CreativeReview

Karla Cordova: recreating Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows and more

The original painting, The Wounded Table by Frida Kahlo
The original painting, The Wounded Table by Frida Kahlo

CR: Can you talk us through the process for making your image? The painting has so many different elements and characters, where did you start? 

KC: I started looking for each character at a time, trying to find parts of the characters who had the same perspective and the same or similar texture as the painted originals, and it was a very long process. What I noticed is that because the painting is surrealistic nothing was going to look 100% lifelike or even normal. For example, for the skeleton I searched for human skeletons at the beginning, but it wasn’t working so I started to look for things that could potentially look like bones, like dinosaur bones, white stones, plastic bottles, mexican skeleton masks, metal springs, etc. I used 186 stock images to recreate the painting.

The recreated version of the Lost Masterpiece
The recreated version of the Lost Masterpiece

CR: We were curious about Kahlo’s iconic eyebrows. Were those hard to recreate? 

KC: It was really hard to recreate Frida. With the eyebrows, at the beginning I searched for ‘woman’s eyebrows’ but that didn’t work. I ended up using an eyebrow of an old man and then using the brush tool at 1px to accentuate the hair in the middle.

Kordova at work
Kordova at work

CR: This is an unusual way of using photographs. Have you used stock imagery in this way before?

KC: Yes, I work in advertising, so the job requires me to be the most resourceful I can be. I usually have to look for ways to make my job a little bit easier and definitely faster, and stock images are the perfect way to help me improve the 3D models or the photograph I’m working on. So I was prepared for the challenge of recreating the painting digitally. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the magnitude of the research and the compiling of the actual images.

Images used by Kordova to recreate the painting
Images used by Kordova to recreate the painting

CR: What were the biggest challenges of this project?

KC: Due to the particularity of the characters’ poses it was not easy to find pictures that matched perfectly. The most difficult part was to get their gestures and their expressions right, as well as their exact position because Frida was really meticulous about those things. For her everything had an emotional reason, so I tried to evoke the same feeling. The heads, legs, hands, faces, etc. are all remade using several sources.

Cordova's work for the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador
Cordova’s work for the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador

CR: Can you tell us a little bit about the digital art scene in Ecuador? Is there a good infrastructure for training and practice?

KC: Ecuador is a little and young country, so we are just starting to try new things. For Ecuador, photomanipulation is very new, unfortunately we still don’t have schools that teach digital photography on that scale, but the advertising industry is growing and needs digital artists like me. I had the opportunity to learn while working, watching tutorials, and signing in to online classes.

Cordova's work for the Ministry of Environment of EcuadorCordova’s work for the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador

CR: What was the last project you worked on?

KC: I recently worked with the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador which works for the conservation and protection of the native forests. With an ad agency, we made a campaign about the protection of our fauna and flora.

karla-cordovaKarla Cordova

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