Anime Artists of Pakistan – Karachi Meetup

(Estimated Reading Time: ~ 25 minutes)
(The participants of the meetup also contributed to the making of this write-up)

Anime Artistes of Pakistan (Karachi chapter) held a meetup on Sunday, January 19, 2014. The meetup was attended by 5 people.
Among them were Ramish Safa, founder of Kachee Goliyaan/KGComics/KGHub. Mohammad Murtaza, art director at nerdiacs.com, Maha Abdul Alaam and Muhammad Safeer.

The meetup lasted a little over 3 hours.  We discussed different aspects of tools, drawing, art education, philosophical and commercial side, great masters, techniques, and issues regarding access to and knowledge of these fields/careers, and about possible solutions.

~ We have the initial 40 minute audio (podcast?) on AAOP’s mixcloud channel.

Here’s an overall summary of what was discussed:

Have you shared your work online and what tools do you use?

Safeer: I haven’t uploaded much work. I draw using a mouse.

~ Wouldn’t it be better to go for a graphic tablet?

Safeer: Yes it would. There are tablets available like the Genius tablets.

~ How did you get into art and stuff?

Safeer: I’m a philosopher and an art student, I don’t want to boast, but I think art is a way of life. I got into this when I was in my school’s Adam’s club. One of my favorites is Leonardo.

~ Wasn’t he an apprentice of some one? He might have learnt from him?

Safeer: Yes he was, He was the apprentice of Andrea di Cione (It is suggested that Andrea was an apprentice of  Donatello).  Leonardo was a pioneer in the 3/4th angle in paintings like he did in the Mona Lisa.

Maha: I like traditional stuff.

Safeer: I’m really inpired by the work of Shahan Zaidi. Also Babrus Khan.

~ We haven’t seen much work from Babrus in recent months.

Maha: Perhaps he is doing a lot of work but he can’t show it. For example, I work for a TV Channel. The work is tremendous but you can’t see it because it comes under the company’s domain.

Safeer: I am thinking of going into fine arts.

~ Why not go for digital art?

Maha: Although Photoshop can do miracles in the right hands, it does not offer natural blending as in traditional painting. You’ll notice that the brush in Photoshop paints in blocks. Digital and traditional art both have their strengths and weaknesses. Photoshop can’t blend colors in a natural way. You can blend with Photoshop but with a different technique. (kinda like how you can’t taste chicken in food if you no put chicken in it but now you can put knorr chicken cubes and nom it all up)

~ Can’t we blend colors, by reducing the flow percentage in Photoshop?

Maha: Yes but the results in other tools are different and better. For example, Paint tool SAI and ArtRage. PS can’t blend naturally but it can work a hell lot of other miracles. ArtRage and Sai are both good softwares as well. Sai blends better than PS and has a very simple interface. Down to earth. ArtRage does a good emulation of traditional painting and blends nicer than PS too but they both can’t do 80% of the things PS can. It’s like all these programs have big ups and downs. they complement each other and everyone uses a mix.
*Takes out her laptop and gives a demo of the ArtRage using her tablet.*

~ The GUI of this tool is slightly different from Photoshop.

Maha: Yes it is. The traditional painting look is easier to achieve on ArtRage. Sai is easiest to pickup digiart on. PS is a staggering amount of possibilities and the end result is always, always just you and your technique. People manage to make even more traditional looking paintings with PS than you would think possible.

ArtRage
(GUI of ArtRage)

~ The people who made this didn’t consider to make it similar to Photoshop to have people make an easier transition/migration to this tool.

Safeer: For example SAI’s Paint Tool is Japanese. You know how Japanese people are. They’re creative and make things different.

Maha: They are all linked and at the same time different. Ctrl+Z is undo everywhere. E is eraser tool. B is brush. Shift is ruler. There is a little stability in that generally but every software will have its unique thing in it. ArtRage’s interface gives you the feel of having and easel, brushes and knives in your hand. slapping colors on etc. etc. Sai is straightforward. PS will have drawers and drawers of possibilities and choices.
Photoshop has become an industry standard now, I think. All art programs need to have some degree of connection to it. You’ll find, for example, all these programs capable of producing .psd files and importing them. But what’s the point of having a different software if it’s just going to follow Adobe’s way of doing things.

Ramish: People are trying different things to reach out to people. I remember Umung had a comic on the sign boards on the roads. I remember there used to be a huge screen near Hassan Square.

~ So how long does it take for someone to be as good as you? How long did it take you?

Murtaza: It took me 4 years to reach where I am now in my art.

Maha: It took me 2 years. Everyone’s time for reaching a particular level is different.

Safeer: I had never seen social commentary in comics in Pakistan before Kachee Goliyaan.


~ Wasn’t there social commentary in comics in newspapers like Sabir Nazar (Tribune) Feica (Dawn)? Perhaps they were just one panel comics.

Ramish: I had business mind from the start. I remember we sold stickers in school to generate cash. The problem I think is that people don’t look into the commercial aspect of making art/comics. If I were to help someone who is sitting in Saddar (making a portrait) get into a studio, he/she will make an immense contribution. Why isn’t he doing that? Because he doesn’t know.

Ramish: I have seen many people make Facebook Pages and post their work to get some likes. They are doctors (or belong to some profession) and they do this as a ‘side thing’. Until you burn your bridges and until you are committed to the work. Until your livelihood depends on it, you won’t work on it with dedication.

Maha: Instead drawing larger drawings, I’ve been advised to draw numerous small thumbnails of environments instead of trying to do big things when I’m a beginner and bound to mess up and get frustrated since I’m not into environments.

~ Since you people work in comics, how do you guys come up with ideas. I have seen some people write all the ideas on a whiteboard and come to the board to expand any idea into their comics/cartoons etc.

Ramish: We don’t use a board for this. If wrote on a board then it will remain there forever. *laughs* We go on a long drive and talk throughout the ride. Then we notice something we see or something someone says and the idea springs from there. I think art academies and art schools are a waste of time. You spend four years and the people end up in advertising agencies working day in and day out making work. They’re spending so many hours and they’re not achieving much. I had to fire two people from a reputed school because they couldn’t give the work that I wanted.

~ How long does it take to develop a manga comic chapter? I have seen some people who write and draw their own manga on a weekly/monthly basis.

Maha: The manga artists have people working under them. So there will many people for coloring, for inking, for screentoning, for editing the story,paneling, inking, flow, atmosphere etc. Sometimes those people are mentioned and sometimes they are not.

~ How about the fear factor that is involved. The leap of faith. People must be fearing if they do everything right, yet still there is a chance that their work won’t be successful. Is it about luck too?

Ramish: Yes luck is always there. There is this story of new Coke. Coke people did everything right. They had tests done. They had surveys done. The response from the testing was very positive. But when they launched, it back fired like anything. But the point is that you won’t know until you try.

Murtaza: I work as an art director. I start on the concept and leave it a particular stage so that other people can work on it.

Ramish: I’ve heard in one art school in Pakistan, the live drawing session is the same lady sitting in the same pose, every single time.

~ Why don’t people make use of 3D characters, with all their ligaments connected, one could shape them.

Ramish: I’ve also wondered why people don’t use 3D as references.

Maha: Yes, but other aspects can’t be taken into account, like how the object interacts with world, when it bounces off a surface, so on and so forth.

Safeer: But the soul of the art is not there. For example, the painting, the use of colors of Vincent van Gogh are crazy and amazing.
(Starry Night Over the Rhone and Starry Night)
vincent


Ramish:
I’m going through some tutorials and I have taken up online courses purely in art.

~ Do you recommend any?

Ramish:  Schoolism and CGMA are very good but the courses are not free. If one is looking for free tutorials one can find Ctrl Paint a good resource.

Safeer: And Concept Art too.

Safeer: Some say drawing hands is the hardest.

Ramish: I have found perspectives challenging.

Murtaza: Yes. People can learn perspectives from tutorials. Like one, two, three point perspectives. But the time taken to understand and go, from one point perspective and two point perspectives, is more than two months.

Safeer: I really like FungZhu’s work too.

Murtaza: I combine these two in my work.
* draws something (similar to the images shown below)  a man in a skeleton type/basic form and a drawing of a man/robot using the coil technique*
murtaza

Murtaza: *draws several drawings of hands, body (in different postures)*

Ramish: I hope these meetups continue and we have more meetups like these.

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