Illustrators Priya Kuriyan and Alankrita Jain say that while working on the digital platform has its pros, irrespective of the medium, creativity is paramount

In this digital age, the tools of illustrations have undergone a change as well. Even though the traditional way of illustrating on paper continues, illustrators are taking to creating works digitally. Priya Kuriyan, who has done illustrations for books, calendars, and logos such as Devashish Makhija’s When Ali Became Bajranj Bali, the cover of Ruskin Bond’s A Garland of Memories, Roopa Pai’s Taranauts series, Pratham Books 2012 calendar, Sudha Murthy’s Grandma’s Bag of Stories, among others, is at ease with illustrating both on paper and digital illustrations. “Some publishers prefer hand-drawn illustrations. I usually send out scanned digital files, as it is not always practical to send art works in paper. With Tulika, I have done a combination of hand-drawn and digital illustrations. For example in Baby Bahadur, a lot of the characters are done individually. I scanned and then photo shopped them. Software in digital illustrations has become more advanced. You can get some good effects from playing with light; there are filters in the software that allow you to try different effects. In traditional hand paintings, that is possible too, but one would have to re-draw and re-paint the image again and again.”

Priya’s illustrations complement the text, and at the same time, tell a story of its own. “I like adding details to pictures that may not be in the text. In When Ali Became Bajrang Bali, I have added a desk and photographs on the wall, each of these elements adds to the character’s personality. Also, a child might look at an illustration and weave a different story. Illustrations help spur the child’s imagination.” Illustrating bilingual books require a different approach, says Priya. “Malayalam text would take more space than Hindi text. And so you have to adjust the illustrations accordingly.”

Priya trained in animation at the National Institute of Design (NID), but illustrations formed a major part of concept art, and it was from then that Priya developed an interest in illustrations. “In NID artists from different disciplines work together, we got to see each other’s work.”

With the boom in social media, have illustrations become an important tool of communication? Priya thinks so. “There is a lot of visibility now. Facebook, blogs etc. have made illustrations so much more accessible. You see something on someone’s blog and you can reach out to them.” Priya also says that an increasing availability of books has generated a keen interest in illustrations.

“The world is now becoming a more visual space. If you pick up a newspaper, you see so many changes in the design. Visual communication has become more important.”

Twenty-two-year-old Alankrita Jain who has written and illustrated three books, Miaow, Boodabim and Little Laali with Tulika says that illustrating on paper is almost similar to illustrating on a digital medium. “In both, you can play with colour and create different illustrations. Alankrita says she loves both media. “Both media require equal amount of patience. No matter what medium you use, you have to visualise and develop an individual style. I do my sketches on paper, but the final product is done on the computer.”

She agrees with Priya that illustrators have greater visibility these days. “Everything is slowly becoming digitised. And yes, there is a greater access to different kinds of work.”

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