T-Shirt Designs: Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba

Wait. What happened?

The dragon stole the show.

I’m going to skip the ‘why did you visit’ since this building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you’re an architect. Did the building meet your expectations?

This building got on my ‘must see’ list when I was an architectural student, decades ago. And, yes, it met my expectations. It exceeded them. There is way more to this building than red and white arches. This building is huge – especially considering how old it is – it is really huge. I expected the red and white arches and lots of columns, but there are other arch styles.

I really enjoyed my visit. I day-tripped up to Cordoba from Estepona (way down by Gibraltar), so I had limited time. The tickets for the tower were sold out. I guess I was lucky to get a ticket into the mezquita. Now-a-days, when I plan trips, I check for buying tickets in advance online for the famous buildings and sights.

What was most interesting?

The merging of the mosque and cathedral together. I didn’t anticipate it the cathedral part. I knew it was there, but I didn’t expect anything from it. It was light compared to the dark, old arched mosque part. And it soared. And it had gold gilding. It’s quite spectacular. It somehow fizzled on my shirt design. The red and white arches turned out great.

What inspired your t-shirt design?

The contrast between the lightness of the cathedral and the darkness of the mosque. The cathedral’s ceiling, with its ribbing inspired the dragon. I’ve been contemplating how to layout this design for a couple months. Debating whether to draw it as a flat elevation, or an axonometric, or a true perspective. Maybe the cathedral would work better in perspective. I’m thinking I will do a second mezquita shirt, using one of the other fancy (and less famous) arch styles. But I will keep with the flat elevation so the shirts go together as a set.

And of course, the iconic red and white arches. This is what the building is famous and known for, so this had to be part of the design.

What was most challenging?

The cathedral since it turned out sort of blah. Sigh.  I simplified it substantially, because I think it will be too detailed for a t-shirt. I don’t want people to feel a need to get their nose up to the shirt to see the details.  T-shirts should be understandable from six to ten feet distance.

So let’s discuss this dragon. Why this shape?

From doing internet searches, I find that dragons come in all shapes, styles, colors, and sizes. The sky is the limit. Lots of creativity permitted. That attracts me. I love letting my imagination run wild. The ribbing in the cathedral ceiling reminded me of wings – bat wings specifically – but bats are, um, not in style these days. Nor are they that big. So, I thought dragon wings. This was before the other two dragons appeared in shirt designs. This was months ago.

I wanted the cathedral ceiling to become the dragon. Maybe that is why the cathedral part of the design fell flat. It didn’t quite morph into a dragon. The dragon is there in addition to it. The dragon is a little top heavy and his wings are quite distorted. The whole design barely fits in the space as defined by Printful – 12″ x 16″. Despite that, the dragon is effective and has a presence. If you stand back and squint at the design, the cathedral could turn into the moon…

The dragon has interesting skin. What inspired that?

Two things: color and texture. I selected bold blues and aqua for the body. The texture is one of the stock ones that comes with Gimp software. After wimping out on the colors for the cathedral, I decided that the dragon should be bold. The texture for the skin really pulled the dragon together. He is four different colors, but he looks quite natural.

The texture is done on a separate layer, and is all over, and outside the lines. I then use the eraser tool to clean up where it is outside the lines. Then the black lines cover up the messy edges. I’ve searched a bit on the web, seems like one should be able to make a mask and clip what is not needed, but I’ve not felt that the Gimp software actually works the way I wish it to work.

Which is harder – drawing buildings or designing dragons?

Designing dragons is easy because it feels like there are no rules. Yet hard because I haven’t decided if the dragons should be friendly or frightening. I am avoiding cute. No cute dragons. As for drawing buildings, well, I’ve been doing that for a living for more than two decades now.  Drawing curvy, freehand type stuff with AutoCAD is new-ish.  I don’t do a lot of that drafting construction plans.  It’s quite easy, though.  You draw a multi-segment polyline (of straight lines) with ‘ortho’ turned off, then edit it to “spline” which makes it smoothly curved.  You can use the ‘grips’ feature to adjust and tinker with the resultant curved polyline until you have it exactly as you want it.  You do want to avoid ‘trimming’ the splined polyline until you have it as you want it because it becomes very hard to adjust after that.

What kind of computer do you use for creating the T-shirt designs?

I have two machines that I use – both running Windows 10.  One is a desktop with large monitors, and the other is a laptop.  Both have 16 GB RAM.  You need lots of RAM for coloring the designs using Gimp.  I recommend you buy gaming computers for graphics work.  That’s what works well for me.

Any hint at what is next?

I have a lengthy list of design ideas.  Possible upcoming designs include a revision to the Nasrid Palace inspired designs.  I want to do another of the fountains at the Villa Lante.

Click here to see the Mezquita designs in our shop.