Black and White

Today’s interview has a bit of a back story: A couple of months ago, I did a special on vector graphics. One of the artists I was planning to do an interview with was Xavier Salvador. Well… it turned out that he  doesn’t use vector graphics at all. Of course I asked him, how he achieved his perfect black lines and shapes. Here’s his reply:

For my caricatures I use a process I invented myself. Some years ago, I used to ink my drawings – but I felt that it would take me years to learn this technique. And I don’t have the time! So I tried this: I do the first sketch and then, instead of inking, I trace with very clean lines of pencil. I scan it, and I darken it in Photoshop. Then I fill in the spaces between lines. Finally, I color the non-white areas and.. voilà! It is a very simple yet effective process.

[click here to see a work in progress]

About half a year after my first attempt I finally managed  to continue the interview:

Xavier, now that I know how your technique works.. Can you tell me how you learned to draw? Did you have any artistic schooling?

Yes, I studied technical drawing and engineering. This means I know perspective and volumes very well from my youth.

I drew my first caricatures back in university, and I noticed they looked pretty good. That’s why I decided to take a local ‘comic book course’ in my hometown, Reus. My teacher was Marc Sardà, a great illustrator and artist. He opened the door of this world to me, and I’ll be eternally grateful to him.

Do you still change things about your personal style?

Yes, I always want to try something new. Take, for example Matteo Bertelli‘s hair. I had never drawn Rasta hair before…So, I had to try out a couple of different ways of drawing it until I found the right one.

I think we always should try to improve. In my case, I developed from a ”standard” style more or less, to the current one.  My objective is this: I want to communicate a maximum of content using a minimum of lines, colors and shapes. I think I have achieved this with the black-and-white style.

The most curious thing is this: one of the reasons that I have reached this goal, it is that I am color-blind – I am frightened of colors! And, obviously, I am more comfortable using black shadows.

But you do have some colored works in your gallery.. How do you make sure you chose the right colors, say for the FC Barcelona jerseys? Do you memorize their position in Photoshop?

Yeah, you got me! I try to discern them from their position in Photoshop. I also ask my girlfriend to check the colors before I exhibit a picture. Coloring is the hardest part for me!

For some reason, I’ve never asked this question before: How do you decide on  whom to draw next?

I like this question. There is more than one motivation to draw a person. Sometimes I like a piece of art created or performed by someone – music, a painting, or a film. Sometimes will draw a person I admire for their career. Or a historic character I have read about, or someone who is in the news. Other times, there is a request. And sometimes I just like the person I am drawing.

Did your new technique change something about the way you perceive lights and shadows?

Of course! I pay attention to light a lot more. For example, when I have to draw a caricature I reject a lot of photos that other artists would use. Why? Because they don’t have shadows, so I can’t see the volumes of the face. Without lights and shadows I can’t develop my drawings. For example, in my version of Michelangelo’s David, I applied a lot of shadows that you almost can’t see in any photo – but I need them to make my drawing live.

How do you think your style improved over the last few years?

I’d say that now I do a lot more detailed analysis of my ‘victims” faces. I have also become quite meticulous about the shadows and volumes and I try to internalize them. In the last years, developing the style of fragmented shadows has been a step forward, for example in the Jesse Owens piece.

Is there something that you would still like to improve upon?

Yes, one of my weak points is drawing backgrounds, and I love drawing comic books! Therefore I must practice it…

As for human bodies and faces… I have worked with them for a lot of years now, but sometimes  I still find another way of drawing something I have already done a thousand times! We can always improve, even on something we perfectly know.

Thanks for your time!

Paul Hellmich


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12 Responses to “Black and White”

  1. Admirador says:

    Hola, felicitats, cada vegada ets més galàctic, a veure si al final et faràs més famos que el Ronaldo. Quan estiguis posat en el dolar, ja m’avisaràs que vindrem a gastar-nos-ho.
    Cuida’t i una abraçada.

  2. Sal Navarro says:

    Felicidades Xavier por esta entrevista la informacion revelada aumenta la admiracion que ya existia por tu estilo y habilidad ,enhorabuena y espero seguir disfrutando tu obra !

  3. Agustí Pérez i Susana García says:

    Moltes felicitats i no paris en el teu procés creatiu infinit……drawing allwais….Congratulations for your job

  4. Agustí Pérez i Susana García says:

    Moltes felicitats i segueix el teu procés creatiu infinit……drawing allwais……congratulations for your job

  5. Muy interesante la entrevista, tanto como el artista ;)

  6. Xavier Salvador says:

    Gràcies per les vostres paraules!!!
    Gracias por vuestras palabras!!!
    Thank you for your comments!!!

  7. Ercan Baysal says:

    Excellent work Xavier. Congratulations…

  8. oscar, miriam i biel. says:

    Felicitats Xavi! El talent i el treball, units, sempre tenen la seva recompensa. Que continuis fent per molt temps el que més t’agrada.
    Una abraçada.

  9. Xavier Salvador says:

    Thank you Ercan!
    Gràcies família!!! les vostres paraules m’han agradat moltíssim…

  10. menekse says:

    Xavi…. and color blindness!!! O.M.G!!! :) ) This is a divine gift for you, dear Xavi! You should be grateful for it. This gift created a great artist with his own personal style! …and I am one of the biggest fans of his art. :D Wonderful interview! Congratulations Xavier, congratulations toonpool!!!

  11. Xavier Salvador says:

    hahaha!!! you got it Menekse!!! this is my secret, i have been forced to draw in b&w hehehe… not at all, however it has been one of the reasons… thank you for your nice words!

  12. Absolutely brilliant work. Very powerful. The economy of line is amazing and inspiring

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