Solar Homes Illustrated

India gets about 300 days of bright sunshine every year which means using solar power to generate electricity has a lot of potential here. For this purpose, BRIDGE TO INDA created It is a website that brings together people interested in making the switch to solar from all over the nation. It acts as a space where current and aspiring solar homeowners can interact with each other and discuss the trend for solar energy in India. The website will provide all the latest updates and queries one needs to know before going solar.

My responsibility was to design and develop illustrations for the website. The vision of the website was simple and straight. The web site had to be conducive to interactions and for that it needed the viewers to stay.

The Idea was to create a set of characters – a family of four along the following guidelines:

  1. The characters needed to be urban, aspirational. The characters and situations had to be developed in a way to which people could relate.
  2. A solar house had to be designed for our characters.
  3. Situations based on the character outlines of the families needed to be developed.
  4.  The motive to keep it light humorous while clearly getting the message across: ‘Maybe it’s time to go solar’.

The process I follow for making illustrations always starts with a lot of rough sketches, keeping in mind the overall composition:

  1. Rough concept development
  2. Fair sketches
  3. Inking (digitally or traditionally)
  4. Colouring (digital)

The pre-production phase required a lot of sketch work. I had to create a variation of three different families. This part was a lot of fun. The three families I had designed were uniquely different from each other. They were made along linguistic lines; a Bengali, Punjabi and a south Indian family. Two families were chosen: one as the main and the other as the neighbour.

Image one
The first rough sketch for the character concept
Image two
Three variations of the family
Image three
The families that were finally chosen

With the main characters ready, the next step was to design a solar home for them. Drawing a house seems easy but one needs to be careful. The characters and their home had to blend, the styles had to reflect the family’s characteristics. For this I went through a lot of references for designing a solar home.

Image six

Image seven
The final solar home

With the first two stages complete, I began on the inking process. There are many ways of inking illustrations. I normally use a uniball pen but for this project I decided to go digital. The advantages of inking an illustration digitally is that the work is clean and is extremely helpful during last minute changes. The colouring process is not as time consuming as inking. I use a Wacom bamboo tablet, which saves a lot of time when colouring.

Image four
The inked version of all characters in one place
Image five
The coloured version of the image above

The social media campaign for the website was another interesting project. For this I came up with certain situations. I took up the issue of day to day problems like shortage of electricity and made light hearted, humorous yet clear-cut illustrations out of them. The idea was to show the two families; the one which had gone solar and the other which had not in order to highlight the advantages. The tag to all the illustrations was ‘maybe it’s time to go solar’. This was a lot of fun for I tried to look at tiny details like appliances used within the home, furniture, etc.

Image eight

Image 10
Image for social media promotion

I hit a few snags while working on the illustrations, like the apt design for the house, and small yet significant details about the characters. All in all, the final illustrations came out wonderfully. The style was neat and conveyed the message succinctly.

Overall, the experience was very creative. I had the opportunity to do what I do best and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Find my illustrations on the new version of India Solar Homes website here.



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