Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Elephant No. 36: Trading Card

Today I thought I'd try making an elephant trading card, similar to the baseball and hockey cards my brothers and I collected as kids. I may try an artist trading card in the future, but for today I wanted to make a sports-style card.

I thought it would be interesting to use an actual elephant as the star of my trading card, so I chose Thiruvambadi. Thiruvambadi Sivasundar—to give him his full name—is a famous festival elephant in southern India. He is considered one of the handsomest of elephants, and even has his own fan club and music video. To read more, and see his video, you can check out the elephant lore in this previous blog post.

I found this photograph of Thiruvambadi to use for my card.

Thiruvambadi Sivasundar.
Source: http://www.hindu.com/2011/05/10/

For the size of my card, I decided to go with the standard trading card size of 2.5 x 3.5 inches (6.3 x 8.9 cm). I cut out a couple of blanks from artist-quality bristol board. I only intended to make one card, but if I goofed it up, I'd have a spare.

I began by sketching the general layout of the card, using a couple of sports cards as my guide. They usually have some kind of border, a name in bold lettering, and maybe a year or some other kind of extra information.

I filled in the area allotted to the star's image with a stylized representation of Thiruvambadi, based on the photograph I'd chosen. In the end, I guess I was going for something that was a cross between a sports card and a superhero card. I also gave him the number "1", since this is my first-ever trading card.

When I was happy with the general look of everything, I went over the outlines with a permanent pigment liner, then heat-set it with a hair dryer. I always have trouble with lettering. I have nice handwriting, but my lettering always looks terrible. Oh well, this was another chance to practice.

I filled in everything with watercolour pencils. I used plain watercolour pencils rather than my favourite Inktense pencils, because this was a relatively small surface and I needed to be more precise than I can usually manage with the fatter Inktense pencils. The colour saturation isn't as good with regular watercolour pencils, and the coverage isn't as smooth, but I figured I could add more colour later, if need be.

I painted over everything with a moderately wet paintbrush. To give it a more graphic effect, I went over some of the lines with the pigment liner after it dried, and added some extra lines and shading.

I also filled in the back of the card with some general information about Thiruvambadi, and framed the information with some purple lines. Oddly enough, it was quite hard to find Thiruvambadi's vital statistics. I found his height, but not his weight, nor his age, nor anything else of interest. I did find things in a language that might be Malayalam, but it's not a language I know.

It's not perfect, but I quite like the final effect. The lettering displeases me, but the process was fun enough that I might just make more of these at some point.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Elephants are skilled at making their own tools to groom and scratch themselves, but there's clearly nothing like a readymade broom.

At the Forth Worth Zoo in Texas, keepers were giving one of their female Asian elephants her daily brushdown when she decided she could do a better job herself. Accepting the large push broom from her keeper, she happily brushed her forehead from top to bottom.

Asian elephant scrubs her head with a push broom, Fort Worth Zoo, Texas, 2013.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435431/Fort-Worth-Zoo-

Apparently deciding that this was a very nice tool to own, she refused to give it up, taking it back to her enclosure.

Mine! The elephant carts off its prize.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435431/Fort-Worth-Zoo-

The video below shows the elephant calmly grooming herself with the broom.

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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