The Brew

The creative process behind advertising, graphic design and graphic novels is the focus of this blog. That doesn’t mean that every aspect of creative process is discussed. I may air my opinion on whatever I choose from a random selection that needs creative scrutiny. It goes for film, photography, illustration and life in general as well.

Pope Francis

Pope_FrancisWatercolor illustration | Pope Francis


The Fallen Tree

Stream_WestKillA fallen pine tree by a stream in the West Kill mountains, NY.
Medium: Watercolor | Paper: Arches Cold Press

The stream ends up in the West Kill River. The West Kill flows for 11 miles before entering Schoharie Creek just below the village of Lexington. Wild trout are found throughout the stream, but they are most abundant in the upper 8 miles. Wild brown trout can be found in all sections of the stream, but rainbow trout are found mostly in the lower reaches, and brook trout numbers increase as one heads upstream.

(Source: Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State)

Old Church

Old ChurchMethodist Church on Spruceton Road, West Kill.
West Kill is a hamlet of Lexington, Greene County, NY.

Watercolor Portrait

Watercolor illustration of “Pappy,” a good old neighbor at my erstwhile home in Karivara. It’s a remote village in the picturesque High Range of Kerala. The illustration is based on a photograph I’d taken while visiting Karivara in 2012.

Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper 300 gsm | 22″x15″

More Than A Miracle


What baffled those who were at the accident scene was not how lucky the occupants were to survive the crash without even a scratch, but how did they manage to land the vehicle on that fallen tree! I still wonder how that happened.

February 6, 2014, was a cold sunny day. The roads were dry and there was no snow or ice anywhere on the route. Though the posted speed was 35 mph, the car was cruising at a steady 25 mph. The curve ahead seemed clear and dry and the speedometer dipped to about 20 mph as I took the right turn. Suddenly the car skidded all over the road and I lost control of it. In a split second, the vehicle jumped the curb and sped down a hillock towards a stream 20 feet below. I have no recollection of what was going through my mind. Nothing was on the path to break the fall. And it all happened in a jiffy.

Then the unimaginable happened. The car stopped abruptly. I came to my senses and found myself still in the seat and without any bodily injury. I sat there dumbfounded. Slowly it dawned on me that I was not alone. And not out of danger yet. I looked at my wife who was still in her seat but equally dumbfounded and without any bodily harm! Without much difficulty, we got out of the car via the driver-side door.

The rescue crew from the Baltimore County Fire Department that arrived soon after had only one word for us: “Someone up there is looking after you!” Thank God for that someone whoever it was.


When Pictures Talk


fearSometimes a picture can summarize a story or convey an idea without writing a single word. When used sequentially, such pictures can tell a story without wasting words. Do the pictures above tell a story?

Why Graphic Novels?

Comics/graphic novels have become very popular after many of them were made into blockbuster movies. Superman, Batman, Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300 are just a few examples. Why Pixelbrew is into graphic novels, one might ask. It has a lot to do with art and storytelling.

Stories and graphic design somehow got into me from a very early age. My art education didn’t begin with Crayola but with graphite slate and pencils as early as I can remember. Tracing Mandrake the Magician from newspapers using homemade tracing paper was one of my favorite activities while in school. My ability to draw got attention from teachers as well and some of them wanted me to draw Jesus, the pope, and someone else for them.

Homegrown ghost stories were the staple of many a conversation when village folks assembled. Local rivers, tall trees, giant rocks, desolate hilltops etc., found permanent seats in such stories. Nightmares have been a regular interlude for those children who took a liking for such stories!

My interest in art took me to the mother of all art schools in India: the venerable JJ School of Art (read Applied Art) in Bombay (Yes, not Mumbai then). Sequential art even found place in a few adverts I created while working in an ad agency. Comics and graphic novels in those days didn’t go beyond folklores and mythology.

A story I wrote in a Malayalam journal a decade ago demanded another reading. As I read it over and over, I saw its potential for a graphic novel and named it Beyond Normal. Because it is.

Couture Rani: The making of a brand

When Couture Rani approached Pixelbrew for designing a website, their online business was just an idea. An idea with wings but no feather. It took almost a month for us to finalize the concept and strategy. The logo, corporate identity, and mock-ups happened in a matter of days. The concept behind the logo is simple yet emotive. An amalgamation of two language alphabets gives meaning to the logo and Couture Rani’s Indo-Western name.

Another six months went by before a prototype was in place.

In the meantime products were selected from designers, photographed and retouched in Delhi, India; webpages were designed; and site construction began in Scottsdale, Arizona. was online with a one page announcement. The real thing followed in two weeks. The response was overwhelming.

Brand Identity Design

Of late one hears a lot about branding. Is this a new phenomenon or an old wine with a new label? Branding has a lot to do with human perception than just design. Successful brands ride on the strength of fulfilling consumers’ expectations and occupying a place in their minds.

That’s about products and services.

But what about the brand called “You” (Read  “Me”) ? Me is a brand that’s as old as Man himself. Which means Man was a brand even before Eve was introduced! Long before all the hype about branding began Me was in vogue.  But the question is, does Me gets branded enough to stand on its own? It’s a question worth asking yourself. “Am I doing everything in my power to brand Me enough?”

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