Thursday, February 22, 2018

Girl Child Education and Child Marriage illustrations for Breakthrough Trust

Breakthrough is a trust which works in the third sector, specifically in the issues relating to Gender. They have a history of successful campaigns and heavy use of illustration and animation.

I was more than pleased to work with them on a series of illustrations. These were to be billboards to be used in Bihar, on the themes of Girl child's education and prohibition of child marriage.

They had made these illustrations. Which the project partners had rejected.

Some used Vector illustrations.

Some were illustrated in detail. The one below is done by Jasjyot Singh Hans. He had done lot of other illustrations on this project too. I don't know how they had been used. One thing that jumped at me from his illustrations were how young he had shown the girl to be, or maybe how old the groom was. When I made my illustrations on the same visual, I had to rework the groom too.

My assumption is that in Child marriage, both participants are children. That's not always right though. We have Bandit Queen as an example. She was married to a full grown man.

Jasjyot's illustration

Anyhow, when I got the themes I had to work on, and my deadline, well, the work was lot and time was little. Well, that goes without saying in our line of work. I began working on roughs and asking for references. Breakthrough is good at communication - and I received references, color guides, videos. I was ready.

The saree is tied differently across India is something to mind, also their colours and prints define the region

For the faces, I have always kept the face of the Adiwasi people distinct - basically people from Bastar region, which are scattered around in all states.

Bihar has little or no Adiwasi population (Jharkhand has) yet I decided to use the nose from the template adiwasi face, adapting it for the standard Bihari face that I was planning to create. It gave the visual feel of the references.

Once I had these things set in my head, I started sending them roughs.

Keeping women in Purdah was my decision, but I was told that we shouldn't do that. That's where the limit of an illustrator is sometimes visible - we might be good at our art, but we don't know every region, state or country. In this context, maybe it was a cultural reason or a creative. We had 2 days to do these and the focus was more on finishing these than lengthy discussions.

Maybe a trip to rural Bihar is in order.

Once the references were discussed and analysed, I started sharing the final images. One by one, over a period of three days, I worked on an immense number of illustrations. But I also found creative satisfaction in drawing the sarees. Although I rarely notice clothes people wear in day to day lives, recently I have started to implement it in the work I do - it gives personality to the characters.

Men as usual are devoid of any style. This is our destiny.

This image took lot of rework, I wanted it to look like an authentic child marriage where both girl and the boy have been pressurised and are teenagers. 

3D non animate objects are always a pain to draw, but once they turn out decently, they look good. Specially when they are black.

This again was tricky. After lot of to and fro we setteled at this young mother. is she too young? I couldn't say.

we changed this father to a more older one, and the girl slightly older

I love policewomen everywhere: They are the most wonderful mix of authority and soft power. Once I saw this gang of lady constables make sure that a local market was safe, at the same time two of them were also trying out earrings. Maybe I am sexist, Maybe I am maybelline. Sorry.

This was an interesting, quick, mazedar project. Fun thing: I am working with Breakthrough again!