I am one of those art snobs whose goal is nothing less than to be able to draw like the late Kim Jung Gi and only rely on my imagination to create work.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
If like me, you are only at the start of your artistic journey, this mindset can hinder your efforts and be detrimental to your progress.
We take for granted that all the best work is created from imagination and undermine how much research and references can participate to the creation of the most exciting artwork.
Kim Jung Gi himself was not creating art out a vacuum, instead he was digging into a mental library he crafted over years of studies. Years of looking at and analyzing references.
Few weeks ago, my fellow Basque Vis Dev artist extraordinaire Sylvain Marc, unveiled his new Schoolism class and looking at the trailer, I was once again in awe at his very distinctive work characterized by simple bold shapes as statements and intricate details … as whispers. I am feeling poetic this morning. As you can see on the trailer, Sylvain gathered a very large collection of buildings and clocks references before opening Photoshop and this is certainly what makes his work stand out compared to artists using formulaic and generic assumptions.
An other example I would like to mention for the use of references to give more umpf to your work is the character design of 10 years best selling manga: Once Piece.
I am not an avid One Piece reader but I can’t help going back to Eiichiro Oda’s best seller and marvel at his striking character designs.
For a very long time I simply admired the bold designs and once again assumed they were created out of thin air when in reality, real characters and caricatures of those real characters are what the world of One Piece is populated with.
Had I not came across this fantastic post on Quora, I would have never thought about it and just assumed Oda was just gifted by god-like abilities.
There are a ton of examples on the thread so make sure you check out the article :
That’s it for today, I hope this article will incite you to look at references for inspiration and stop behaving like an artist snob!
Dear blog, it has been a while since we last spoke. I was intending to finish and upload the shots I did while attending AnimSquad but things went a bit crazy since last December ;-)
The last few month have been really busy with a secret project I can finally talk about.
I have been privileged to get involved with “Tofu Fury”, a launch game for Amazon’s Fire phone, a pretty cool mobile device that among many other features, can track the head of the user thanks to four additional cameras and simulate 3d in a manner that hasn’t been seen to that level of depth on a mobile device yet.
If you want to know more about the phone, The Verge got it all covered with several articles. The Mayday feature will be of a great help to my mom and dad who just don’t understand how to operate a smartphone.
I still can’t divulge too much about our game but it is coming very soon and it was awesome to have it demoed on stage by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos himself when the device finally got announced two weeks ago. Funny enough, he called the game “Angry Tofu” because the idea delighted him and the title caught up with the press to the dismay of our producer and our studio owner.
Working on the game was a great challenge as on top of being the animator, I was also the Character TD and it was the first time I relied so much on Morph targets (blend shapes) in Unity (the game engine we used).
Since blend shapes are really new to the version of Unity we used and there were so many horror stories on the Unity forum, I tried everything I could to stay away from them and use bones and joints deformation instead but blend shapes were ultimately the best way to create the stylized deformations we were after.
As the main character is 100% animated with blend shapes, “Tofu Fury” is a testimony that blend shapes are perfectly reliable in Unity. I even went to the extent of using blend shapes for some of the bad guys and “non-playable-character’s” (NPC) skin deformation that are traditionally handled through joints and the result was visually more pleasing and less resource intensive, at least for the test we did we Martin, our programmer mostly involved with character animations.
Ok, I think that is all I can say for now so here is a video of Jeff Bezos demoing our game.
Ah, one more thing. Like most cool kids I just created an Instagram page for my Life drawings and sketches. If you are also an Instagram user, feel free to follow me at
What, wait! Three Ringling students made this?!?!! How the hell is this possible !
I just love it, especially the character design. Really good work guys! I want to see a sequel to this!
and here is a link to the artist’s blogs where you will find a great making of video:
While I am posting, here are some news for you. I am currently attending Nate Wragg’s “character design for production” class and it is awesome. I always manage to screw up and not respect the deadlines but the character I am working on is developing really nicely. I will be posting all my work when the class finishes but here is a little work in progress for you. We are not supposed to do any rendering but I felt I needed to shade this guy for this week’s turnaround.
I will probably share my Photoshop brushes at the end of the class. Here is that work in progress, the mouth is completely out of whack but I think it is a fun painting.
Francesco Giroldini, lighting tutorials
I would love to be paid to draw more and realized the best way to achieve that would be to put together a 2d portfolio and apply for 2d animation related jobs when they come up.
I am certainly not giving up on 3d animation don’t worry, I just live in a place where there are just as many 2d and 3d positions. Ultimately, 2d and 3d skills work hand in hand so cultivate one and you will get stronger in the other one.
I have been watching a lot of movies lately, hoping to find some great audio clips for my soon starting AnimSquad workshop.
Since I don’t like to feel I am wasting my time, I am also doodling in Paint Tool SAI, just to get better at it.
Drawing in SAI is a very relaxing activity, you should try, it will make you rediscover your Wacom tablet. In fact, I even stopped using my TabletPC and I don’t feel the need for a Cintiq.
Here is a drawing I did while watching Tombstone with my custom Tombow brushpen.
In order to broaden my range of skills and improve my employability I have started making comics. I think this could be a great training for storyboarding. My storyboarding teacher Steven MacLeod told us how much it helped him to clean up his boards so that should work for me too.
Here is the first story, well the first part. The first panels were drawn in Photoshop and the last one in PaintToolSAI. If you are a Twitter subscriber you have already seen some pictures I posted few weeks ago, that software is great.
Forgive the rudimentary colors and inking, I am really new to all of that and few month ago I couldn’t even draw with a wacom tablet. Things will get better with practice.
The second page will be uploaded tomorrow (I’d better finish it! ;-)). Enjoy
Today was a really hot day. 37C or 100 Farenheit… HOT!
Nothing like going to the café down the road and sketch some of the patrons by such temperature! I have also started using a new 0.1 Uni Pen. I was recommended a similar Staedler felt pen but they don’t do that brand at my local art store.
There is no messing around with such tool, you got to be have a clear idea where you are going as each line counts.
If you are wondering, we are in delayed pre-production at work which means no work … or income. It sucks so I’d better make the most of it and keep myself busy.
[update] Well well well… I was reading James Robertson’s blog this evening and said to myself. What about if I added some colours in Photoshop?! Learning watercolours is a big struggle for me and once you put the paints on the paper, it is too late for corrections.
Crazy I never thought about using digital paints! I was probably in the mindset that retouching sketches afterwards is cheating. At the end of the day, it is only about the final product isn’t it? And the learning obviously ;-)
And here is something I am working on if you are not following me on Vimeo
In week 06, Nate asked us to design an animal by focusing on its iconic features.
I went for my favourite animal, the elephant, and decided to give it a Ronald Searle treatment, just to show that I could draw in a different style. Character Design is not just about designing things in your own manner, in production you need to be able to adapt to other people’s style.
This little guy was done in Sketchbook pro with custom brushes on my poor man’s Cintiq aka Tablet PC (hence the small size). I tried real hard to obtain a nice line quality with my Intuos 3 but I feel it is not going to happen.
CGMA Character Design Week 05
This is part 03. I started to use a more classic Photoshop brush, I am still not sure which one looks best, not that I am fluent with any of them though ;-)
This is the second panel, you read it from left to right.