by Frances Alcaraz
Working from Photos
When working from photos, I never copy them exactly. There is always something I will add to make the composition more playful. For example, with the Sudanese nomad girl, I made the donkey facing the same direction as the little girl and I gave him a grin. This makes both the little girl and the donkey interesting characters. With the original photo, the donkey looked like a means of transportation rather than a character. Other things that I remove are details that I feel will clutter the illustration like the strap near the butt of the donkey.
For this style of illustration, you have a little more room to play so you never have to copy the photograph exactly. For me, it’s all about telling a story with your illustrations.
Travel Drawings: Ethiopia and Sudan
In 2012, we moved to Sudan. My husband’s job has landed him here for three years. We’re trying to explore Africa as much as we can. Ethiopia was one of our trips last year.There are many interesting faces that I could draw but I like this particular kid we saw. She was helping herd cattle but she turned back to look at us and I took a quick snapshot.
Taking pictures in Sudan is always a little tricky. You need a permit. This woman was a pedestrian who was crossing the street. I just liked her look.
We also traveled within Sudan. This guy was a Sudanese guide at one of the sites we visited.
At the same trip, we visited the Meroe Pyramids and this guy was sitting near the area.
When we watched Nubian wrestlers, we were fascinated by the drummer. He had one of the most interesting faces I had ever seen
Other Sudanese faces I like were a bread seller and a guy who watching the Sufis.
Hopefully, I will be able to add more drawings as soon as I find the time.
Travel Drawings: India, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines
When I met my husband (then boyfriend), he introduced me to new world of traveling. One of our memorable trips was to India. Aside from the many things we did,we also went to the Pushkar Camel Festival. This was a crazy affair as there were many camel and horse traders doing business. As with all popular tourist affairs, there were also the people who made it a business to look great for photos. This woman was part of a group of women who would wear their traditional clothing and pose for photos in exchange for money. I used a red coloring pencil to capture her lively spirit.
We also decided to ride camels and when I saw this guy leading them, I thought he had one of the most interesting faces I had ever seen.
I also loved the poufy turbans they had in Pushkar but I haven’t found the time to draw one yet.
Another trip we took that resulted in a couple of drawings was to Laos and Cambodia. In Laos, we watched a cultural show and I drew one of the dancers. She is the only person I have drawn with a dark background as I felt it gave her a glow.
In Cambodia, I was very taken with the Bayon temples in the Angkor Wat area. I just had to draw one of these amazing faces.
We also took a lot of trips across the Philippines but because I am Filipino, I never felt the need to draw anything. These were images I had been surrounded with all my life but this boat operator in Boracay had such an interesting face that I had to draw him.
There were many other trips and one day, I hope to find the time to draw images from other countries.
Travel Drawings: Ankara, Ephesus and Pamukkale
I was bored in Ankara, Turkey. So one day, I decided to find the Ethnographic Museum. I got a little lost but that was part of the adventure. I am always getting lost. I once got lost looking for Istanbul Modern and a lovely Turkish guy showed me the way.
Anyway, at the Ethnographic Museum, they had this mannequin that was doing some weaving. I thought the mannequin looked horrible but the pose was quite good. So, I ended up making her human in my drawing. I used some browns in this one as i thought a softer tone worked better for the piece.
I also went on a trip with Erasmus students and this trip was loads of fun. We went to Izmir, Ephesus and Pamukkale.
I drew this famous clock tower in the city of Izmir.
In Ephesus and Pamukkale, I just chose some really cool ruins that I liked.
One thing I didn’t like about Ephesus was that there were so many tourists. All of my photos had some random tourist in them. Which is probably why I like drawing them. I can romanticize the images.
Travel Drawings: Istanbul and Cappadocia
I started doing travel drawings back in 2009. All my drawings are based on photos I took.
In 2009, I was part of an exchange staff program under the Erasmus Mundus grant in Ankara, Turkey. Along with other scholars, we started traveling around the country. Because the university couldn’t find any use for me, I started drawing out of sheer boredom. Now I draw because I think drawings are a cool way of documenting my travels.
The first trip was actually a trip I took to Istanbul on my own. I went to meet a good friend of mine and her husband. As we were exploring the city, we saw this woman weaving at a shop. It was obviously a tourist magnet but I still thought it would make a cool drawing. This was actually done later but I thought it would be easier to post the drawings in the order of the trips. I used a black ballpen for this.
I also drew the Blue Mosque with charcoal and drawing pencils.
The Erasmus scholars had a trip to Antalya but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to draw from my trip there. So, the next Erasmus trip to Cappadocia was really fun and I drew tons of stuff.
Goreme also had some really cool rock formations.
The tour guide also brought us to a pottery factory and showed us the process.
This was just the first part of the trips in Turkey. But it’s a rich culture and is definitely one of my favorite countries to visit.