Behind the scenes: How a Yoga Print gets made

February 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

I started drawing yoga poses about 4 years ago. It all started with Tree Pose – back then, Tree was my favourite asana because it was the one pose I could do comfortably. There was also a great yoga teacher (his name was Ray) with whom I really enjoyed classes. He brought a lightheartedness to class, made me smile inside while I was holding these impossible stances. And I felt that these interior smiles were the most valuable thing about yoga. I started drawing out the poses as I experienced them. In tree pose, I imagined being one of many old trees swaying in the wind, my hair leaves and my arms and legs the limbs and trunk of a tree. In camel, I imagined the architecture of my back as a brick archway. The yoga drawings increased as I found new poses to relate with. And then Art around 1000 (the annual cheap art sale at Valentine Willie Fine Art) came around, and I decided to market the drawings as limited edition prints. A few years down the road, and they led to the beginning of inkypots on etsy (yes, inkypots started mostly as a print shop!).

Inspiration has finally hit again, and I’ve been drawing yoga again… in part, it’s because of a recent yoga retreat in Langkawi with Yoga Now – seven solid days of yoga which I not only survived, but thoroughly enjoyed, sweat, aches and all. So I thought I’d share a bit of the process with you. Here it is, step by step:

1. Draw – I love felt-tip pens, and that’s what I use for the lines of these drawings. I start with drawing the face first, and then move on to hair, arms, body and legs. No pencil, because I like to keep some of the ‘off’ lines that result with drawing straight with pen.

2. Fill in – the background is usually something I make up once I’ve drawn the figure. I imagine what it’s like to be in the pose, and draw whatever comes to mind. In this latest drawing, it was lotus flowers… then I took a brush and chinese ink and coloured in the in-between spaces.

3. Scan – Once the paint is dry, I scanned it in with an Epson V350 Photo scanner. This is what it first looked like at this point:

Pretty rough huh. So some photoshopping work is in order. The amount of clean-up really varies from just tweaking the contrast to touching up stray lines. In this case, there was a LOT of cleanup to do, because I was really rusty!

4. Contrast – a quick tweak of the levels/curves gets the background to white and the lines to black.

5. Cleaning up stray lines – The messiest part was the neck and shoulders which I had a hard time imagining:

So I went in with a photoshop brush and defined these areas. Here it is after cleanup:

I still want the lines to look handdrawn and not too straight 🙂 Then next, I decided that the hair needed fixing:

That’s pretty much as perfect as I’d want it… The background though, was still showing some splotches – nice in an original drawing, but not too sure how that will look when it’s printed out. So I did a bit more contrast adjustment to even out the black areas, and then it was done!

So that’s the digital retouching bit.

6. Printing – I print on a FSC-certified paper – this means that the paper was harvested from well-managed forests, recycled material or controlled wood from non-controversial sources. The paper is also acid-free which ensures that the paper will not yellow over time if treated carefully. To date, I’ve printed with a black and white laserjet printer. These days though, I’m looking into hand screen-printing the prints… now that is another blog post for the future!

The print used in the examples above is ‘Waking Up’, a new one that will be available on my etsy store soon… ie. as soon as I get a screen made to print it with! Have any poses you’d like to see? Just let me know and maybe I’ll draw it soon.

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