the rest is still unwritten

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Art Attack: Digital Love, A/W 2012 Trend Report for PREVIEW Magazine

If the pen is mightier than the sword, but a picture paints a thousand words, does the paintbrush in turn trump the pen? And as we have entered the digital age, where your cousin's face can be superimposed on the Mona Lisa, where does photoshop fit in? I have considered this many times in the past couple of months, and I still don't know the answer, or if I'd like it if I did... But I had my date with photoshop anyway

I present to you my first foray into the digital world:

PREVIEW Magazine's A/W 2012 Trend Report
Illustrated by Yours Truly!

Shameless plug: If you still haven't purchased a copy of PREVIEW Magazine's July issueTrend Report includeddo it now!

This experience was all at once exciting, fulfilling, demanding, and very humbling. This was my first commission wherein I did not have free reign. During a typical commission, a client (Eew. That word makes it sound so business-y) would present a certain financial stipend and would maybe give you a couple of requeststo use certain colors, or a subject or size. Sometimes, they would just say: "Surprise me". I usually don't need to do much prodding when deciding on what would suit a client best.

Needless to say, working for a magazine, the Philippines' top-selling fashion magazine at that!, was entirely foreign to me. Colors, composition, and the detailsthe minutest of the minutewould all have to go through the most careful scrutiny of editors and art directors. Daunting, you say? Quite. But to me, it was more of an exciting challengeone that I was willing and ready to undertake.

I was initially hired based on my previous work with more 'traditional' media (i.e. pencils, acrylics and oils).
The illustration station.
After reviewing some illustrations I have done in the past, the team gave the go-signal: I was hired.

The challenge began the second I accepted. I was already a bit wary because my go-to style is not realism. Instead, my painting style is based more on expression, and on capturing the essence, or my idea of what the subject symbolizes. As for illustrating, my previous experiments have only been with pencils which aesthetically revolved around an exaggerated supermodel fetishthis material inexperience would play a very important part throughout this endeavor.

The team had come up with a charming concept for this Trend Report: Paperdolls. After receiving my pegs, I set off to drawing.

The first meeting was something short of disheartening. My 'style' was not translating as well as we'd hoped after digital scanning. It was then suggested that I abandon the pencils and switch to paints. Being the school of trial-and-error's star student I said I'd give it a shot.
So I did.
Still a no-go.
The final suggestion:

I had to use photoshop.

I have never ever used photoshop ever ever. Ever. But I put on a cheerful face and immediately said "Sure!", with hopes of convincing the team (and myself) that I was still up for the challenge.


I downloaded a free trial of photoshop and fiddled around with it over a weekend. With my face inches from the screen, switching from peg to print, I painstakingly recreated the latest fall fashions on my laptop's mouse pad. 

Despite having to experience the first tentative weeks of brainstorming, and the failed attempts at pencil and paint that followed, I am extremely proud of what I accomplished digitally in just a little over a week. In effect, I taught myself how to 'paint' and illustrate with photoshopwith help from the creative minds at PREVIEW, of course. This experience allowed me to grow in so many ways. Not only did it provide magazine experience, but it provided another outlet for creation. I call the style employed in this paper doll project: Fashion-Comic Book Realness!

I knew full well that what I submitted to production could be edited or left out, so I want to take this opportunity to present everything that I came up with.

Meet Annie Batungbakal: Paper Doll, Femme Fatale.
My younger sister Geanne was the muse for Annie's face.
If you put Annie side-by-side with my typical fashion illustration, you would have to squint while looking sideways in the dark to realize that they were done by the same hand.

This final Annie had to go through revision-boot-campAnnie B. version 8.5.

And now
Le Façon!!!
Cuh-lick to enlarge!
Black Carpet Ball. Note: The polka-dotted hose are supposed to go with the Retro Rave theme further down.
Global Parade.
Reindeer Games.
Retro Rave. The uncolored legs were my template for the two above and the one below.

After reviewing the initial submissions, the team noticed that most of the pieces were darkmeaning black. So the following pieces were drawn on the fly.
Additional Pieces.

Along with the doll and the clothes, the concept included four separate, themed, illustrated backdrops with some space for a title and text. Here were the original proposed backdrops:
Black Carpet Ball Backdrop: The PREVIEW Special Projects Team are on the scene! From Left: Kylee Lagman, Editorial Assistant; Eloise Alba, Managing Editor; Eugene David, Art Director and Katrina Veloso, Art Director.
Global Parade Backdrop.
Reindeer Games Backdrop.
Retro Rave Backdrop. I had an idea of making the door behind the two girls green, but I thought too many people might catch the retro pornographic reference...

So check out the July Issue of PREVIEW Magazine to find out which of the images have made it onto the trend Report. See Annie and her Autumn/Winter wardrobe in all their cut-out glory. You will not only find which design geniuses came up with the fabulous frocks in this fashion forecast, but you will also get tips on how to get your faces fresh, fancy and fiiieeeerce. Oh-kay?!
PREVIEW Magazine's July Best-Dressed Issue with Miss Iza Calzado on the cover. It includes the Trend Report!

This adventure has inspired me in so many ways. I began my photoshop experience blind, completely clueless, but in the short time that I gallivanted through the digital creative world, I was amazed by the ease and the possibilities. I want, no, I hunger to learn moreto do more. I want to really learn how to use all the tools (what is this magic wand and what else can it do!?), how to express every effect, render every detail and texture.

Over the course of this artistic enterprise some people jokingly suggested that after photoshop I would never pick up a paintbrush again. Really?I'd think to myself. Ich don't think so. There is simply something magical and romantic about paints and pencils and crayons and charcoal that simply cannot be captured by photoshop. So then, what is mightier? The pen, the sword, the paintbrush or photoshop? I'm pretty sure I have so much yet to learn and so many things yet to try before I can fully and competently answer that questionmy knowledge, experience and skills are still painfully too limited.. But one thing is for sureit's back to the drawing board for me. Figuratively and literally.

Image of PREVIEW's July issue from:

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