Making an Artist Trading Card: A character sketch of Toyin Odutola

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Friday, April 17th, 2015



Every Monday, on the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design blog, a different profile of an artist is posted. These are taken from a classroom project where the illustrations and fine art students create “Artist Trading Cards,” first researching the facts about and the style of a selected artist, then making a trading card that captures the spirit of the artist. Three PCA&D sophomore illustration majors, Abigail Bonett, Ariana Pluchinsky and Ashley Obenstine, haven taken us through their Art Card Projects in this and previous blogs.

Ashley’s Project: Toyin Odutola, a contemporary artist who focuses on identity and the sociopolitical concept of skin color through her pen and ink drawings



I first learned of Toyin Odutola’s work when she visited PCA&D in Fall 2014. I loved the reasoning behind her subject matter and how she renders. Ever since then, I’ve kept track of the new pieces she puts out. Women, especially women of color, need to be represented more often in society in any way possible. That was one of the deciding factors in my choosing Odutola.


I’m Ashley Obenstine and I grew up and currently still live in Elizabethtown, PA. I attended & graduated from Elizabethtown Area School District & CCTC for Commercial Art. My freshman year, I went to Tyler School of Art (part of Temple University). I took a year off school and transferred to PCA&D. I am now an Illustration major and hope to work in the comic book industry, animation industry, or possibly do character design or concept art. I like a lot of things, so it’s hard to decide right now!



In the background of my piece, there is lifework that imitates Odutola’s way of rendering her subject’s skin. (The background is a much more simple version of her beautiful, intricate rendering. I didn’t want the background to take away from the portrait itself.)


This went through multiple comps. I really wanted to get her skin tone right and capture her personality. I was unhappy with the first two, and then finally rendered out a piece I was happy with. The entire piece is painted digitally in photoshop. I used a few different brushes in different areas. I used my wacom bamboo tablet for this, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I worked off one photo of her but I didn’t want to do a realistic painting. So, I really just tackled it in my own style that I enjoy drawing in and focused on capturing her separate features and outgoing personality.