Ritaban Das talks to us about how to bring characters to life

Mumbai-based Ritaban Das has the dream job — he’s been working in the animation and gaming industry for the last seven and a half years as an illustrator, storyboard artist and designer. He’s worked on a bunch of projects like Kuku Harajuku (a Japanese TV series), Evan The Epic (a US web series) and Gajju Bhai (an Indian animated series). He’s also currently working on a small web series with his brother called Two Detectives, on top of his other personal projects.

 
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Of course, good things don’t come to those without practice and passion. Ritaban has been drawing for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he spent most of his time with a slate and a box of chalk gifted to him by his father. It started with sketching his favorite cartoons and continued throughout his school life, where he well-known among his seniors for the sketches on the back pages of his notebooks. He was mediocre at studies, but great at art.

 

So how does one make a career out of sketching cartoons, you ask? Luckily for Ritaban, he never had to go through the typical artist and Indian parent confrontation. He did a 2D animation course at Webel Animation Academy, Kolkata before landing up as a clean up artist/character designer in a studio in Mumbai. His very first gig itself was with Cartoon Network, on a tele feature film called Tripura.

 
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After that huge learning curve, he now has a steady and familiar rhythm to the process of his designing. It always starts with an idea or a prompt — sometimes brought on by some amazing reference he’s stumbled across, but usually because of some intent or purpose to motivate his character design or illustration process. That idea develops into loose thumbnails and brainstorming. After he’s done a few sketches, he moves on to research and reference. “I’m a sucker for research, so gathering images are huge part of my process,” Ritaban adds.

From there, he starts integrating the reference into his initial idea, tightening up the structure and design elements, adding details and specificity, taking into account things like shape language and silhouette. Then he has to settle on a design and color scheme before finally finishing a design. “I really think about the stylization — how stylized a character or design should be.”

 
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He tends to draw most of his inspiration from his surroundings, and there’s no lack of it in Mumbai. “The people, the super-crowded local trains, the sea, food, the culture, old houses — I absolutely love the old houses and mansions in the town side, wish I could live there at least once — these are some flavors which have been inspiring me since the beginning. Also, great working environments lead to good work and I’ve been part of this environment for a while now. Most of the people I worked with are so damn talented. What I noticed and realized is that, if you stay in this artistic environment, you’ll eventually start producing quality works. Also this city’s got so many options and connections happen very fast here. If you do good, people notice you. There are so many events happening — Comic Con, and various animation and art festivals where you can meet with so many good artists and build connections. These are some of the elements which really helps me a lot.”

 
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Like every artist, Ritaban is highly caffeinated. He also tells us that he loves to draw zombies and monsters, that he is an avid music lover, and that he has too many imaginary friends.

As if he wasn’t already talented enough, Ritaban also has an electro acoustic/ambient music project called Simplers’ Project. After the release of their debut EP ‘Waves’ two years ago, they’re going to release a full-length album this year.

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