The cityscape time-lapse video is almost a YouTube genre unto itself at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch this clip of artist Patrick Vale render NYC’s lower half entirely by hand. Set to a toe-tapping tune by Charles Mingus, the short video shows Vale drawing a labyrinthine view of the Big Apple’s lower half, as seen from the Empire State Building. And he captured it all on his iPhone.
A quick stop at Vale’s website shows that city scenes are something of a specialty, and one aim of this video was to prove that, yes, he does draw them all by hand. “People often couldn’t get their head around the fact I drew them freehand with no tracing,” the UK-based artist explained, “so I thought I’d time-lapse the process that shows the drawing building up, mistakes and all!” The items that jump in and out of the frame as the city grows serve as little testaments to its authenticity: some white out, a few cups of coffee, and a lot of pens.
But the clip also turns the drawing into a living, breathing thing, like the city itself. “I … thought, if we sped it up, my loose line would look really energetic and convey the energy of this great city. I suppose I’m also thinking of ways you can turn a drawing into something more than just marks on paper.” Watching the buildings pop up in rapid succession–something you should really do in full screen–you’re prompted to think about some things you might not consider when simply looking at the finished product, maybe noticing the unique character of a certain building or how the rooftops sweep up towards the sky when you get down to the Financial District on the island’s southern tip.
“I have always loved drawing NYC,” he continued. “My dad used to go to the USA a lot and take photos that I used to draw from when I was a kid … so my interest started back then … NYC is a favorite of mine, but all cities are good to draw! Am itching to get started on a Paris view soon and obviously there is a lot of brilliant vistas in London.”
And as impressive as the illustration is, the determination it took to put the video together is deserving of some commendation, too. Vale positioned his iPhone overhead to capture his progress, and used an app called iMotion HD to automatically snap the frames used for the time-lapse, a setup that required him to export those frames every 30 minutes. I asked him how many pictures it took to make the video in all, and he said he wasn’t sure–but, he explained, “roughly for every half hour there were about 1,200 pictures and I did the drawing in 4 to 5 days on and off, so a lot!” It is the Big Apple, after all.
[Hat tip Colossal]