Shivam Thapliyal


Shivam Thapliyal is an illustrator based in Dehradun, India. His work is know for its bold color palette and playful images.


How would you describe your aesthetic/style?

I am currently playing around and experimenting with different styles and hunting for my own style, so to speak. I think in general, my style is pretty much towards psychedelic colours and intricate details in composition. I love putting every detail I can think of when I illustrate something. At the end It’s quite amazing to see the entire illustration with the details. I just can’t resist adding details and that’s what I think would be my style.

Could you walk us through the process of creating an illustration from start to finish?

It’s always a blank canvas in photoshop/illustrator and my mind too. I start with a rough draft of what I want to make. Would it be a composition, detailed illustration, or a surreal artwork. I also write down the elements associated with it. For example if I think of space, I would write, asteroids, stars, comets, space ships. It’s basically a list of all micro to macro elements that need to be illustrated and incorporated in the artwork. Next I work on the colour scheme I would choose. I have a natural inclination towards pop and flashy colours. I try making palette and ensure to stick to it for maintaining consistency. Next step is to illustrate all the elements and reuse them instead of making it over again. Using standard stroke weight is a must to ensure consistency in the artwork.

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

What is, in your opinion, the most underappreciated aspect of illustration?

Micro-elements, is what I think is the most underappreciated aspect of illustration. Fine, you have a central subject and you made it best. But the entire illustration would be a bit unbalanced if you aren’t adding minor details. This could be small subtle shadows between the objects to give a depth of field or a hazy texture to show fog or dots to show dust etc. A small bug on leaf or patterns using lines and dots could make it an illustration better. There’s always room for changes!

What kind of tools are used in crafting your images?

It’s never a single tool which help my mould my artwork. I use Photoshop, illustrator, after effects, Cinema 4d and even my camera to make my work. I really enjoy shooting my own texture images. These usually come from walls, rusty iron pipes and what not? All you need is to have a crazy thinking. Posters usually end up in photoshop where I’d adjust colours and add textures on top. That gives it a very natural feel and prints turn out better than my expectations. Tools could be more that these and I am thinking of trying them out.

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

I am presently working on Indianama 2017 poster. It’s a project by Animal studio based in Delhi where everyone of 70 curated artists makes a poster on a theme given to them which revolves around India and portrays a side of india. My theme is “City of Tobors” which is based on technology like cellphones, mobiles, etc, Final work would be like an exaggeration of tech we have and sci-fi things we might have. It’s going to be a motion poster so that’s what I most excited about. I am also making laptop skins series that I might upload soon in upcoming months.

Can you tell us a bit about your recent A-Z project?

Desi Typography is a 36 days of typography project. In India, every step you take brings different colours, textures, patterns and what not? I wanted to depict this in typography, specifically english typeforms with an indian style and that’s when I thought of this project. While chalking out the typography project I chose to make it full of colours, patterns one could see on the streets of India. The essence of the project is in the colours and elements that work together well. It took a whole day to just choose the right palette for it. Every colour had to work with with the remaining of the palette. After that, I started working on patterns and elements to put in.

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Do you prefer to work on images one by one, or in groups/series?

I like working one by one. This may be a debatable choice but it just happens to work fine. It kind of isolates it and leaves me with the freedom to work without having to worry about the rest. Once done, I examine what could be reused and what style could be transferred. I also take a lot of time to choose the right colour which I would use for the composition so working on one at a time gives me an idea of how it would look.

What’s your favorite illustration you’ve made? Can you walk us through the inspiration and process of creating it?

Space Candy Alien Snack are top two favorite of all my work. I really like the way they came out.

My thought process was actually to imagine planet as a candy for aliens. Then I let my imagination let run wild. It could have a shiny wrapping with crunchy asteroid belt around it or gravity defying drippings floating around. It was all done in photoshop where I first started with a flat round lollipop. Then I thought of what I could add. I added shading to the it with the shiny wrapper being the main center attraction. I used flat brush for making wrapper by playing around with the opacity mask and pressure sensitive options. I also used lasso to isolate a section I wanted to work with and used soft edged brush to make glowing spheres and organic shapes.

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Image: Shivam Thapliyal

Where does your inspiration for images come from?

I draw inspiration everything I observe around me. It could be a description from a textbook or even a highly intricate architecture I might come across. I really am inspired from artists all over the world. I really look up to work of DKNG studios and their work is something I really want to achieve. They have been my inspiration ever since I started illustrating. I really learnt a lot from their process video than anything else. They are always up to give feedback and that’s what has improved my work in the last 3 years. Indian artists’ work also inspires me a lot. One of my constant inspiring and guiding mentor is Ayesha Rana. She makes amazing work and always give a blunt to the point feedback which I try my best to absorb and understand what’s wrong. I like discussing ideas with her and see different perspectives on it. I am also inspired by Rick Berkelmans, Shaivalini Kumar, Animal Studio, owndaveydraws, Maite Franchi, studio muti, Justin Mezzell and many more those who make such killer work I look up to. It’s generally not specific and inspiration could come from anywhere.


More of Shivam's work can be seen on Instagram

IllustrationRyan Berg