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  • Writer's pictureandreahywong

Quaran-Tees II

Updated: May 27, 2020

It looks like I'm on a T-shirt design phase! This was honestly so fun to design and play with a different medium. I based this T-shirt design off of Japanese artist Hokusai’s famous woodblock print, The Great Wave, but put a science spin on it with some biological molecules - Nucleotides! (but later on that).




"Fabric-marking" process

I found smaller areas of colour blocks work quite well with these #fabric #markers! There were definitely less pen #strokes than in my last project.


I started with the left rectangular panel of Katakana and Kanji characters, and then after outlining the general shape of the waves, went right to drawing my nucleotide molecular structures.


With colouring, I worked in sections, and one colour at a time. I think working with the darker colours first (black, dark blue) made the later lighter blue colours easier as the latter colours wouldn't affect the darker colours. However, the reverse process would allow me to edit contours and shapes as the darker colours could "edit" my lighter colour shapes.


I found outlining the loops in the "surface white caps" made it easier to define the shape and layers of the water waves and continuing from there with the various "striped" blue colours.


Tada! Finished Nucleotide T-shirt
Tada! Finished Nucleotide T-shirt


Some pictures throughout the process:


Where did this idea come from?


Well, it's a bit biology-nerdy: My partner is a biologist and he had this pun of Nucleo"tides". For those of you who don't know (but really for my own internal processing because it's been a little while since my science study days...): Nucleotides are the base units in genetic molecules like DNA and RNA. Mini science lesson (let's see how much I remember before I apply this to creating its visual)...

Basically, DNA and RNA are made up of a sugar-phosphate backbone which only make up part of the nucleotide, the unique parts are called bases. I forgot there's also something called a nucleo*side* which is the similar but just without the phosphate groups. You'll see below there are 3 phosphate (PO3) groups but it really just depends if the molecule is floating around lonely or incorporated in a larger molecule like DNA.


The #bases are where they get neat! There are 2 groups of them, and they pair together in specific ways: Adenine (A) can pair with Thymine (T) or Uracil (U - not found in DNA), but Guanine (G) can only pair with Cytosine (C). (I always mix the last one's name with Cysteine, but that's an amino acid, a different biological building block for proteins!)


If you're interested and want to learn more, this page is fairly detailed but concise and has awesome visuals!


I spy...


Can you see all the biological references?

  1. The rectangular cartouche/outlined title: Although stylized to imitate Katakana characters, it's actually the English word 'nucleotides' in capital letters!

  2. Artist signature to the lower left: This is where the original's artist signature was located but instead, I decided to go with 核苷酸, the literal translation of Kanji/Chinese characters for "nucleotide'

  3. Tides: Of course, I've included 5 different nucleotides throughout the waves: - the purine Guanine in the top-most largest wave - the purine Adenine in the bottom-left nearest the '核苷酸' characters - the pyrimidines Cytosine and Thymine near the centre of the left waves - and the special RNA pyrimidine Uracil way over in the right side It worked out that the Oxygen in Uracil fit on a boat, so that paddler is a bit of a "bubble-head" here.


Until the next T-shirt idea!

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