At first glance, these pieces look like someone was able to figure out how to emboss figures onto a lined notepad, turning out sculpted images on a simple sheet of paper in the process. Except it really isn’t and that illusion is part of what makes 15-year old Brazilian artist João Carvalho’s works quite impressive.
One, he doesn’t actually do the art on lined notepads. Instead, he does them on regular sketch pads that he lines much later to look like they were ripped out of a bound notebook. Second, the 3D figures are actually just an optical trick, achieved by a clever use of pencil shading and the curved linings on the sheet. Basically, the notepad is a ruse, so he can have an excuse to line the drawings and build a better illusion.
According to Joao, he’s self-taught and has only been doing his notepad art since June of this year. Most of the pieces consist of cartoon characters, although he appears to be expanding his material, with new ones that apply the same illusion to waves, craters, and other less-animated sources of inspiration. Judging from the quality of his material so far, he could well be on the way to bigger and better things if he keeps up at it. I do wish he could branch out to sketching cathedrals and other architectural objects using this same method – those things can look seriously good hanging off a mounted display frame in any room.