Interview with Ali Bahabadi

Published    9/6/2021

Head of a tiger, looking to the left

Could you tell us something about yourself?

My full name is Mohammad-Ali Bahabadi, but I sign with my shortened version of my name, Ali Bahabadi. I was born in 1983 in Iran. I got a master’s degree in art conservation but I have been working as graphic designer for several years.

Do you paint professionally, as a hobby artist, or both?

At the moment, I am practicing painting just to increase my artistic abilities. But I am still young enough to become a professional painter. And I think this is a fascinating job.

What genre(s) do you work in?

In the first place, I want to master realistic portraits of animals. I have always been interested in animals.

Head of a rottweiler dog

Whose work inspires you most — who are your role models as an artist?

Michelangelo and Da Vinci have always inspired me. Especially Michelangelo. I also find it astonishing how Rembrandt used light in his works. I have also been influenced by a lesser-known Iranian painter named Mohammad Siah Qalam, who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries. He has strange paintings of imaginary creatures that are very impressive compared to other paintings of his time.

Aaron Blaise‘s paintings also assure me that animals are good subjects for making art.

And a great image-maker that recently I came to know about, Heinrich Kley. No doubt that he will change my approach to painting.
Of course, photographers like Ansel Adams, Nick Brandt, and Henri Cartier-Bresson have always inspired me. I have been photographing for many years and even professionally for several years.

All of these are great artists and have had a profound impact on me, but none of them are really my role models.

Head of a young cat

How and when did you get to try digital painting for the first time?

For the first time, 7 or 8 years ago when I bought a new Wacom graphic tablet. But I really was not very successful at the time. Perhaps I was expecting magic from the digital painting. And since then, except for what I used to draw and to paint on my Android tablet for fun or on a trip, I hadn’t taken digital painting seriously. Until my birthday this year, July 25th, 2021, when I made a serious decision to paint digitally. In other words, I’m still very new.

What makes you choose digital over traditional painting?

With more speed and possibilities, I can make fundamental changes in my painting at any stage of my work. Also, I paint digitally because of ease of sharing, being cheaper and, of course, I think it would be more favorable for the environment.

How did you find out about Krita?

I was already familiar with Krita when I was looking for an alternative to Photoshop. I think I even have an old version of Krita on my laptop. And when I decided to take digital painting seriously, my first choice was Krita.

Head of a fox

What was your first impression?

Krita had a very pleasant user interface. On the other hand, because I was proficient in Photoshop, I could easily understand the user interface and saw that I could use the same shortcuts. In less than an hour, I felt that, yes, this software was really made for digital painting, and I really felt comfortable with it.

What do you love about Krita?

I really like Krita. But when I first realized I could hold down the Shift key and draw my pen on the tablet and see that its size changes, I fell in love with Krita.

What do you think needs improvement in Krita? Is there anything that really annoys you?

If the selection tools and text tools improve, I may no longer need Photoshop.

What sets Krita apart from the other tools that you use?

Krita is free and easily accessible. This is great. But I think focusing on digital painting makes it fantastic.

If you had to pick one favourite of all your work done in Krita so far, what would it be, and why?

Maybe this cat.

Head and part of the torso of a fluffy white cat

Two weeks before I drew this cat, I had drawn a cat which I think was awful. The next week I drew another cat and left it half-finished, and I drew another cat and tried to hide its flaws under its fur. But it was not good either. So I decided to draw only cats every day for at least a week. And after a week I drew this and I was almost satisfied with it (please see my progress in drawing this cat in the photos below).
Progress pictures of cat drawing

And here’s a timelapse:

What techniques and brushes did you use in it?

I tried different brushes. But I feel more comfortable with those brushes that mimic pencils and charcoal. But I also try to use the other brushes if necessary.

Where can people see more of your work?

This is my website address: bahabadi.com

I am also available on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I am new to digital painting, but I think that digital painting has made it easier for me to paint, and in a short time it has made me a better artist. Although this change might be small, I can easily feel it myself. Almost every day I paint a new painting, which I believe it is not so easy be achieved in the traditional way. I need to thank everyone who contributed to the development of Krita. I have had the possibility of digital painting for many years. I had both a good graphic tablet and the most expensive graphic software available to me. But I think there was something in Krita that encouraged me to paint every day. Krita has a friendly spirit that accompanies me in painting.

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