Events News

Xpanse Honored at World Economic Forum

His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs in the Federal Government of the United Arab Emirates and Chief of the World Economic Forum, honored officials from Xpanse CGI by presenting an award of appreciation for their audio video production work for the World Economic Forum 2014.




Events Interview News Reviews Technical Technology

Embracing Digital with Microsoft


It’s time for artists to embrace digital

With the right tools, old traditions can be preserved and new possibilities envisioned

By Ashraf Ghori

Art AG wall


For artists world over, the canvas is changing. Even the most immovable traditionalists are grudgingly starting to accept that, just as the automobile superseded the horse and email supplanted snail mail, digital forms are assuming their rightful place in the realm of art.

But I firmly believe that, unlike horses and snail mail, we do not have to bridge a gap between conventional and digital media; rather, we should look to eliminate the gap altogether and create a smooth spectrum of harmony between the traditional and the technological.

This was my position when I spoke recently at World Art Dubai. I shared my own experiences as I had migrated from my comfort zone to a digital workspace, where I could create just as freely as I had done previously. My aim was to instruct and motivate, by making my fellow artists aware that digital tools do not need to be cold and cumbersome. As with waters and oils, practice can make one an expert and while concepts such as hardware and software might appear to lack the warmth and passion inherent in our craft, beauty, as always, comes from inside the artist.

So I believe it is entirely unnecessary to take sides on the issue of traditional vs digital. It should not be a battle; or even a debate. My experiences taught me that mastering digital techniques allows the artist to expand their comfort zone, as opposed to actually leaving it.

And the journey can be rewarding. Of course, just as conventional art requires careful selection of the right brush, the right pencil, the right canvas, so success in the digital world demands similar evaluation.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, I found, was ideal for what I wanted to achieve. I suppose many in my field look upon it as something you use in a business context, but as I evaluated it alongside alternative tools, I came to a different realisation. As with any tool, the practitioner needs to study how it is put together to know if it is up to the task at hand. With the Surface Pro 4, I noted that its screen resolution and size were optimal. You need a hefty size of screen if you want your work to breathe and 12.3 inches meets this demand. And the Pro 4’s pixel density is 267 ppi (pixels per inch), which, I discovered, is greater than any of its market rivals.



But perhaps the most significant aspect of the Pro 4 for artists, is the versatility of its pen. When we leap from traditional to digital techniques, our greatest concern is likely the loss of that tactile sensation we get when we apply our stylus to the canvas. Be it a pencil, chalk or brush, we feel a connection between our creativity and the surface we are laying it upon. It is encouraging then, that the Surface Pro 4’s pen recognises 1,024 levels of pressure and, even more significantly, that it is able to detect shifts in that pressure during a single stroke. I believe devices such as these are helping to dissolve the resistance and misconceptions surrounding digital art. Changing the minds of traditionalists in any field is never easy, but once doubters are exposed, first hand, to emerging tools, I expect they will start to get excited about the possibilities open to them. The reason our species moved on from snail mail and horses was not arbitrary – we did it to become faster and more efficient. And more effective.

But, just as in the traditional era, even after you select the right tools, you still have some practice ahead of you. Some of the most common pitfalls in digital art involve not only a poor choice of platform, but a lack of awareness of how your vision will look in its final version.

Experimentation is key, as it is all too easy to become confused, or even demoralised by the sheer number of menu options present in some graphics packages. At World Art Dubai 2016 I discussed the process I use in my own work, from conceptualisation to initial layout, and ultimately to the stages I follow in building the piece into a final compelling product. Digital artists enjoy so many advantages, not least in the pre-production phase of a project. When working with software canvases, it is considerably easier and faster to stage quick compositions using obscure references for shape, form, lighting and colour.

An exceptional artist is most commonly one who has knowingly thrown themselves into unknown abysses for the sheer joy of finding out what happens next. They are explorers, adventurers and pioneers. They do not fear embarrassment or ridicule. They challenge, they persist and they achieve. The flexibility and accessibility of digital art is perfect for such mavericks.


– AG


A Walk on the Dark (Horse) Side

Our foray into the world of comics came to realization when we worked with Dark Horse Comics to produce a series of mock movie posters for potential future slate of comics. The posters designed by artist Ashraf Ghori were printed in Dark Horse’s Grind House ‘Doors Open at Midnight’ series written by Alex DeCampi.

The comics are available on their website here.


Reviews Technology

Lenovo Phab Plus Reviewed

Lenovo‘s product diversity means pleasant surprises could come in all sizes. This time it’s not just a phone or a tablet. I am talking about their latest Phablet offering, Phab Plus. Lenovo had the tech-savvy millennial generation in mind with this device, seeing there’s a noticeable shift from making phone calls to staying socially connected. So if you’ve been stuck in the costly-phone-or-large-tablet dilemma then this one’s for you.

“It’s big”. That was my first reaction. “And it’s not so heavy” was the next. I expected to see a thick layer of protective padding all around the phone while opening the box, but no, that’s how big the phone is, all 6.98 inches of it.

With a pleasing Full HD screen canvas, I could not resist putting it to some creative good use with a quick-sketch test drive and here’s how that went.


Playing with it for the past couple of weeks I’ve grown quite used to it by now. People just assumed I was carrying an iPhone 6 Plus till they noticed otherwise.

You’d think for a phone this size navigation would be a problem, but not to worry, the one-hand use feature steps in to make your life a little easier. However, I did not find myself needing it much.

It’s got a good battery life lasting well over a day with moderate usage. Cameras are respectable (13 MP rear and 5 MP front cameras) but not the main draw for this device. I found the photos, especially low-light shots dark and lacking in visual detail. The Audio is fairly sharp and loud, but the rear-facing speakers take away from the aural experience. Its sturdy metal constructed body houses dual sims – one of them uses a Nano sim.

You’d expect the Phab to retail for higher but with a launch price tag of AED 999 at GITEX Shopper Dubai, it just adds to its appeal.

Add on all of the above and it’s easy to see why we really like the Phab. It’s just good value with a great performance. In the mean time I’ve done a good job to not drop or scratch it, seeing that the chances of finding a protective casing or fancy accessories for it any time soon are minimal.


– AG
Reviewed by @AshrafGhori

News is Launched

The Xpanse team launches the wesite for UAE based media personality, motivational speaker, photographer and entrepreneur Anas Bukhash.

 Anas Site low



Anas Bukhash is the Managing Partner of Ahdaaf Sports Club. A seasoned professional with over 12 years experience in the corporate world, he possesses strong qualities for entrepreneurship and business leadership. Through perseverance and hard work, Ahdaaf Sports Club has expanded in a short span of time, boasting of seventeen pitches from a humble two in the beginning. Bukhash is also the Managing Partner of Bukhash Brothers, which was launched in 2014 and is a boutique agency that utilizes its extensive reach with celebrities and social media influencers locally and globally in order to allow organizations to target specific markets and audiences. Having worked with a number of local, regional, and international brands within the UAE, Bukhash Brothers capitalizes on local-market knowledge and an extensive network of influencers to achieve optimum results in a short space of time for its clients.

Bukhash’s interest lies in media and football. He was the Football Expert for The Beautiful Game, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel for Season 2011-12 and 2012-13 and served as the UAE Sports Specialist on Dubai One, World of Sports for Season 1 in 2010. Furthermore, Bukhash was a TV Host for two major shows that were aired on Abu Dhabi Al Emarat, Sabah Al Dar and Shababna, where he interviewed youth, achievers and international celebrities. His personal interviews have been published in the leading television and radio channels as well as print media.

Bukhash is also a successful brand ambassador/influencer. He has been associated with and represented world leading brands, such as Jaguar, Pepsi, Visa, Ford, Axiom Telecom, Vilebrequin, Gucci, Nike, Sensodyne, Philips and Gillette.




1001 Miles Comics For Ford Middle East

Continuing their collaboration with Xpanse CGI, Ford Middle East launched the ‘1001 Miles’ web comics featuring Rakan and his Mustang Red. Rakan a free spirited adventurer teams up with his trusty Mustang, red and goes on an action-packed road trip adventure across the Middle East, spearheaded by the mysterious Ali Baba.

This web comics series conceptualized and produced by Xpanse CGI for Ramadan 2015 brings about many nostalgic elements reminiscent of 1001 Nights, keeping alive the old Arabian tradition of storytelling, but set in a modern day Arabia. The episodes are being released throughout Ramadan, featuring story and art by Ashraf Ghori


Promo Header art - Xcgi


You can read the comics series here:

The Arabic version of the comic is available here:


Promo Header art - Style 1 Arabic xcgi


1001 Miles, Rakan & Red, Tayyar, Narr, Ali Baba and all related characters copyright Xpanse CGI 2015. All rights reserved.

Events News


CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. The speakers from design legends to hometown heroes, are selected by each chapter based on a global theme.

The theme this month is INK and the Dubai chapter features Xpanse CGI’s Ashraf Ghori as one of it’s key speakers. The event will be on March 19th, 8:00am at Dubai Media City, CNN Building. Below is the complete ‪#‎CreativeMornings‬ list of speakers in 106 cities worldwide.

“This month promises to make an impression. From illustrators to tattoo artists, calligraphers to screen printers, we’re exploring the colorful fingerprints we leave on our work and the lingering traces ink leaves on our lives.”

Find out more here:


Ashraf Ghori   Alex Malouf   CreativeMornings Dubai Web

Ink   CreativeMornings themes web

Interview News

Esquire Magazine Features UAE’s top Social Media Digital Influencers

A - IMG_20141201_160325


Esquire, the leading men’s magazine in the Middle East, featured UAE’s top digital social media influencers in its December 2014 issue out on stands now. Chosen with the help of HTC, Esquire met these online influencers responsible for hauling the UAE into a new world of web-based awareness, one hashtag at a time. The photoshoot was done on location around DIFC.

Photography: Audra Osipaviciute
Styling by : Kate Hazell
Interviews :  Tom Norton


Know your influencer:


CEO at Xpanse CGI. Award-winning artist and filmmaker.



Tech and lifestyle video blogger. UAE’s top English language vlogger.



Founder of PAZ Marketing, Sky News Arabia tech pundit and digital marketer.



Social Media strategist and tech blogger.



MC and digital content specialist. Hosts local comedy night, One Night standup.


A - IMG_20141201_162845A- IMG_20141201_163339


You can catch the ‘making of’ the Esquire feature with this behind the scenes Vlog created by our good friend Emkwan – don’t forget to subscribe to his channel too :



Events News

IGN Convention 2014 – Be there!

Ignite is back! And so are we. IGN Convention 2014 features Ashraf Ghori as returning guest to the Convention. You’ll also be able to get his limited edition art book ‘VAULT Vol. 1 – The Digital Art of Ashraf Ghori‘ exclusively at the con.

This year the IGN Convention Dubai will be held at Mina Siyahi Hall, Dubai International Marine Club.

The timings are:

21 November: 2pm – 10pm
22 November: 12pm – 10pm

Get your cosplays on, fellow geeksters. We’ll see you there!

Find out more here:

AG Guest 01B


Find out how we created the branding  for IGN Convention and its superhero mascot Ignite here:



ADMAF Comic Art Awards winners receive signed copies of VAULT Vol. 1

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation in association with Mubadala announce the winner of ‘The ADMAF Comic Arts Award 2014’


Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) has announced the winner of the ADMAF Comic Arts Award 2014 in association with award sponsors, Mubadala. Part of ADMAF’s Rewarding Excellence programme, the award aims to create awareness around the power of the comic arts as a tool of self-expression, creativity and cultural awareness.

ADMAF_comic-1The shortlisted entries for the award, which called for submissions from UAE citizens above the age of 18, were on display at the Mubadala Youth Forum. With the aim to nurture and celebrate outstanding artistic expression in the comic arts, submissions were assessed on artistic merit, technical skill, evidence of original thinking, and development of a concept, all of which were encapsulated in the winning entry – Mary and Me by Fatima Al Muhairi, a graduate of the Cartoon Network Animation Academy in Abu Dhabi, explores a young girl’s relationship with her mother, father and nanny.

H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, comments “The excellent submissions received for the 2014 ADMAF Comic Arts Award reflect the wealth of creativity among young UAE citizens. We are proud to announce Fatima Al Muhairi as the winner and hope that this award may encourage her to develop her comic arts concept further. All forms of artistic expression are vitally important in the development of society and as part of our Rewarding Excellence programme, the Comic Arts Award uses a fascinating medium to nurture creativity among the youth of the nation.”

All submissions were considered by an expert jury consisting of Ashraf Ghori (artist & filmmaker) of Xpanse CGI , Ben Caddy (Managing Director, Middle East Film and Comic Con) , Jalal Luqman (artist), Mariam Al Serkal of TwoFour54 and ADMAF Founder, HE Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo.

Commenting on the partnership, Nadine Hassan, Head of Social Development and Partnerships, Mubadala, said: “Our partnership with ADMAF continues to help us bring outstanding opportunities to the local community. Hosting the ADMAF Comic Arts Award at the Mubadala Youth Forum aligns with our vision to showcase success stories that inspire young Emiratis to play a role in the range of exciting industries that are being developed in the UAE.”

The prize for the winner includes fees and living expenses to attend an overseas course at the New York Film Academy 3D Animation School, along with a WACOM Cintiq 13HD and signed limited edition copy of Ashraf Ghori’s ‘Vault’. In addition, the winning work will be entered into the USA Society of Illustrators Comic and Cartoon Art Annual 2015.

Celebrating the very best in in national comic arts, the inaugural edition of this annual competition accepted submissions in comic or animation mediums including Long Form (longer than 40 pages) such as graphic novels, Short Form (shorter than 40 pages), including stand-alone work, Digital Media including web comics and online comic strips, Comic Strips featuring four or more panels, Single Image featuring a self-contained narrative image, and Moving Image utilizing motion graphics.


Full press release from ADMAF website : Posted on 22nd Oct 2014