Vincent Bal is a Belgian filmmaker with four full-length movies under his belt.

He loves making movies. But he was getting bored.

As a child, he wanted to be an illustrator or cartoonist before his life led him in a different direction. As Bal started to get frustrated with the lengthy production schedules and other time-consuming processes of his chosen art form, he started to think about drawing again.


At first, drawing mostly served as his means of escape and relaxation (although it did occasionally come in handy for storyboards, too). "Doodling is a way to relax for me, and I always feel that it’s my hands that do the thinking. It’s all very subconscious," Bal says. "Very relaxing after working on a script which is a much more rational undertaking."

But during a scriptwriting break in May 2016, one of his doodles took a different turn.

Bal had become distracted by the shadow of a teacup on his desk. The negative light from the curves of the cup cast a curious shape on a piece of paper. So he took a short break from writing to add a few lines where the shadow fell — and suddenly, the shadow was an elephant.

Image by Vincent Bal/Instagram, used with permission.

He posted his "shadow doodle" on Instagram, and it was an instant success with his friends — and with strangers all across the world.

"From Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, to Germany, to the States ... I guess we all share a strange and silly sense of humor," Bal says.

So he kept going, challenging himself to post a new doodle every single day.

Almost all of them are accompanied by some kind of silly pun. He calls the project "Shadowology," and he has already started expanding it into posters and prints, with a possible book and stop-motion film to come.

Here are just a few of the delightful shadow doodles that he's done so far this year:

1. This little swan is the jewel of the pond.

2. This guy's foolproof disguise is an all-in-one package.

3. An investigation through a looking glass.

4. Heavy is the head that wears the ... ring?

5. My, grandma! What big leaves you have!

6. International ocean travel.

7. Hieroglyphics.

8. ♫ Robber ducky, you're the one! You make bath crime lots of fun! ♫

9. Even Dracula could use a pair of dentures.

10. You know what they say: The pencil is mightier.

11. And this catdog is just so amazing that it has to be seen to be believed.

"Shadowology" started as a playful escape. But something really resonated with people in the way that Bal created delight out of darkness.

That wasn't Bal's intention, of course; there was no philosophical statement behind his fun and silly pastime.

"I just like to add something positive and light to the world, without it being stupid," he says. "Some people react to my drawings by saying they look forward to seeing them every day because they bring a smile to their face. In today’s world, that’s not a bad thing to do."

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