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.

Battling The Blahs – A Chapbook

August 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

'most people don't believe in blahs, you see'

The blahs are here again
and i don’t want them
can i give them back
or sell them off
or can i ignore them
and pretend i have the hurrahs?

–excerpt from Battling the Blahs

For many years, I’ve been holding on to these illustrations and a written piece that goes with it. It was a lighthearted way of dealing with the ‘blahs’ which show up every few moons or so (maybe more often, depending). In my imagination, the blahs became these little dusty balls with feet and eyes that silently follow me about when i’m feeling down.

Now, I’ve compiled the illustrations and text into a small book, and it’s available at my etsy shop. The book is black and white, 44 pages (including cover), with big storybook style text spaced out and 16 illustrations in total. Closed, it measures 8.25 inches tall x 5.25 inches wide. It is printed on FSC certified paper (Munken Pure, same as all my yoga illustrations). Stitched together by hand.

It’s a keepsake book, or a good way of letting a depressed friend know you’re there for them. Stay tuned for more excerpts and illustrations!

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