Between the Lines

Wielding the pencil, but it’s really a metaphor for the computer mouse! (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

I like drawing. Specifically, I like drawings which are mostly made up of lines, and commonly fall in the categories of sketches, cartoons, schematics or diagrams. As a child, I was handy with a pencil and paper. But I used to find the business of colouring quite messy, whether it was with crayons, water colour or sketch pens. I wasn’t averse to a bit of shading or using slant or pressure to vary the intensity of the stroke, but nothing more. For me, drawing class consisted of the joy of capturing something in its outline and then ruining it with colours! This ability (or inability) tinted my perception of things around me, and of drawings in particular. I remember being fascinated by maps, cartoons, line drawings in product manuals, graphs, or even engineering drawings in dusty books in the loft.

Later I discovered drawing on a computer and I just loved it. I thought the drawings that were possible to make, using a combination of template shapes, free hand curves and interpolated curves, were just endless. Here are a few drawings I have made and some comments about them.

Icons

I started drawing icons as a way to represent common objects like computers, servers, phones, etc. I used these icons in research papers, technical reports or in presentation slides. I did not want to use copyrighted images from the Internet and having clean uniform icons also appealed to my aesthetic sense. The phone below is missing a power button and a volume rocker, as those buttons are visible front on. Also, I am not convinced the fills and shadows make the stereo look better.

A phone, a watch and an 80’s stereo (Illustrations courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Cars

Being something of a car enthusiast, I tried my hand at a slightly more complicated object — a car. The car on the left is what I drive currently, a 2007 Honda Civic. The picture on the right is the interior of a car, a 2014 Suzuki Ciaz, which I like for its clean and straightforward layout. I made these using interpolated curves by copying and tracing from reference images.

My current car and a car interior (Illustrations courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

More complex subjects

Later I wanted to see how complex subjects could be rendered through this process of copying and tracing from images. On the left below is a self-portrait and on the right is an African elephant. The elephant is hands down my dad’s favourite animal and one of the first I learned to draw as a child from him.

Self-portrait and an African elephant (Illustrations courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Mock album covers

Since I have been writing music reviews, I tried my hand at mocking up some album art. These were intended to evoke the feeling of recognition in people who were already familiar with the album art. The actual album covers are definitely much nicer! On the left is Inner Mounting Flame by The Mahavishnu Orchestra and on the right is Aja by Steely Dan.

Mock album art — The Inner Mounting Flame (left) and Aja (right) (Illustrations courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Pencil work (copy of Hergé’s “The Secret of the Unicorn”)

In the process of creating all these drawings on the computer, one day I suddenly experienced serious doubts about where I really stood with my ability with the pencil. So I made a copy of Hergé’s cover of The Secret of the Unicorn with a pencil. It turned out ok. Phew! The squiggly line at the bottom where Snowy (the dog) is scurrying — that was contributed by my six year old! You are, of course, at liberty to compare the copy with Hergè’s original and determine the gulf between the two. But I am not posting it here!

A copy of Hergé’s cover of “The Secret of the Unicorn” (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Escalators in a mall

The other day I was in a shopping mall and I was fascinated looking at this scene. In one view, I could see three escalators connecting four levels and people going about their business. I took a picture and then attempted to recreate the essentials of the scene. Can you see the four levels?

Escalators in a Mall (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Picture of a selfie

The amazing thing about drawing on a computer is the ever-growing collection of drawing objects that you can re-use. For example, here is a picture of me taking a selfie! Once I got the idea, I already had the phone and self-portrait ready to use.

Picture of a selfie (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Recursion

Here is a picture of a hand drawing a phone taking a picture of a hand drawing a phone taking a picture… well, you get the idea! This is another example of a drawing which is much easier to do on a computer than with a pencil, thanks to re-usable and re-sizeable objects.

Recursion (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

Human Machine Entanglement (with apologies to Escher)

You may have probably seen it already. But there is a picture, by M. C. Escher the great Dutch artist, called Drawing Hands which depicts the paradoxical act of the left hand and the right hand simultaneously drawing each other. Since we don’t seem to be able to put our phones down for too long (and also since I can’t draw with my left hand), here is a humble tribute to the genius of Escher.

Human Machine Entanglement (Illustration courtesy of Aravind Iyer)

That’s it for now. I hope you liked the pictures. If you have a comment, question or suggestion, feel free to contact me.

(Visit my website to read the original and many more stories!)

All the original illustrations on this page are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.