Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Book Review: The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures

What immediately struck me with this book was how stunning the art work was inside and the pages throughout, have been designed and ordered in a very clear and easy to follow way. Its something that is just a joy to sit and look through and, at the same time, is instructional and full of great advice that includes an all important designer methodology and approach.

Like many of the 'Art Technique' books on the market, it does go into a little detail about how to use colour, perspective and what workspace and tools you could use an think about but, doesn't devote many pages to doing so. That being said, in this book, there's more technical advice and tips dotted throughout than some of the other technique books I have read.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book Review: Dragonart by J. Peffer

With the title of the book being called "Dragonart," it initially made me think its focus would be on Dragons but, in actuality, the book is more broadly aimed at the fantasy genre as a whole, taking on subject matter such as fairies, goblins, dwarves and some other mythical creatures. While it does focus on dragons for quite a few pages nearer the middle end of the book, and some of the tutorials there are alright, I will say there are better books out there that deal with just Dragons in a much more comprehensive way.

After a couple of pages in, I begun to realise who this book was mainly aimed at. If you're someone who is working as a professional artist in one capacity or another, or even if you're looking to start to get really serious about drawing, then I wouldn't recommend this book to you because it oversimplifies the key fundamentals of drawing (like colour, perspective, light and shadow, practicing simple shapes and understanding them as three dimensional objects).

Thursday, 14 September 2017

3 Big Things I Learned At Industry Workshops This Year

Having recently transitioned job roles from a focused UI / UX designer back to a Games Artist, I found myself drawing more than ever before. This return to a love I had put down for about three years, came about at the right time to really get the most out of attending the entertainment-design-industry-orientated event, Industry Workshops, here in London.

In this blog post, I want to share three massive takeaways from the weekend I left with beyond the usual message of practice, practice and practice. I want to share them with you so that they crystallise in my own mind and so that you can learn from these huge lessons too.

1) Be Mindful And Present When Both Observing And Drawing
Take the time to really bring attention and awareness to what it is you want to draw. Be this during a life drawing session or when thinking about conveying an emotion in a piece, really extend the period of time to just notice what you're looking at or what's inside you. Spend time after to internally process what it is you just observed, to understand the subject matter fully, or as much as you can, before putting pencil to page. Do all this without judgement. Then execute quickly.

This is Kan Muftic's approach to drawing with mindfulness. A meditative practice that not only helped him begin to level up his own drawing skills but also the approach had positive effects on the rest of his life outside of drawing. Muftic explains this process in more depth in his incredible book: "Figure Drawing for Concept Artists."

2) Power Is Quiet
"If you want to appear more powerful, you've got to begin quieting down."

This quote comes from the veteran painter John Harris, who has a way of painting unbelievable megastructures in a believable way. The subjects he paints always have such majesty, such weight and such a grand scale to them that they have the power to stay in your mind long after you've stopped looking at them. He achieves this by not painting in all the details, and representing the huge buildings and spaceships in ways that suggest complexity and mass.

The quote though, while applicable to his paintings and usable in one's own work, was spoken in relation to meditation and how he also practices it to quiet down the noise in his own head to better focus on his creative ideas. However, I think he may have been subtly making a point aimed at a certain loud mouthed presidential individual (although that is probably just conjecture on my part).

You don’t have to render in every aspect of your work. Sometimes, suggestive detail is more powerful. Less is more. Think, before you speak.

3) Connect To That Inner Love
Across many of the talks and conversations with other attendees, the general message and consensus told over and over was that in regards to focusing on what you really like to create and what really gets you passionate. Simply put, the boiled down message is to "draw what you love to draw and the rest will follow."

I hear this sort of message spoken many places by successful artists in various walks of life. Write what you want to read. Play music you want to hear. Photograph what your eye is drawn to. It's important advice and it is good for both the career and one's own artistic soul. It's applicable to young designers wanting to get in to the industry and to those who feel a little stuck where they are and want something to re-engage them.

I fall into the later. Hearing this advice over the weekend has reminded me of some personal projects I started a long time ago that need finishing. Reminded me of all the reasons I started drawing in the first place and reminded me that the process of drawing, while frustrating, is incredibly fun.

So much can be said about these three points and admittedly each one is a book by itself (well, one actually already is). I feel like there is more to say on point three, and I intend to write something in the near future examining this point more fully but, for now, I think keeping these learnings short and sweet should be enough to give you something to work on in your own art journey.

I hope they help.

Lloyd Harvey

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Interview with Loish

You've talked about how you use underwater motifs and symbols, like jellyfish and octopuses, to show your interest in surrealism within your work, and that your interest in pin up art is also present too. Stylistically you were influenced by the style of art nouveau and manga and you could say that your work is a representation of what interests you in the moment you create it. As time progresses, people's interests are bound to change and we as artists, like to edge out into other areas and use different motifs and symbols in our work. 

What in your work have you noticed, could be considered newer symbols and motifs that represent your interests now? And what is the visual connection of some of these newer injections of personality?

Loish - Lately I've been very interested in the beauty of darker, more gritty settings. I've been making illustrations that depict decapitated apartment buildings, run-down down rooms and rainy, dark weather. It's a very instinctive thing, because I think - like most people - that these kinds of settings have a natural beauty and appeal to them. I like the atmosphere they evoke and I think it is a good conceptual match with my use of colours and textures: I've always aimed to make visually appealing artwork with bright colours, but have always set these against rough textures - such as crumbling plaster walls or old paper - and dark, earthy colours. 

What elements of symbolism do you no longer feel the need to include as much anymore and what are the reasons for moving on from them? Do you think that somethings will always be present in your work?

My work has never been heavily symbolic, so if there's anything I moved on from, it would be more stylistic elements that I've simply grown past. My work used to be a lot cuter and more inspired by things like My Little Pony and japanese Kawaii styles, something I loved. I occasionally reach back to the color combinations and "cute" elements from back then, but I feel my personal and artistic style has matured quite a bit since then and I no longer like these things as much as I used to. I still really like them though, you'll see some ridiculously cute and pink things pop up on my sketchblog from time to time.

I'd like to talk about your personal project, Trichome, with you. What started as a graduation project, saw the release of a short animation called Blue, and you have two more animations you'd like to create and release that are set along the same premise within the Trichrome project.In a more recent blog post that I read of yours, after some time sitting partially shelved, you're now making some effort to pick that project back up and you're also preparing to fund both animations yourself.

What new ideas and messages are you hoping to explore in the next two films? What is your ultimate goal with this project?

Well, before creating Trichrome Blue, I wrote a thesis analyzing the different reasons why animation is used as a tool in advertising which was really the inspiration for the film. Although the first Trichrome film addresses this in some ways, I really want to have more of a clear message in the second two films about the underlying theme of advertising and the practices used to convince consumers to buy certain products.

I want to create more tension and go further with the ideas that I set up in the first film, basically. The direction will be more dystopic and dark, something that is too subtle in the first film to really register with viewers. My ultimate goal is, objectively speaking, just to create a trilogy of shorts which reflect my personal ideas and storytelling approach, that show more about who I am as an artist. I have a lot of digital art out there that reflect my taste and aesthetic, but not a lot about how I approach storytelling. I think Trichrome will be a really crucial part of my portfolio once I'm done.

Trichrome Blue from Lois van Baarle on Vimeo.

After completing and releasing the final two films, do you have any plans or ideas to expand that project's 'world,' or do you see it more as a logical stop point that needs no further expansion?

I plan on closing this 'world' neatly with the last movie, so I don't think it will be needing further expansion. I personally really like movies, books, TV shows, etc., that know when to stop and wrap the story up nicely with a concise ending. This is what I want to do as well!

Have you got ideas of projects waiting on the side lines you're hoping to pick up afterwards? Or will your openness to what ever opportunities come your way, be more of a deciding factor in what you do next?

The only thing I've got going after Trichrome is an artbook. I really want to release a book which shows different work I've done over the years. People have been asking me if I've made one for so long, that it's something I really need to do! But for the rest I am open to any opportunity, which is my general approach towards most paid work I do. It usually yields the most interesting results!

With some of your previous client work, you have delivered character designs for computer game projects. In the same blog post I read about how you're pushing on with Trichrome, I read that you're seriously considering moving into concept design within the games industry.Concept design in computer games (and film) is a very wide and dynamic profession. One week, you could work on a character for a science fiction game and then the next, you have to design a small object for a different game in a completely different style.

What sort of games would you love to turn your hand to and what sort of assets would you love to be challenged to design? (like some kind of futuristic tank for instance)

I definitely like working on character design the most. Although I think it's interesting to do environments and vehicles, I am not very strong in these areas. I love drawing people, though, and I love how the game industry is open to a very high level of detail in their character designs. In the animation world, designs tend to be more simple and cartoony because this is easier to animate. But games are a lot about good, detailed graphics, which allows me to go much further as a character designer than I normally would.

Although you admit you're not an avid gamer, what games out there that have been released, past or more recent, really impressed you in their design and visual style?

I am very impressed by the artwork I've seen for "The Last of Us." The game seems to be a mix of some of my favourite movies ever - with some influences from The Children of Men and The Road - and the style really reflects this gritty, bleak environment that I find so fascinating in dystopic movies. I haven't played the game myself but I've heard a lot about how it creates strong feelings of love and the need to protect. I think that's a beautiful approach and I love how the realistic design work really draws you in.

Random Question Section

What is your favourite food?

Although I don't eat it often, I love baked things like cookies, cake, pastries etc etc. I have a serious sweet tooth.

Can you play a musical instrument? If not, what would you like to learn to play?

I absolutely cannot! I've never been very good with music. I would love to lean to play bass guitar, because I think it's one of the most beautiful sounding instruments.

If you could interview one of your artist heroes, who would it be and what question would you like to ask them the most?

I suppose I'd love to talk to an artist who created something truly unique, style-wise, and poured their own life and vision into that work. I'd love to talk with an artist like Egon Schiele and ask them questions about the specific events and people that inspired his drawings. Or an even more obvious artist: Vincent van Gogh. Their work has a kind of honesty to it, that gives you a glimpse of some of the pain and intensity they experienced in their life, and I'd love to be able to just talk about that life with them and be able to see specific things reflected in their work.

Are you a collector of art yourself and if so, what paintings do you treasure?

I'm actually not a great collector of art myself. I have plans to become one, but I haven't gotten around to really searching for good original art just yet.

What really grinds your gears?

Art thieves! I've had one too many experiences with web shops that suddenly started selling clothing with my art printed on them. Of course it's enraging that they are making a profit off of my work, but what also grinds my gears is that I have to put lots of time and effort into going after these people to make them stop selling the product. I hate that! I just don't have the time for it!

Go and check out www.loish.net now!


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