Illustrated by Harry Bhalerao

My project is a playful visual exploration of colonialism and the very real human impact on the environment, framed within a cute and childlike illustrated universe. I have created busy isometric scenes with my own cast of idiosyncratic blue-skinned characters, and in my series of five illustrations, I show a cycle of careless environmental destruction and exploitation that is all too familiar in our modern world.

When creating the concept for these illustrations, I was inspired by the rich and detailed ‘Where’s Wally’ books, and tried to replicate the way their scenes are overflowing with interesting characters
and situations.

These were created completely from start to finish on an iPad, using Procreate. I sketched out the whole scene in rough, trying to play with composition and interaction between the characters and environments. I then refined my line work, trying to bring an expressive quality to the characters, and textured detail to the background. After this I applied colour, based on the limited colour palette that I use in most of my work. I find that a limited colour palette, when chosen carefully, is far from being restrictive, and actually provides a solid and harmonious framework from which to visually represent an idea. 

Working in an isometric allowed me to be freed from the shackles of linear perspective, and draw in a way that would be impossible to capture using a real camera. This gives me the liberty to show everything throughout the scene in equal detail, whilst at the same time allowing the viewer to clearly make out the topography of the environment.

The theme of environmentalism and colonialism was not my intention at the starting point of this project, and developed organically from playing with the characters and world that I created. Both the ‘fishermen’ and ‘jellyfish herders’ are simply following the motivations of their groups, to respectively travel around and build more boats, and to maintain their simple lifestyle; and it is the inevitable clash of these objectives that leads to the interesting moral themes in the work. 

I have attempted not to be ham-fisted in my approach, and the fishermen are still cute, likeable, and relatable characters; hopefully representing the actual moral gray area in the real life conflict between environmentalism and inevitable human progress in which we find ourselves in 2019.

See more of Harry’s work on his Instagram