian context. Hence, Hazel and I started investing hours off from regular work to put this blog together called - Perch Project. We have put together the basic details for rescuing a Common Myna as our first post with a few illustrations. We may have missed some things and it will be great help if the readers can bring it to our notice. Feedback is always welcome. 

Take a look -
We are planning to cover a lot more birds and animals from urban wildlife soon and make it a useful archive for all of the people who want to rescue but don't know how. Lot more hours to steal now for this but I think it will be worth it. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Brainwave. Issue 24. Mad Maladies

The November issue of Brainwave hit the stands last week. Being the last print on which I have worked on as the designer, I would say that this issue has been art directed by me at large sparing a few pages and decisions. Art directing a magazine is no child's play and I am thankful that the design template is in place to not do things from the scratch. But approaching the right illustrators, giving them design brief, approving sketches, nagging for handling over of final files is one big responsibility to deal with. The amount of post-it notes exhausted on this process was a good evidence in this case. Once all this is done, I switched into the role of a designer to put all the pages together, include required design changes, re check and correct all pages once it's proofread and chip in with some illustrations too. I have created the cover artwork and compiled one infographic page this time. 

The cover features Alby and Arby this time.
Click to enlarge.

Well, with this post comes the end of an era. From now onwards, there will be only freelance work for Brainwave that will go up here. So long readers. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Zeb and Haniya

Finally, after waiting for more than a year I get to hear Zeb and Haniya live tomorrow at Chowdiah Memorial Hall. I literally stammered when I got to know of their concert. I knew I had to make a poster for them. Probably one of the good excuses to make a poster and who knows if I am lucky enough I can give it to them too. The acceptance will be the most fitting reward for me. Here's the poster with a few snaps of the process. If all goes well, concert photographs will follow soon. 

Click to enlarge.

I was trying to integrate Arabic calligraphy in the title but one doesn't learn such fine skills in a day. After rendering a few sheets and digitizing, it was clear that I am no good with it. I altered my titles in a way that it picks nuances of Arabic calligraphy yet retains a simplicity in it's form, something which Paul Barnes did with the old typefaces. He carefully extracted the skeleton of letters and shaped them gracefully. I also googled a few experiments with Arabic typography and saw a poster which helped me with my title for this poster. You can see the poster here. I also had to be careful to not use typographic elements in a very irresponsible manner. I had to respect the script and use it with caution such that the stylisation didn't harm the meaning. 

Concert Day Joys
Yesterday evening is still looming in my head and I am still retaining the foolish smile of mine each time I think of the concert.
I reached way too early for the concert to avoid any queues and traffic rush. I was there two and half hours before the show and clearly no one was around, so I just hovered around in the premises of Chowdiah memorial hall. It was then that I heard Zeb's voice from the hall. The duo were rehearsing for the show with the rest of the crew. I sneaked into the empty hall without anyone's notice and in sometime made myself comfortable on the front seat. I was enjoying my own private concert.

I had printed a few copies of the poster before, so I took out one and waved it at them and they were very happy to see the copies. But, soon the authorities realised that I shouldn't be clicking photographs and be present in the hall at all. Although, later on I managed to meet Zeb and Haniya back stage and gave them two copies of the poster. They were more than happy to sign one for me. I had some small conversations about Bangalore and got a few photographs clicked with them as a reminder of this surreal day. 

The concert followed soon after and they performed some tracks from their upcoming album too. Now, that I have heard it once, I am dreading the wait for the second album. The rest of the performing members pitched in their parts well with immaculate moments of brilliance shared with all. But, somehow the pre concert stole the thunder for me, to hear them practice in an empty hall and meet them in person became the whirlpool of my thoughts. I hope to keep making more posters for them and hear them live again. Thank you Zeb and Haniya.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to the Book

It was around three years back when I started working on a graphic novel for my final graduation project. I managed to finish only a small part of the section as final pages from the script. Then, I graduated, changed cities, switched jobs, travelled a bit, did freelance work in between but there was one thought that never left me at rest. I was losing time for my book. I knew that I would get back to it eventually but never affixed a date for it. To look back, three years of wait did me good. I was naive as a storyteller and draftsman. But, in the last three months I felt that I have become good enough, good enough to tell a story. And then there was no point waiting to become better. 

Yesterday was my last day of work at Brainwave. I had a good run of working on seventeen prints for the magazine. It made me inventive and playful with my drawing skills. Thanks to Brainwave, I feel ready to take this leap and I am very sure that it will take me somewhere good. At least, I won't have a regret to harbour my days with. 

To talk of my plans with this book, I am giving myself 400 days with it. I have the script, the sequences are etched in my head, all I am doing now is picking each small section, story boarding it quickly, then pencilling, inking and finally the colouring. The text editing and typography are left for the last lap of my run. 

It's funny how making a book can make you pop inspirational quotes ever so often. I believe I do it just to encourage myself. I will share one here - 
'Make a good book, not a great one.'
When you intend to make a great book, it's easy to lose the honesty of your voice. You will look for things that made other books great and in the process may replicate it in your work. You will borrow so much that your own truth would lose its shine. Do what your book demands and don't give into gimmicks. Trust me, it's easier said than done. 

To reveal a bit of the work already done, I am attaching old pages along with the reworked ones. Although, there are some pages which were never pictured in the first draft of my book, but I will save it for the next round of shows. 
First draft, 2009

New version, 2012

First draft, 2009

New version, 2012

I will also continue to do small freelance work alongside my book, if any of you have something suitable for me, then do write to me -

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

English Breakfast

Morning doodle done on tea bag packaging while waiting for the office internet to work.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sketchcrawl 8, Lalbagh and Commercial Street

Thursday, 11th October
Nimmy and Sana hatched a plan to visit Lalbagh early in the morning at 6 o'clock to shoot a video for their travel scholarship and in this sweet little plan I was given a piece to chew on. I joined them early in the morning to draw the elders and the young ones jogging, meditating, laughing and gossiping for their healthy life. Although, my usual sketching areas have been crowded city market areas but denying the charm of twilit Lalbagh wouldn't have been fair. Covering our yawns and keeping our hopes alive we reached and soon got busy to our respective tasks. I climbed straight up a small hill to nestle myself on a stone to draw the huffing and puffing of the Bangalore crowd. Being a Thursday (office day), I knew that I didn't have much time to spend on elaborate sketches. Hence, swooshing around the photo inks was the best option for me and I didn't waste any time to get on to that. People are restless and when they have gathered with a purpose to be acrobatic in a park, then sketchers can throw of the luxury of neat sketches and better embrace the squiggly lines. I did quite a few quick sketches and spent a little more time on a couple of views. Here are the sketches of Lalbagh morning - 

Pigeons and pigeons.

A montage created out of composing quick sketches.
The moment before Sana dropped the ink on the stone.
We were there at Lalbagh for two hours and those were probably the best mornings I have spent in Bangalore so far and the blue colour stained hands were a proof. Yes, we spilled paint (honest mistake as Sana said) and while trying to clean it left it for the better or worse. Thanks to Sana and Nimmy for sharing this trip with me. 
photo credits: Nimmy Chacko

Saturday, 13th October
I remember when I had first joined Srishti, we were taken around on a small tour of the city where stationery, papers and other art materials are easily available. Commercial street was one of the places we visited and since then I have made numerous rounds of the commercial street and the neighbouring Ebrahim Sahib Street. Today, the roles were reversed and I was showing Commercial street to my colleague Kashmira. The clocks had turned back seven years when I was unravelling all the small branches and hidden shops on the street today. The whole street is a mix of old architecture dangling with billboards and giant store name boards. And this patchy amalgamation of old and new never ceases to fascinate me. Unlike the Lalbagh day, I spent good time on one drawing. I started pretty early on the sketch and by the time I was filling in details the landscape had changed drastically, the shop shutters had opened and a car got parked right in front of me to tinge the view. Here's a photo of the time I started drawing and the final sketch - 

And what better place to end the sketchcrawl other than Koshy's.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brainwave. Issue 23. Big Bang

The new October Issue of Brainwave is about explosion, having a blast and making a big bang. This issue is done in a bit of hurry because of my Gujrat trip and then Design Yatra. The tight work schedule of putting a magazine together gets a bit unforgiving but at the same time it takes your thought process and idea generation skill a notch higher with each production deadline. This kind of work schedule has made me impatient with long projects but I just keep telling myself - Good things take time and my current project (details of which will follow soon in the month end blog post) is going to take a real good time. Getting back to the new issue, this one has a splash page, a comic strip and one spot illustration from me. I wish I could spend a lot more time with the splash page but one has to let go of things when the to-do-list is long. 

The illustration above has some hand drawn text embedded in it. If one can figure out what it is, then please do let me know. On a general consensus, I have failed to make it readable.