Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The Adventures of the Little Monkey is the second book I illustrated for Ghayaat to be displayed in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. It revolves around a young boy who learns about rules by going on a (possibly imagined) adventure to a jungle with his toy monkey. The lessons about following rules weren't particularly interesting but the adventure itself was very informative (I actually learned a lot about chimps from this story) and also very fun to draw... mostly because of the baby chimps.

On another positive note, I probably learned more on this book than on any other project I ever worked on mostly because of an unexpected scheduling issue that came up. The original plan was to illustrate this book completely digitally in the same manner as the previous book but given the time constraints, it was necessary to find a faster way to shade everything. I decided to do the entire book in ink wash and then add the colors digitally. I’ve done a lot of work with this technique before but never for a project of this size so I started with a certain amount of trepidation, as I was unsure I could maintain a consistent look. The great thing about having to work with a near impossible deadline is that you don’t get the chance to reconsider or second-guess yourself, and that forces you to stick with every decision you make. Having to constantly adapt to unexpected strokes or shades ended up teaching me a lot about the medium of ink wash that I hadn’t previously considered, so although it would have probably been easier to teach a baby seal how to mingle in high society, this project ended up being a highlight in terms of practical application. I’m also very happy with it because out of all the kid’s books I’ve worked on so far, this one has the most manual work.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Five Minute Comic

This is what happens when you have a post-it, a bic pen, a highlighter and five minutes to kill...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jazz, Organs and Dancing Buildings

This was by far one of the best projects I've gotten the chance to work on. When I was first approached about it and given a sample of the music, I was completely blown away and decided I had to work on it somehow. We started out with an idea from our director, Darine Hotait and set off from there hoping people wouldn't freak out at the sight of a musician's innards. It was also great to finally get the chance to work with one of my best friends, Rafic Saab on the animation. Although we've thrown projects to each other for feedback quite a bit in the past, we had never gotten the chance to actually work on something together before so the timing for this came together nicely. It also didn't hurt that this project got nominated for an Emmy!

Here's a description with credits:

ASHUR is a jazz record by award winning pianist and composer Tarek Yamani on Edict Records. 
The album is available in online stores. 

Tarek Yamani - piano
Goran Krmac- tuba
Kristijan Krajncan - drums

Video credits:
Directed by Darine Hotait 
Illustration & Animation by Fouad Mezher and Rafic Saab 
Produced by Cinephilia Productions 

Track: "Sama'i Yamani"

©2012 Cinephilia Productions

The video is available in better quality here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hind Loses Her Stories

This book was illustrated for Ghayaat and released in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. It's the second kid's book I worked on that revolves around a little girl (the titular Hind) and how reading affects her life. The difference is that this book starts out with Hind forgetting her stories at the airport, leading the remainder of the story to explore her interactions with the other passengers and how they cheer her up by bringing up different ways to tell/hear a story (such as making it up yourself). The best thing about illustrating this book was how nosey and curious Hind was.

The process on this book was very different from what I've become accustomed to. Usually, I prefer breaking down the story myself so it was a bit of a challenge to try and figure out how to visualize the description assigned for each page/spread. Given that everything takes place on a plane, it was difficult figuring out how to block the action clearly considering that there were always chairs in everyone's way.

The other challenge on this book was the amount of detail that was requested in the amount of time that I ended up having for coloring (twelve drawings in two weeks). Needless to say, this book led to many discoveries in the late hours of the night. By the time I got to the last page, I decided I wanted to try and document what I was doing so here's a brief overview:

Overall, it was a very similar process to the sort of work I've done before with ink wash except that the final execution was entirely digital. The first step was to select all the individual elements and place them on separate layers. The benefit of that was the ability to select everything easily and create a constrained area while painting in the details for every character. It's also a good way to cheat by letting a brushstroke keep going for the parts of a layer that are covered by another overlapping layer.

After everything is painted in greyscale, the image is flattened, saved as a new file and a texture is placed over it (preferably with the "soft light" blending mode). After it's textured, it's given a color cast to determine the basic light quality. I usually do that by first going to "Hue/Saturation" and using the "Colorize" option and then going into "Levels" and messing with the separate channels to give the different tonalities a variation in hue to try and match the feel of how film is affected by different temperatures.

The final step is to add color. What I do is bring back my original layers at this point because they're already organized and named selections. I use these selections to place a flat color over every item (or part of it). I place the layer of color of in "Soft Light"so that the color is affected by the color cast already present in the image. The benefit of this is that it saves a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent guessing what something might look like under a certain light setting. Sometimes, the results are surprising so it's a technique I'd highly recommend...