Tag Archives: Tee-shirt

Ideart: The Making Of A Superhero-Nagraj

Actually, this should have been my first superhero-on-tee project for the boy. I had after all, heard of Nagraj, the popular snakeman character of Raj Comics. But the boy’s first choice was the dog-parented desi Batman and so Doga it was. Still, when I spotted this olive green tee-shirt, I knew the snake myth was calling to me.

I’ve been a fan of snake stories, the icchadari naag legend with its human-snake shape-shifters, the associations with Shiva (undoubtedly the darkest and most complex citizen of the Hindu belief system). I loved Snake Woman even if I couldn’t find the issues to complete the story. When I was a kid, I read a story about a king who secretly ate a piece of snake meat everyday, which gave him the power to understand the language of animals. And of course, JK Rowling’s attempt to cash in on the snake mystique with Slytherin and Parseltongue. I was quite looking forward to bringing my own interpretation of the snake story to life.

I’ve never been comfortable with the transition from sketching to colouring. My drawings usually turned out well and then were ruined by colour. With time though, I realised it wasn’t exactly that I couldn’t colour, I just couldn’t colour within the lines (yes, pun unintended). So I began colouring independently or painting directly on the surface without using lines to guide me.

Superheroes are tricky things to portray. For one, strong masculine physiques have never been my forte. And then there’s the fear of backlash from the fanbase. Superheroes attract staunch loyalists who will pounce on you for the tiniest detail that you got wrong, from the exact shade of costume, to the height of heel, to the curve of the logo, the hairstyle, expression etc. No chances I decided and figured I better chalk out a map and stay on course, no matter how long it took me.

I started by sketching the character in pencil a few times to get a sense of structure and pose. Then I replicated this on the tee-shirt using a soap marker (the kind that tailors use to mark out cutting lines). My mistakes which were easily rectified using water.

I found a shade (Sap Green) that perfectly matched the costume shown in the picture. I knew it would be too dull but I planned to highlight with pearl tints anyhow. Also, teeshirt hosiery absorbs a lot of colour and often the brighter colours lose their sheen as a result. The way around this is to layer on colours, waiting between coats to dry. That way the topmost coat is laid on a non-penetrable base (of colour) and stands out. Careful with this though, too many layers and if your colours are too old, they’ll peel off.

I’d intended to do something similar for the white snake crest down the front of the costume, layering with silver and white. But I made my white very thin with water and spread it across the area. This, I knew would make it dry with a water-colour like finish. As it turned out, it dried in the exact shade of grey that would make the white really ‘pop’. The same was used for the undersole too.

The skin was already going to be in that wonderfully authentic looking shade called Flesh Tint (used with great success on Sabu, I thought). Hair in black didn’t really show so I added a few touches of Pearl Blue to highlight it (a technique I see a lot in comic books). Fine brushed strokes of black created facial features. The Wikipedia entry for Nagraj says that he has blue eyes so I used a piercing Pearl Sky Blue for the irises with a black dot in the centre.

By this time the green was dry and I was ready to start highlighting. I started shading with Pearl Green, afraid it would end up too blingey. It did look rather bizarre against the Sap Green. But following the original picture, I also added black for the shaded areas. It still looked too much like a child’s colouring book, with the colours standing separately. So I fell back on my old favorite technique – blending.

You do this by painting when the colours are still wet. Where two colours meet, add water and mix them. Don’t be afraid to dip brushes into different colours without cleaning them, it adds interesting swirls of colour on the canvas. When I was done, I realised there was no trace of the original Sap Green visible, which was just as well.

I finished off the costume with Crimson for the pants and boots. The snakes were added later, using Pearl Metallic Bronze and Rust and V-designs in Black. I know they look a little artificial and too thin but that’s how they were shown in the picture. I could probably have played around with that but I just let it be. The final touch was to outline every border in the picture in black. This is what adds that comic-book look to the picture.

Garment: Standard size XL men’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Olive green

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no. 21 Sap Green
  • Fevicryl no. 30 Flesh Tint
  • Fevicryl no. 27 White
  • Fevicryl no. 04 Crimson
  • Fevicryl no.304 Pearl Green
  • Fevicryl no.355 Pearl Metallic Bronze
  • Fevicryl no.356 Pearl Metallic Red
  • Fevicryl no.354 Pearl Metallic Rust
  • Fevicryl no.319 Pearl Sky Blue
  • Fevicryl no.305 Pearl Blue
  • Fevicryl no. 02 Black

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideart: Doga-Born In Blood

This is another of those posts I’ve been meaning to get around to for a good while. I painted this for the boy right after the success of Sabu. While the Diamond comics thespian provoked a soft chuckle, this piece got more of the reaction I was looking for – not from the boy himself, but his equally comic-book loving friends.

Doga is his favorite childhood comic character. I’d never heard of him so far, which is probably why the boy’s description of “he’s called Doga because he was brought up by dogs” made me go ahahahahhahaha! He was mighty miffed by that so I painted it for him as a peace gesture.

The painting is based on a high-resolution image that he sent me, in colour. However, I figured a plain white line drawing against a black background would make maximum impact. But once I painted the character, it felt natural to add a few strokes and before I knew it, the picture had a shaded feel to it which I think added to the diabolical nature of the character. The boy thinks that the head is the wrong size and the limbs proportion is off. I take that feedback since I’m not too comfortable drawing masculine features and profiles. Mostly, I’m just happy it doesn’t look too ridiculous. Incidentally, I did the lines in plain white and the shading in a silver tone. The pearl tones catch the light adding an additional eerieness to the image.

The extra colour on the pants and the gloves was added as an afterthought after I looked at the original coloured picture again. I’m not sure whether this was a good idea or not since it might bring it closer to the original but possibly takes away from the impact of pure silver-white on black.

The boy also requested the caption ‘Doga – Born in blood’ written in bloody, dangerous-looking script. It took me awhile to find something like that online but once I started painting, it was actually really easy. It was just a matter of dabbing the paintbrush in water, after coating it with paint and letting it drip down the tee-shirt a bit. Once it dried, I touched up the natural ooze patterns with regular colour. If I had had a pearl toned red pigment available, I’d have highlighted the words too. As it turned out, I think the effect of dried blood (not shining but semi-clotted) comes through better.

Garment: Standard size XL men’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Plain black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.301 Pearl White
  • Fevicryl no.24 Vermillion

*Cross posted to Divadom.

I Wear: Coffee And Sunshine

You know what’s the best thing about being on a sabbatical/freelancing/independently employed? Apart from the being able to sleep in on a Monday, walk on the beach in the middle of the day, catch movies at more reasonable rates on weekday afternoons, spend more time with family, friends and whatever else..? Yes, there’s one other thing. It’s being able to wear exactly what I please, when I please!

I’ve always loved colour. I have a thing for stuff that doesn’t commonly show up in my environment like boots (oh, way before every filmi type made it popular and with heels…ack!), scarves (no, that’s not a rasta mawaali style!), headgear, funky jewellery et al. I Style! was an attempt to capture similar moments in other people’s lives. But my life, when it’s up to me is like this all the time! And now, it truly is up to me. I revel in the fact that I am not bound to black/blue/grey or trousers/salwar kameezes.

I guess I really am indulging the long repressed chick in myself. I’m not really a big shopper. But there’s plenty of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years (yeah, I’m a packrat) and I enjoy experimenting with different, innovative ways to wear them.

So, it occurs to me, that this (like so much else in my life) lends itself to a series of posts too. Here’s presenting a new section then. I toyed around with various names. Idiva? Naa, that sounds like Apple launched a brand of clothing. I’ll settle for I Wear. Feel free to boo and hiss at my lack of imagination…only if you have a better suggestion.

First up, this is a month of sales as shops try to get rid of their Christmas/New Year stocks. It’s a great time to go shopping. Footwear is a major thing with me and not because I’m an SATC fan. I have rather large feet which means finding a comfortable and nice-looking pair that will fit me is difficult. This means, I shop when I find something in my size and not when I need a pair.

I’ve been seeing this pair on the shelves of Catwalk for ages now and wondered who’d have the nerve to try them on, let alone actually buy them. My theory proved right since they were available in every size in the clearance sale….even mine! The boy insisted on buying them for me as a late Christmas gift, even if he had to suppress a shudder. They make me SMILE though! Take a look:

They’re made of orange elastic straps woven together with shiny silver threads. The soles are rubber and of the sort that line the light slip-ons that the bigger sportswear brands sell. They’re immensely comfortable and if they didn’t make so many people look my way on account of their colour, I’d probably forget I was wearing them at all!

Of course, finding the right look for an unusually striking pair of footwear like that is tricky. Since the shoes are so brightly coloured (and blingy to boot), I downplayed the rest of the look. Here’s what I wore today, to meet a friend for coffee.

Navy blue tee-shirt with old, old, you-wont-believe-how-old pale green cordruoy trousers. The outfit still looked blah ending with a huh?! at my feet. So I added my favorite accessory of this season – a shawl/scarf. Mumbai is having a rare winter, chill enough anyway to protect my sensitive neck/throat. This is a silky-cotton shawl thingy that was available in heaps at every street stall, a few years back. I have a whole stack of them. This particular one is made of big squares of yellow, orange, brown, red and blue. It doesn’t go with most of my clothes but it was a perfect match with this outfit.

I flung it over my neck like a dupatta, brought the ends back around and knotted them down the front. I think they add an element of interest to the upper half of the outfit. The neutral trousers give one’s eyes time to adjust before they’re snapped up by the shoes again.

I went minimal on the accessories, wearing just my steel watch (not seen in this pic) and thin silver hoops in my ears. And my bag was a plain beige cotton tote with black straps (featured on I Style! earlier). Overall, I thought the effect was colourful but not outrageous (my usual style). Even so, Moksh gave me a puzzled look and asked,

You dressed up to come meet me for coffee?

Oh well, dress the way you feel. I was happy on this gray evening and my attire showed it!

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

Reverb 10.24: Home

I’m back from a packed weekend with a number of intense experiences and I’m doing the next three prompts in a row so there’ll be patterns and repetition. Okay, you were warned. Here goes the first Reverb10 prompt.

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)

Monsoon. A tiny (you won’t believe how tiny) flat on the ground floor of an unfashionably locality in suburban Mumbai. The rain lashing against the single window. An occasional earthworm getting in through godaloneknows where.

It was the final gasp of the pitchy darkness that had engulfed me in the first half of the year. I hadn’t had the time to think about it, make sense of it. And finally I did. So I remembered. And I grieved. And I raged. And I bitched. And I ranted. And I cried. A lot. Not the nearly poetic, beautiful tears cascading down my cheeks. But unsightly swollen eyes and runny nose, hacking sounds as tear glands struggled to keep up with the outpouring of emotion.

When I was all spent, I opened my eyes. My face was buried in an old tee-shirt whose smell felt alien then (and that I would come to recognize with clarity). A rough face pressed down on my head. I shifted, reality and the present coming back into sharp, sudden focus. The arms around me tightened perceptibly.

Where are you going?

It’s getting late. I should get home.

You are home.

And I was.

Ideart: Mere Pass WOGMA Hain!

Another Ideart opportunity and my marketing mind tells me this should be called co-branding. 🙂 At the Mood Indigo-BlogCamp Dec 2010 that happened over the weekend, I had a chance to showcase one of my works.

I first met Meetu at a common friend’s party. A few months later, we connected at the 2008 BlogCamp at IIT Powai. We kept in touch, our blogs establishing a mutual admiration society. Last year, I called to tell her I’d be in Pune and she invited me to crash at her place. I don’t know if she has had a chance to regret that (!) gesture as yet but her place feels like my home away from home to me now. I have also had the honour of being a guest author at WOGMA, the blog that makes Meetu famous.

So it was nice to have the opportunity to show my solidarity for WOGMA and Meetu in a very personalized way, the Ideart way! Meetu wanted a fun WOGMA tee-shirt to wear to the BlogCamp event. She also sent me the inscription and a detailed description of the design. I think she was quite happy with the result. 🙂

The tee-shirt says,

Tumhare paas
…actor hain,
director hain,

Mere paas,
…WOGMA hain!!

(a filmi tribute to Deewar)

I considered two fonts for the message. Since Deewar came out in the 70s (my favorite decade of pop-culture!), I first wanted the curly-wurly psychedelic font that characterised those references (think the title of Om Shanti Om). But the message was too long to fit such a complex font onto the tee-shirt and I didn’t want to risk taking away from the WOGMA logo.

So I picked the other font which was what I think of as a ‘Las Vegas’ font, since Hollywood movies often show casinos and clubs with their billboards flashing names and surrounded by bulbs around each letter.

As with many Ideart projects, the conceptualisation took up the bulk of the time. Once I knew what I was going to do, actually carrying it out took very little time. The main words were painted on with a flat brush and touched up with the hairfine point. Once dry, I applied tiny yellow spots on top of the black letters. You can’t actually see the yellow dots too well and the effect isn’t quite what I had imagined with the Las Vegas lights. But it does brighten up the otherwise severe black strokes without detracting from the colourful WOGMA logo.

I was quite nervous about the WOGMA logo since this was the only thing that Meetu really wanted replicated as closely as possible. The logo on the site is an online print and I was not sure I’d be able to reproduce it in fabric paint. So I took some liberties with the shades and tried to stay close to the shape of the coffee-stain style ‘O’. I used my favorite technique of dabbing water-diluted colours and blending them where they met, before they dried. The ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ were done in a slightly narrower flat brush using a maroon colour (I didn’t have the plum shade of the actual logo, sorry Meetu!).

The back of the tee-shirt was even easier since I just replicated the WOGMA logo and practically scribbled the ‘movie reviews from a part of the audience’ that Meetu had asked for.

There was still something missing and it looked too much like the kind of tee-shirts that corporate types give out at conventions. So I gave it a neckline to make it look less like a tee-shirt and more like a dressy top. The same yellow-dotted black stripe ran around the V of the neck in the front. I didn’t have a chance to do the back and I figured Meetu’s long hair would cover that anyway. The entire exercise took all of one hour but a lot of frantic phone calls to Meetu. 🙂

Garment: Standard V-necked women’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Plain white

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black (for basic script)
  • Fevicryl no.302 Pearl Lemon Yellow (for dots & ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.311 Pearl Spring Green (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.303 Pearl Pink (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.24 Vermillion (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.10 Indian Red (for ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ of WOGMA logo)

Ideart: Kolam

Kolam is a household art form practised in South India. It is not the same as the North Indian rangoli which is more of a festive occasion icon.

Kolams are created everyday by the lady of the house and are an important ritual to start the day. Traditionally nobody leaves the house till the porch has been cleaned and the kolam laid out at the doorstep. The kolam signifies a welcome to the Goddess of wealth and also anybody else who comes to the doorstep. A subtextual purpose is to feed mice and other small animals in the vicinity. Suffice to say that in many places, few traces of the kolam remain at the end of the day. It is worship and welcome along with providing for smaller beings.

Kolams are made of finely powdered rice and laid out by spilling it from between the index finger and the thumb. The most common kolams have a basic framework of dots and lines curling around them in various loops and rounded designs. The challenge of a kolam is that it must be drawn in one unending line stroke.

The more elaborate kolams are usually reserved for festive occasions and religious ceremonies. Some of them do include colour, geometric patterns and even images of gods, flowers, birds, animals and diyas. Some designs also have special significance to dates and occasions. But the most recognizable (to a South-Indian) designs are the basic dots-with-doodle ones.

I’ve been fascinated by this art form for many years and I learnt it (as all good heritage practices are), from my mother. I started with laying borders, then progressed to simple 16-dot designs and upwards till I was finally elevated to the honour of laying the mahakolam on religious occasions. I tend to be more ambitious than my mother, gunning for more complex designs each time. But she’s much more skilled than I am and her fingers (even stiff with arthritis) manage to lay perfect lines where I spill out shades and strokes of varying thickness. Practice does make perfect with a craft.

There’s not much to tell with the actual technique on this project. I used the thinnest brush I could find. In fact, it was an old brush that had stiffened with earlier, unwashed paint. It suited my purpose perfectly since I needed a stiff surface to guide the paint in a clean, even line. If you’re trying this for the first time, the key is to count the dots in each line, start at any tip and just follow the line. Practice on paper first. I still do that.

I’m rather proud of this one. It actually took just 15 minutes but each one of intense concentration. The design is a first for me – I’ve never laid a kolam with pointed peaks before. One one hand, the technique itself was easier since I am much handier with a paintbrush than I am with powder in my fingers. On the other hand, the surface area was limited and an already intricate design as this one shrunk into that space made it much more complicated.

If you look closely, you’ll notice the paint is not even across the design. But I’m deliberately not touching it up to retain the authentic feel. Real life kolams are not evenly laid out since the powder never falls exactly the same way all through.

This is my kolam, the fine art of welcome.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.


If you liked this post, also see:

Other Indian designs at Desert Dancers and Kathakali

Twory: The Gun Is Mightier Than The Pen

A Twory and a smile for Adi.


“I’m reading match updates on effing Twitter, man. It’s mortifying!”

“Use your press card, idiot!”

“That’ll work here?”

His slowness was grating but I had to act fast. We had half an hour.

“The pen is mightier and all that. Nothing will keep us out.”

I hung up and pulled on my favorite team’s tee-shirt. But just as I turned to the mirror, a splash of water cascaded over me.

“Sorry daddy…I bumped into the wall.”

My darling terror was looking up at me, woebegone. Holi was a discarded calendar page in most homes but mine. Sheena had not gotten over the delights of the pichkari as yet.

I looked down at my clothes. A bright orange blob was soaking through my blue tee-shirt and sticking to my chest.

A matching drop dripped off the plastic gun in her hands.

Ideart: Good Karma, Bad Medicine

A few days earlier I had a thought. The words

Good karma, bad medicine

just formed themselves in my head. I can’t quite explain the thought. It was one of those ideas that just showed itself and vanished before I fully explore it further. It still sounded interesting. I put it up as my Twitter/ Facebook status to see if I could glean anything from it from seeing it in print. Still no luck. It was one of those things that you can just about see from the corner of your eye but never quite catch it straight-on. That’s when it occurred to me that the best way to communicate this thought may be visual and not verbal. And I realized that it had been awhile since I wielded a paintbrush.

The minute I had that thought, the image I needed flashed before my eyes.That was just it. The idea was a picture, not a sentence or story. After that it was just a matter of executing it. Luckily I had a plain black singlet handy and kept waiting for just such a time. A budding artist learns to store away material that could come in useful.

This is a tank top, that I picked up the first time I saw it because it is the thin, stretchy tee-shirt cotton material. There are no big logos or pictures on it and the cut is basic but curved along the sides rather than the straight up-and-down of unisex tees. I hate those since they hang and tug alternately.

The first thing I had to do was figure out a way to get rid of that little logo in the corner (little as it was, it was still in a white rubberprint and stood out) since that would certainly not do with the idea I had in mind. I was out of black paint so I tried dark blue and dark green but the rubber print of the logo showed right through both of these. Finally I coated it with Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306.

I wanted the picture to be exactly in the middle of the visible area of the tee-shirt. If you are painting a tee-shirt for the first time, I recommend putting it on and marking off the area while still wearing it. Otherwise, one is used to the stark, solid borders of paper and too often the artwork goes over the visible area or looks too small or big. Clothes fall on each person’s body differently and ideally you should always see the garment on the wearer before painting on it. This area usually comes to about 8in x 8in or 20cm x 20cm on my clothes (and I rather smugly report that it turned out a perfect square without using a ruler or even pencil sketching!)

I started with a swirly line using a thin brush and Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and then Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no.32. But I realized that a psychedelic design with multiple colours would need to have broad strokes for each colour to be visible and not get lost in too-intricate strokes so I switched brushes. After that it was a random selection of colours applied in strokes, splashes, squiggles and splotches. I painted over in a number of places and in other places I also used the same brush in multiple colours without cleaning the brush. This last gives the effect that you can see to the right of the second dot on the right. The yellow and pink run parallel for a bit before the yellow strikes out on its own. The colours must not be too liquidey if you want this effect since otherwise they’ll merge into each other.

This is one design where red (my favorite colour) was not the most striking note. On the contrary, the red quite got lost in the gloss of the other pearly tints so I used it as background in a number of places. When I had covered the entire square, I dabbed on circles with the Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and you can see the colours beneath through the thin veneer of the green, in places.

I originally intended to paint the words over this design in black or white. But I realized the paint area was too small to fit in words and besides, it was too striking to waste as background. Besides, there was enough room above and below for lettering.

I tried for a digital-looking font and a religious-looking orange (Fevicryl Metallic Red no. 356) for the words ‘Good Karma’. In contrast the words ‘Bad Medicine’ at the bottom are in a more graffiti-like font in a Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302.

Finally I noticed that the painted-over patch over the logo in the bottom right corner had dried and was standing out against the black. So I painted on a stretch in the same colour across the tee-shirt, a sort of rough underline the way one would highlight a graffittied sentence.

I’m not sure whether the finer points like font and colour would be noticed but I’m guessing they would register at a sublimnal level. The message just is one of those things. I wore this with worn-out blue jeans, a silver chain double-looped around my neck with a New Age faerie pendant. It got some appreciation. 🙂

Good Karma, Bad Medicine

Garment: Sleeveless ladies tee-shirt

Material: Hosiery cotton

Background colour: Solid Black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306
  • Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no. 32
  • Fevicryl Crimson no. 04
  • Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no. 311
  • Fevicryl Pearl Pink no. 303
  • Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302
  • Fevicryl Pearl Metallic red no. 356


* Cross-posted to Divadom.

I Style!: Tweetiquette

So I’ve already preached on the value of good manners on the blogosphere. But now that blogs are a tad passe, the only way to keep up is to keep it short and sweet. In other words – 140 characters.

And here’s the man that preaches Tweetiquette, true to form within the prescribed 140 characters!

Annkur says 'Tweet no evil!'

Annkur wore this tee-shirt to the chai tweetup held on 8 January 2010. With his unassuming presence, he still managed to make a statement, possibly the most important one for that evening. It’s funny, it’s unusual, it’s relevant and it’s cool…it’s got be I Style!

Tweet No Evil

The tee-shirt is a regular fit in the characteristic Twitter blue and says ‘Tweet no evil’ under an image of three Twitter birdies displaying the respective ‘Hear no evil/Speak no evil/See no evil’ poses. For a social (and relevant) message with a funny angle and for his sense of timing, Annkur gets my I Style! vote. It is available at Inkfruit for Rs.300.


*Cross-posted at Divadom.

%d bloggers like this: