"I Like It" by Cardi B.: Looks and an Illustration
Last week, Cardi B. dropped the video for her song, “I Like It” ft. J. Balvin and Bad Bunny from her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. With my first listen of the song, I enjoyed it. It was one of the songs I had on repeat after completing my first listen of the album. Love and I even discussed what she and the record label should do in order to make it a summer banger and that was to remix it by putting J.Lo or Pitbull on it. To be honest, that was Love’s suggestion, not mine, but I was here for the Pitbull mix more than the J.Lo’s. But now I have to admit J.Lo’s song “Dinero” ft. Cardi B. is nice too. Anyways, that’s not the route they took...at least not yet...and we received a colorful and warm video with Miami feels.
Throughout the video, Cardi B. is featured in three different looks. It starts with her in a cropped tank made of beads paired with a bright yellow hi-lo skirt with ruffles from Alejandro Collection. With a light glow and magenta eye make-up and Marc Jacobs turban, it was a very nice and festive day look.
Then she gave us a look...an evening one to be exact...in a flowing red Michael Costello gown that made her look like a dreamy Dominican goddess. This was my favorite. Her nails were highly accessorized while she sported another a multi colored turban provided by her stylist, Kollin, that matched all the efforts of the dress. Her make up coordinated with the colors of the turban, which could’ve gone really wrong but thankfully didn’t. And lastly, the large green Ranjana Kahn swan feather earrings are just everything and though I would never be bold enough to rock them, I want them. I want them now.
And fittingly enough, she slayed in a Miami night club vibe but in a patterned Gucci silk tie top with matching wide legged trousers and added fun with hot pink Louboutin pumps. It’s something that I would have never predicted but I’m cool with it. Her long wavy hair swung as she hit all her action shots and bad b*tch poses.
I watched the video early in the morning at a time where I am usually unplugged and focused on myself but something called me to open my YouTube app. It was the first video suggested on my feed and I was geeked. I plopped down on my couch and dug myself into a comfortable position and watched the video on repeat a good 5 times in a row. Now the concept of the video itself wasn’t expansive but it fit the song, caught the vibe and again, I loved the looks and Cardi’s energy throughout. So much so, that with each view, I progressively felt the need to sketch out her looks more and more. So I did.
As I pulled out all of my markers, pencils and paper, I started to hear the self doubt kick in. “You know you’re not going to be able to draw that the way you want to, right,” “What’s the point of you doing this in the first place,” and “You’re just wasting your time” repeated in my head but despite the confidence drop, I continued to set up my work area. I was motivated and inspired to do something so now was as good a time as any.
I sat down at my studio/dining table, put pencil to paper and started gesturing. My original plan was to quick sketch these three looks. No real detail, just quick lines and strokes that would capture the movement and energy of the video so I could finish it before going to work that morning. I guess that message wasn’t relaid to my hand because I continued to intently lay down foundational shapes and reference video screenshots for perspective, poses and details in order to finish the outline of my illustration. Yes, in a couple of hours, I was able to complete the penned outline of the drawing. Woo! (Sarcasm, FYI).
Forgetting just how long it actually takes me to sketch, I committed myself to three whole looks on one page. It was outlined in pen, so there was no back out. I also happened to show what I started to work on publically in my instagram stories so I had to publically finish it. I’d say that’s a positive in social media: accountability. No lie though, the days that followed and when I worked on what became a bit blurry but it did progress over a week.
Day Time Frills
The next time I sat down at the table, I started to color the vibrant day look. I pulled my yellows, blues, greens and mild jewel tone markers and got to work. In hindsight, I think the colors of the patterns were different, but oh well. The main thing I needed to remember for rendering this illustration was the high and lows of the hi-low skirt. The color of the skirt is a light yellow with a bit of shine to it, so to get the depth and feels of the frill, I had to be conscious of my light source at all times. The beaded top was easy because it was gestural; I just had to show the idea of the beads, not the precise pattern. In the end, I was uber proud of my skin tone shading. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately on how to best shade skin tones and faces and it has clearly paid off. You should never stop learning your craft.
Overall...at that time...I liked how the day look came out. I “finished” this rendering in one morning and looked at the page with satisfaction before getting up from the table.
Purp and Pattern
When I returned to do the gucci two piece, I was a bit hesitant. I’m pretty okay with coloring in hair, especially with my recent focus on practicing drawing natural hair, but there’s still room for error and growth. And then there’s just my general hate for drawing patterns. As a person who freely strokes...pause...patterns go against my style and aesthetic because if you’re not careful, the repeat won’t translate well and something/everything will look a hot mess. I honestly wanted to quit the illustration here, but again, public accountability.
I tried matching the purple, oranges and yellows as I debated which parts of the print could go and which I should keep. Because I was using marker, and the details of the print were so fine, I couldn’t show it all precisely without risking colors bleeding into each other. So with that, yellow was applied first and then the oranges and hints of green followed. As I started laying down the purple, I made super slow and very deliberate strokes for a few reasons: 1. I didn’t want to draw outside the lines because basic coloring skills, duh, 2. I wanted to be careful how the purple looked when parts of the body overlapped each other and there were purple pieces in front of other purple pieces and 3. I didn’t want to overshoot the stroke and overlap the parts of the pattern that were already drawn.
It was the slowest part of the illustration and I was the most careful here but it was worth it. I didn’t oversaturate the paper with ink and I was able to translate some of the depth of the body using a lighter shade color pencil so it didn’t look like a one dimension purple shape.
The Dominican Goddess
At this time, I’m pretty sure a few mornings have passed before I started to work on the final look since this one didn’t happen until Saturday morning. I woke up early per usual...and procrastinated per usual...but I eventually got to work.
I was hyped to draw the earrings because I loved them so much, and unlike the paisley-esque pattern, my stroke could be free. But before I laid down any color, I altered some of the outlines of her body. I didn’t like how her peak-a-boo leg came out from under the dress so I added some definition around her waist and raised the slit. It still didn’t read entirely right to me but it made a difference and there’s not much that I could do with it already being outlined in pen.
I colored in the stones and feathers of the dope AF earrings then I started on the dress. The ever flowing and fully red dress. As I’m coloring this dress with a good amount of surface area, my red marker starts to run out. I’m not even a quarter of the way finished with this rendering and my red starts to streak across the paper and ruin what I’ve already put hours of work into. So, with slight anger and agitation, I do what any millennial would do at this time and I posted the crisis in my IG stories. I even used the zoom in function! ...I’m pretty basic right now with stories so that’s a big deal for me. My daughter started to wake up so I stepped away from the disaster at hand.
When I returned to the drawing, I evaluated how many different red markers I had and tried to see if I had any other options. I came across a red orange color and figured that would have to do. I rationalized that there was already a foundation of red on the illustration so it wouldn’t look that bad.
I started layering the red orange and praying that I could make it work. As I blended the streaks and added shadows, I realized that it was coming together. I added depth with color pencil, much like what I did on the gucci two piece and it came out pretty rich and descent. So descent that the day look on the opposite side of the page now looked flat and fell into the background. To balance the artwork, I pulled a darker yellow, more of a gold tone, and amped up the saturation on the hi-low skirt.
I finished up the illustration with a few touch ups in photoshop. I removed the white paper from the illustration and replaced it with a white fill layer. Unwanted marks were stamped out and levels were slightly adjusted. The most extensive shop work was moving the club look to the left and recentering it between the day and evening looks for better visual balance.
And now that you’ve read through this entire explanation of how this illustration came to be, here is the final product.
The Final Ill
I honestly love how this “I Like It” illustration came out. Are there things that I wish I could change? Yes.
- Red running out of ink
- The faces and being able to render faces to the likeness of their actual face
- Fabric rendering and the drapery looking more realistic
- Creating more visual movement and the club look not appearing so stiff
Despite all that, I can see my actual growth in this illustration, personally and artistically. First and foremost, I finished. 7 hours...an estimation...is the longest I’ve ever committed to just an illustration. And this being spaced out over a week and the video itself losing hype as the days passed, it could’ve easily faded to the back ground but I stayed committed, so go me!
There is no real growth without critique, so you can chime in too. What do you think about the illustration or this long a** recount of the process? Let me know in the comments. Would you have worked this long on a personal project?