Graphika Manila 2014 Portraits

Illustration, Original Work, Process, Projects

An exploration of color, line, shape. Done with Procreate on an iPad.

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Eugene Gauran of The Mill

Eugene Gauran of The Mill


Isabel Gatuslao

Isabel Gatuslao

Sara Blake aka ZSO

Sara Blake aka ZSO

Jessica Hische

Jessica Hische

Ash Thorp

Ash Thorp

Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo or Dvein

Teo Guillem & Carlos Pardo of DVEIN

Some Pencil Sketches:



Colors Used:

colors used



The portraits and their respective colors:

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Graphika Manila is the premiere multimedia and graphic design event in the Philippines. … Simply put it as a creative symposium with speakers from different fields of the creative arts. The conference focuses on the creative side of design rather than technology.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Concept Redesign

Character Design, Illustration, Process, Redesigns

About a month ago, I saw the trailers of TMNT: Out of the Shadows, and saw that the Turtles still looked the same for the most part, differing only slightly in height and mask color. I thought, back then, why does it have to be that way? I started watching Nickelodeon’s TMNT 2012 series, and the same thing bugged my mind. Is there no other way to depict the turtles? I did not know the answers to these questions.

I instead asked: What would I do with the Turtles, if I were to design them? So I started sketching out concepts to increase their individuality. These four Turtles, although raised together as brothers, each have their own personality that makes each so different from every other Turtle. I looked at their personalities and habits as the anchor for my designs, and tried to reflect that in their body type and posture.

Body Type and Posture


Brawler Raph, Nerdy Don, Hyper Mikey, Ninja Leo

Raphael is the hot-headed fighter of the bunch. He is usually very aggressive and angry about everything the Turtles go through. So I depicted him as the brawler. I thought, he must be really good at fighting, especially with his bare hands. It’s not that all the other Turtles are weak (they’re not, Splinter made sure of that), but Raph has to have more raw power in his body than everyone else, and so I beefed him up a little bit. I made his torso wider and his height shorter to make it easy for him to find his physical center, making him look more stable and firm. I also added a cracked shell (Nickelodeon’s Raph has this one already), depicting his carelessness couple with his love of fighting. Always so sure of himself and his actions, I imagined him as the stubborn and immovable Turtle, so I put him in a proud stance.

Donatello, on the other hand, is the smartest in the group. It’s not that he can’t fight (Splinter made sure of that, too), but he prefers to use his intellect and strategy in a fight, avoiding physical conflict as much as he can (or as much as his other brothers allow him to). As the inventor of the group, he also creates gadgets and machines, like the Shellraiser, that will benefit in their crusade. So I gave him the intellectual body archetype, tall and slender. He looks to have the least power among the Turtles, but his intellect more than makes up for any power he lacks. I also imagine him having the least confidence among the Turtles, so I gave him a slouching, unsure pose.

Michelangelo is the joker of the group. He is regularly treated as the most immature brother. He always incorporates fun and games in his actions. He loves pizza and… break-dancing? So I imagined him as the quickest in the group. His body has to be fast enough to fight and insert pranks in between. I gave him a short body type that can easily handle fast and agile movements. Being the youngest, he is always energized and ready for a fight, so I gave him a pose that reflects his aversion to staying idle.

Leonardo is the leader and arguably Splinter’s favorite son and student. His physical abilities are more well-rounded, compared to the other Turtles. No clear physical focus, compared to his other brothers. So I gave him a well-rounded body type: not too big, or too tall, just somewhere in between. Leo’s strengths lie, instead, in his talent for looking far ahead, and his decisiveness in stressful situations. As the most obedient student of Splinter, I also imagine that he takes his training serious more than any of his brothers. So I put him in, what I imagine, a stance an obedient ninja student would take.



“Babasagin ko mukha mo” Raph, “What if Rob Liefeld designed Kim Possible” Don, “Billy Crawford” Mikey, “One True Ninja or something” Leo

Taking all this into consideration, I decided to push my direction further with attire. I wanted to add another layer of design by adding clothes to the characters so  I decided that I did not want the Turtles “naked” as they usually are (just shells, bandage, padding and the same attire for everyone). I also tried to consider they live in the sewers, and most of any kind of attire they will have will probably be discarded items from surface-dwellers.

Raphael, being the brawler, would not mind keeping it simple. Being the most physically active Turtle, I made it simple for him so nothing gets in the way of his attacks, but not too simple that there is barely any depth to his attire (we’ll get to that later). Knee and elbow pads could help make it easier for him to fight.

For Donatello, I wanted to exaggerate his attire a little. I gave him lots of pockets for him to put his small inventions in, letting him carry all the tech he wants to to the field. I looked to Kim Possible, another cartoon I liked when I was younger, for inspiration.

Michelangelo, as stated before, likes dancing, so I pushed that a little further: what kind of music would he dance to? I decided on some genres like Hip Hop and RNB, looked for inspiration there. A particular artist I focused on was Billy Crawford (Big City Era, around 2004-2005). I’ve seen him on TV as child, and his image just stuck to me. A bandana under a cap on his head? That’s just ridiculous. So ridiculous that I just had to put it on Mikey. I also used the chains of his weapon the same way Hip Hop artists are fond of using their chains: around their necks.

For Leonardo, some simple ninja pants and a ninja mask made of rags was enough. I changed this version in the final art to something that shows the rags clearer.

All that’s left now is to color it up.

Color and Texture


Final Artwork

Color and Texture both add another layer of design to the characters. The Turtles still keep their respective original colors, BUT their colors are not traditionally placed on a single piece of clothing that they all have (e.g. a mask).

I used Raphael’s color as a sort of lingering story device for his character (huh? whut? idk). We see that his mask is not originally red, but is red due to bloodstains. This reinforces his love to fight, implying that he also shows off the fact that he has been through a handful of intense fights, treating the bloodstains as some kind of trophy for the fights he’s won. (Who’s blood could it be, though? The Kraang? The Foot? Shredder himself? His brothers?)

Donatello’s color is applied most prominently on his goggles. The goggles are colored in a way that it looks like it lights up like a pair of Night Vision Goggles that Don created from normal goggles, and uses it to see better in dark places.

Not much to say about Michelangelo, except that his color is featured prominently on his cap, instead of usually on the mask.

I tweaked Leonardo’s attire a little bit. The previous iteration (see Attire above) did not feel complete or adequate, so I added an upper garment, and changed the mask to make it less actual-ninja-looking, and more This-is-some-rag-I-made-into-my-mask. I also added a long tail, like a scarf is attached to the mask, a la Strider Hiryu. It could be longer.


I realized, in the middle of doing this exercise, that animating these characters with this level of detail would be hard to animate in the first place and, more importantly, sell to kids. Incidentally, both of which are, I believe, sensible and likely reasons a studio like Nickelodeon could have for not deviating as far away from the original designs as I have.

Maybe I can do a version somewhere in between: A simpler version for a children’s cartoon, but with the same direction of individuality between the Turtles. Hmmm…

WIP: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Redesign

Character Design, Fan Art, Illustration, Process, Redesigns, Thoughts and Musings

Lately, new TMNT stuff have been coming out (2012 series by Nickelodeon, 2013 game by Activision, 2014 movie by Michael Bay) since Viacom obtained the rights to the franchise, and I’ve noticed that the Turtles still all look alike, (except for color-coding, and some slight physical differences). I wonder: Why do they have to look closely alike? Are they still going with the color-coding thing, and only the color-coding thing?

SO. I’m doing an experiment: These are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, free of faces and adornments, each of them varying only in body type and posture. Can you tell which one is which?


Finishing this off by next week.

Family Reunion for Kamusta? Magazine

Illustration, Original Work, Process, Projects

Last December 2012, I was invited to contribute an illustration for Kamusta? Magazine by their Photography Editor, and my friend from high school, Joseph Angan. They were counting down to Christmas, and every day they would feature a photo or illustration that emphasizes a certain part of the Filipino Christmas. Mine is about (extended) family reunions every Christmas, and how you’re suddenly introduced to all these relatives you’ve never met before. Here’s a digital sketch from my process:


 And here’s the final version: reunion-01-gm-hires Really liked how it turned out. Thick lines, harsh corners, and warm color schemes are my jam.

Thanks to the Kamusta? Team for the opportunity to contribute! Check out Kamusta? Magazine here! 

Kamusta? is an online travel magazine for adventurers who want to see the real Philippines. Here at Kamusta? Magazine, we aim to showcase the best of Filipino life, and to provide useful information for travellers and backpackers hoping to experience life as locals do.

Rob Cham Portrait Trade!

Illustration, Original Work, Process, Projects

Earlier this year, Rob started this thing where he would trade portraits with other artists. (He was half tempted to call them Portrades. I thought he should. It sounds cool, right?) I contacted him a few weeks ago and decided to go for it! I’ve seen Rob distort his name to Robocham a few times, so I got an idea from that. Here’s a few sketches from my process:


And here’s what I finally came up with:


Th title is a reference to Mega Man Legends (obvs). With this whole Mega Man thing going on with the illustration, I thought I could insert a few small eggs around the illustration:

His life meter is a reference to his famous Helvetiburger shirt:


Photo of Rob pilfered from his Facebook profile. Photo by Patricia Nabong


And I put a little Servbot version of my face near my signature.



And, here’s the portrait of me that he did. Most excellent.


 You can see the rest of Rob Cham’s Portrait Trades this year on his Facebook page here! Or here!