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About

Cover page illustration for Brownbook magazine, Issue 32.
Published:
Medium: Plasticine
 The theme was Middle Eastern food.

Cover page:
Illustration in plasticine:
Close-up images:
I was asked to submit the write up about the process and time taken, material used etc. Also sharing it here:
 
 
Time taken:It took me about 25 hours to do this illustration. Which includes the initial research as well. I spent roughly 10 -11 hours in the research and about 14- 15 hours in creating the illustration using plasticine.

Research:
As it was the first time that I was illustrating the food items, and the requirement was also to design the environment such that it complements the Middle Eastern food, I began my research reading about the Middle Eastern design history and the cultural influences. The process is as important as the execution of any illustration.

I read a bit about the Islamic dome art, beautifully decorated mosaic structures, the weaving patterns of Afghan crochet art. I was completely fascinated by the designs, motifs, the colors and the intricate patterns. It all looked very fresh and vibrant. Hence the mosaics and some weaving patterns of the shawls visually influence the background design in my illustration. 
 
For the table, I referred to a lot of designs but finally I loved the colors and patterns of moroccan tables. And I really wanted to translate them into the illustration. But then I thought that the food items were to be emphasized; not the table. And using too many colors in the table would distract the eyes, drawing attention to the table and not the food. So I decided to retain the circular shape as in the Moroccan tables, but decided on more neutral - wooden shades for the color, with moderate detailing to highlight the table.

Then came the food items. I was told about the famous dishes in Middle Eastern countries. And I was told that the cutlery should also look like the ones used in the Middle Eastern countries. So I searched for the different food items and looked for good presentations of the same food items. And I noticed that the food item Tagine was served in special decorative container having the lid in the shape of a vase. It also had beautiful patterns with nice bright shades. I liked it so much that I decided that one of the food items had to be tagine for sure. And I also found Surahi in many photographs of the dining table, so decided to add that since I thought it added to the overall mood of the picture.

Material:
I have used plasticine to illustrate the entire cover page and the background.
Textures look very interesting in clay illustrations. And it is fun to create them too! I have given textures using the materials like net(Textures on the table, which are visible when the image is zoomed in), Needle, tooth-brush,sharpened pencil, ball-pen tip, etc. Mainly I have used the tools, which were available at home. No special accessories.

The process:
The process in clay illustration is to begin with the backgrounds first and then working out the details layer-wise, spreading the layers of clay over the first layer and so on. Hence the background wall and the table were done first, then the plates, then the food items in that order. Items in the front are illustrated last.
So I had to be very careful about the selection of the colors for the backgrounds. Because once I start doing the food items in clay, then it would be difficult to change the background.

If the background looks too bright, I cant go back and change the color of the background. Then I would have to scrap off the first layer of clay and start all over again; which is a lot of work.
So to avoid the extra rework, I had to first decide the colors of thebackground. Hence took my first drawing to Photoshop and began experimenting with colors.

When the entire cover page was ready, I took photograph with some light arrangements to help creating the shadows. I personally feel that the shadows totally decide the look of clay illustrations. If the illustration is well lit, with light shadows, it looks interesting. But if the shadows are very sharp and too dark, it might just overpower the detailing. Hence proper photography is equally important and takes a lot of time too. But the whole process is very satisfying.
In-process images: