Breadth of exploration, Zyra Bañez

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Art by Zyra Bañez

Joanna Yu

In this installment of Drawing the Lines, I will be showcasing the work of one artist that combines the elegance and endless creativity of fashion illustration with her original art pieces.
Zyra Bañez is an artist based in Australia. Using an arsenal of traditional mediums ranging from alcohol-based Copic markers to liquid ink, she creates pieces that have an air of sophistication and polish interwoven within each stroke lain across her paper. Zyra also manages a YouTube channel showcasing progress videos of pieces, glimpses of her sketchbook, to collaborations with other artists.  
I first ran across Zyra’s work a few years back with a series of fashion illustrations she created. Inspired by the Disney Princesses, she drew a plethora of different outfits inspired by such characters and filmed YouTube videos corresponding to each outfit. I clearly remember being captivated by her design of Elsa.

Unofficial fanart by Zyra Bañez
While I was visually stunned by this drawing, watching Zyra create it and hearing her explain her process added an additional level of depth and adoration. In her commentary, Zyra detailed how she took inspiration from both the film and already fashion pieces to create the outfit, an aspect that intrigued me as a young artist. While I didn’t know it then, the planning stage of a piece is another crucial step in the creation of art that can lay out the “blueprint” for the creative process while also making it easier than diving straight in. Using reference from photos and other’s work as inspiration for the piece was another tidbit I found interesting, and is definitely an approach that I utilize when creating pieces today. In addition to these components, Zyra also explained how she rendered the different fabrics found in the outfit, ranging from the fur drape over the model’s shoulder, the silkiness of her gown and the twinkling sequins adorning the dress. Her explanations were clear and eye-opening to my younger self who was awestruck at how much depth could be achieved using a few materials. A few of my other favorites in the collection include her Rapunzel and Merida outfits shown below.

(left, right)

The playlist for the collection can be found here.
Another reason I love Zyra’s work is due to her experimentation with a variety of traditional mediums. When I first followed her, she primarily created work using a combination of alcohol-based markers and colored pencils; now, her illustrations have been made using watercolor, gouache, charcoal, and liquid ink. Such experimentation is important in an artist’s journey and vital to their growth, and seeing Zyra progressively add more and more materials to her artist’s toolbox inspires me to play around with my supplies as well.
Anyone who’s kept up with Drawing the Lines until now knows how much ink intrigues me as a medium, but the way Zyra uses the material is one of my greatest inspirations for my personal experimentation. Zyra’s current pieces often utilize liquid ink, demonstrated by the examples below.

(left, center, right)

I love how the black and white contrasts each other in the left piece, and how the delicate lines of hair stand out against the galaxy motifs in the piece on the right. Her incredible inking style also winds into subjects besides the figure. In this piece below, the intricate strokes are found in the forest surrounding the main figure — adding more interesting elements to the artwork that would otherwise seem barren and simple without them.

Art by Zyra Bañez
Another aspect of Zyra’s inking style that I love are the subtle lines she adds on her subjects. Take a look at these pieces in “Generation,” an art project in which she practices drawing people of different ethnicities before creating a portrait on the traits she has picked up.

(source)

The circles on the cheeks, the highlight on the lip, the little curve on the tip of the nose, to even the indication of the eyelid all add a layer of depth to the portrait, making each piece even more interesting to look over. These subtleties are found throughout Zyra’s pieces, especially in her sketching style, and I enjoy seeing how she continually incorporates them into her artwork.  (To see more of the “Generation” series, this link leads to her YouTube playlist while this one leads to more images.)
For this installment’s experimental piece, I wanted to try out gouache — a medium I’m unfamiliar with that is similar to watercolor. Just like watercolor, gouache is a water soluble paint but is more opaque, allowing for great vibrancy of color that usually are built up through layers in watercolor. As a fan of the earlier medium, I was excited to play around with this paint and see how I would fare with it. Not surprisingly, I didn’t really know what I was doing and ended up imitating my use of watercolor through thin layers that I gradually built up, though I do admit rushing through each layer. I even went back to Zyra’s channel to try and figure out how she used gouache in her first experimentation with the medium. Although I was frustrated for not understanding how the gouache worked, I enjoyed myself for exploring what the paint could and couldn’t do. Reminded by Zyra’s work, I whipped out a bottle of liquid ink and added a few lines reminiscent to those found in her own pieces.

Art by Joanna Yu
Overall, the gouache was a bit of a struggle to use, but I’m motivated to continue to explore its capabilities.
I’d like to thank Zyra for allowing me to write about her work for this installment! Please send your love and support her way by subscribing to her YouTube channel and following her on social media! (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt) Until next time, have a gradient day and keep creating!
All photos were used with the permission of Zyra Bañez