12 Months of Illustrated Self-Portraits - 2015

12 Months of Illustrated Self-Portraits - 2015

For the entire year of 2015, I experimented with my artistic abilities and created various self-portraits in Illustrator and Photoshop. Most of these portraits paid homage to art styles that I thoroughly enjoy but have never attempted to replicate, and some portraits simply pushed my artistic boundaries in directions I've never considered.

The majority of these portraits used reoccurring elements, such as my special jacket and a specific color scheme that I use throughout my art and website. Another factor was facial features, like my mustache-goatee combo and my widow's peak.

Overall, this was a fun adventure in exploring new forms of art styles and enhancing my skills.

January - LEGO

The first LEGO set that I remember having was the LEGO 8232 Chopper Force set. Most of my childhood was filled with custom LEGO creations since my younger brother had the habit of destroying my original sets, so this actually proved beneficial when creating sets from scraps.

Whenever I build with LEGO, even as an adult, minutes turn into hours and I lose myself in a therapeutic state of problem solving and puzzle building. So as I created a LEGO portrait of myself, I am reminded of the infinite possibilities that LEGO can produce, and it is only limited by your imagination.

Tracing an image of a mini-figure and another character's hair, I created a vector template of myself in LEGO form. Most of the jacket details are vector lines with dot-spacing. And on a side note, I made all this while waiting in an airport to move to Texas.

February - Calvin and Hobbes

This comic series has great significance in both my childhood and adulthood. As a child, I was oblivious to its deeper meaning and I enjoyed the comics for their funny quips, yet as an adult, I realized everything I had once read had elements of wisdom within.

Calvin was an intelligible and imaginative child who was able to create a fictitious friend, Hobbes, that he cherished dearly. Hobbes was a part of Calvin’s persona and soul, a creative spark, in much the same way I have developed my fictional robot. I created it in high school, almost as an afterthought, but it began to manifest in my mind like an unsolvable puzzle. What is this robot? What does it do? What is its purpose? What is its name? Why am I so obsessed by it?

In the end, I have created my own Hobbes, which brings me joy and wonderment.

Calvin and Hobbes has the iconic "log" panel, which many have adapted into their own homage featuring comic or movie characters (Lord of the Rings and such). Using my log photo as a reference, I freehanded the background with pencil, scanned it, and used a pen tablet to paint the colors with Photoshop. I then traced the basic poses of Calvin and Hobbes and drew my own characters overtop.

March - Chibi

Cute is ever a word that I like to use in my vocabulary, but this type of art may be the exception. Chibi, a Japanese-style of art, is most notable for its tiny stature and childlike adorableness. Even the most villainous creatures and fiends cannot escape from being transformed into this delightful art, like Godzilla and Darth Vader.

I drew a basic template of a Chibi character and filled in the details of my jacket and hair features. This portrait had a lot of vector elements to make both the details and the shadows of each.

April - 8-bit

There is a nostalgic feeling whenever I see 8-bit pixel art. Instantly, I think of video games, which can be a portal escape reality. By taking on a different persona, a gamer can live another life.

So as I encapsulate myself into a pixel dimension, I become this simple figure with no real super powers, but an eager spirit ready to run through each level and discover new adventures along the way.

I found a basic reference of a pixel-based character on Pinterest, and I created a grid of hundreds of squares that I colored into my persona. Widow-peak included.

May - Art Deco

The first Art Deco image I remember was the VHS cover for the movie The Rocketeer. It was a simple art-form but with an edgy look (pun not intended). Subconsciously, this influenced my love for geometric art.

The reference photo of myself was lost, not even found in my backups. I traced my photo with a pen tool in Illustrator and used a "simplify-point" effect to create linear shapes. Adding some grain completed the portrait.

June - Dinosaurs

My first dinosaur experience was The Land Before Time and later I witnessed Jurassic Park. The idea of giant monsters that once roamed the Earth is as fascinating as it is mysterious. How did they die off? Were they warm or cold blooded? So many questions!

Using the logo for reference, I freehanded the dinosaur with pencil and scanned it. With vector elements, I created shapes and layers with filters to make this portrait. And bonus fact, the imagery below my name is a vector trace of my cloud photo.

July - Polygons

With a resemblance to 3D art, this style of 2D polygonal art gives depth to an otherwise flat image. Many have used this style with fictional characters from comics or video games, and after discovering a tutorial of this process I had to give it a shot.

Using a photo as a base, I drew vector shapes over my image and sampled colors to make this portrait. I also realized after the fact that I wasn't wearing my jacket...

August - Simplistic

Although this particular art style is not true Minimalism, I still love how less detail can portray characters. The negative space and high contrast are some of my favorite artistic styles, and this rendering style captures the essential details.

Using an older photo of myself, I traced my hair details with a pen tool and added a brush effect to mimic the roughness of hair.

September - Minecraft

My first introduction to Minecraft was from watching Toby Turner on YouTube. He was terrible at the game, which lent to the comedy of it, but I still grew a love for the game even though I never played it. After a few years, Minecraft came out on the consoles and I immediately bought it.

In a blank world similar to a box of LEGO bricks, Minecraft flourishes in the hands of a creative person. I would build the tallest towers, complex railroads, and amass a collection of treasures found throughout the realm of Minecraft.

I traced simple shapes over the cover image of Minecraft, and then I used a character skin map of myself to fit into those shapes. Harder said than done, in hindsight.

October - Day of the Dead

Death comes hard to most people I know, but the fascination I find in some hispanic cultures towards the dead is intriguing. Instead of Halloween, they celebrate the Day of the Dead, and they honor those who have fallen with festivals.

On a side note, go watch the Book of Life, which is a great movie about this festival.

I traced a skull reference and drew my hair features on top, then I created vector shapes and lines to add decorations on my portrait.

November - The Peanuts

Before the Peanuts Movie made its debut this month, they came out with a website that let you create a Peanut version of yourself. The only downside was that there was no facial hair to customize at the time, so I took this chance to create a portrait with Photoshop.

Using a character with enough features, I edited my mustache on with Photoshop and added details to make the jacket my own.

December - Spiritual

When I think of Christmas, I also get bombarded with thoughts of "holiday cheer" and obligatory gift-giving. Before you label me as a Grinch (fantastic movie, by the way), I personally view this season as an opportunity to reflect on the spirit of it all.

There is an ignorant amount of bliss in the air, but it can be pure and joyful. Some spend so much money on meaningless gifts, but some families can't afford these wonderful acts of charity. The decorative lights on the streets are silly at best, but they light up the night with a breathtaking amount of childlike awe and fascination.

I drew myself with a dry-erase marker and used a Christmas tree reference for the light effects. After I scanned my image, I used Photoshop to feather in some lights and a layer overlay to add a glow to my portrait.

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