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Editorial Editor Hannah Westlake Designer Neo Phoenix Editor In Chief Jon White Senior Art Editor Andy Downes Cover images Even Mehl Amundsen, Lois van Baarle, Dawn Carlos, MĂŠlanie Delon, Karolina Larienne Heikura, Katy Lipscomb, Dongjun Lu, Jana Schirmer, Rudy Siswanto Advertising Media packs are available on request Commercial Director Clare Dove International International Licensing Director Matt Ellis Circulation Circulation Director Darren Pearce 01202 586200 Production Head of Production US & UK Mark Constance Production Managers Keely Miller, Nola Cokely, Vivienne Calvert, Fran Twentyman Production Project Manager Clare Scott Advertising Production Manager Joanne Crosby Digital Editions Controller Jason Hudson Management Commercial Finance Director Dan Jotcham Creative Director Aaron Asadi Art & Design Director Ross Andrews Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed Worldwide by Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU. 0203 787 9001

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Imagine FX Annual Volume One Š 2017 Future Publishing Limited

Part of the

bookazine series

Contents 96


18 08.


Discover some incredible digital art from artists all around the world


Artist Portfolios


Artist Q&A

Struggling with a painting technique or topic? The answer may be in these pages



Scott Gustafson


Dawn Carlos


JC Park


Tom Fowler


Even Mehl Amundsen




Stephan Martinière


Cosmin Podar


68 6

Digital Revolution

Artists who want to get digitally creative are spoilt for choice when it comes to software


There’s more to Gustafson than his fantastically detailed fairytale images

Park reveals that his best work was on a project that never saw the light of day How Amundsen became a successful globe-trotting artist

Peter de Sève

de Sève explains why drawing well is like telling a good joke

Insects, gaming and aliens provide inspiration in this sketchbook

A motley collection of characters inspired by Dungeons & Dragons

Pirates, fairies and street brawlers in a love-hate relationship

Sketches, concepts and more from the Hugo award-winning illustrator

Fantasy figures and grotesque creatures mingle in this sketchbook


Workshops 96. Paint a bright & dynamic figure

Learn how to use Photoshop’s colour editing and drawing tools with Loish

102. Bring fantasy portraits to life

Achieve realistic portrait paintings and make them stand out from the crowd


108. Capture the look of Blade Runner

Journey to Los Angeles 2019 to combine character art with neo-noir architecture

112. Develop a strong lighting scheme

How intelligent lighting choices can create a compelling book cover


118. Creating a dragon knight

Painting a classic fantasy scene that’s heavy on realism and details


120. Using brushes in Rebelle

Introducing Rebelle, the natural media painting program

122. Paint iconic Ghost in the Shell art Exploring the theme of identity in the iconic anime film universe

126. Create a scene in Black Ink

The process of concepting and composing in the Black Ink program

Traditional 126. FXPosé Traditional

Showcasing a selection of the finest traditional fantasy artists



142. Get inspired by Del Toro

Create an atmospheric mixed media painting inspired by Guillermo del Toro

152. Mix story elements on a book cover

John Howe explains how he composed a book jacket illustration for Robin Hobb

148. Getting started with oils

Boost your knowledge of oils with this brief introduction to the medium

154. Pencil and watercolour art

How to bring an image to life with watercolour washes and pencils




LOCATION: Germany WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Photoshop

Freelance fantasy illustrator Luisa loves character-driven art. She works mainly on book covers, games and comics, and always tries to convey emotions that allude to a larger story in her art. “Watching Sailor Moon as a child made me start drawing early on,” the German artist reveals, “while in my teens digital illustration opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. It enabled me to grow confident with colours, lighting and atmosphere – my favourite things to paint.” In her free time Luisa enjoys reading urban fantasy novels, travelling to Italy and testing out delicious new recipes in the kitchen.



SEA CIRCUS “This was done for Jon Schindehette’s ArtOrder challenge, the task being to create a water-themed wraparound cover for a magazine. It only placed second but I still love the idea of an underwater circus. I enjoyed designing the mermaid as a circus magician and was satisfied that the composition works as an upright single page (the right-hand side) and as a full landscape-format image.”


ELVEN QUEEN “This is one of my rare personal pieces, in which I collaborated with Klaus Scherwinski. I started with an elven queen sitting on her throne but even at the thumbnail stage it was looking too generic. Having her shot with an arrow adds a nice, if tragic, twist to the piece.”


CYBER TRACKER “Moving from fantasy to science fiction was a challenge for me, but it was fun to delve into something completely new and combine unusual tech elements with human skin, and then add a background to give the character a sense of story.”



3 John Stanko is excited by what he sees… “Luisa has an excellent sense of anatomy, composition and colour theory, but what makes her art stand out is the use of subtle elements such as lighting and camera angles to enhance a story.”






Simon Sweetman LOCATION: Canada WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Photoshop A former abstract oil painter turned mobile game artist, Simon has delved further into the realms of illustration. Growing up with the works of Patricia McKillip, Kinuko Y Craft and Hayao Miyazaki, Simon’s art depicts dream-like fantasy worlds, with vague narratives only slightly informed by their titles. “I prefer to create works that exist away from the clang of fantasy battles and reside in the quieter, if not eerier parts of those worlds,” he explains The illustrator fell in love with digital art by participating in, and later leading, the Creature of the Week competitions on and maintains a healthy interest in creature design. When he’s not working on freelance projects or his own art, Simon indulges himself in East Asian cooking and crafting tabletop game campaigns.


IMAGINEFX CRIT “Despite the two imaginative outdoor compositions on show here, my eyes are drawn towards Simon’s delicious-looking, atmospheric Noodles artwork. What’s that sound? Why, just my stomach rumbling!” Cliff Hope, Operations Editor


ROILING LAND “A development piece for one of my personal projects. I wanted to juxtapose two vastly different scenes and moods, connected by a colour palette. A serene and secluded town that thrives next to an utterly destroyed wasteland, relatively ignorant of the ominous cause.”


NOODLES! “There are few things I enjoy more than a good bowl of ramen. This piece was both to practice drawing food in a way to try and make it look appetising, as well as just being a love letter to my favourite food.”


THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING “A breakthrough image for me, the Arrival of Spring was one of the first personal works that I started building at my own pace without worrying about speed. There is some fairly obvious Hayao Miyazaki influence permeating my work, and this is one of the more blatant examples.”




German concept artist and illustrator Julia works on both video games and RPG publications, drawing on her experience as an in-house artist and as a freelancer. “I often take my inspiration from my surroundings, especially from nature,” she explains. “I always keep my eyes open for new interesting shapes, trying to capture the magical and mystical sides of the world in my images, merging them with the fantastical.” Julia aims to unite light, colour and storytelling to literally paint a mood within her images.

IMAGINEFX CRIT “Between Julia’s gorgeous depiction of light, and her harmonious colour choices, she’s managed to create lush fantasy art that pulls the reader into the scene. The scale and grandeur in her painting The Well is palpable.” Claire Howlett, Editor


THE WELL “This piece is a little concept for a personal project of mine. The well is considered to be the birthplace of magic in its world, although in the memory of people it only remains as a myth, because no one knows its location.”


UNICORN “In June this year I joined the #junicorn challenge for a while, ending it later on with this illustration. I love painting mythical forests and creatures, so this was perfect for me.”


SAMAEL “From time to time I come back to this angel, trying to nail his design. The research was interesting, because a lot of the descriptions contradicted each other. There are a lot of facets to his character that make him a huge source of inspiration.”


AWAKENING “During autumn I saw some reflections on a pond in front of a huge tree, its leaves already fallen onto the water’s surface. I thought it would be the perfect setup to have something lurking in the depths: there was just someone needed to call upon the ancient creature in the water.”








Eoghan Cowan LOCATION: Ireland WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Photoshop Eoghan is a concept artist and illustrator with over six years’ experience in the games industry. “Back in the day, I studied animation. But to get into the games industry, I taught myself digital painting,” the Irish artist reveals. Daily life in Dublin is a constant source of inspiration for Eoghan, while his long-term goal is to open up his own studio and develop his own IP.


THE CREATURE THAT LIVES “I wanted to capture the moment just before a ‘boss battle’ in a video game, and push the scale of the creature in comparison to the warrior.”


MAX RHINOTANSKY “I’m a huge fan of the Mad Max movies. I also love the characters from the animated film Zootopia and thought it would be interesting mashing up the characteristics from both films into one anthropomorphic character.”


CUSTODIAN OF THE NECRONOMICON “For this character I was inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft and the Dark Souls games. I imagined that he was the keeper of the Book of the Dead. He’s not necessarily evil – he just protects the book from falling into the wrong hands.”





IMAGINEFX CRIT “Like all the best concept art, Joseph’s paintings seem to strike a perfect balance between detail and suggestion – but then, when you look closer, you discover even more and learn more about the subject of each work.” Daniel Vincent, Art Editor


FXPOSÉ IMAGINE FX ANNUAL Joseph Diaz LOCATION: Spain WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Photoshop, Cinema 4D, ZBrush

A freelance concept artist based in Barcelona, Spain, Joseph has worked on productions such as Warcraft, Game Of Thrones, Biutiful, Europa Report, The Impossible and A Monster Calls. “Living in Barcelona, I feel the influence of the great masters Gaudi and Dalí,” he says, revealing that he wanted to become an artist ever since he watched Blade Runner when he was five years old. “I am also obsessed with guitars, the number 21, the planet Jupiter and the exact mathematical representation of pi,” he reveals.


WORM SANDS “I remember watching Dune when I was a child. One of the things that remained in my subconscious was the sandworm creature. Years later I read the Frank Herbert novel and it still remains one of my favourite sci-fi books. This is my interpretation of sandworms.”


TRIBAL GOD OF FIRE “I wanted to create a horned character with superhuman abilities and deep esoteric knowledge. I really love symbology and occultism in paintings, because in my opinion it creates a deep layer of storytelling within the image.”


TIME-SPACE TRAVELLER “I love to paint sci-fi scenes. This one shows a time-space traveller just before his journey. I like to find unusual shapes when I design spaceships, but in my mind even this awkward design has a lot of functionality and makes sense.”


SUBMIT YOUR ART TO FXPOSÉ Send up to five pieces of your work, along with their titles, an explanation of your techniques, a photo of yourself and contact details. Images should be sent as 300dpi JPEG files. Email: (maximum 1MB per image) Post: (CD or DVD): FXPosé ImagineFX Quay House The Ambury Bath, BA1 1UA, UK All artwork is submitted on the basis of a non-exclusive worldwide licence to publish, both in print and electronically.



REVOLUTION! From art apps that punch above their weight to inexpensive software that replicate traditional media, artists who want to get creative are spoilt for choice…

he days of digital art being monopolised by two software behemoths are long gone. Illustrators with tech know-how have started influencing – and in some cases producing – innovative creative software, with artists as their primary focus. The result is a wealth of idiosyncratic yet powerful platforms, each one meeting the various needs of the modern digital artist.



GIRL, ORANGE This issue’s cover artist, Jana Schirmer, creates another arresting portrait piece using Procreate on her iPad Pro.

Whether you want to go down the route of mimicking natural media (playing with paint in globs, and mixing it impasto on your screen), experimenting with digitised tools and brushes, or digitising your comic art just like a professional, there’s a Photoshop and Painter alternative out there that shouldn’t break the bank… and may even add to it! Here’s our selection of inventive, inspiring, and often eye-opening art

software that we think you’ll benefit from using. Many come in different flavours, priced according to how much of the full arsenal is offered, but for each of these there’s a free trial version for you to have a play with – and we encourage you to do just that! Whether you’re working from your iPad, PC or Mac, venturing into 3D-based concept art, or aiming for a traditional media feel, there’s something here for everyone…


MAKE ADJUSTMENTS Procreate has powerful blur effects, in the form of Gaussian, Motion and Perspective blurs, Sharpen and Noise filters, along with colour adjustments like HSB and Curves.



PROCREATE The small iPad app with the big artistic brain, that’s designed for rapid-fire creativity on the fly or those who haven’t tried this art app, you’re in for a treat! This may be an iPadonly product, but there’s really nothing diminutive about it other than the asking price. And with the latest version, the app just got a lot more powerful. First of all, there’s the interface. It took the team behind Procreate a year and a half of design work to arrive at what you see when you fire it up, and it was time well spent. A set of powerful multi-touch gestures drive common tasks, making the creative process unlike anything else. The two-fingertap to Undo is a good example. The developers designed this gesture so artists don’t need to travel to a button


or use a key command – instead, they just tap the screen with two fingers. Procreate ships with 128 brushes, which are all customisable. They range from traditional media to spray paints and the humble Round brush. With professional artists in mind, version 3.2 enables you to import Photoshop documents and keep their layers and blend modes, and now you can achieve more with layers: speedier layer selection and alteration means more creative possibilities. You can also

Price £5.99 Available iPad only Company Savage Interactive Reviewed Issue 146 Rating +++++

Version 3.2 enables you to import PSDs and keep their layers and blend modes

Image © Chrissie Zullo

Each brush is customisable with over 35 adjustable settings. Artists can use any of the defaults as a starting point to come up with a brush that better fits their style. You can also create custom brushes, either using source files from the built-in library, images you’ve created, or photos that you’ve taken.

The new Metal Engine of Procreate 3.3 promises quicker, more responsive mark-making, a leap in the natural behaviour of mixing watercolour paints, and a faster Smudge tool.

record and play back all that creativity with the new video capabilities. “It’s an app that can definitely compete with any advanced desktop program” says artist Chrissie Zullo. “It has everything you need as a digital artist, in a simplified interface, and the way it works with the Apple Pencil is the most ‘realistic’ digital drawing experience I’ve ever had.” This is no happy accident. Speed and performance are the advantages of specifically developing for the iPad, and if you’re using Apple Pencil on iPad Pro, it’s taken to an entirely different level. All of which just got silly! ImagineFX has seen a beta of Procreate 3.3’s Metal Engine in action (out soon), and things move four times faster than before. Standouts are a more accurate Smudging tool and advanced watercolour paints. Procreate is perfect for art on the move, outside or in a coffee shop – all for the price of a nice sandwich!



REALISTIC WATERCOLOURS Martin Hanschild says, “The painting process in Rebelle is unique and closer to the traditional watercolour experience than anything else. It has the best digital watercolours out there.”

NATURAL PAINTING TOOL The watercolour simulation is the brainchild of artist Peter ˇ who developed it as a Blaškovic, drawing projects. His aim was to create the most natural painting tool possible.


Images © Martin Hanschild



Roll up your sleeves for the realistic traditional media software that’s both experimental and seriously creative ebelle is all about getting your hands dirty – or at least feeling like you have. Think Corel Painter at a snip of the price, and you’re close to understanding Escape Motions’s ambitions with its flagship software. “I love how the program encourages experimentation on the canvas,” says artist Martin Hanschild. “I’ll randomly paint spots, shapes and lines on the wet canvas, to see how colours flow across the screen, and then find interesting structures and shapes to change into characters or landscapes.” His job is made easier with Rebelle’s tools. The Blow tool brings a breath of inspiration to your work – literally, as you can manipulate your watercolour marks as if blowing on the paper. The Tilt control enables you to make the wet media run and drip, or you can use the dry media brushes (pastel and pencils) to slow things down. The newly released version two promises an even more realistic acrylic arsenal, while continuing its attention to detail in how the media and the paper grain interacts. The user interface remains beginner-friendly, so as not to put off traditional artists who are

Images © Martin Hanschild


Price £48 Available PC/Mac Company Escape Motions Reviewed Issue 123 Rating +++++

making the jump to digital, and this might explain why Escape Motions haven’t done much to develop Rebelle’s tool customisation. All this takes a lot out of your computer. “The math running behind the program’s painting process is quite

The Blow tool brings a breath of inspiration to your work – literally complicated,” says Escape Motion’s Andrea Vachova. “Rebelle has to compute around 25 layers, which include water simulation, diffusion, wetting, drying and all the different watercolour effects, so the computing speed will depend on your hardware’s setup.” Basically, it would stand you in good stead to have at least Intel i5 or a similar AMD processor, although it’s worth noting that new OpenGL brushes have been developed in Rebelle 2, which speeds things up significantly, especially when painting with large brushes.





You can modify your brush strokes after you’ve made them, create new brushes using a huge range of controls, and paint directly into the preview window to see exactly what each tool will do for you.

Some brushes enable you to change colour based on how hard you press with your stylus – ideal when you want colour variation without going back and forth to the colour palette.

BLACK INK Things can become a little abstract with this experimental software, but we say embrace its non-traditional nature! lack Ink’s publisher Bleank is honest with its aim. This isn’t art software trying to mimic traditional media. It’s digital embracing the nature of digital. “The thing that I like most about Black Ink is how unpredictable the brushes are,” explains Tony Foti. “There are times when I need to design things with more of a random feel, and it can be difficult to not create something that doesn’t look like a group of shapes. The chaotic nature of some of Black Ink’s more animated brushes keeps you on your toes.” Black Ink isn’t the best software if you want to paint representational art, and currently layers are limited to just eight. But if you respond well to experimental mark-making, there’s plenty here for the interested artist.



Bleank had the mobile phone user in mind when it set out the user interface – a clear space with room for complex tools. Those tools include 72 default brushes: a few ‘normal’ ones like a Felt pen and Pencil, and a lot more random ones, all of which are customisable. For Ayan Nag, the brush controller is a huge highlight in Black Ink. “It’s a little complex when you start out, but the amount of variations you can come up with is unreal.” He also likes how the way Black Ink utilises the graphic processor. “That’s one of the reasons why the software performs so swiftly.”

Price £50 Available PC/Mac Company Bleank Reviewed Issue 147 Rating ++++

The brush tip shapes can warp and pulsate with the movement of the stylus

“The brushes are all so different, but one of the standout features is how many have a particle effect to them,” Tony says. “The tip shapes can warp and pulsate with the movement of the stylus, which makes the process feel different from my usual workflow.” As well as saving out in its native BKD format, you can also save your chaotic artworks as JPGs and 16-bit PNGs, which doesn’t enable you to save layers but retains pretty awesome precision in colours and transparencies. There are plans to soon export files as PSDs, due to popular demand, so watch this space.

Images © Jort van Welbergen


EDIT THE INTERFACE The user interface is pretty standard, but it’s easily modifiable by dragging parts of the menu items around.

GOING PRO The standard package is free, although you won’t be able to export except as a DAE file. If you want OBJ and FBX exports then you need the Pro version, which comes in at a hefty £490.

SKETCHUP Build entire worlds from the ground up, with this super speedy yet simple 3D art program ketchUp definitely belongs in this roundup, especially when top concept artists such as Donglu Yu and Jort van Welbergen are using it for professional (and personal) work. As a piece of computer-aided design (CAD) software, you’d be forgiven for thinking that its sole purpose is creating bog-standard architectural designs. Well, in the hands of an artist the possibilities are practically endless! “I love SketchUp mainly for its speed,” says Jort. “Because actions are relatively simple, the number of key presses for


tools and actions are reduced, which means you can work at a faster pace. You won’t have to waste time looking through menus and lists. “Another cool, unique element of SketchUp is that you can copy parts of geometry, like cut-in detail, super quickly – and make patterns quite easily, too.” Simplicity is both SketchUp’s greatest strength and weakness. The

Price Free (Pro version, £490) Available PC/Mac Company Trimble Reviewed N/A

It’s perfect for kit-bashing and making dynamic, mechanical models

CUSTOM PLUGINS There are hundreds of plugins for SketchUp, which are mostly free. Notable ones are the Round edge tool, the Loft tool and the Modded push/ pull tools.

interface may be pretty standard, but it’s modifiable. However, if you want to create complex, game-ready elements like landscapes, materials or animations, SketchUp isn’t for you. It isn’t great for smooth and curved surfaces such as cars, either. But from a creative standpoint, SketchUp helps you to generate ideas quickly. “It’s perfect for kit-bashing and making dynamic mechanical models such as robots quickly, thanks to the grouping system,” says Jort. “And, of course, it’s great for all things architectural. Even if I end up using another program to finalise a model, like MODO or Fusion360, I tend to use SketchUp for my initial sketches.” And it’s free – or at least the standard version is. This will enable you to transfer files between SketchUp, Maya, 3ds Max and Rhino. However, if you want to export OBJ files to pick up in Photoshop, then you’ll need the Pro version, priced around £490. However, we’d advise getting hold of the free version first, to experiment with. If you’re serious about getting creative quickly in the field of concept art, then SketchUp could be a powerful tool in your arsenal.




Images © Phil Galloway

Version 5 refines the concept of using reference images as part of your painting process. Now you can pin multiple images to your screen, but also resize, move them around or even zoom right into them, if you only need to focus on one area.



The default brushes focus on traditional media: oils, pencil, pastel, felt pens, watercolour and palette knives. Each tool comes with a selection of default presets designed to introduce you to the different possibilities, and enable you to jump straight into creating.

The interface is intended to be instantly easy to navigate, so that it’s straightforward to choose tools and colours. After all, who wants to fight various menus while trying to paint?

ARTRAGE For artists with a traditional media background who want all the benefits of working digitally, this is the natural choice


quarely positioned in the ‘traditional media experience’ class of digital software, ArtRage has come a long way since it was launched as a straightforward oil-painting program way back in 2007. Version 5, released at the start of the year, came with a more developed pastel and pencil arsenal, perspective guides, more options for customisation and an altogether swifter nature – all welcome changes.


Yet the program’s main appeal remains the same. “What sets ArtRage apart is its ability to recreate the flow and texture of oil paint like a malleable medium, right there on the screen,” says Phil Galloway. “The paint behaves as paint should – and for an artist with a fine art background coming into a digital art world, this is key. ArtRage ticks all these boxes for my loose style, enabling


What sets ArtRage apart is its ability to recreate the flow and texture of oil paint like a malleable medium me to use swathes of colour and natural emotive strokes that other painting programs don’t seem to be able to do without the process feeling a little unnatural.” Every tool acts differently, all responding to texture and blend in different ways, so picking the Felt pen versus an Oil brush is a much bigger leap than choosing a different-shaped brush. “This is the opposite of most digital art programs,” says ArtRage’s

Price £63 – or upgrade discount: 50 per cent from ArtRage desktop editions (2,3 and 4) Available PC, Mac, (and iPad, Android for £4.99) Company Ambient Design Reviewed Issue 147 Rating +++++

Uwe Maurer with more than a hint of pride. “Such programs have one ‘basic’ brush and then go on to create multiple variants based on it, and call them all different brushes.” What cheek, eh? Yet it’s not just the brushes you can experiment with. You can adjust Thinners in the Oil brush and Watercolour tools to achieve much runnier paint; you can turn on Smoothing for the Ink pen to have it automatically smooth out a shaky stroke; or simply adjust the Softness

and Graininess of the Pastel and Pencil tools. We also like the way ArtRage has embraced mobile, linking up iPad or Android with desktops. The iPad and Android and version 5 editions can record script files, which can be played back in the desktop editions to recreate every brush stroke, and it can do so at any resolution, which enables you to scale your mobile paintings up to any resolution for printing larger artworks. Whether the additions of the latest iteration sound interesting or not, ArtRage remains the leading traditional art painting program.



EXTRAS SketchBook Pro has also just revealed SketchBook Extras, giving in-app access to brand new brushes updated on a weekly basis.

Image © Paris Christou

BRUSHES There are over 140 brushes to choose from, most of which are created by artists, with artists in mind.

SKETCHBOOK PRO Focusing on sketching and drawing, this program encourages creativity through simplicity of use ketchBook Pro is here to make you draw. Where other programs offer tools to design, to build architectural blocks, or to use photos as your starting point, Autodesk’s 2D software is only interested in providing you with a digital canvas and 100-plus customisable brushes to start drawing with.


Straight from the off, it’s made to make this goal as easy as possible. “I have plenty of experience with most leading artistic programs,” says Paris Christou, “but the number one reason I chose Sketchbook Pro over the rest is for its userfriendly, fresh, modern environment. You’re not overwhelmed when you first

Price $4.99/month or $29.99/year Available PC, Mac, (and iOS and Android with in-app pricing) Company Autodesk Reviewed N/A

You’re not overwhelmed when you launch SketchBook Pro for the first time…

UNLIMITED LAYERS With limitless layers and the option of a huge canvas (does 100 megapixels sound big enough?!) you can produce huge, detailed drawings.


launch the software, unlike most painting applications.” SketchBook Pro’s best attributes are its ‘straight to the point’ access to any tool or action to speed up your workflow. Tools are accessed using a circular toolbar on the canvas, or lagoon, which you can fill with your most frequently used tools. The program is pretty generous with its file support and compatibility for importing and exporting images,

which includes PSD files. And although SketchBook Pro is all about the drawing, you still have the ability to build up a drawing in layers and use perspective guides. There’s a fair bit to sink your teeth into, but once you’ve played around with it, the learning curve will be quickly mastered. “When I first started exploring Sketchbook Pro, what shocked me the most was how I quickly adapted to the software,” says Paris. “Sketchbook Pro also pushes an artist to solve problems practically instead of relying on software tricks to do the work for you.”



PALETTES Palettes are drawer-based and can be opened and closed as necessary. The UI can be customised, and artists can establish a range of settings for different workflows.

Clip Studio’s core features revolve around pencilling, inking, painting and colouring. The colour mixing and blending options are great, as are the vector capable canvas and the perspective rulers.


Image © PJ Holden

There are three main Save settings: Illustration (a blank 800x600 canvas that’s easily customisable), Comic (includes preset or custom panels) and Animation, for frame-by-frame animations.

CLIP STUDIO PAINT This user-friendly software has gone through some major changes over the years, but it remains the number one choice for comic artists reviously called Manga Studio, Clip Studio Paint was rebranded by Smith Micro to give artists a better idea of what the software can do. What remains the same is a dedicated piece of kit, with hidden depths, that’s aimed at comic artists and animators. “There are two factors that make Clip Studio Paint stand out from its competitors, especially Photoshop,” says long-time user PJ Holden. “They are its tools for comic artists, and its price. While Photoshop has introduced Perspective Rulers, Clip Studio Paint (back when it was Manga Studio) was doing it first. It has dedicated tools to help quicken flatting, it has a dedicated tool to add tones (aka Letratone, or Benday dots) to artwork that make it simple to go in and alter the density of the dots after the fact quick and simple,” he takes a breath, “and it has a non-destructive method of


Price Clip Studio Paint Pro, £38; Clip Studio Paint EX, £168 Available PC/Mac Company Smith Micro Reviewed N/A

converting any layer into blue line that’s as simple as a button press.” PJ also reveals that Clip Studio Paint can differentiate between pencil layers and inked layers, and enables you to exclude pencil layers from exports or prints while they’re still visible. While there are many cool templates and tools to start creating comics with the Pro version, PJ stresses that the

Clip Studio Paint two key factors are its tools for comic artists, and its price more expensive EX version is the way to go, “for the simple reason that it can handle multiple page documents. Being able to set up a single page size, with bleed/trim/safe area, all within one document and then to have multiple page documents, each using the same page size, is a real boon for working in the industry.”

There’s also a wealth of hidden gems to find in the EX version of Clip Studio Paint. “I’m always surprised to find that many of the tools and hints that I post on Twitter is new information even to seasoned pros working in Clip Studio Paint every day,” he says. “So many of its tools are hidden. One layer, for example, can be set as a Reference Layer, then you can work on another layer while using the reference layer to select colours – utterly essential to colouring in comics. Because most people come to Clip Studio Paint from using Photoshop, where these tools don’t exist, they keep working in the same inefficient way.” If you’re a comic artist, maybe it’s time for a change?



STRUGGLING WITH A PAINTING TECHNIQUE OR TOPIC? EMAIL HELP@IMAGINEFX.COM TODAY! I like to add a lots of glow, lens flare effect when I paint reflective surfaces, and here I paint some subtle ones over her face.

Jia-Ying Ong Jia-Ying is a freelance artist from Singapore, who has done work mostly for mobile games, books, and dabbles in animation projects every now and then.

Mélanie Delon As a full-time freelance illustrator, Mélanie spends her time working for different publishing houses and developing her own personal works on a fantasy theme.

Tony Foti Tony is an artist with Konami who also contributes freelance work to numerous books, trading cards, video games, magazines and advertisements of all types.

Kelley McMorris Portland, Oregon is the home of freelance illustrator Kelley. State University. Her clients include Disney Hyperion and Scholastic. She also works on the indie video game Crea.

Brynn Metheney Brynn specialises in creature design, fantasy illustration and visual development for film, games and publishing. She lives and works in Long Beach, California.


Question How do I paint curved glass on a helmet? Rosie Ball, England


Mélanie replies Spacesuit are fun to paint, but the helmet part can be tricky to get right, especially the glass element because you have to take into account its reflective properties, and the fact that it’s transparent. So here are a few tips to paint this element. The first thing to know is that you almost don’t need to paint it! This may sound odd, but because it’s transparent all you have to do is to suggest the glass element with subtle hints of light. The second thing to keep in mind is the shape. It’s like a ball, so the light and colours should be depicted exactly the same as any other round object. Essentially, I’ll be painting a glass ball. Glass is a very reflective surface/material, so painting the light is crucial. It’s the basis of everything: the texture, the volume and shape of the helmet, so have fun and go crazy with your space-faring character!

I’ve made a custom brush for this article, which enables me to paint the light reflecting off the helmet. It’s included with this issue’s resources.

Artist’s secret EXTR A COLOURED LIGHT t effect I add a

To create a more intense ligh s won’t pink light inside the helmet. Thi d to add nee no re’s the so part affect the glass e bright som add just I it. on ons ecti pink refl figure. my of line jaw pink on the back and


Step-by-step: Capture the look of a futuristic glass helmet

Question Any tips for concepting a manga mascot? Christian Talbot, Australia

From my concept sketch I create a round shape with a custom textured brush. I don’t want the glass to have an overly clean look, even if it’s usually a smooth polished surface. I use a neutral violet colour for this base. The glass shape and volume is only suggested by curved brush strokes and the rest of the helmet.


To create a sense of harmony, I first fill in the background colours, then work over the main focus with the determined colour direction.

I refine the previous lines, and erase some dark parts inside the helmet leaving more room for my character. I try to create a clean, curved shape. I work the face as normal; I choose to keep the glass uncoloured, but you can quickly achieve coloured glass by adding colour on a low Opacity layer on top of the figure’s face.


3 To add light I paint some almost white curved lines on the borders of the glass part, where the glass is the most reflective. Adding some coloured hints of the surrounding environment will increase the realism of your helmet. With a very small Round brush I add small dots of light on the edges to bring in reflection effects.

Assuming the animal mascot will be appearing regularly next to your character, keeping the overall design simple will allow for better readability.


Jia-Ying replies When creating an animal companion to a manga character, it’s important to note that the design shouldn’t take too much attention away from the human. It’s always helpful to keep the colour palette minimal as well. Think of any notable manga character or series that has an animal mascot: the creature is generally designed to be simple, iconic and appealing. Before I start concepting, I consider existing animals that I can use for inspiration. For this article, I want to incorporate some cat and hare features, because the result of fusing two different entities is a tried but fun method. I also have the option to use elemental or even cultural themes which, depending on what you’re going for, can help drive the story behind your animal mascot. In this case, I just want this fantasy animal to exude a magical vibe. I include traits like a flaming tail and markings on its head and ears to hint of an underlying, more powerful form, that might manifest later on to aid the main

manga character in their journey. I imagine that the creature would abruptly enter the character’s life, as they often do, disrupting the normalcy and heralding a new adventure. To convey the impression, I used a bedroom setting so that it seem like the creature is trespassing into a person’s private space.

Artist’s secret GET IT LIT

Need your light source to pop? My favourite thing to do in Photoshop is to use the Color Dodge tool to highlight certain spots. It’s a quick and effective way to draw attention to your main subject using contrast.



Question How can I paint decaying vegetation? Morgan Winter, Canada


Mélanie replies Painting decaying plants can add a nice touch to a composition, and they can be a strong storytelling element. My example will feature Eden gone wrong, with a gorgeous woman surrounded by dead plants. I want to create a contrast between healthy and dead vegetation. To achieve this I’ll play with the shapes and colours. A healthy plant will be basically straight and green in colour, while a dead one will be bent and feature autumn-like colours. The shape and the colour scheme are both important to create the sense of decay. A dead plant loses all its colours, so

its green stem and leaves are replaced by a lot of brown, orange and even black and grey parts. If you want to paint flowers then the colour scheme needs to be treated differently. The flower colours simply fade away, so for example instead of having a bright red the petals will be paler and desaturated with some hints of brown. The wilting plants and flowers quickly conveys to the viewer that the vegetation is dying. Note that the petals and leaves react in a different manner: their oval shape becomes distorted as they curl up and droop. To create this effect you just have to paint a crazy leaf shape – my walkthrough will explain things in more detail…

I add some dead leaves blowing all around the character, to emphasise the sense of decay and give the scene extra dynamism.

Artist’s secret

DEAD LEAVES BRUSH ess when I have to To speed up my painting proc

leaves, I do some repetitive elements like . I add some one this like shes bru usually create the whole shadows and light, and rework realism . and me volu e thing to develop mor

Even in this basic sketch, it’s clear which plants are in rude health, and which ones are destined for the compost heap.

Step-by-step: Paint decaying plants quickly I start with a curved shape for the stems of dying plants. I choose a dark green to increase the sense of decay. I keep some stems straight to show that they’re growing next to the figure. Then I add the leaves, keeping their shape simple. The edges aren’t clean and that’s the key trick when painting decaying matter. The same technique applies to the flowers in the scene.

I choose this colour scheme to show the difference between healthy and dying plants. On the left are the green pastel colours I use to create my Eden, and on the right are the autumn brown tones that will represent dying, decaying plants. I use some nude skin colour highlights instead of grey to create a link between my character and the dead vegetation.

Now I start to add details on the leaves. The stems don’t need much work because they’re very thin elements. To create the wilted texture I simply scribble on my leaf base with a very small Round brush. I need to create a rough appearance with plenty of colour variations. I enhance the sense of dying vegetation by adding angular outlines instead of the normal curves of leaves.

Now I play with the light, increasing the contrast between the dead plants in the foreground and the background. I add more light on their wilted leaves, and sharpen their outlines slightly. I really want to create a crisp look here. I use a basic hard edge Round brush to add dots of light. Finally, I choose some desaturated colours to ramp up the feeling of decay.







Step-by-step: Establish lighting over different surfaces

I make the light ray shine across the character, not quite hitting the eyes because I want them hidden to give a sense of disconnect.

I start with a quick sketch, then block out the character with a Layer Mask to keep my painting within the confines of the main figure. The lines don’t have to be clean because I tend to colour over them afterwards. I select a monochrome background colour, so that the cast of a bright, orange light will further stand out.


I go over the character’s skin with warm tones, keeping the shading smooth to denote softness and youth. On the other hand, the light reflecting off the weapon is blinding and sharp. With a saturated orange hue, I use the Color Dodge tool to go over the brightest areas, like the tip of her cheekbone and knuckles.


Question Help me paint dramatic lighting and shadows Fia Håkansson, Sweden


Jia-Ying replies Before I start the painting, I consider the mood and the story that I want to tell. I’ll go through a mental list of scenes that will be appropriate, or subjects whose intentions will be complemented by having dramatic lighting. In this case, I want to depict a darkly clad figure who’s sneaking her way through a dingy passageway, lit only by the light from the setting sun streaming from the air vents. An important aspect of lighting is mood creation: the intensity of the light source and colour of the light both help set the tone of the

scene. Here, I choose to soften the light around the cheek and hair a little to suggest empathy for the character, while contrasting with the harsh reflection of the blade in her hand. Using light and shadows, we can highlight the key parts of the composition, and guide the viewer’s focus on to certain areas. For this painting, I choose hard, diagonally cast light, to not only emphasise the slant of the weapon, but to cast half the character’s face in shadow, implying an element of secrecy. The intense light that’s reflecting off the sharp blade further amplifies its deadly purpose.

After a quick splash of light across the background, I start to paint over the sketch, and erase away some of the unwanted edges. I use large brush strokes to fill in the rough shape of the folds with a rectangle brush. At this stage, I also Liquify parts of the initial drawing like the eyes and mouth to improve on the overall look.




Blending the more distant parts of the creature’s body to imitate atmospheric perspective and layering fog in front of it makes it more three-dimensional.

Tan Hui Tian Tan is a senior illustrator with CDS in Singapore. She has a graphic design background, and so her works feature a strong design sense.

Tom Foster Best known for his work on 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine, comic book artist Tom also writes and performs stand-up comedy.

Tony Foti Tony is an artist with Konami who also works freelance for books, magazines and games such as MtG and Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars games.

Artist’s secret Use custom brushes wisely

dering Custom brushes are useful for ren is form the er dif ferent materials aft hair finalised. You could use a fur and a and e, brush for details on a creatur ke. It’s smoke effects brush for the smo first, ted pain form the e hav crucial to the though. Layering fur brushes from ddy. mu look form the ke start may ma



Step-by-step: How to illustrate a fantasy creature made of smoke

Question How can I paint smoke realistically? Katherine Batts, US

I put down undefined blobs using large brush strokes, and then slowly refine the shape by picking out the areas of highlight and shadow. The lighting should be consistent: here, the lighting is from the top, and the darker areas are below.


Answer Tan replies Smoke is fairly simple to depict, because the airborne particulates are typically matte. Yet it differs in thickness and texture, and therefore requires a variety of brushes with differing Opacity levels. You can use a simple Round hard brush for the task, but it’s often more efficient to use custom brushes for wispier areas. Search for photo references for different types of smoke, which can vary from thick

and heavy industrial smog to wispy and light incense smoke. The Liquefy tool comes in handy for adding random movement to the smoke. Adding a creature into the mix makes for an interesting visual effect, as it creates a contrast with the solidness of the creature and the transparency of the smoke. For this article, I’ve chosen to depict a mythical creature that’s a mixture of a horse, stag and zebra, to reflect the mysterious smoky atmosphere.

I warp the smoke using the Liquefy tool into the shape I want. It’s easier to lower the Opacity of the smoke later than doing so the other way around, so the current smoke is more opaque than the end result. I’ve also roughly painted the creature in.



To subtly give more depth to the creature, I add smoke effects on top of the legs.

To ensure the creature blends in with the smoke, I use a colour scheme that’s of a similar palette to the smoke. The creature is painted with a solid brush with Opacity set to Pen Pressure. I reduce the Opacity of the smoke with a large Airbrush.



Question Can you give me some advice on foreshortening please? Holly Mason, Australia

Answer Tony replies

In this illustration I’ve placed the vanishing point inside the image area and close enough to dramatically foreshorten a lot of the main figure.

Foreshortening, like happiness, is all about perspective. If you want something to appear dramatic and grab the focus in a composition, have it pointing towards the viewer. Then place the vanishing point close to the object and have the camera in real close. With these three elements, you’re going to feel the volume of your focal point a lot more. Perspective is one of those things that can fill up several books. But the two main concepts are the horizon line and a vanishing point. The horizon line is a horizontal line that corresponds to the viewer’s eye level. The vanishing point is a place on the horizon line that a set of parallel edges on your object will all recede into. Think about how telephone poles get smaller on a long road, and how they all seem to recede into one point. That’s the vanishing point. If you draw in your perspective and don’t like how something’s being distorted, just change it. Moving the horizon line will alter the height of the camera, and moving around vanishing points will enable you to control the amount of distortion in the background and foreground.

Artist’s secrkiet t

Perspective tool

t has Keep a Photoshop file around tha ishing van s, line ive pect pers s, horizon line to go. In points and parallel lines ready for every grid new a te school I’d often crea just keep image, but realised it’s easier to them handy.

Pay attention to the lines coming out of the vanishing point that’s off to the left of the image, and notice how I’ve used them as a guide for the gun and woman.

Step-by-step: Get some perspective


Start by loosely drawing the amount of foreshortening you want in a sketch from either your mind or reference, but don’t use perspective lines. Just mess around until you have an amount of exaggeration that expresses what you’re going for with the image.



Now figure out where the horizon line and vanishing point would be. Do this by either finding parallel edges on an object (like around the gun) and finding a spot that they at least roughly point to, or create a vanishing point on its own layer and trying it out around the horizon line.


Then redraw the image, but this time using your new perspective lines. As you paint, leave your perspective on its own layer, on a low Opacity: you’ll have a constant guide to make sure everything’s correct in relation to one another. This will ensure believable foreshortening.


For this prison scene, working out my lighting in 3D saved me hours of working out the logistics of complex cast shadows.

Step-by-step: Using 3D software to help create dramatic shadows

Although 3D tools can make certain aspects of the job easier, a strong sense of composition and staging are still required for setting a scene.

I use DAZ 3D to set up my scene, carefully positioning all the crucial elements so they can be lit up by a relatively narrow area of light. The further I place the light source from the bars of the cell door, the less the shafts of light will fan out.


Question How can I quickly paint dramatic cast shadows? Wilbur Hawthorn, US

Answer Tom replies The great comic book artist, Wally Wood, once wrote, “Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.” Indeed, there’s no need to make drawing and painting any more difficult than it already is. Using photo references, applying textures directly onto an object… these are just two of the ways art software helps you to realise an image. If I’m in any doubt as to the way shadows would fall in real life, I test them out with 3D posing software. I mock up a quick scene from some prefab models and primitive shapes and then I draw the finished piece over the top. This keeps my shadows accurate and enables me to focus all my drawing attention on the details that the reader is actually going to see.

After rendering in 3D, I use Photoshop’s Stamp filter to create something approximating a line drawing. I always upscale the resolution of the image first, because I want the filter to preserve as much detail as possible.


Artist’s secret

Seeing the light

of the light Looking from the point of view s of my area ch whi see to me source enables atever’s image will be lit, pre-render. Wh handy if is s Thi ow. shad obscured will be in ents in the I want to highlight specific elem scene.


I create a new layer and draw the finer details using the Pen tool, putting more character in the face and making fixes to anatomy and clothing. In this instance, with big block shadows covering so much of the image, I barely had to do any drawing.


o i l o f t r o P t s i t Ar 38


Scott Gustafson

There’s more to Gustafson than his fantastically detailed fairytale images


JC Park

Park reveals that his best work was on a project that never saw the light of day


Even Mehl Amundsen

How Amundsen became a successful globe-trotting artist


Peter de Sève

de Sève explains why drawing well is like telling a good joke







SCOTT GUSTAFSON There’s more to this artist than his fantastically detailed and nostalgic fairytale images, as Ed Ricketts find out ’m not proud of my computer illiteracy but I do feel the need to be honest about it and share my situation with others,” admits Scott Gustafson, renderer of gorgeous fairy tales scenes in traditional media. “It’s only through talking about this shameful problem that I think we, as a society, can come to terms with it and learn to deal with those less fortunate among us who neither text nor tweet…” He is, of course, joking here. As a veteran illustrator of 36 years to date (and still counting), Scott has little need of digital tools, versatile as he is with almost every traditional medium – be it oils, gouache or charcoal. Besides, the kind of gloriously detailed and coloured scenes



SCOTT GUSTAFSON IMAGINE FX ANNUAL DRAGON AND SCRIBE This oil-on-panel illustration was commissioned by and sold to a private collector.


DRAWING THE REAL WORLD “It’s always fascinating to observe from life and see how that interpretation differs from a photo-based reference. I find the still-life elements, though not as accurate as the photo-informed ones, literally have more life, and I recommend giving it a try.”

VITAL STATISTICS The artist’s journey in bite size... Age 59 Date of birth 7 December 1956 Current location Chicago, Illinois Favourite artists William Heath Robinson, Rembrandt, J. Waterhouse, the animated films of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers Studios,

NC Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Gustaf Tenggren What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? Spend some time finding out what you enjoy doing most, and then do it. Web address

LITTLE SAMBHA… …and the Tiger with the Beautiful Little Red Coat, also from Classic Bedtime Stories.

The idea of someday becoming an artist was with me from just about as far back as I can remember

MERLIN AND ARTHUR An original image imagining the relationship between the two mythological characters, which was made into a limited edition print.


he paints, harking back to the Golden Age of illustrators, seem to cry out for the gentle touch of media to canvas, rather than the sometimes harshly delineated tones of software. Scott is unashamedly influenced by the likes of NC Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and Arthur Rackham, and like those admired artists, he creates nostalgic, glowing images that never veer to the sickly or twee. It would be slightly reductive to call him a children’s artist, although it’s true that Scott has created many illustrations for age-old fairy tales and bedtime stories (if you’re of a certain age and grew up in Britain, you might be reminded of the classic hardback Ladybird story books). Yet he has also written and illustrated his own children’s book, Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe, which showcases a somewhat darker side to his talent, and commercial clients include Playboy, The


A CONFABULATION OF DRAGONS A chance to experiment led to one of Scott’s favourite pieces Scott was approached by a private collector for a commission that had only three requirements: it should contain three young women, a Huskie dog and at least one dragon. “Here was a chance to see what I could come up with within a very wide set of guidelines,” he says. “I had been looking for a word that I could use to refer to a group or gathering of dragons, much like a pod of whales or a pride of lions, and I felt that I found what I was looking for in a ‘Confabulation’ of Dragons. “I envisioned the scene as a great meeting of dragons – a sort of draconian summit, where representatives of the diverse world of dragons would gather and confer. What I liked most about this idea was that it lent itself to a group of dragons of all shapes and sizes.” Scott decided that the dragons would meet at the base of a large tree,

with the three young women representing some sort of human liaison, perhaps priestesses. On the ground and nearby boulders are ancient runes, which were carved by members of earlier ‘confabulations’. “Soon, I began designing dragons as well as setting up a photo shoot for the young woman who would pose for all three of the young women in the finished picture,” he adds. “Fortunately, they were supposed to be sisters, so it was okay if the characters all looked similar… “The final painting measured 46x34 inches, and took several months to complete. The biggest challenge, as always with a complex piece, was trying to balance all the elements so that the overall effect was one of harmony, yet with a variety of shapes, contrasts, colours and details. This one offered challenges on all those levels.”

A CONFABULATION OF DRAGONS The finished piece, which Scott painted on canvas using oils, was awarded a Silver medal in Spectrum 17, in 2010.

Saturday Evening Post, The Bradford Exchange, DreamWorks and The Greenwich Workshop.

SINGLE-MINDED AMBITION “I grew up in a small town in northern Illinois, and attended elementary and high school there,” Scott says. “I always liked to draw and was continually encouraged by my parents, relatives and teachers to continue drawing and painting, so the idea of someday becoming an artist was with me from just about as far back as I can remember.” However, it was animation that called to the young Gustafson, so much so that he eventually majored in animation at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Ambitions changed when he realised that he could become a freelance illustrator, but he feels that his education still aids his work today. “In studying the work of the great animators like Ollie Johnston, Frank


SOURCE REFERENCES “Take time to do research. If the picture calls for a throne, see if you can find a few examples to work from instead of making one up. A 15th century Spanish throne is going to be way cooler than anything I could have come up with on my own, that’s for sure.”

DRAWING POE: THE WONDER YEARS How the master of the macabre inspired a fairy tale illustrator

YOUNG POE “The wondrous words that had crowded his brain earlier that night were gone…” The title page from Scott’s illustrated novel.

Several years ago Scott came across an old paperback of Tales of Mystery and Imagination, the collected stories of Edgar Allan Poe, that he had bought when he was about 13. “It not only brought back memories of how fascinated I was by Poe and his stories at that time, but it also got me wondering what Poe would have been like at that same age,” Scott says. “As I thought more about it and then began to research it, the idea of Eddie just seemed to take on a life of its own.” The resulting novel was Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe, written and illustrated by Scott and aimed at eight to 12 year-olds. It’s something of a departure from his usual work, not least because all of the 90-odd illustrations are in monochrome, apart from the cover art, shown here.

Thomas, Eric Larson, Woolie Reitherman, Bob Jones and Bob Clampett, I found that they helped me to learn how to capture facial expressions and pose a figure so that the posture and pose helped define the character and the role that he or she plays within the story,” Scott explains.

THE APPEAL OF ANIMATION “These days, I’ve actually found a lot of inspiration looking up pencil tests of great animators online. The work of Glen Keane and Sergio Pablos is particularly wonderful… I’ve grown to prefer these pencil tests because they’re the actual animator’s drawings, filmed in sequence as a test before going to colour. I’d recommend taking a look for anyone who appreciates great character development and beautiful drawing.” So would he consider dabbling in animation again? “Well, animation on the level of the animators I’ve mentioned is a very complex art, and as much as I’ve gone in and out of fantasising about it again, I usually take the lazy way out and watch classic films like Fantasia or Lady and the Tramp!” As he has done for most of his professional career, Scott works from home, albeit in his own studio which takes up the entire second floor of the house: “This space is one of the main reasons we bought this house over 20 years ago.” He also tries to keep to regular work hours, which helps keep a separation between work and non-work time. “When I was younger, living in a four-room apartment, I got up late and worked late, and it seemed like that’s all I did…”



EDDIE AND THE RAVEN The cover illustration for Scott’s book, the only one of the 90-odd images that features in colour.

“As far as illustrating the story, even in its earliest concept stages I knew I wanted a lot of pictures and that those pictures would be in black and white,” he explains. “Black and white not only seemed appropriate to Poe and the story, but illustrating a book with drawings as opposed to paintings was something I had wanted to do for a long time.” The story itself grew out of possible situations that the young Poe may have found himself in, and the visual possibilities grew out of that. “When illustrating it, I was mindful of an atmosphere that I wanted to evoke, as well as illustrating the actual story,” says Scott.

A typical Gustafson image begins as a series of thumbnails, anything up to 12 loose sketches to set the idea out. That then becomes a larger sketch: “I average about three of these to show the client, or just to make sure I’ve tried more than one approach to any given idea.” A more fully fledged drawing then comes next, with reference, props and even a model shoot if necessary for the project. “Then I transfer this drawing to the surface on which the final painting will be done – usually gessoed masonite. This is done by either directly tracing through a copy of the final drawing using graphite

THE MAN IN THE MOON A limited edition giclee canvas print, one of several available to buy through Scott’s website.

UNDER THE LAMPOST Eddie stakes out the mysterious Mephisto.

paper, or by mounting an archival print out of the drawing onto the panel.” With the image complete, Scott turns his attention towards colour. “On a mounted, reduced print-out of the finished drawing, I do a loose indication of what I think the colour will be for the final piece, followed by underpainting. Depending on the piece, I do either a monochromatic tonal underpainting to establish the values, or, referring to the colour study,

as well as depth of colour and overall richness to every picture.” It’s a complex process – though the results are certainly worth all of the effort – and it’s hardly surprising that Scott hasn’t really had time or inclination to investigate digital processes. “Seriously, though, the computer is a fantastic tool, and I’ve come to rely on it for many things, chiefly communication and reference,” he says. “I leave anything more complicated than that

When I was younger, living in a fourroom apartment, I got up late and worked late, and it seemed like that’s all I did… a thin, transparent layer of those colours in the corresponding areas of the transferred drawing.”

EVERY PAINTING’S A CHALLENGE The final stage is painting. “Depending on the complexity and size of a piece, this can take anywhere from several days to several months. Last week, for instance, I finished painting a vignette in three days, but the picture before that one – another illustration from the same story – took three weeks to paint. They are all different and all present their own surprises and challenges.” Scott has experimented with many mediums over his artistic career, but primarily he now sticks to acrylics or oils for his finished colour work. “In recent years I’ve been concentrating almost exclusively in oils as they offer me the widest range of flexibility and possibilities,

in the capable hands of my wife and business partner, Patty, who handles all those aspects of our little business quite marvellously.” With a new book in the making, currently tentatively titled Storybook Fables and scheduled to be published by Artisan in late 2017, life is pretty good. Scott admits that he has never really thought about what’s next beyond the current project, and so far that has worked out well for him and his family. Of course, there are always new ambitions circulating. “I used to fantasise about illustrating editions of Alice in Wonderland or The Wind in the Willows, but John Tenniel, Rackham and EH Shepard are pretty fast company,” he laughs. “If I were offered the chance, who knows? I love illustrating the classics, but I think it would also be very exciting to work with a contemporary author as well.”



C Park planned to be an engineer. At least, that’s the career his parents imagined for him. The South Korean didn’t get the grades for engineering college. He eventually completed a major in digital cartooning and began working as an illustrator and concept artist. He’s since built up a huge portfolio of mechs, vehicles and spacecrafts, with designs so intricate, so beautifully engineered, that even his parents must be proud.



PROFILE JC Park LOCATION: South Korea FAVOURITE ARTISTS: Craig Mullins, Daniel Dociu and Feng Zhu SOFTWARE USED: Photoshop WEB:


JC wanted to work in comics. But when he graduated, a decade ago, the comics industry in South Korea was struggling. Meanwhile, the video games industry was expanding rapidly: PC bangs (LAN gaming centres) were growing in popularity and MMORPGs were attracting tens of millions of players. That was when JC landed a job at one of the country’s best game developers. “The games industry was growing,” JC says, “because of games like Lineage, an MMORPG made by NCsoft. I sent a basic portfolio to NCsoft and the company invited me in for an interview. I was really lucky. “Since I was seven years old, I enjoyed doodling for friends or family. When I drew something they were really happy; however, that wasn’t my dream job – it was just a hobby,


I sent a basic portfolio to NCsoft and it invited me in for an interview. I was really lucky

ROBOT MARKET “When I painted this futuristic market I used some photo references for the texture on the side pillars, as well as for the overall composition.�


THE WANDERER “The vehicles of the Star Wars universe have clean shapes and simple colours. Here, I gave the vehicle a basic shape, and then worked up the details.”

I thought. I liked arcade games such as Tekken, sci-fi films like The Terminator, and fantasy stuff – Dungeons & Dragons, for example. All these factors encouraged me to work in the games and film industries. There are a lot of talented artists in South Korea, so I was lucky to break into the industry and meet all these skilled people.”

UNKNOWN PLANET “I took inspiration from Ridley Scott’s Prometheus to paint a mission on an uncharted planet. I wanted the foreground character to look both curious and anxious.”

JUST PART OF THE PROCESS JC worked his way up to senior concept artist, a position he held on AION – another of NCsoft’s hugely successful MMORPGs. When working on a game like this, JC usually receives a brief from the game designer. He gets to work on creating some concepts. They then bring in a 3D designer to discuss whether or not his concepts are practical. It’s at this stage, JC says, that he must make the most amount of compromises to his ideas. Next, the team speaks to the game director and


Concept art must help the overall production of game, so I should be thinking about the final 3D result, too

receives feedback to see if their concepts are in line with his overall vision. Once he gets the nod, JC can finalise them, before passing it on to the 3D artist, UI designer or level designer. “I think concept art,” he says, “must help the overall production of game, so I should be thinking about the final 3D result, too.” Not all projects run this smoothly, of course. JC created concepts and illustrations for another NCsoft game, Steel Dog, which was never released. JC says he learned just as much from this failed projects as he did the more successful ones: “This was one of the best projects in my game career. I worked with one of my best directors, Mr Hwang, who had really creative ideas, a positive drive. I’ve never seen a game like this before. It called for really creative concepts. Unfortunately, this project was cancelled.” A quick look at JC’s ArtStation or Facebook pages shows what a prolific


PRACTICE MAKES… AWESOME! JC explains how a lunchtime sketch grew into an epic piece of concept art…



“I drew this during one lunch break. I did it to practise scale, distance and developing a strong silhouette, and I drew it pretty quickly. I wanted to do something simple – it was just a bit of fun.”

“I added the sky and desaturated the colour. Then I began to work on each of the characters, almost as if they were separate images, and then decided who would be the focus of the image.”

… TO AN EPIC FINISH “Then I looked at the position of the figures. The viewer should notice the visual flow: how it moves from in front of the characters to the huge beast and the background.“

artist he is. When he’s not working on a freelance project, he’s spending time on a personal project. And when he’s not working a personal project, he’s planning his next piece. “I’m constantly thinking about what my next my drawing is going to be,” JC says. “I’m also always gathering references, so when I do have time to draw, I can get to work straight away.”

THE BIG REVEAL “A moment of crisis at sea was the starting point for this painting. I imagined an attack by a huge, mysterious creature, but only wanted to show its tentacles.”

SPEED IS KEY JC often works late into the night. Sometime’s he draws while watching the TV or listening to a podcast. He doesn’t have a dedicated workspace. Instead, he sets up his Wacom and



DRAGON’S EYE VIEW “In this concept I wanted to show a vast landscape and a castle town on the cliff. It’s a fantasy world so I added dragons in flight, with the knights in the foreground.”



I’m always gathering references, so when I do have time to draw, I can get to work straight away



WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS ART FRIENDS Discover why JC thinks online art communities are both crucial to his work and his continual self-development “When I started getting more ‘follows’ on ArtStation, that’s when I felt my work was going in a good direction. I got the same reaction from my Facebook page. Indeed, several companies contacted me through Facebook to offer freelance work. This was all relatively recently – almost four years ago.

The skills I have, my abilities, are never enough. So every day I feel thankful to the online community and the companies who contact me, because they encourage me to become better. I try to pursue more creative projects, and do work that makes everyone happy. I hope I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life!”

FOLLOWING MY HAND “This was done during a busy period of work – I treated it as a bit of relaxing down-time. I simply let my hand take the image forward.”

ONLINE ENCOURAGEMENT With over 12,000 ArtStation followers and 6,000 plus Facebook followers, it’s no surprise that JC says, “I felt my work was going in a good direction.”

MacBook on the dining table in the living room of his house, which he shares with his wife and children. “I prefer a laptop to a desktop,” he says, “because I like to be able to move my workspace easily. It means I can take it with me when I need to go on trips. Sometimes I work in a nearby café. That’s really good for a diversion.” In May 2016, JC moved to Hamburg, Germany, where he now works for online games company Goodgame Studios. He also works as a freelancer, not just on games, but also creating art for everything from animations and feature films, to cover art and TV commercials.

During the early stages of a project, speed is key. JC carries a pencil and sketch pad with him, so he can quickly get down any ideas he has while on the move. If he’s working on a particularly detailed concept or illustration, he might begin a project with a paper sketch, but usually he draws directly onto his tablet in Photoshop. It means he can easily modify, rotate and layer images. He uses a large brush and a mono colour – grey or dark brown. At this stage, he’s concentrating on the overall composition as he adds simple colours. Next, he gives the images depth and lighting, then starts to work in more detail.

So many talented artists are making lots of great concept art every day, and so much of it is lost or forgotten 50

THE STAR WARS “Sometimes I draw fan art while mixing in my own design ideas. Someone once asked me, ‘Who’s the guy at the front?’ Well, he’s just my character!”

“If something isn’t working within a project,” JC says, “then I take a breather for a few minutes – go out for a walk, or search the internet – then I go back to the image with an idea of how to fix it.”

IMPRESSIVE STORYTELLING JC uses Pinterest to gather references. Sometimes, he’ll take a collection of images and combine them into a single, new image. Occasionally, if he really likes a picture, he’ll recompose it. “I could be watching a film or TV programme when inspiration hits,” he says. “I try to remember what it was that fired me up. Sometimes the image


SEASIDE TOWN “I rarely use custom brushes, but I wanted to try them for this piece, focusing on traditional painting techniques. It wasn’t easy, and took me a long time to complete.”

NUMEN VILLAGE “I wanted to emphasise the village’s small size, hence the huge head of a creature on the hill.”

is so clear it comes quickly, but it’s not always easy to maintain that positive feeling right up until the work’s done. So I try to finish a piece very quickly, usually within three to four hours.” JC is currently creating concepts for a mobile role-playing game, and is hoping to work on a AAA console game in the near future. His dream job? The next Star Wars film. His style and his meticulous attention to detail seems a good fit for the franchise. The artist says that his style has changed in recent years, but underpinning everything he does is the desire to tell a good story, to make

sure everything fits together properly, and to create something that’s beautifully engineered. “I’m focusing on more realistic concepts built around good storytelling,” he says, “so every day I try to be more creative with that aim in mind. I want to create concept art that endures – for the audience and for me, too. So many talented artists are making lots of great concept art every day – basically every moment – and so much of it is lost or forgotten. When I reflect on my experiences of the art, it’s something that has strong storytelling at the heart of it.”


IMAGINE FX ANNUAL ARTIST PORTFOLIO FAREWELL “One of my recurring characters, Birker, and his companions saying farewell to new friends.”

WHITE HAIR “One of the many gods who are explored within my sketch project.”

he art test called for a modern assassin with an old-school weapon. Even Mehl Amundsen created a range of thumbnails, various styles, different anatomical types, then Volta picked the design it liked most. Next, the visual development studio asked him to come up with an environment for his character. The stakes were high for the young Norwegian artist. Even had just quit art school and needed a job. The Quebec-based studio provided him with a 3D mock-up, so he had to learn

PROFILE Even Mehl Amundsen LOCATION: Denmark FAVOURITE ARTISTS: Paul Bonner, Paul Dainton, Jesper Ejsing, Kim Jung Gi, Karl Kopinski, Alphonse Mucha, Ilya Repin, Hiroaki Samura, Adrian Smith and Claire Wendling. SOFTWARE USED: Photoshop WEB:


photobashing and other new skills for the first time. Even worked on the test for most of the “long, stressful summer” of 2011. “Seldom have I felt as much dread as the week and a half it took them to get back to me,” the Norwegian says. He was visiting a friend when he got the nod: “I danced around his studio for a solid 10 minutes – yelling incoherently, singing triumphantly.” Even left Falmouth School of Art, the UK’s number one arts university, because he felt the fees were too high, a gamble that paid off when Volta offered him his dream job as a concept artist. The Norwegian now looks back on this as the greatest milestone of his career so far. But his career faltered before it got going, when he began to “butt heads” with a fellow Volta artist.

A TENDENCY TO ARGUE Even was born in wealthy, conservative Stabekk, to the west of Oslo. Doodling pirate ships and dinosaurs had grown into a more serious hobby by the time he was 15 years old. A few years later, he

SPIRIT OF THE HUNTED “Perhaps the most interesting of all the gods that I’ve drawn from my sketch-a-day series, this is Gypla, the spirit of the hunted.”


HARLEQUINS “I’ve done a good bit of work for Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K products. The Harlequins were one of my favourites to play with.“

Seldom have I felt as much dread as the week and a half it took them to get back to me

© Games Workshop



BIRKER “Birker, with his two friends, Hedda the Goat and Mickel the Fox, making a narrow escape.”

VOLTA STUDIOS ART TEST Even tells us more about landing his dream job at the Canadian visual development studio

discovered concept art and became hooked. After two years at the Einar Granum Fine Arts School in Oslo, he earned a place at Falmouth. By his own admission, he wasn’t a very good student, but he was also dissatisfied with the teaching he received. So after a year, he left. Even remembers a lot of time in Falmouth spent sitting around in a local cafe and art gallery called Babahogs, drinking coffee, sketching and talking:

– was creating characters for The Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan. “As for challenges,” he says, “I think getting over my own ego was the one that taught me the biggest lesson, and allowed me to grow the most as an artist.” At Volta, Even was asked to work with an artist named Arnaud Pheu. The Norwegian’s “tendency to argue” strained the pair’s working relationship, particularly when it came to solving visual problems.

I’ve learned adults ought to be able to disagree without being disagreeable – but that’s not always the case “Long rambling chats with good friends is a hallowed activity for me, especially when accompanied by the fruits of the grape and the grain. I imagine it’s how some people feel about church.” The university also taught him, however inadvertently, the importance of “making one’s mind up”. His mind was made up to quit and he was soon on a plane to Canada. He spent three years in Quebec, learning his trade from many artists he looked up to, a “small but very skilled phalanx of heroes”. He also began working for bigger and better clients. The most memorable of which – Even being a self-confessed Tolkien geek


“I have a tendency to argue,” says Even. “Over the years, I’ve learned that while two adults ought to be able to disagree without being disagreeable – but that’s not always the case. However, we both came an understanding of our respective stubbornness, and once we managed to redirect our focus on collaboration rather than insisting on our own visions, we worked tremendously well together.”

INSPIRATIONAL COMPANY These days, Even lives in Copenhagen. He gets out of bed at 7am and runs in his local park. After a shower and breakfast, he walks

“I think my greatest career milestone,” Even Mehl Amundsen says, “at least in terms of how different life was before and after, was passing the art test for my first in-house job at Volta Studios in Canada.” Even had just dropped out of Falmouth School of Art and was looking for freelancing jobs in Norway. A friend said he knew of a job going in Quebec. “I had barely any notion of where in Canada it was,” he says, “but I buckled down and took on their art test, working at it all summer. “The test was to do a character, going through the usual feedback system that most studios use, and after it was done, to do an environment to put that character in. The brief called for a modern, Asian assassin, using an old-school weapon.” The finished piece is a kind of urban ninja, dressed in a zipup coat and combat pants, wielding a couple of swords. The backdrop was a narrow, cluttered street strung with Chinese lanterns. “For the environment, I worked off of a 3D mock-up that Volta provided. That was a far greater challenge. I had to learn how to do photobashing and stuff like that. It somewhat cemented my dislike of that process.” It took Volta a week and a half – a week and a half of “dread” – to get back to him. “I was visiting a friend when I received the confirmation.” Cue the celebrations. Even remembers it as “a very good day.”

VOLTA ART TEST “The assassin was a chance to really put in some hours on rendering, and as a result, it all came out looking a little plasticy. Let that be a lesson – study your materials, kids!”

EVEN MEHL AMUNDSEN IMAGINE FX ANNUAL NIDALEE (LEAGUE OF LEGENDS) “My first piece for Riot, trying to match the quality that the company’s known for, while maintaining a little of my own style as well.”

© Riot Games

while listening to a podcast to a place he calls Embarrassing Company. He shares a workspace at the illustration studio with Danish artist Jesper Ejsing: “A glowing ball of inspiration and 90s rap lyrics.” For the first hour or so, Even replies to emails and Facebook messages. Afterwards, he works until around five or six, at which point he begins his daily sketch, a project that culminates with the release of an art book later this year. Sometimes he’ll sit down and actively decide to create a certain kind of character, then come up with an idea to go with it. Other times he’ll have an overriding idea that leads the pen around the page. “It might be a pose,” he says, “it might be a combination of colours, it might even be a phrase that pops up in my head. The trick is to always be searching.” For Even routine and discipline go hand in hand. But he does make room for his other great passion: travel.

WOODKIN “When their borders are threatened, the elves of the Deep Wood send their warriors into battle, armoured in living wood.”

EUROPE CALLING After three years at Volta, Even heard “the strings of old Europe call.” Coming straight out of a studio job, he was unsure how much he could expect to make, at least his first year, as a freelancer. So he looked for somewhere he could live well but cheaply. Prague seemed perfect.


CIRCLE “A mellow moment for the travelling trio, taking an opportunity to explore some landscapes in the little world I came up with.”

PRESENTS “Dwarves inhabit every corner of the world I’m building. This one is an adoptive father to one of the characters, presenting her with a fine new blade.”

DREAM “Sweet sleep her gift, in all its many forms. Be it for a blink of the eye, or the dreams that never end, hers is the hand that grants them.”


THE SINGER OF POOLS “Sometimes you must indulge in some Wendling-esque whims, and play with flowing lines. You can learn a lot from doing that.”

GUNNAR “Gunnar the Giant, one of the many little side characters who I hope I’ll get a chance to revisit.”

A few friends had already made the move to Prague and spoke highly of the place. So he spent a year in the Czech capital, establishing himself as a freelance illustrator and concept artists, and “making merry”. Then Blizzard Entertainment asked Even to join them in California. Highlights of his time in the US include contributing to the cinematic trailer for the third Hearthstone expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods. “I got to do some of the establishing artworks,” he says, “and I did the base design for the troll character. And I had the chance to have my work critiqued by the terrifyingly skilled Laurel D Austin. That sure taught me a few things!” Even says knowing when to stand his ground and when to back down, a skill he first learned at Volta, is one of the greatest challenges a working artists faces. California wasn’t for him, so he left for Denmark, moving to Copenhagen and returning to freelance work with a newfound talent for diplomacy. “Working for a client involves interpreting another person’s vision. To do this, it’s very useful to compartmentalise one’s personal pride. You have set that aside for commercial work. This will make you far more open to learning and adapting.”

ALL ABOUT THE STORYTELLING Even is reluctant to describe his own art, preferring to leave that up to others. As well as creating concepts, he’s a gifted illustrator and character designer whose art is always incredibly lit. Rather than separating concept art from illustration, he sees it as all part of the same medium: storytelling. The challenge, he says, is to find the most interesting way of telling the story. “The central theme I try to pursue is believability. Not realism, mind you. The fine balance of creating something that can be fantastical, but still not beyond the realm of what could work in a world as true as our own.”

Inspiration is a lovely little minx. But Miss Deadline has no time for romance Expression, for Even, is far more important than technique. He uses a pen and paper as much as Photoshop. He’s always trying to simplify his process. A new project moves quickly from “generals to specifics”. The artist is conscious of the specific problem he’s trying to solve, so uses a kind of reverse-engineering. He knows where he needs to end up and works backwards from there. He’s also very willing to try a new approach if the current one isn’t working. “I am,” he says, “ready to kill my darlings.” Even knows the importance of balancing his artistic side with the level-headed

SEEN EVEN’S COVER ART? He painted issue 127’s cover. To get a copy, visit

common sense needed to be a successful freelancer, which is probably why he’s currently so in-demand as an art teacher, something he’s increasingly doing more of. So far he’s shared pithy advice everywhere from London and Warsaw to Zagreb and St Petersburg. Pablo Picasso said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Even offers students his own, remixed version of this famous quote: “Inspiration,” he says, “is a lovely little minx when she comes around to spice up the day. But Miss Deadline, she has no time to wait for that kind of romantic affair. She’s got stuff to do.”



© 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Artist Portfolio

PETER DE SÈVE The American artist tells Gary Evans why drawing well is like telling a good joke eter de Sève, aged 16, a student at Parsons school of art and design, walks through Greenwich Village to the corner of Bleecker and Macdougal Streets. It’s snowing. He finds a table in Café Figaro, the New York coffeehouse whose past regulars include Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce and Jack Kerouac, where he drinks cappuccinos and draws in his sketchbook. With his drawings, Peter’s trying to impress people – friends, girls too. And it’s during these quiet afternoons that he starts to understand what it means to be illustrator, and exactly what it is an illustration is supposed to do. “It was a magical time,” the artist says. “It was 1977 when I started Parsons. For a kid from Long Island, living away from home for the first time, it couldn’t have been more exciting. The


Courtesy of Netflix

Peter created Scrat, a sabre-toothed squirrel and one of the stars of the Ice Age franchise. He drew these sketches in 2006 using wax crayon on film.


THE LITTLE GIRL Peter worked on the recent 3D animated film The Little Prince. This drawing is a development sketch of a “smart and precocious” character known simply as The Little Girl.


© 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

For a kid from Long Island, living away from home for the first time, it couldn’t have been more exciting

ICE AGE, DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS In his character designs for the Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, as with illustration work, Peter strives for exaggerations that feel real and credible.



SCRAT DE SÈVE This wax crayon drawing shows sees Peter looking a lot like his most famous creation, Scrat from Ice Age.

How your audience views your work determines how well you’ve told the story CROCODILE TEARS This unused New Yorker cover, created in watercolour and ink, shows Peter’s love of an arresting image that’s full of character.


© Disney Enterprises Inc.

In 1995 Peter accepted an offer from Disney to work on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was the start of a long career in character design.


punk scene was in full swing – yet there was still a faint whiff of the folk scene down on Bleecker Street. There were hardcore punks and stoned hippies all over the place, and that’s where friends and I spent most of our free time. We’d walk through the snow and hunker down at the Café Figaro. “I just loved to draw things that would amuse myself and other people. That’s kind of the job of an illustrator in a nutshell, isn’t it? It’s not only about pleasing yourself but you have to communicate to and entertain an audience. Every drawing is an opportunity to make someone feel something specific and to do it in the cleverest, most economical way possible. I’ve always loved that challenge. I think I was hard-wired to be an illustrator from birth.”

CONSTRAINED BY THE FACTS In 1995, Disney came calling. Peter accepted an offer to work on character designs for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

They didn’t use much of his work, but it was the beginning of a long career in character design. His credits now include A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and all five Ice Age film – he created the endearing character Scrat for the franchise. Peter says his work is as much about concept as it is technique. He likes a strong image, a split idea – like a lion in a vegan restaurant. His character designs are often about the little details that change the image in a big way: a head tilt or an eyebrow raised. He doesn’t use too many references, because he doesn’t want to be “constrained by the facts.” Yet any exaggerations in his characters must also feel real and credible. He describes his own work as looking contemporary, but “glazed with a 19thcentury patina.” And as a working illustrator and character designer, the viewer is

PROFILE Peter de Sève LOCATION: US FAVOURITE ARTISTS: Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Heinrich Kley, Arthur Rackham, Roland Topor, Murray Tinkelman and, most inspiring by far, Brad Holland MEDIA: Wax crayon, ink and watercolour WEB:



© 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

A playful character study based on two of the leads from Ice Age: Collision Course, the fifth and most recent film in the franchise.

WILD RIDE Buck, an insane one-eyed weasel, joined the cast the Ice Age franchise in the third film, Dawn of the Dinosaurs.



‘YOUR CRUMMY DRAWING’ Peter talks compliments, criticism and dealing with knock-backs… some of them self-inflicted Peter was already a successful editorial artist when Disney asked him to design characters for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They didn’t use much of what he drew, but it was his big break into animation. He’s since learned a few thing about dealing with criticism and compliments. “I take compliments as lightly as possible,” the artist says, “and have a pretty good antenna to help me determine which are genuine and which are just nervously polite. As for criticism, I take that more seriously – though, again, my antennae is crucial here. Sometimes a criticism can come from a personal bias. A piece might have an off-putting element in it – a rat, for instance. However, if enough people don’t get what you’re trying to say, the fault is not in the stars chum, it’s in your crummy drawing.” Peter is perhaps his own toughest critic. He has trouble looking at past projects – even successful ones: “When I look through my work, I have real difficulty in looking at finished pieces. Invariably, there’s something that bugs me about them. Something I didn’t quite pull off. But for some reasons, I’m much more forgiving of my sketches and looser drawings. They are always much less self-conscious and to me are a glimpse at the artist I’m supposed to be.”

Disney never actually used Peter’s characters designs for The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but he’s since gone on to work for box-office hits such as A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo.


© Disney Enterprises Inc.





Peter worked on Monster Trucks, a film released earlier this year. This subterranean creature is, appropriately, called Creech.

This handsome bunch are inhabitants of Shangri-La, taken from last year’s Ice Age: Collision Course.

© Paramount Pictures


Ice Age images © 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

“Every drawing is an opportunity to make someone feel something specific,” Peter says.

always an important element of what he does. “To me,” Peter says, “the viewer is the second most important element in picturemaking, second only to the picture itself. How your audience views your work – meaning in which order he or she takes in what is happening in your picture – determines how well you’ve told the story.” Peter is also known for his front covers for The New Yorker magazine. For 20 years, he “worked in the trenches” of editorial illustrations, submitting as many as three pieces each week to Forbes, Business Week and The New York Times, among others. He’s also created book covers and posters for Broadway shows.

He’d been at Parson for a year when he was introduced to editorial illustration. The 1970s, he says, was editorial illustration’s heyday. He came across a book called The Art of the Times. It contained editorial art by illustrators “hired for their hand as well as their brain,” such as American artist Brad Holland. “Man, I loved his work,” he says. “He fit perfectly into that rubric of exaggerated realism I mentioned earlier. But beyond his drawing style, were images that insisted the viewer engage with them. Not literal solutions that simply depicted what the article was about, but visual companions to the written words, which made their own, independent statement.”

Almost all of my biggest heroes are artists whose work is grounded in reality

EXAGGERATED REALISM For many years, Peter worked late at night and would stick at it until the early hours of the morning. He’s easily distracted. There were fewer interruptions at night. After he got married and had a family, he switched to “a much healthier” nine-to-five. But that doesn’t mean he’s free of distractions.

RAT RACE Peter says a good drawing is like a good joke: the punchline should always come at the end: like seeing the rat after seeing the commuter.



WHAT’S ON THE MENU TODAY…? Peter reveals through his process for coming up with a cover for venerable title The New Yorker “My work often begins with a visual dichotomy of some kind. In this case, my initial doodle had something to do with carnivores at a vegan restaurant, the kind of place you can easily find in a Brooklyn neighbourhood like mine. My wife, Randall, has been a vegetarian since she was 12 and though I tried being one for almost eight years. I realised it just wasn’t for me. That moment, when I first began to rethink my diet, is what this cover is all about. Once I landed on the lion with a salad watching more delicious options walk by, I began to refine the drawing. Originally, I had an anaemic-looking lion, but soon decided on a healthier version. After that, I concentrated on his expression. It’s amazing how the tilt of a head, the placement of an eyebrow or even the height of an eyelid can totally change the tone of a drawing. In the end, I wanted the viewer to hear the lion think to himself, “Hmmm.” I don’t generally go overboard with references. I always do my rough sketches out of my head, so I’m not too constrained by the facts. Still, there are little touches one can discover by looking at photos of a place he or she is depicting – the little flower in the mason jar on the table and the exposed brick wall all telegraph the kind of earthy, crunchy-granola vibe a place like this projects. It also didn’t hurt to take a closer look at what a lion’s face is really about. It’s easy to convince yourself you know how to draw a thing, but that can lead to an over-reliance on cartoony clichés. I like my exaggeration to be based on reality, at least a little bit, to help me put an idea over the top.”

A NEW LEAF Peter likes works built around a “visual dichotomy”, such as a lion in a vegan restaurant. He then develops the character, capturing details like facial expressions.

CONSTRAINED BY FACTS Peter doesn’t use many references for his work. Early sketches are done in his head, where he can’t be “constrained by the facts.”


SPOTTING MISTAKES Peter has created around 50 covers the iconic The New Yorker magazine, but finds it difficult to look at old work. He always sees the things he didn’t get quite right.


I loved to draw things that would amuse myself and other people. That’s kind of the job of an illustrator

THE LITTLE PRINCE CHARACTER DESIGNS One of Peter’s earliest influences was Frank Frazetta. He loves his “exaggerated realism” and used similar techniques in his work on The Little Prince.

His dream working day looks something like this: he lives and works in a Brooklyn townhouse, where, second cup of coffee in hand, he sits down at his drawing board and waits for “exquisite, heartrending images to spill from my pen. Hours later, without having looked up from my work even once, I turn out the light and go back upstairs to rejoin my family… None of this has ever happened, of course.”

The Little Prince images courtesy of Netflix

A GAUNTLET OF DISTRACTIONS His home studio “is a wonderful place,” which is part of the problem. Bookshelves overflow all around the room. Art from friends and heroes hang on the walls. “Just crossing the room is like running a gauntlet of distractions. I often find myself staring at a book or a picture, wondering what the hell I was meant to do in the first place.” Ideas typically come to him away from the drawing board, during those distracted times, when he’s doodling in his sketchbook or out running. He divides his

STUDY ON A SOFA Even when shown in a quiet moment, Peter’s characters still exhibit life in their expressions and body language.

time between the two fields, character design and editorial illustration. In both, his aims are similar: to create a character or an image that’s just one or step or two away from reality, something that’s plays of a bigger narrative, a bigger idea, something that drives the pictures towards its ultimate punchline. “Almost all of my biggest heroes, past and present, are artists whose work is somewhat grounded in reality,” Peter says, “with a general respect for anatomy and perspective, while still disregarding them for the sake of telling a story. Or a joke. “In my Rat Race picture, for instance, I make dead sure that the first thing you absorb is a lone commuter standing on an empty platform waiting for a train. I don’t want you to see the rat below him doing exactly the same thing until the second beat.” Peter ends with this key advice: “Just like telling a joke: your setup is just as important as your punchline.”



I like to inject a sense of youth and playfulness into my art‌




Dawn Carlos

Insects, gaming and aliens provide inspiration in this sketchbook


Tom Fowler

A motley collection of characters and creatures inspired by Dungeons & Dragons



Pirates, fairies and street brawlers in a love-hate relationship


Stephan Martinière

Sketches, concepts and more from the Hugo award-winning illustrator


Cosmin Podar

Fantasy figures and grotesque creatures mingle in this sketchbook







Insects, gaming and aliens – in fact, almost everything she sees – provide inspiration for the concept artist and illustrator’s sketchbook

INSECTARIUM AND THE QUEEN MOTH-ER “Studies from the insectarium in the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The Queen MOTH-er was originally a sketch of a woman’s face that never quite worked out, so it was abandoned. After seeing all manner of insects I was able to return to it with some fresh ideas on how to salvage it.”

SPACEY ROGUES “I love how far you can push the weirdness of aliens – using animals, insects, shapes and textures – but still retain a sense of character and humanity through it all.”


ROOT MOTHER “From roots and turkey tail mushrooms – rotting, blossoming – all while hiking through Muir Woods.”

FOUR EYED SAGE “Inspired by fishes, frogs and tree bark. Using my trusty brush pens and those little label dots.�

I love how far you can push the weirdness of aliens but still retain character


YOSEMITE GROVE “Ink drawing as a gift for my parents, based on a grove I hiked through during my first time in Yosemite.”

I played the Mass Effect trilogy and my love for all things sci-fi was rekindled 70

CROW BRO “Starting with the idea of a shoulder-perched pet, this turned into a lone wizard, his familiar, and a magical crow claw prosthetic.”


TWO EYES, THREE… “These were postcard sized drawings done shortly after I had played the entire Mass Effect trilogy over two months and my love for all things sci-fi was rekindled.”

WHAELSTROM “I felt like drawing a monster whale. This one is also based on a pun, a play on the word maelstrom.”



JERK MAGE AND TROLL BIRD “Mages can be real jerks sometimes, picking whatever, whenever from whomever for some potion or spell or magic stuffs. Poor Troll Bird hasn’t even got that many feathers to begin with!”

IF YOU CANT BEAT ’EM… “Played Overwatch one night and had a horrible losing streak. So I gave up and drew the characters instead.”

Played Overwatch and had a horrible losing streak, so gave up and drew the characters instead 72


CAT-LIKE THIEF AND THE MUSHROOM PONCHCOAT “Couldn’t decide if our Mushroom Merchant is wearing a poncho or a trench coat, so it’s a Ponchcoat. Or was it Trencho?”

ITS A TRAP! “Started with fishy mouth up right, then scales, then thought, ‘Oh, like scaly armour!’ Then a hooded figure, a squire and an elf.”



The illustrator and cartoonist introduces us to his motley collection of characters and creatures

ATTAINABLE GOALS “If nothing else, it proved Knekbeerd’s vision-board had worked.”

ODD MAN OUT “Rypurt suspected he was being left out, but he just couldn’t put his finger on why.”

FAMILY OUTING “Even with all the noise from the birds, no one ever bothered the Grismunds’ aviary caravan.”

Tom’s worked in comics, advertising, and film and game design for clients including Disney, Marvel and Wizards of the Coast. He also writes and sometimes draws the Rick and Morty comic series. Tom’s blog, D&D&D, is so named because he draws while playing D&D. These sketches and more will appearing in Tom’s forthcoming book.

LIFE OF THE PARTY “He sang, ‘Mmbodumby bodumbow bodumby bodumbow,’ but no one joined in. Hey ho.”

He sang, ‘Mmbodumby bodumbow bodumby bodumbow,’ THE LITTLE LAMAS “Omsted was terrible with directions. It was a wonder he ever made it home after a day trip.”

SCALLYWAGS “It’s said that a ship is only as hungry as its crew. In this instance, it’s a perfectly accurate observation.”

BAD JUR “Bad Jur regretted little in life – that was just his nature, how he rolled.”


PRESTIDIGITATION “Fongo only knew one spell. And it was a good one.”

CHARTER “Herbit hated the ‘nun runs’, but the pig was happy for the exercise.”

CHIN UP “Gru’up had his pride, if nothing else.”

Krrun loved his unicorn. No one had the heart – or the guts – to tell him it wasn’t a unicorn

EQUESTRIAN “Krrun loved his unicorn. No one had the heart – or the guts – to tell him that, actually Krrun, that’s not a unicorn.”

NESTING “Birt would give her absolutely anything.”

SNACK ATTACK “Ba’a’all watched the flame and remembered his mother.”

PLYK “He’d caught them all, without breaking into a sweat. Something to tell the lads back home.”


HORUS “Egyptian mythology is a great source of inspiration. Usually the gods are shown as thin characters, so I decided to make Horus bulky and massive.”


Pirates, fairies and street brawlers in a love-hate relationship are just some of the characters to appear in this leading artist’s sketchbook


Gonzalo Ordoñez, also known as Genzoman, is a self-taught illustrator who’s spent the past 20 years creating art for video games, magazines, films and card games. You can see examples of his art in Udon Entertainment’s Street Fighter comic, and World of Warcraft.


Fairies are a fine balance between strong magic and delicate character design

SPIKE SPIEGEL “Back in the 1990s I was a big fan of – Cowboy Bebop and anime. Shinichiro Watanabe creates such interesting worlds and characters.”

CLIDNA “This sketch was done for the Myths and Legends TCG. I love to draw fairies – they’re a fine balance between strong magic and delicate character design.”

PRIESTESS OF ODIN “Another sketch for Myths and Legends. When the editor sees this basic colour sample sketch he’ll have a good idea of what the final design will look like.”


The Secret of NIMH was my first big inspiration to start drawing when I was a kid…

RYU VS KEN “Here’s the cover sketch for Street Fighter Unlimited #1, featuring two eternal rivals and friends, Ryu and Ken.”

ATHENA “A rejected sketch for an unreleased game. I like the idea of a calm Athena, instead of the typical fierce warrior stereotype.”

MRS BRISBY “Don Bluth’s film The Secret of NIMH was my first big inspiration to start drawing when I was a kid. I still love that movie!”


INSPECTOR AND PENNY “Inspector Gadget was one of my favourite cartoons when I was a child. Here I was going for a gritty vibe, while staying true to the cartoon’s roots.”

THE MERMAID “A couple of years ago, my office was really close to a branch of Starbucks. I used to go there for coffee and sketch there on my break time.”



AQUERONTE “Sketch for an unreleased game. I tried to maintain a HR Giger vibe on Aqueronte’s design. Greek myths are great!”

PIRATE GIRL “A sketch for the upcoming board game The Pirate’s Flag. I love drawing pirates – there are a lot of cool elements to work with.”

PATHFINDER “Compositional sketches for the covers of Pathfinder: City of Secrets #1 and #2.”



PROFILE Stephan Martinière LOCATION: US

The animator, concept artist and Hugo award-winning illustrator shares sketches and concepts for unmade films and more!

French-born Stephan is an acclaimed multi-award winning artist, who was voted one of the 50 most inspirational artists by ImagineFX. Stephan has worked on a range of smash-hit movies including The Avengers, Tomorrowland, Guardians of the Galaxy, I, Robot, Star Wars Episodes II and III, and the upcoming Aquaman.

SF ANTHOLOGY IDEA 1 AND 4 “Sketch ideas done for a compilation of science fiction stories. I like doing explorations with no specific stories. This is usually when I can push myself creatively and play with ideas and shapes that I’ve not explored previously.”

UNBREAKABLE “Sketch idea for the book of the same title. A babe with big guns! Science fiction books are like Hollywood films – they follow or create trends – and so over a few years I was commissioned to illustrate stories about strong female characters, usually with very high-tech gear and mean firepower.”

SKETCH 1 AND 2 “These are interesting exercises for me, where I try to do a clean sketch in one shot with no sketchy lines. It’s a very instinctual process, but also forces me to be very careful with every line.”

I like doing explorations with no specific stories. This is when I can push myself creatively

DEATH OF SLEEP “A sketch idea for a book cover. This was a very unexpected sketch as I usually have to be very loose when I explore spaceship ideas, but this one came in one fluid line, almost like building it out of wire.”

THE SOFTWIRE “These started as a series of concepts for a film. The film didn’t happen, but a book was made instead. It was an interesting universe with a mix of sci-fi and fantasy.”

TRANSCENDENTAL “Another sketch idea for a book cover. Sometimes simplicity is what works best. I liked this idea much better than the other one the publisher ended up choosing, but that’s fine, it’s part of the process!”


I liked the idea much better than the one the publisher chose, but that’s fine! HOP: CANDY FACTORY “A concept for the film. Interestingly, I did not get to see the film when it first came out. I was under the impression that the film did not get made. This was a fun concept that I had hoped to push to colour and possibly 3D, but the client was fine with just a sketch.”

“This project was for a full CG animated feature, and I spent over six months developing all kinds of different concepts, from characters to environments and props, as well as doing storyboards. This was a really cool semi-cartoony project that unfortunately didn’t happen.”

MERCEDES COMMERCIAL “This was a very early sketch exploring a creature concept. It’s another way I like to sketch, in a looser, very sketchy line. I had the pleasure of pushing the design to full colour and detail with added elevations to help the CG modellers build it. This was a very funny and very well-done TV commercial.”


PROFILE Cosmin Podar LOCATION: Romania

Fantasy figures and grotesque creatures mingle with hints of Romanian urban and rural life in this artist’s sketchbook

A keen artist from childhood, Cosmin built up his painting skills by doing caricature art first, before securing a job at video game developer Gameloft in Cluj. After two years he was promoted to lead artist, and spent a further four years at the company before leaving to become a full-time freelance artist. He says his quest to become a better artist is never-ending, and that he’s his harshest critic.

WOMAN FACES “I’m usually reluctant to draw female faces, especially beautiful ones , but I gathered my courage and put the pen to good use.”

FATA CU BUCIUM “An homage to a traditional singer of our country.”



I had the urge to draw something gross, that resembled insects…



“I was inspired by a picture online, then remembered the David vs Goliath theme and produced my version of it.”

“This was a funny one, I guess. I wanted to draw an exaggerated perspective.”

MONSTER “I had the urge to draw something gross, that resembled insect creatures. I was just keen to try different things.”



ALIEN “This is an exploration of head decoration on an alien head. I was just passing time.”

HORNED DEMON “No real story behind this one, but I was pleased with this character’s design.”

AMPHIBIAN “This was a special sketch, I wanted to see how you could make a recognisable face just by scribbling with a pencil.”

I wanted to see how you could make a recognisable face just by scribbling with a pencil 90



“This is my homage to a traditional Romanian sheep herder.”

“This was an exploration exercise – taking a shape and rotating, flipping it and making different faces.”

BLACKBEARD “This is a popular pirate character, so I thought I’d try my hand at drawing him.”



HANDS “A study of hands, but how to make it more entertaining? Maybe this way…?”



PUNK “I just wanted to draw a dynamic guy singing at a mic.”

BUS “This is an example of what it’s like to travel on one of the city’s buses.”

I imagined how an underground DJ travels with his bulky luggage…

TRIP “I imagined how an underground DJ travels with his bulky luggage. Just out of shot: his decks and speakers.”

MAN FACE “I really like drawing men with ugly faces.”


Workshops 96. Paint a bright & dynamic figure Learn how to use Photoshop’s colour editing and drawing tools


102. Bring fantasy portraits to life Achieve realistic portrait paintings and make them stand out from the crowd

108. Capture the look of Blade Runner Journey to Los Angeles 2019 to combine character art with neo-noir architecture

112. Develop a strong lighting scheme How intelligent lighting choices can create a compelling book cover

114. Collaborate on an airship design See how three artists work together to draw, design and light an airship

118. Creating a dragon knight Painting a classic fantasy scene that’s heavy on realism and details

120. Using brushes in Rebelle Introducing Rebelle, the natural media painting program

122. Paint iconic Ghost in the Shell art Exploring the theme of identity in the iconic anime film universe

126. Create a scene in Black Ink The process of concepting and composing in the Black Ink program

Bringing an original character to life is exciting









PAINT A BRIGHT & DYNAMIC FIGURE Follow Lois van Baarle’s process and learn how to use Photoshop’s colour editing and drawing tools to create a sense of movement Artist


Lois van Baarle (Loish) LOCATION: The Netherlands

or this workshop, I’ll be showing you how I make a colourful, playful and bright image. Flow and movement are very important to the paintings that I create, because this helps lead the eye around the image. An energetic pose and bright colours generate energy and life, making the artwork really stand out. When I paint a figure, my goal is to


ensure the lines, shapes, colours and composition all contribute to this feeling of movement. The early phase of my process is mostly about getting the mix of colours to feel right. Colour editing tools and gradients play a big role during this phase, in which my goal is to create a striking colour scheme. Later on, it’s mostly a question of gradually painting in more and more

of the detail. As I work towards the finished piece, new problems sometimes present themselves and the image may evolve in unexpected ways, so I try not to stick to my initial sketch too much. The most important things to keep in mind is to choose colours intuitively, and to start rough and let the image evolve naturally. So basically: just go with the flow!

The artist, known to her numerous fans as Loish, is a digital painter and concept artist living in the Netherlands. She’s worked with LEGO, Guerrilla Games and Marvel to bring their characters to life.


Initial, loose sketch

Rather than working out every detail, I emphasise gesture, energy and movement. I then draw just enough to give a sense of the pose, general direction of the hair and facial expression. The looser the lines, the more movement I create, which is key at this point.


Introducing rough colours

I apply some colours to a layer below the sketch, and tweak them using colour editing tools until I like what I see. To add some depth to them, I change the sketch lines to a reddish hue and set it to Multiply. Finally, on a separate layer, I roughly paint the face and lighting. Now I have a clearer idea of where the image is going.



Paint with the Eyedropper Once I have my colours down, I can paint intuitively using the Eyedropper shortcut. When I’m using a brush, all I have to do is press Alt and click, which temporarily activates the Eyedropper tool. Working like this feels like I’m sculpting with colour: there’s very little distraction because I can keep painting without having to change tools or open dialogs.


Drawing the line work


Establishing the base colours

I flip the image because this works better, and then start drawing the line work. This will form the basis for the final painting, but it can stay fairly sketchy because I’ll be painting over many of these lines. For the hair, I avoid drawing individual strands, instead focusing on bigger clumps of hair and their shape, direction and movement.


This brush is great for line work and more chunky painting style. LOISH_HARD ROUND

This one is soft when pressing lightly, sharp when pressing hard. LOISH_SPLATTERNAME

This brush is from Jonas de Ro’s free brush set ( It’s meant for snow, but it works for glitter effects.

On separate layers, I block in the colours for the background, hair, body and clothing. I also change the colour of the line work. During this phase, I use a lot of gradients to blend colours and bring variety to the colour scheme. I also use colour editing tools such as Selective Color and Color Balance to tweak the colours until they feel right to me.


Gradient tool Combined with layer modes like Overlay, Screen and Soft light, the Gradient tool can help bring depth to a colour scheme by lightening or darkening specific areas, intensifying colours, and developing colour transitions. With this tool, I can create subtle variations in colour, so that the eye is led around the image. Be sure to choose the Foreground to Transparent option


Colour adjustments and details


Painting the hair

I feel like the colour scheme needs to be brightened up, so I add some yellow hues to the image using gradients on separate layers, set to various layer modes such as Screen and Overlay. I also make the character’s trousers a deeper blue, and add some belts and decorative details to her general clothing. At this point, I have all the details in place, and am ready to start painting.

When painting in more detail, hair presents a unique challenge. I want it to look detailed without literally painting every strand. I do this by making sure each clump of hair has a gradient of colour that makes it stand out from the other hair around it. I also paint in the shadows cast by the clumps, which adds depth and makes the hair look more realistic.


Painting more detail


Adding depth and shading

My goal now is to start working out the shading and lighting. I use a chunky, textured brush for this, which is great for defining edges and bringing some contrast to the shading. The colours that I want to use are already on the canvas, so I use Alt+Click as a shortcut to access the Eyedropper and start working out the details. I start with the face and work my way around the image, bit by bit.

Now that the details have been worked out, I feel the shading style has too many hard edges. I’m ready to add some softer, more delicate shading. I use a Soft brush, as well as the Gradient tool, to smooth out the shading and apply softer, more neutral tones for the shadows. The purple from the previous step still shows through, but it’s less harsh now.


the edges 10 Smoothing I now need to finalise the paintwork and details,


Bringing in details to the hair

I’m now ready to add more detail to the hair. I zoom in and start shading in detail, using the ribbon principle when adding highlights (see reference image). I also smooth out colour gradients. As the level of detail increases, I feel like it’s a good idea to add more clumps of hair. This enhances the sense of movement the hair gives, and bring some more detail to the image.

which can get pretty boring and time consuming. I find that it’s helpful to focus on the edges, rather than all of the details at once. I zoom in and define the edges of the face, the hair, the clothing and so on. To add colour and a playful feeling, I sometimes choose a bright colour rather than dark lines for these edges.

effects to the creatures 12 Adding I’ve left the flying creatures for last. I swap the green


Painting loose strands

I select a smaller brush and paint strands over various parts of the hair, which gives the hair a more realistic look and also adds movement. I usually pick a lighter colour, such as a highlight, to make these strands stand out.

and purple ones around so that they stand out more from the background. I smooth out the shading, and define the faces and wings, then add some movement lines on a separate layer, which I blur with Motion blur and set to Screen. I use gradients to give them a magical glow.


Colour editing tools Once I’m happy with my base colours, I start tweaking them with Photoshop’s Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, Replace Color and Selective Color tools to achieve the combination that feels right to me. I continue to use them throughout the painting process. Experimenting with the sliders enables me to try different colour combinations before settling on something that works. My favourite tool is Selective Color.

photo brings sparkles and shine! 13 Stock Now that the image is almost complete, I want to give it some sparkle. I apply glittery elements to the design on her shirt and trousers, using a stock photograph that I purchase from, of sparkling fireworks. I set the photo to Screen mode. I use a different firework image to add some sparkles to the movement lines from the previous step. I also use a splatter brush to add a glittery effect around the flying creatures.

paintwork 14 Final I now apply the very last finishing touches to the piece. I zoom in and paint more detail on the character’s trouser design and belts. I also add more details to her iris, as well as some more refined detail in the eyelashes. Finally, I smooth out the edges of the painting along the outside border, so that there are no rough edges visible in the final version. And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading about my process.


Artist insight

BRINGING FANTASY PORTRAITS TO LIFE Mélanie Delon talks through the tips, tricks and techniques she uses to achieve realistic portrait paintings, ensuring they stand out from the crowd antasy portraiture is my favourite subject. Bringing an original character to life is exciting, but can be difficult to achieve. To avoid mistakes and save time I try to follow a few rules. But they’re really just guidelines, so feel free to adapt, change and test other techniques that might better suit your painting process. The most important thing to bear in mind is to take your time. This is the best


Mélanie Delon LOCATION: France Mélanie is a freelance illustrator who specialises in fantasy subjects. She spends her time working for different publishing houses and developing her own personal works.


Preparatory sketch

Before starting an illustration, I always do some quick pencil sketches to lay down my ideas. This helps me to see more clearly what I want to do and express, and be more confident about the direction I want to take. I use these sketches to build the composition, reworking them slightly in Photoshop if necessary. Usually I like to keep them rough, because this gives me more freedom during the colouring process. I feel restricted by perfectly clean line-art.

advice I can give, because nothing good comes from rushing a painting. It’s worth spending time and effort trying to understand how a face ‘works’, such as under a particular lighting setup. Such a skill won’t be grasped overnight. Spend time experimenting with several techniques, and don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve learned – and still learn – a lot more when I struggle on a painting, and when I’m stuck (on a mouth or nose, for

example), I don’t hesitate to redo everything… and have a coffee break! The main challenge in a portrait painting is to make the character stand out. Usually there’s no surrounding decor in the environment to help you achieve this goal, and a finished, polished portrait can often end up looking flat and boring. Thankfully, there are several simple and effective ways to achieve a striking portrait that will be remembered.



Proportions of the head and face

It’s important to be aware of the proportions of a human face. Of course, they’re only guides – everyone has a different face shape that doesn’t necessarily meet the beauty standard – but it’s essential to know these rules, if you’re going to play by them and break them. I recommend practising with facial proportions, until it almost becomes instinctual to apply them to a portrait piece. I always start with a basic oval and then slowly add the facial features, steadily building up the character’s face.

Slightly tilting the character’s head helps to add visual interest and life to an image


Ensure your colour scheme is harmonious

Usually the biggest mistake in a portrait painting is the skin’s colour: it’s never either beige or black. Skin comprises a multitude of colours, from pale blue around the eye, pink, to hints of yellow for the mouth’s corners. I start painting with very few colours, and progressively add more hues. I save my colour palette in a corner of the illustration so that they’re always on hand. To avoid a muddy look, I avoid using pure black or white. Instead, I increase the saturation to the colour I using for the shadows.

a dynamic composition 4 Develop The composition and placement of the character in the illustration is essential for introducing dynamism to the painting. I always try to imply a slight torso movement, which avoids a straight and boring posture. Placing the character’s face in the centre is a classic approach and works well, but I also like to nudge the character towards a corner of the image to add a little originality, and free up space in the scene. I find that slightly tilting the character’s head helps to add visual interest and life to an image.



Working the background


The background can also help give more impact to the portrait. I don’t like to overload it with details, preferring instead to leave it relatively plain to avoid any unnecessary visual distractions. I usually add subtle texture and a gradient to avoid a flat, lifeless look. Another alternative is to add blurred elements, such as a forest or a building, to give the character context and hint at their story.

Keep some brushstrokes Skin is never perfect, and sometimes seamless blending can ruin a skin’s texture. I never blend and smooth my brushstrokes, because I like to maintain colour variations in the face, along with some texture. Tiny scribbles help to introduce extra texture.

Introduce realistic details

Small details such as veins or beauty dots won’t be immediately apparent, but will give the last touches of texture and realism to portraits. These can also tell a story: for example, exposed veins can be useful for depicting a vampire or a person who’s ill. I generally use the same brush to create these details: a very fine brush that allows for precise work. I slightly blur the brushstrokes’ extremities, to unify and soften the details.

An outlandish hair style helps to elevate my character’s importance.

Gold war paint on the face helps to illuminate my character’s dark skin.

Small details such as veins or beauty dots will give the last touches of texture and realism to portraits 7

Emphasise key facial elements

It’s easy to get lost in the details, even in an intimate portrait piece. To avoid this and save time I don’t detail the entire illustration, instead only working up the areas that I want to draw attention to. For a portrait the most obvious area are the eyes, but depending on the lighting and the story I want to tell I can add a second focal point, usually a key costume element.




Eye contact

Even in the busiest of compositions, a face will always catch the viewer’s attention. And to make the face even more powerful and striking, ensuring strong eye contact remains the most effective trick. The viewer is instantly connected with the character. It’s an effect that I use a lot in my portraits… perhaps a little too much! But I also love to play with more subtle glances, which are less direct and help to develop a sense of mystery, raising questions in the viewer’s mind.

Source your references

appealing lips 9 Paint Lips are an important facial feature. They draw attention as much as the eyes do, and help the character to express emotion. To get them right it’s just a matter of texture. Lips aren’t a flat, plain element: I paint the little wrinkles with a very thin brush, which gives them texture and a lot of volume. Indeed, volume is the key to bring life to the lips, so I always add some intense dots of light to make them more realistic and attract even more attention.

References are important. You can always do some internet searches but the most simple and obvious approach is to use yourself! I always keep a small mirror next to my computer when I need to quickly check some expression or feature. You can also ask your friends or family to pose for a portrait.

HOW TO BRING LIFE TO THE EYES The key to achieving a striking portrait lies in the eyes. Here are three steps to easily paint them


Capture the eye’s shape

First I quickly sketch the shape of the eye. It’s essentially an oval, but you can play a bit with it because nobody has the same eye shape. I quickly sketch my lines so I know where to add the light and the shadows. It’s all about curves because the eyeball is round, and the eyelids must reflect this shape.


Develop light and volume

Once I’m happy with the shape of the character’s eye, I can start to apply the colour base, along with some volume and light. The upper eyelid will catch a lot of the light and will give volume to the eye. Here I decide to use a pale mauve for her make-up, which will work pretty well with the blue of her eye.


Introduce a sparkle of life

I further define the eye and add shadow under the upper eyelid to enhance the sense of volume. The final touch is the eyeball’s bright dot of light which is essential: it’s the sparkle of life in any kind of portrait painting. After that I can add more details such as eyelashes, to increase the sense of realism.



the profile approach 10 Take Developing a character’s profile is tricky because there’s no eye contact to play with and only half of the face to show. I use light and contrast to compensate for the lack of interaction with the character, and enhance the costume design to hold the viewer’s attention. Here, the figure’s hair does almost everything: it defines her head shape and contrasts well with the bright, empty background.

Adding vibrant colours to details like the orange feathers will balance out a pale colour scheme.

eyes 11 Captivating The eyes are usually the main part of a portrait, and are my favourite element. They can look sad, sparkling, mysterious or dangerous… and done well, can bring any character to life. I like to give them a lot of intensity with unusual colours such as purple or yellow. The trick to make them really stand out is to play with the light and saturation. I use a precise brush to create some colours variations in the eye and finish it a bright dot of light that will give volume to the eyeball.

A clean outline helps to make a character stand out, especially when the background is very bright.


It’s the brush I use for almost everything, and especially skin. I like the soft texture it brings to any element and it’s perfect for skin. It’s not too soft or too textured, so I don’t have a lot of blending work to do. PRECISE

This is a basic Round brush with Shape Dynamics turned on and Minimum Diameter set to zero per cent. It’s ideal for painting tiny details such as wrinkles or eyelashes to a portrait. DOTTED

Eyes can look sad, sparkling, mysterious or dangerous… and done well, can bring any character to life 106

This dotted brush is useful for adding extra texture like skin pores. I often use the Blur tool to blend the results, giving a soft and natural look

12 Storytelling A portrait leaves very little space to tell a story, so the general style of the character is important and can give a lot of indications and information about their life. I try to pay special care to their clothing, even if the viewer can only see a small part of it. I also spend time on their hair and details like a crown, to give the maximum amount of visual information. Their story can also be told by elements on the skin, like a tattoo, a scar or tribal markings.


lighting 13 Good The light is crucial in a portrait. If you get this right, it adds to

The shiny golden headdress breaks up the huge amount of shadows on the top part of the composition.

the atmosphere of the piece, and brings life and volume to the face. I always start a portrait with neutral mid-tones and gradually add shadows and light. I love to accentuate the light in a chiaroscuro style; I think it brings a classic feeling to my fantasy theme. However, I keep my shadows very soft, and my gradients are usually very smoothed, because the face is made of curves and not sharp angles.

Adding some of the background colour to the character helps to better integrate the foreground and the background.

texture 14 Skin The skin is obviously an important element in a portrait painting, and a common mistake is to make it look flawless. It’s relatively simple to paint clean, soft-looking skin, but if you’re not careful your character will end up looking like a plastic doll instead of a person, and besides, nobody has perfect skin. To avoid this, I start with a textured base and use a Soft brush with a little grain texture to recreate the skin’s irregularities. I also add some dots of light to create pores, particularly on the character’s nose and around the eyes.

To increase the contrast, I often leave some parts of my characters in the shadows.

with contrast 15 Play Another trick that works very well is to add contrast to the composition. I achieve this by adjusting the lighting, playing with complementary colours, or using warm and cold hues. The trick is to separate the character from the background. My favourite approach is to use a very dark background and an unusual light source to illuminate the character. The light captures the viewer’s initial attention, who then moves on to my character portrait.



Photoshop & Traditional media

CAPTURE THE LOOK OF BLADE RUNNER Krzysztof Domaradzki journeys to Los Angeles 2019, and combines character art with the city’s neo-noir architecture from the iconic film he ImagineFX team got in touch with me to create the cover image for their film art issue. Their interest was piqued by my fan art piece for the video game The Last of Us, and the series of artworks I created for The Witcher 3 limited edition steelbooks. I was asked to paint a piece of art based on the 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner, by focusing on the character of Rachael and then incorporating futuristic architecture


Krzysztof Domaradzki LOCATION: Poland The graphic designer and artist works in various fields of visual communication. He specialises in illustration and likes making typography experiments.

from the film, just like I did with Ellie from Naughty Dog’s game. This workshop will take you through my creative process. I anticipate this image will take me about four or five days to finish. I’ll start by explaining my approach to the concept stage, where one needs to focus on defining the idea for the artwork and the general composition. Later on I’ll explain how to find the right tone for the artwork by choosing the best reference photographs and colour scheme.

I’ll then reveal how the concept becomes a high-resolution illustration. This part will include tablet sketching, a lot of pen and pencil drawing and some intense colouring. The final stage will involve drawing tweaks, and adding final effects and enhancement layers. I encourage you to create the image at a large enough size so that you’re able to print it out for displaying as wall art. I imagine this sort of image looks best when it’s printed quite large.



Visualising the brief

I start with a super quick sketch on paper. I visualise only two ideas, because the brief from ImagineFX is quite specific. I’m asked to focus on the character of Rachael, but then think of ways to bring in the neo-noir environment of Los Angeles into the illustration, which is almost like another character in Ridley Scott’s film. I go with the first sketch, and decide to flip it horizontally.


Reference images

Searching online, I find a few portraits of Rachael, some shots of the iconic Tyrell building , the flying police car and the futuristic LA panorama. I try to keep sides of the image empty for now and I put Rachael in the middle. I make a selection of her and start to incorporate various photos onto her using Hard Light and Screen layer modes. I like how Tyrell building’s interior works with her hair and top part of the face, especially how the floor lines “cut” across her face, creating a sort of architectural sketch.



Strengthening the composition

I add the city panorama at the bottom of the image, which makes the composition ‘heavier’, while I like how the lights of the flying police car reflect on to Rachael. I cover up her chest by adding an exterior view of the Tyrell building: doing this makes the structure look as if it’s looming menacingly on the horizon.


Making final touches to the concept

I add smoke textures to the image using Screen and Soft Light layer modes on the edges of the image. I use the Gradient Tool and masks when necessary. This helps to make the composition more coherent, while at the same time placing the main focus on Rachael. Once I’m happy with how the concept looks I sketch on top of it to bring out the details, and then send it to the ImagineFX team for their comments and approval.

Consider the High Pass filter This works best with all sorts of detailed work such as drawings and/or photography where some of the elements need to be very sharp. In order to achieve extra a crisp look, duplicate the target layer and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. It’s best to use 0.3 to 0.4 Pixel Radius for smaller images that are roughly 1,200px high, and around 1.4 Pixel Radius for images as big as 5,000 to 6,000px. For best results, use with either a Soft Light or Overlay layer mode.


Implementing the revision requests


Printing and drawing

I lower the police car and move the portrait to the right. ImagineFX suggests I should add more city lights, so I find a good reference from a Blade Runner image. I distort the image’s perspective so than all the vertical lines are straight, and then modify it with neon lights. I apply blue and orange gradients to make the colours pop more, especially from the top.


Sketching over the concept


Applying the drawing layer

Once the concept is approved I add a plain white layer on top of the flat concept image at 40 to 50 per cent Opacity. I use a simple Round brush (2-3pt) to sketch each element of the image, focusing on the head while keeping the rest loose. I draw all the vertical and horizontal lines while holding Shift, which helps to tie together the image’s architectural structures.

w CMYK previe

) Cmd+Y (Mac Ctrl+Y (PC) to see Enables you en colours re sc e th w ho when would change de. in CMYK mo

I print the finished concept, which has some barely visible shadow tones on Rachael’s face. The whole image fits on to a single sheet of A4 paper. I draw most of the illustration using a black ballpoint pen. For the face I use a 0.5B graphite mechanical pencil. I spend a lot of time adding subtle lines and making the drawing as detailed as possible.

I scan the finished drawing at 400dpi, then use Levels to enhance the whites, greys and blacks. I place the Grayscale drawing layer on to the concept and match it with my sketch. Using Select>Color Range I apply various Colorize Hues onto the drawing: red, yellow, blue and so on. I make the top background drawing lighter and change the layer mode to Multiply.



Adjusting the source material

I use the Gradient tool to lighten the dark areas, then select a soft Round brush (2-8pt) to colour the various areas that are created by the drawing layer. I draw at various Opacities (30 to 90 per cent), covering up the low-resolution look of my photo references where necessary. I hold down Alt to quickly select nearby colours to maintain the smooth, painterly look, all the while regularly referring back to my drawing layer.


the base colours 10 Enhancing Next I press Cmd+J to duplicate my colour layers and set them at an Opacity of 60 per cent. This makes my painted colours look more solid. I then shift the sketch layer to the top and turn it to Soft Light layer mode. I erase the sketch from the face using a layer mask. Having done this I duplicate all the layers and merge them yet again, before applying Filter>Oil Paint on to the merged layer at 0 Shine.

Adding effects to the colours

I use high-resolution textures to enrich the colour effects and Color Range to select areas that I want to enhance, before adding colour using the Gradient tool. I add a stars texture that fills the image and change it to Soft Light layer mode at 30 to 60 per cent Opacity. Finally, I duplicate and merge everything, then apply Filter> Noise>Add Noise (2.80) and reduce the Opacity to 70 per cent.

Step Backw ard Undo

Cmd+Alt+Z (M ac) Ctrl+Alt+Z (P C) Use when yo u want to go back a few ste p when using brushe s.

Futureproof your artworks

tweaks to the image 12 Further I create another layer above the colours and drawing, and use a Round brush (2-5pt, 90 to 100 per cent Opacity) to refine all the little details such as light reflections in Rachael’s eyes, strands of hair and her lips. I also fix any minor errors in the drawing by covering them up with colour. Then I add the visible rain drops by using Shift to create simple straight lines.

up 13 Finishing I select Rachael, invert the selection and lighten the background slightly. Then I increase the colour saturation so that the art will stand out on ImagineFX’s cover. Next I duplicate all the layers, merge them and apply the Oil Paint filter – just enough to tie everything together. I repeat the duplication, apply a High Pass filter at 1.4 pixel radius and set the layer mode to Overlay.

I often create my art at a much larger size than necessary, for two reasons. First, once scaled down to the proper size the image becomes super crisp and one can really see the details. Second, if you need to display your art then you’ll know it can be printed at a size that’s suitable for showing off in a gallery, for example.


DEVELOP A STRONG LIGHTING SCHEME Rudy Siswanto shows how intelligent lighting choices can help to turn a straightforward composition into a compelling book cover

Rudy Siswanto LOCATION: Indonesia Rudy is a passionate illustrator who loves animals. He works on fantasy card illustration and concept art, as well as character design.

aby Bestiary was a commission I had a lot of fun doing, especially because animals and creatures are my favourite subjects to paint. The client, Metal Wave Games, approached me with a simple brief: to create a mirror composition. I found it a challenge because I needed to make a simple composition look interesting. I usually begin a painting by adopting a workflow that’s used by many artists. I start by producing thumbnails to help me decide on the overall composition, then proceed to put together a basic colour rough, before eventually finalising the colours by rendering the scene. This approach enables me to focus on the


composition and the lighting, rather than focusing on developing my brush strokes on the canvas and steadily rendering the painting. Because of the simplicity of the composition, I needed to put a lot of expression into my characters. In particular, the focal point was my opportunity to ramp up the visual interest in the composition. I already had something in mind about the flow of the image. I wanted the audience to follow the beasts’ journey through life, starting from their infancy and all the way through their adulthood. This means I needed to treat the lighting in this painting in a very specific way, in order to tell the story behind the image.

Enhance the focal point I find the real challenge is to simplify a complicated image that contains a lot of elements. That’s why I increase the contrast in the main focal area, both in value and in the silhouette. I also make the lighting come from behind the beasts’ infancy phase, to create a stronger silhouette. I also want to direct the audience to explore the owl bear’s face by illuminating its face with a strong lighting.



How I create…



I used this brush to render the feathers on the owl bear and griffin, especially their wings. RENDER BRUSH 1

I used this brush for detailing and refining the overall images. RENDER BRUSH 2

I used this for the initial shapes when rendering to block big shapes and rough colours.



Initial sketch

I wanted to incorporate three different life phases of the owl bear and the griffin. So I started simply by observing animals that live near me. I learned that animals tend to play with each other during their infancy. During their adolescence the playing turns to fighting – and it happens all the time! They tend to be calmer when they’re fully grown adults.


Colour rough

During the early stage of making a colour rough, a common approach is to focus on the middle of the composition: in this case, the two fantasy beasts’ teenage years. But this made the composition uncomfortable to read. So I changed the main focus to the lower part of the image, where the beasts are still in their infancy. This suits the book’s theme, which is about nurturing baby beasts.


Final stages

I want to keep the values intact. So rather than using a frontal lighting scheme, I use lighting that originates from behind the beasts. This enables me to define the silhouette of both beasts clearly. I want the viewer to be able to read what’s happening in this cover very clearly, so that when this book is displayed in the bookstores the silhouettes of the playing baby beasts are obvious.

STRONG LIGHTING IMAGINE FX ANNUAL The flow of the image I want to emphasise the focal area in the bottom part of the cover, where the infant beasts sit. So I make the visual flow resemble an arrow pointing downwards. I also utilise the beasts’ body parts, such as beaks and claws, making them point downwards as well. By doing this, I make the flow of the entire image leading down towards to the bottom of the book cover. I hope the audience will get the message that I intend to send.

Lighting up the griffin I use an additional light source from the front, to light the expression of the baby griffin. I use this to help the viewer explore this area more. Sometimes we’re allowed to ignore realism a little, so our painting can deliver the message we want to send.

Exaggerate the expression Expression is important for me. Here I try to exaggerate the faces of the beasts. I want to make their faces adorable and cute, based on general references. The main focus of their face will be on the eyes.



Traditional skills, SketchUp & Photoshop


From sketch to finish, see how three artists at Foundation Art Group work together to draw, design and light a Final Fantasy-inspired airship oin us and dive deep into the individual mindsets of three artists and designers, as we take you behind the scenes at how we work here at the Foundation Art Group (www. In this special workshop, we’ll show you how three people collaborate to draw, design and paint a Final Fantasy-inspired airship. The most important factor that we want you to keep in mind while reading or watching this workshop is that a strong foundation is key. Although we’re using standard art software



here, all our creative decisions reflect our group’s primary focus: education. Many artists rush to learn the latest software tricks, or try to emulate trending painting techniques, while too few spend their time developing their core design and drawing skills. That’s why we’ve focused this workshop on using basic tools and software: pen and paper, SketchUp and Photoshop. The techniques used when working in the software are also very limited. And our collaborative approach is meant to give you a taster of how artists work in a pipeline, at industry level.

In SketchUp, we’ll be bashing together parts of models found throughout their 3D Warehouse (see step 6). It won’t require a lot of 3D techniques to do so – just a familiarity with the program. Meanwhile, in Photoshop, we’ll utilise basic Adjustment layers, as well as photos for textural detail. However, the fundamental of this workshop all began with the sketches of the flying ship. We want to show you how some rough marks on paper can result in a strong design that’s ready to be passed up the pipeline. Okay, here we go!


PART 1 JOHN PARK: RAPID IDEA DEVELOPMENT John Park LOCATION: US John is both a concept artist working in the film and video game industry, and a teacher and co-founder of Brainstorm School in Burbank, California.


Generate plenty of rough sketches

After gathering reference and doing your research, it’s time to begin sketching out some loose forms and ideas. It’s best to do these in a flat profile view, since we’ll be filling them in with black shortly. Go totally wild! The more you explore here, the more you’ll have to choose from during subsequent phases.

Layer Mask

Alt+Shift+Cmd +K (Mac) Alt+Shift+Ctrl +K (PC) (custom shor tcut) Applies a ma sk to a layer and inverts it, enabling you to paint white to reveal areas.


Identifying a strong silhouette

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to get out your brush pen or black markers, and fill in your shapes. Don’t restrict yourself to the lines that you previously laid in – instead, think in terms of both positive and negative shapes. Giving your fantasy airship a unique form and visual language will also unify the design and help sell the idea to your art director or prospective client.

Why work traditionally?


Lay in your markers

Now I select a few of the silhouettes to explore. With a 30 per cent grey marker, I lay in a three-quarter perspective view version of my ship. This will help me visualise my forms and loosely sketch on top to reveal the designs that I have in my head. This is a technique that’s used by professionals, and helps to quickly generate variations and new ideas.


Refine your lines

Here we have three sketches all in difference phases. The middle design is in the original markers, while the top one has been loosely sketched on top of, and the bottom is been refined a little more. Consider blowing up the sketch, reducing the opacity and further refining your drawing, because this will help save time later on down the line.

When in doubt, sketch it out! One thing that traditional media allows for is rapid, loose exploration. There are times when we become too precious while using software because we’re afraid to destroy our image. With traditional sketching, we know that the sketch isn’t going to be the final result, so this enables us to loosen up and explore some really cool ideas in the process.


PART 2 DANIEL PARK: TAKING THE IDEA INTO 3D Daniel Park LOCATION: US In 2006 Daniel graduated from ArtCenter College of Design, and is now a visual artist busy working in the industrial design, entertainment and architectural sectors.


Working in SketchUp

The second part of this workshop will be to take the approved idea and bash together a rough model using Google’s SketchUp ( 3D is a daunting tool for some artists, but SketchUp really helps to bridge the gap for beginners. There is a free version of the program, and learning how to navigate and rough in geometry is a userfriendly experience.


Visit the Warehouse!

One of SketchUp’s main advantages is being able to use the Warehouse. This resource is filled with designs that have been uploaded by SketchUp users for sharing with the community. At this stage in the process, it’s a great time to look around, find a couple of rough models to get you started, and begin to break things apart so you can use them for kit-bashing.

Grasp the basics today!


Kit-bash individual assets


Save out multiple passes of the model

As you can see, utilising the contents of the SketchUp Warehouse can give you a great head start on designing a fantasy vehicle. I’m only using parts and pieces of models here, and I’m still staying true to the original design. Most of the hard work was done earlier when we laid out our sketch – now I’m finding pieces in the Warehouse to bring that idea to life.


Finalising the rough 3D model

Here’s an almost complete version of the model that we’ve been building. You can tell that I’ve utilised pieces from the Warehouse throughout the model: there are turbines, boats, drills, and so on. At this phase, I’m also unconcerned by the texture information provided from the pieces because – just as with real-life kit-bashing – we’ll be painting it grey very shortly…

Some art beginners try to bypass this lesson, but always to their cost! So perhaps they’ll listen if we don’t put it in art terms. So, just like with learning any new language, you first need to know the letters in the alphabet, in order to put them together to create words, in order to put together to create sentences, and so on. You can attempt to write the most intricate novel out there, but without knowing the alphabet it may become a challenge.

Now it’s time to save out the model for further refinement. I save out a line pass, a shadow pass and a general 3D model pass of the ship. These three passes alone will be able to give us a very nice head-start when it comes to finalising the design in Photoshop.


AIRSHIP DESIGN IMAGINE FX ANNUAL se Create/Relea k as M ng Clippi

ac) Cmd+Alt+ G (M C) Ctrl+Alt+G (P nt layer to Bind the curre rneath the layer unde as a mask.

everything together 10 Composite With a white layer on bottom, I take all three passes and align them perfectly in Photoshop. Then I set each layer mode to Multiply to reveal the layer underneath. I would also encourage creating a mask by selecting the area around the outline, inverting the selection, and filling it with black on a new layer.

PART 3 MATTHEW ZIKRY: LIGHTING AND TEXTURES Matthew Zikry LOCATION: US Matthew is a concept designer in the entertainment industry, who’s working on film, video game and theme-park designs in Los Angeles.


Lay in the shadows

It’s time to refine a shadow pass of the model. Here, I fill in the mask with a 25 per cent grey value. On top of that layer, I create a Levels layer and clip that into my mask layer. I can then drop the white point until we get a dark version of the ship. Now I mask that layer and paint white to reveal the airship’s shadows.

a range of textures 12 Overlay With my shadows now in place based off my general lighting direction, I find multiple photos of various textures that I’d like to add to my design. I next utilise Overlay layers at this point in the project, and crush the black and white points of my textures so that the shadows underneath are left intact.


Very useful for blending textures and creating soft shadows while painting on adjustment layers. TEXTURE BRUSH

Refine the textures

13 At this stage I have a good idea of how my textures are beginning to read on the ship. Now I make use of additional photo textures on Normal layers, while adjusting Levels and Curves to match the layers underneath. The benefit of working in greyscale is that it enables me to focus purely on values, and not complicate the process with colour.

in the finishing touches 14 Putting A few final touch-ups and we’re done! I brighten up the top sail, as well as some of the railings on the ship. I also darken some shadow areas on the boat itself, to further reinforce the lighting scheme. With all textures, materials and shadow information in place, the airship is ready to be passed on to the next phase of the production pipeline. Thanks for joining us!

A great brush to help break up forms and add texture variation without having to use a photo. SILHOUETTE BRUSH

Create a solid shape with no transparent opacity, enabling you to lock the layer and paint within it.


Dragon details Here I pay more attention to the design and form of my dragon. All the small scales and horns need to be painted over correctly – and all following the lighting scheme.


CREATING A DRAGON KNIGHT Dongjun Lu COUNTRY: Singapore Dongjun is a full-time concept artist working in the film and video game industries, on titles that include Toukiden, Romance of Three Kingdoms, Uncharted Water V and Ninja Gaiden 3. He also has five years of art teaching experience.


Dongjun Lu uses his film concept art experience to paint a classic fantasy scene that’s heavy on realism and details his is a personal piece, which I completed in under three days. Before this I was busy creating concept art for a film. This assignment had lasted a number of months, and before moving on to my next project I was keen to paint an image that was the opposite of my concept art. I wanted it to be realistic and heavily detailed, and decided to portray the


classic fantasy elements of a knight and dragon. However, I still had to draw on my film concept art experience to achieve my goal. Because I was short of time, I used textures to help speed up the painting process. The origins of this piece came from the sandy building image that I eventually used in the background. It gave me the idea of painting a knight in the desert.

At first I toyed with the idea of depicting a knight on a horse, but then I wondered if it might look a little odd, seeing a horse in such a dry, hostile environment. So I changed my mind and settled instead on a dragon with black scales, so that it contrasted nicely with the sandy desert. Once I was happy with my initial idea, I started to sketch out the scene.


Refining the building I need to adjust the building, which is in the background, to match the lighting scheme. I add more shadow to the side and adjust the direction of light that’s hitting it. I also reduce the details, because they’re in the background and are unnecessary.

Rendering the armour I use some armour texture to help with the forms. Then I paint over it and render highlights and shadows, along with some more interesting designs.

Painting the rocks Here I knock back the details on the foreground rocks by painting over them. This was because I needed to emphasise the lighting and colours on the rocks.

How I developed…




Composition and perspective

This is the first step and also the most important. I use three-point perspectives to help me find a simple composition. The curves of the dragon’s body, lighting and shadows help to create visual flow through to the left corner of the image.


Taking inspiration for the design

The second step is the most difficult one. After making a simple silhouette based on step one, I use textures as inspiration to help me develop the details in the scene. They’re a shortcut inasmuch as they help me visualise the final, painted surface.

Adjustment and rendering This is the final step. After developing enough details in my designs, I slightly adjust the composition and the pose. During this stage I also increase the detailing in the focal point, and reduce distracting details elsewhere, to increase the impact of my painting.

I used two brushes in the image. My texture brush is for sketching and metal rendering, while the other brush is for smoothing and reducing details.



USING BRUSHES IN REBELLE Martin Hanschild introduces Rebelle, the natural media painting program, and looks at more of the software’s painting tools Artist


Martin Hanschild LOCATION: Czech Republic Martin is a 2D and 3D character designer who works in Prague for motion art house Eallin.

he Watercolor tool is probably the best tool in Rebelle’s toolkit - it’s also the most commonly utilised as well. However, there’s more to Rebelle than Watercolor there are many other painting tools in Rebelle that are well worth taking the time to explore. They can be divided into two basic groups: wet media brushes (including Acrylic, Ink Pen and


You can change brush textures

Watercolor); and Dry media brushes, such as Pencil, Marker, Pastel and Airbrush. There’s the Eraser too, which is dry by default but has some special features, as you’ll see. The parameters for all of Rebelle’s tools are set to predefined values to start with, and they work fine ‘out of the box’. But you can tweak them according to your preferences. You can always reset them to the defaults. Remember that the results depend

on how you use all of Rebelle’s other features, such as Canvas Wetness, brush textures and so on. Here I’ll introduce these remaining painting tools, point out their specific attributes and behaviours, and demonstrate the range of effects you can achieve with them on the canvas. Rather than a step-by-step tutorial, I want to give you some tips and advice to help you better understand Rebelle’s painting tools.

Brush strokes with a high Loading value totally cover the canvas texture.

Dry Media



Wet Media




Here you can reset the properties of the selected tool to its default.

Ink Pen

Brush stroke preview.


Comparing painting tools

All tools have a Pressure parameter for controlling a brush’s pressure sensitivity, and a Size setting to control the size of your brush stroke. The maximum size is always 100, but the actual size is different for each tool. Dry media tools don’t have a Water parameter, and Pencil and Pastel will dry a wet canvas. You won’t find an Opacity setting, as in other painting programs, but there’s a Loading parameter that controls the amount of colour loaded on your brush.


If you want to bring back some of the canvas’ texture, start painting on a new layer.


You can change brush textures to achieve different impasto effects.

Working with the Acrylic tool

You’ll find the same properties for the Acrylic brush as for Watercolor, but of course it works in a different way. Colour spread is reduced, and it occurs more slowly on the canvas. If you increase the Loading and Pressure values you’ll have a thicker brush with a lot of mass, producing an impasto effect, which totally covers the canvas texture. For better colour blending, especially with a high Loading setting (close to 100), switch to Dirty mode.


Combine the Ink Pen with the Watercolor tool.

Combine tools Rather than using tools as standalone steps in your painting process, why not experiment by combining them for more interesting results? For example, I love to put together watercolour strokes with thin, sharp and sketchy lines drawn with the Pencil, and the fuzzy lines of the Ink Pen.

Use the Wet tool to diffuse Ink Pen lines.


You can achieve this look by using the Wet tool on your drawing.

Using the Pen and Pencil tools on a wet canvas

The Pencil tool doesn’t have a Water parameter, but you can use the Wet tool to dampen your artwork and produce an effect close to watercolour pencils. The Pencil also dries a wet surface and can stop or slow down the spreading of colours through the canvas, which can be used in a creative way. The Pen simulates drawing with ink pen, and it dries faster than the Watercolor brush, even if you draw on a wet surface.

With the Pastel tool, using lower Pressure values will bring out the paper texture. I typically use values between 15 and 40.

The Eraser is not only for removing mistakes. In this quick sketch I rendered the light with the Eraser

Choose different paper to change the look of the Pastel tool.

If you reduce the values of Pressure and Softness, then the Eraser will lightly scratch the painting



Quickly fill up the canvas with the Airbrush

For one reason or another, I never used to work with the Airbrush, but I’ve subsequently realised that it has its uses. This brush has the biggest size compared to the others, so it’s great for quickly filling big surfaces. And if you don’t like its basic texture, use your own to create interesting structures.

The Eraser isn’t just for handling errors

The Eraser has some specific settings of its own. A lower Softness value leaves the paper texture more visible, while a higher value leaves erased parts cleaner. By default, the Eraser completely dries the erased area, but if you turn on ‘Keep wet’ then the tool cleans colours, the erased area retains its wetness and colour continues to flow.




PAINT ICONIC GHOST IN THE SHELL ART Guweiz creates promotional art that explores the theme of identity in the iconic anime film universe



s a devoted fan of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, especially of its more introspective, psychological side, I jumped at the chance to illustrate a promotional piece for Paramount’s new film. The theme given to me was ‘Identity’. The story is set in the future where humans can opt to have entirely synthetic bodies. However, when one physically becomes an A.I., does it mean that he/she also ceases to be human, or have a soul? Major Motoko Kusanagi is the female lead that often personifies


this question, having both depth of character, yet also the ability to become emotionless and inhuman in the line of duty. I felt that a clear composition would be an effective tool to set the mood from the get-go. This explains my choice to present the physical juxtaposition between her two contrasting character traits. In this workshop I’ll explain how I turn a rough line composition into a structurally accurate value sketch, and then into the final painting, while trying my best to maintain the initial mood and feeling that I had for the piece.



Guweiz LOCATION: Singapore Guweiz is a freelance illustrator who likes cool, kickass female characters and just feels happy when he gets to draw.




Introduce visual interest I use a glitch effect to help bring the focus to the characters faces and add visual interest. By breaking up straighter silhouettes slightly, it gives the viewer’s eyes a reason to pause occasionally, but retains the large shapes and readability. Leaving the focal areas largely untouched helps elevates their importance.

Create suit patterns Specular highlights can help convey a shiny, synthetic surface, but I find it’s sometimes better to take a clearer, more direct approach, such as adding and wrapping a suitable texture around the material. Airbrushing in Layer Mask mode ensures the texture follows the suit’s surface.

Strengthening the story While developing the image, significant changes may be needed to present a clearer message. In this case, the client requested a clearer differentiation between the two personas. A quick overpaint with a Soft Pressure tip and the Lasso tool revealed that having a tech-suit for the left persona served that purpose perfectly.


Depicting strands of hair After studying many photo references of hair, I’ve noticed that the thinnest hair strands usually capture and reflect a slight flare in front of bright lighting. It’s also a neat way to show the viewers the highest “resolution” of detail by having a prominent, fine element presented near to the focal point(s).

Make use of perspective boxes It’s sometimes easy to forget or lose small degrees of rotation and contours, especially in the early stages of rendering where the lighting setup isn’t fully established. These boxes helps remind me of the facing and orientation of important forms in the composition.

A mix of rain drops A mix of brush-generated and hand-painted raindrops helps push the atmospheric effect in the scene. Any suitable particle brush with Motion Blur, along with transform tools for perspective, creates the regular layer. Two or three of these coupled with a hand-painted rain layer finishes the job.


How I visualise…


Gives a thinner stroke on low pressure, and is ideal for airbrushes when set on high pressure. FIXED SIZE ROUND


Build the scene

At this stage, I focus on finding the best set of elements to fill my canvas with. I preserve my energy by focusing on the rough layout, ensuring that there’s sufficient detail for both myself and the client to understand.


Find the structures

It’s key to define structures in the painting accurately, while keeping in mind the ambience and lighting setup. Without strong directional lighting, the positioning of highlights and halftones become indicators of form.

Colour over values I want the colors to take a back seat, in order to sell the greygreen ambience. It’s a balancing act to define local colors sufficiently without overtly and unintentionally highlighting a particular area in the piece.

General painting brush that helps avoid unintentional thickness variations common with the default Round brush. VARIED PARTICLES

Produces particles varied in value, size, sharpness and opacity. Use it with blend modes for more control.


Black Ink

CREATE A SCENE IN BLACK INK Ayan Nag breaks down his process of concepting and composing a dramatic environment in this novel GPU-based painting program Artist


Ayan Nag LOCATION: India Freelance concept artist and illustrator Ayan loves travelling, plein air painting, dancing, playing cards and learning new things!

irst of all, if you’ve never used Black Ink before, it’s a relatively simple program to use, so you should soon be up and running. My approach to art is straightforward and my techniques can be easily introduced into your own workflow. I’ll be explaining them in detail over the course of this workshop. I generally start a project by first choosing the canvas size and dividing it


in four equal spaces. I’ll then sketch rough thumbnails into these spaces, helping me to explore the possibilities of my initial idea while keeping all the concepts in one place. Then I pick a sketch that appeals to me the most, and start to develop a colour palette that fits it. You can do this using a reference image, such as a photograph, a particular painting that you like, and so on. Just try not to pick colours directly from them. From here on out I’ll start

painting while making small changes that help to improve the image. I’ll be using Black Ink’s default brushes, although you can create your own custom brushes. So everything you need will be in the software when you install it (download it from the official website at So without any further ado, let’s get started. I hope you have fun and learn something useful from my painting process with Black Ink.

Check values regularly If you have a strong value statement in your painting then everything will work out well. You can create a black layer on top and set the mode to Color. Turning this layer on and off will toggle the colour to greyscale and make it easier to check if everything you want people to notice can be seen properly or not.


Coming up with thumbnails

This is the most important stage. It’ll help you build the foundation of your painting, and gives you the chance to explore your idea and see how it can be improved. I divide the space into four equal parts and start sketching rough ideas. I then pick one sketch to develop further.


Put down the underpainting

The underpainting is the stage where you fill out the canvas with a single colour or gradient as a base for your painting. It’s a standard method in traditional paintings. For this step, I create a layer below the sketch and fill it with a colour. Use a complementary colour (or a variation) of your main colour scheme to get started.




Blocking out the main shapes

I start painting colours on top of the underpainting and block out the primary shapes in the painting. Working carefully, I let some of the orange show up through the strokes. This will help me to quickly develop some interesting colours and make the points of interest stand out.


Introduce light to the scene


Controlling the saturation

Next, I identify the main light source and paint it with a lighter version of the existing colour. You can also complete this step by placing a Color Dodge layer on top and painting into it. I then add a hint of light from the sky using a grey colour. This acts as the secondary light source.

Eliminate errors quickly Regularly flip your canvas so that you see your work-in-progress in a new light. Doing this will also ensure that minor mistakes stand out, enabling you to correct them easily. You can even keep a duplicate window floating, where the image remains flipped. This enables you to keep track of both aspects of the composition.



Getting rid of the sketch

After painting and further defining the shapes I erase most of the sketch. Now I have a rough painting that’s free of any line art, which means I’m free to change objects and shapes around, to enhance the image. I recommend keeping the main objects on separate layers, because this will come in handy later on.

Bringing in new objects

After spending time tinkering with the painting, I start adding new objects to help enhance the scene. I refer back to my thumbnail stage for ideas, and keep going back and forth to discover what works best for this composition.

Using saturated colours doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce a colourful image. Most often than not, using saturated colours everywhere will ruin a picture. So I carefully get rid of the extra saturation I had in place. I create a new Color blending layer on top and paint any affected areas with grey.



Refining shapes, adding new ones


Defining the focal points

I then move on to refining the existing shapes and adding new structures, all the while thinking about the composition and how I can enhance it. I also lay down some more suggestive brushstrokes here and there, and just keep on painting.

Now I darken the surrounding areas of the focal points and points of interest. I also add some glow around the lit areas by painting on a new Color Dodge layer. These tweaks will keep the viewer’s eye on the mark and thus give the painting greater visual impact.

the depth of the composition 10 Enhancing Emulating depth is an important part of creating a believable environment. The general rule of thumb is that the further away the objects are, the lighter and desaturated they become. Bearing that in mind, I create some fog to convey depth and keep on adding details. I also give the character an energy ball, just for fun!

Start simply


Get the most from Color Dodge

I use a lot of Color Dodge and other blending modes in my general workflow. Here I create a new Color Dodge layer and paint into it with bright colours and a Soft brush to indicate bounce light and refracted light. I’m now in the closing stages of this illustration.

touches 12 Final I play with the value of the image and refine it that so the content reads better. I also carry out some colour adjustments and refine the brush strokes by sharpening them. To finish off the image I place minor noise on top of everything. This gives the image a more natural feel.

Don’t get lost in detailing an object too soon into the painting process. Start your image by using a big brush. Try to accomplish everything with fewer strokes of the brush. Make it simple and straightforward. You can always add details later on – or not, as the case may be.


BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO USING BLACK INK Ayan Nag passes on a few key tips to help you get going with Black Ink and shows how you can adapt its features to your established workflow 1

Adjusting the Canvas size

It’s important to establish your document sizes before you start working on your project. You can find the relevant option to do this by clicking Image>Resize. Once you open the panel, you can change the document dimension and resolution. You can also alter the dimensions to make your starting image landscape or portrait format.


Brush panel

Press the small downwards arrow to extend the panel. This will give you access to all of the available brushes. There’s also a panel just on top of the Brush panel where you can store your favourite brushes for easy access. I mostly use the default Charcoal Dual Texture brush. It’s a great brush to paint – indeed, it’s often the only brush I use to complete a painting.


Explore the Toolbar

The toolbar lies just below the menus on top. Within it are a good selection of tools including Undo/ Redo, Navigation, Flip canvas, Crop, Lasso, Fill and so on. Be sure to try them out.


your brushes within the control Editor 4 alter The Control Editor enables you to modify almost all aspects of your brushes. From controlling the Opacity to dictating how they handle colour and textures, everything can be modified through here. You can open the window by pressing C or from within the Windows menu. The Editor can look overwhelming at first, but don’t be afraid to try it out and see what does what. You’ll soon get used to how it works.

colours in the color Box 5 manage On the left side of the Color box you can store up certain colours that you often use. By pressing the Solid Color bar, you can access handy options such as Image-based color, Gradient color and Auto color-picking. Select this latter option and you can use the colour you’re painting on top of, without having to select the colour first.


and Layer modes 6 Layer I use layers to keep the fore-, mid-, background and standalone objects separate, helping to create depth and manage aspects like colour and positioning. You can only have up to eight layers, so plan accordingly!

get more from the eraser tool

Here’s a technique that will make your Eraser much more powerful. Try holding down E while erasing. This will turn the Eraser pointer red and you can use the current brush you’re painting with as an eraser. On releasing E you can go back to the Brush tool and keep on painting. In addition, using a custom eraser will produce better results and create interesting shapes to work with.

‘u’ for a secondary View 8 press A secondary view helps you keep track of your painting’s overall progress, and highlights mistakes, too. So it’s important that you keep a smaller preview open. You can also flip the image within the secondary view pane. It doesn’t change the main window view, saving you the trouble of flipping your work-inprogress image.



126. FXPosĂŠ Traditional Showcasing a selection of the finest traditional fantasy artists

142. Get inspired by Del Toro Create an atmospheric mixed media painting inspired by Guillermo del Toro

148. Getting started with oils Boost your knowledge of oils with this brief introduction to the medium

152. Mix story elements on a book cover John Howe explains how he composed a book jacket illustration for Robin Hobb

154. Pencil and watercolour art How to bring an image to life with watercolour washes and pencils









Abhishek Singh LOCATION: India WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Acrylics, gouache

Born in Gwalior, India. Abhishek’s childhood was enriched by the vivid stories of India’s ancient myths and folk tales. He recently painted plein air at the Varanasi ghats next to the River Ganges (the riverside steps used for bathing and ceremonies). “With all the frenzy and conversations, the sadhus and people interacting with the painting,” he says “it turned into a very special experience.”

IMAGINEFX CRIT “Abhishek’s use of colour is the standout aspect in his compositions, followed by the strong character designs and a real sense of movement. It feels as if these images are just moments from coming to life.” Daniel Vincent, Art Editor


GANGA AVTARAM: THE DESCENT OF THE RIVER GANGES Acrylics/gouache on canvas, 6x5ft “The story of the Ganges: how a river of light came down after a penance by a prince, taking the place of his father who couldn’t complete the task. The story represents breaking psychological barriers and letting the new self be born. I left the background white to make your eye move to the corners, expanding the scale of the experience.”


ANAHATA NADA: THE UNHEARD SOUND Acrylics/gouache on paper, 6x4ft “Sing to the barren sky, like rain does to a famished tree, be the sound that lives between the murmur of leaves and chirping of birds, become the song which dwells in the silence of listening and in braving the storms. I wanted to show the gods without any weapons, and have them pay an ode to nature.”








Charlie Dixon


LOCATION: England MEDIA: Pen, pencil WEB:

Charlie tells us he’s inspired by “nature, the macabre and the unusual,” and strives for atmosphere and realism in his detailed art.



LYCANTHROPE “This personal piece reimagines an age-old myth and explores the classic themes of transformation, decay and death.”


SHAMAN “This piece started out as a textural experiment, but then gradually evolved into something more. I’m happy with how it turned out.”


OVERGROWTH “I was keen to combine texture, form and intricate rendering in a single piece, using graphite.”


THE ENCOUNTER “An exercise in exploring textures and forms alongside narrative storytelling.”


Karolina Larienne Heikura LOCATION: Poland WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Markers, watercolours

Karolina, a freelance illustrator and concept artist, sounds like our kind of girl: “While I work, I always have to keep a cup of tea around,” she tells us, clearly knowing about the ImagineFX team’s love for tea. Bringing people’s concepts to life and being able to establish a link between her work and the audience is the most satisfying part of her job: “What I love most is telling stories with my art, either via symbolism or using composition.” Her main sources of inspiration lie in the world of Disney, fantasy, conceptual art, elves and the universe.

IMAGINEFX CRIT “While the art style takes its influence from manga, it’s great to see Karolina tackling the subject with traditional media, which adds a visual texture that’s so often missing from its digital equivalent.” Daniel Vincent, Art Editor


HEART OF GOLD Markers and watercolours on paper, 210x297mm “In this illustration I wanted to portray the idea that sometimes we’re kind towards people who don’t deserve it, and sometimes there are people who care for us whom we don’t notice.”


NOBLE MAIDEN FAIR Markers and watercolours on paper, 210x297mm “I created this piece as a tribute to the legacy of Disney, with which I grew up. I wanted to give this painting that Celtic feeling Merida’s known for and present her in my own vision. I included the bear as the symbol of motherly love.”





Vivian Mineker


LOCATION: Slovenia WEB: EMAIL: MEDIA: Watercolour, gouache, acrylic, graphite For now, Vivian’s based in Slovenia, but the artist has also lived in Taipei and Portland. She works primarily in traditional media, and reveals that “I focus on conveying emotions and the underlying narrative of each piece, employing media such as watercolours or graphite, for the physical connection with the work that I create.”


FAT CAT Fabriano paper, watercolour and ballpoint pen, 9x12 inches “Inspiration comes to me often while I’m between waking and sleeping, and this is a product of one of such occasion. An image popped into my head one night while falling asleep, and I thought that I must draw this because it amused me. Who doesn’t love a fat cat getting into peculiar situations?”


ARMADILLO Fabriano paper, watercolour and ballpoint pen, 11x14 inches “The start of my alphabetical animals series. I wanted to create images of animals in surreal situations along with plants that they would interact with in real life, but in an unusual way.”


CAPYBARA CLOWNFISH Fabriano paper, watercolour and ballpoint pen, 9x9 inches. “I wanted both capybaras and clownfish for the letter C of my alphabetical animals series, so I combined the two. Capybaras are famous for being docile and friendly to other animals, allowing others to sit on them – so much so that there are blogs about this fact.”





IMAGINEFX CRIT “Vivian’s got a great sense of the absurd and abstract, and fortunately she’s able to capture both on the canvas. One can only wonder how that overweight feline got itself into such a predicament…” Claire Howlett, Editor







GET INSPIRED BY DEL TORO Illustrator JANA HEIDERSDORF creates an atmospheric mixed media painting that’s inspired by the world and works of acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro


ne of my most treasured possessions is a DVD box set made up of the Guillermo del Toro films Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. I bought it about five years ago on a class trip to London. I hadn’t turned 18, so somebody else paid for it on my behalf. My obsession with film has had a strong influence on the work I do nowadays. Having been only mildly interested in old and new masters of fine art and illustration, I learned most of what I know about visual language, atmosphere and composition from film. Film taught me what it means to have an artistic voice, a vision. Especially del Toro, with his world of eerily beautiful monsters, haunting atmosphere and poetry in both image and narration, showed me what it can look like when you weave your own web of personal mythology and symbolism. So you can imagine my excitement when ImagineFX asked me to create an homage to his work!


ARTIST INSIGHT WORK WITH A WIDE RANGE OF MEDIA The more you experiment with different media, the broader becomes the palette of tools at your disposal. Knowing how you can combine media to create the right textures and effects will save you time and frustration.

I’ve been fortunate to work on several film-based projects this year. When you watch a film with art in mind, you become more active as an observer. I believe the goal isn’t to simply enjoy the movie, but to understand and analyse it, to find reoccurring themes, symbols, strong imagery and important details, while trying to get a grasp on the film’s emotional core. In this case I’ve decided to create a collage of the three box-set movies and Crimson Peak, which seem to me to be del Toro’s most personal works so far. My aim is to study their visual language and compose a strong image that works in its own right, but utilises del Toro’s artistic vocabulary, the taste of his filmography and ultimately includes elements, scenes and familiar characters. I’ll be working in a mix of acrylic paint, coloured pencils and charcoal, to create a close to monochromatic picture. Most of my works also receive a digital colour finish, which I keep to a minimum for this workshop.

Jana is an illustrator from Germany who creates moody and fantastical mixed-media artworks to accompany everything you can read, watch and listen to. She’s worked with Titan Comics, Bracken Magazine and Bottleneck Gallery. You can see her art at




MATERIALS PAPER Q Moleskine Cahier Sketchbook Q Copy paper Q Lanaquarelle hotpressed watercolour paper, 31x41cm PENCILS Q Derwent charcoal pencil dark Q Derwent charcoal pencil white Q Derwent drawing pencils (chocolate 6600, Chinese White 7200, Sanguine 6220, Brown Ochre 5700) Q Faber-Castell Polychromos (Sky Blue, May Green) Q Faber-Castell Colour Grip (dark blue) Q Staedtler 8B graphite pencil Q Lyra Rembrandt Black Pastel Pencil Q Charcoal Q Coates Willow Q Charcoal Sticks Q White charcoal sticks of unknown origin


Start with research


Layout drawing

I watch the four films, and take notes on reoccurring and defining imagery and ideas. This leads to a messy array of words, phrases and scribbles – the foundation of my concepts. I also take screenshots of scenes that I might need for reference later on.


Thumbnail sketching concepts


Transferring the drawing


Start painting

I condense my notes to compositions, aiming to include elements from several films and to keep the overall dark atmosphere. Working digitally at this stage makes it easy for me to get a good idea of the overall shapes and tonal values I need to create a strong image.

PAINT Q Store brand black acrylic paint Q Guardi Gesso White BRUSHES Q Da Vinci synthetic Q brushes sizes 0, 8 SOFTWARE Q Photoshop


Before I start working on the final artwork I want to make sure I won’t run into any unexpected problems. By sketching both portraits separately and editing them together in Photoshop, I get a good idea how the artwork will look like. Additionally, I can adjust proportions and add a few details to the concept.

Time for the underdrawing

At this stage I establish the foundation for my painting by creating a detailed drawing with a black pastel pencil. To avoid mistakes that would be difficult to correct afterwards, I use screenshots of the film, photos of hands and faces in the required poses and lighting, and the print of my layout drawing for reference.


I print the final layout drawing and roughly transfer it to watercolour paper using an old lightbox. For this I’m using a charcoal pencil that will blend in nicely with the later painting. I also make sure not to apply too much pressure to the paper, so this initial drawing can be reworked easily.

I roughly block in the tonal values and continue to built up depth and volume using black acrylic paint that’s been diluted with water. During this stage accidental splashes or smudges can and should happen. My goal is to create an organic, loose texture with precision following further along in the painting process.



Plywood boards can act as portable surfaces for your drawings, if your desk isn’t big enough.


Pushing contrasts in the composition

Getting the contrasts right is a key part of making my illustration work, so I make sure to paint the areas I want to be black as dark as possible. Because pitch black can quickly seem dead and boring, it’s important to be sure about where it’s needed.


Eye for detail

Now is the time for precise brush work. For this I switch to a smaller-sized brush (0) and use it to introduce details to faces and hair, and texture the wings of the moth. I also define edges where necessary and work over pastel and charcoal markings to make them blend in more evenly with my painting.



Bringing in charcoal shadows

Before I switch to dry media I make sure the paint has dried completely to avoid nasty surprises. I like using charcoal to deepen dark areas even further without adding new marks or distorting the existing textures. I also use it to smoothen edges, in this case around the faces. For smudging I use my fingers.

There’s a place for sketchbooks filled with perfect art, but seeking perfection keeps you from drawing.

ARTIST INSIGHT KEEPING LINES ALIVE When you’re using lines to form volumes and values, make sure they follow the form of your object. If you avoid cross-hatching in neat rows of parallel lines and orthogonal angles you’ll develop an organic, natural feel.



Getting splashy

I add splashes of acrylic paint to areas I want to gain more texture, whipping my brush around like a wand. If too many droplets accumulate at one spot, I use my fingers to wipe them off before they can dry. Areas I want to remain untouched by the paint can be covered with scrap paper.


Bringing white into the picture

I use gesso to paint thin layers over faces, hands and hair to soften the underlying textures and lighten the areas. I work on details such as the eyes using opaque paint. I prefer using gesso over white acrylic paint because its chalky nature leads to a surface that takes dry media very well.



Adding white noise

I use white charcoal sticks to create broad textures that add some noise to darker parts of the artwork. I also want Edith’s hair to fade to white towards the background, forming a contrast to the blackness behind Ofelia. To achieve this I use the charcoal to lighten this area.


Drawing in highlights

I draw in highlights, the final details and dynamic lines with a white charcoal pencil. For extreme highlights I use a white coloured pencil by Derwent, which is very soft and creates brighter lines than the charcoal, but can’t be revised or drawn over as easily because of its oily composition.



Keep the eyes engaged

To make the otherwise monochromatic image more engaging I use pencils to add a few colours. While keeping it subtle so I don’t mess up my tonal values and contrasts, it makes the picture seem much more alive and interesting. Mostly, I use clay tones, but also add blue to light areas and green to contrast reddish lines.


Looking good on screen

After scanning the artwork to Photoshop I use Levels and Selective Color to achieve the right contrasts. I also play around with the saturation of the image, to amplify the subtle colours of not only the pencil lines, but the different hues of the black and white paints.

GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY Fingers are great for art making. Without disrupting your workflow by having to switch your tools you can quickly smudge, wipe and mix wet and dry media effectively.



GETTING STARTED WITH OILS HOWARD LYON is here to boost your knowledge of oils. If you’ve been putting off using this age-old medium, there’s no time like the present!


here’s an undeserved mystique around oil painting that has put up some intimidating barriers for some artists wanting to use this wonderful medium. I hope to remove those concerns and provide a basic foundation of knowledge to help you get started. Oil paint is pigment bound in a drying (siccative) oil. The most common is linseed oil extracted from flax seeds, but you’ll also find paint bound in walnut, safflower or other oils. The pigments are


A spectrum of colours

There are hundreds of colours to choose from, but start with a basic palette that covers the spectrum and will give you a good mix of warm and cool hues. Pro-grade oils will contain more pigment, which will result in more accurate colour mixing, and will be resistant to fading in sunlight.

Titanium white Cadmium yellow light Yellow ochre Cadmium red light Alizarin crimson Transparent red oxide Burnt umber Raw umber Phthalo green Phthalo blue Ultramarine blue Ivory black. ARTIST INSIGHT BE DELIBERATE Every stroke you make should have purpose. What shape, colour and value is the stroke you’re trying to make? Stay focused and paint with intent.

generally the same as those found in watercolours, pastels and acrylics. Oil paints offer a richness of colour and its surface allows the creation of beautiful textures. You can paint thick or thin, directly or use glazes. Oils can be used on paper, wood, metal, plastic, canvas and many other surfaces. If you’re just getting started, don’t get overwhelmed. Be patient with yourself and recognise that it’ll take a little time to get the hang of this beautiful medium. Don’t overcomplicate it, either.

To begin we’ll go over the key materials needed for you to get started. Most art materials are sold in at least two grades: student and professional. Whenever possible, purchase pro-grade materials. I find the difference in price is offset because pro materials almost always last longer and the paint goes further. Howard has worked as an illustrator and art director as well as a fine artist for galleries and collectors. Explore his art by visiting

Three Master Choice Flats from Rosemary & Co. Can be chisel shaped or soft and fuzzy.

A small synthetic mongoose round for the finest detailing, from Rosemary & Co.

A long Ivory Filbert and Round – great for fine detail and hard edges.

Bristle brushes are excellent for scubbing in thin paint as well as laying down thin impastos.


An Ivory Flat Bristle from Rosemary & Co. Excellent for thin and thick strokes, and very durable.

Master Choice Filbert from Rosemary & Co. It’s made from badger hair and very versatile.

Oil painting requires a variety of brushes

I prefer Rosemary & Co. brushes, but I also recommend Silver Grand Prix and Trekell. Hog bristle brushes are versatile, not terribly expensive and allow for a variety of applications. Finer-haired brushes, both natural and synthetic, can give you an even smoother finish and make very fine detail possible.


This wooden arm palette from New Wave Art is light and well balanced, with plenty of room for mixing.

A tempered glass palette. These come in a variety of sizes, and you can put a value scale under the glass for reference.


A surface to paint

The most common surfaces to paint on are canvas, linen and wood. You’ll need to prime the surface with a gesso or ground to prevent the acids in the paint from contacting it directly. Acrylic gesso is easy to use and can be applied with a brush or roller.

A wood hardboard panel is cheap and smooth, and easy to make.


Sketching from life is the fastest way to improve your observational skills and your paintings.

A scraper for removing paint from a glass palette (not a wooden one!).


A disposable palette from New Wave Art, for when you’re out and about.

Choose a palette for your paint

You’ll need a palette for your paint. This can be a disposable one, a clean tabletop or a handheld wood palette, or a piece of glass that can be quickly scraped clean. Whatever you use, choose something that’s large enough to allow for easy mixing and can be used ergonomically.

Paper from Arches that has been sized for oil painting.


Raw linen before it’s been sized or primed. Expensive, but has a beautiful texture, and is strong.

A comfortable easel

A solid easel is important so that your work is stable, safe and remains at a good working height while you’re painting. You can purchase small, metal tripod-style easels that can be used sitting or standing, or consider a folding wood easel, or larger studio models that are meant to remain in situ.


From left to right… 1. Inexpensive, metal, tripod-style easel. Easy to carry and store, and can be used either when sitting or standing.

1 3

2. H-frame style easel for studio use. Broad price range and comes in various sizes. 3. French-style field easel. Limited canvas sizes, but is versatile and portable.






MIX STORY ELEMENTS ON A BOOK COVER The Lord of the Rings illustrator and concept artist JOHN HOWE explains how he composed a book jacket illustration for fantasy writer Robin Hobb 150



© Subterranean Press

ubterranean Press contacted me to create full-cover dust jackets for a new and limited edition of Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. In reply to my query about a cover brief, the publisher replied that there was none: I had free rein to do as I wished. Naturally, this sounded like a dream commission, but of course it meant making many decisions above and beyond the actual subject matter: layout, placement of titles, fonts and more. I was intent on installing two things: a proximity to the characters, and a depiction of wide landscapes. I decided that the best way to avoid “posing” characters – equivalent to a modern-day snapshot taken in front of a tourist-friendly vista – was to make use of vignettes.

I did all three sketches at once and sent them off. These were pencil scribbles, scanned and rendered in sepia with white highlights, which is an efficient way of adding focus and depth. I was also aware that hiding the dragon’s head behind the vignette was a bit risky, and considered trying to shift it, but in the end it stayed where it was. Approval came back from both publisher and author with no revisions, so I got going on the originals themselves straight away. The main image was done separately from the vignette. It’s never a good idea to paint one image over another unless there’s some purely pictorial or decorative reason for doing so. Should the smaller image need to be moved, it’s best to have it as a separate original. Equally, for sub-rights use, a third party just might want to licence the main image without the vignette. John is a full-time illustrator and concept artist, who helped shape the look of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. You can discover more of his art at



Points of interest: Bring a scene to life TAPE TIP


Even though I do use a sturdy paper, peeling the masking tape off can lead to disaster. The solution is a hair dryer. The heat softens the glue and enables the tape to come off without scalping or otherwise damaging the paper underneath.

A ragged silhouette The sculptor in the novel is a fallen wizard of sorts, using his skills to carve stone with his bare hands. The juxtaposition of torn cloak and wild hair with his magical gift makes him come alive.

Warm vs cold


I prefer to use the white of the paper for warmer colours, but cold ones are best done with gouache or coloured pencil. The hands themselves are painted in gouache, while a touch of airbrush helps them to glow.

MEDIA QInk Q Watercolour Q Coloured pencils Q Airbrush PAPER Q 300gr all-round drawing paper, stretched MISCELLANEOUS Q Masking tape Q Clear plastic

Wrapping the light Masked contours are hard and flat; few things in nature are. Softening the edges of the rock and the dragon, and bringing a little of the background light on to the surface itself adds depth and believability.


Rocks aren’t dull or dusty Like so much in nature, grass, wood and stone are kaleidoscopes of complementary and opposing colours. In a greyish-brown rock, there are hundreds of tints. It’s best to let all those colours resolve themselves, rather than choosing one tame colour and then simply sticking to it.


Dragons for beginners I have plenty of references on lizards, snakes and crocodiles, but only for the textures. For the structure of dragons, I find one’s imagination is more reliable. It’s best to design fantastical creatures without help, relying on memory and imagination, before going back to the photos to paint any details.

Pencils for small sketches A sketch needs to be legible. I prefer to do mine in pencil, only doing colour sketches at gun point. I’ll save colour for later, when I’ll be working full size.

Step-by-step: Painting the rocks and magical sculptor

1 ESTABLISHING THE SETTING 2 THE RISKY PART Not knowing the spine widths in advance, I decide to extend the rocky scenery to the left, just in case the book ends up wider than planned. The first step is to paint the sky using plenty of water and bright colours. I really want to depict an evening scene, because this means the foreground will be in shadow, which is the look I’m after.

I mask off the sky, silhouetting the cliff and the dragon. I prefer using wide brushes and generous gestures when painting rock, so masking is crucial. It’s important to cut most of the way through the thickness of the tape but not quite, to avoid damaging the paper underneath. I press down hard on the tape, to avoid colours leaking underneath.


The blue glow of the sculptor’s hands needs to be part of the background itself. Lots of cliff and rock photos, mostly mine but also scavenged from magazines, serve as reference for details and general structure. I paint the sculptor over the blue glow, leaving out the hands themselves, which will be added last.






PENCIL AND WATERCOLOUR ART Renown animal illustrator KATY LIPSCOMB reveals how to bring a wolf to life, using watercolour washes and pencils to create a stylised scene from nature


et ready to learn how I colour a howling wolf using unconventional methods and materials! Here, I’ll teach you my approach for creating my drawings using a range of media: watercolours, colour pencils and more. I’ll start proceedings with a light watercolour wash and move towards darker heavier marks with colour pencils. This workshop is focused on how to colour using a variety of materials rather that how to draw. To begin, you should first select some heavy-duty paper. I prefer to use Strathmore Smooth Bristol board; however, illustration board, a hot press watercolour paper or a cold press watercolour paper with a smaller tooth will also work. You should also be ready with a watercolour brush. I enjoy using a range of brushes, from flat brushes to

ARTIST INSIGHT CATALOGUE YOUR ART DIGITALLY I create a digital catalogue of all my works, for posterity and just in the case the worst should happen. I scan my works in at least 300DPI as a PNG file. I then crop, rotate, and colour correct my image using imageediting software.

round brushes to detail brushes; however, much of this is personal preference. If you’re unsure about what to start with, I recommend a size four Round brush and a thin detail brush with a fine point. As for media, I’ll be working primarily back and forth between watercolours and colour pencils. In this workshop I’ll specifically be using PH Martin’s concentrated watercolours, but other watercolours and inks will do just fine. My colour pencil of choice is Prismacolor premier soft core, but as with the watercolour or ink, this is also very flexible. Last but not least, I’ll be using a white gel pen and white liquid acrylic for finishing touches. Other materials that will be important are an artist’s watercolour palette. I find disposable palette sheets very useful, but you can also invest in a longer-lasting solution.

You’ll also want a cup of water for cleaning your brushes between colours, a pencil for a primary sketch, an eraser and paper towels. If you’ve gathered all of your materials, clean up your workspace and let’s continue to the workshop! Katy is famous for her fantastical scenes and representations of the beauty found in feral creatures. She’s has gained attention from Time Magazine, National Public Radio and more. See her work at


MATERIALS PAPER Q Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board BRUSHES Q Size 2 or 4 Flat, Round, and Detail watercolour brushes PAINTS Q PH Martin’s Concentrated Watercolors Q FW White liquid acrylic PENCILS Q Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Q Faber Castel Polychromos OTHER Q Mechanical pencil Q Eraser Q Gellyroll white gel pen Q Water cup Q Watercolour palette



Draw a basic outline

I begin by drawing the basic frame of the wolf’s head. I find it easiest to block out large shapes when drawing, rather than trying nit-pick details when beginning a sketch. For example, here I’ve started with a circle for the head and a triangle for the ear.

Begin with a light watercolour wash

I always work light to dark when working with watercolour. This is because I can always add layers later, but watercolour isn’t a media that can be ‘erased’. In this step, I’m starting with the lightest of my watercolour washes. I do this by thinning the pigment with a lot of water.


Refine the sketch


Apply a darker wash

I continue to block out details and define shapes into more organic forms. Now I have a more definitive shapes for the snout, ear and fur. It’s important that the fur feels organic, rather that stiff. It can be tempting to want to draw pointy triangles; however, try to keep your wrist loose and let the shapes flow naturally.

After my first layer has thoroughly dried, I begin adding a second layer to the wolf’s fur using more concentrated pigment. Watercolour is a medium that layers beautifully due to its translucency. Even when you add another layer, you’ll be able to see hints of the previous layers beneath.


ARTIST INSIGHT PAINT REALISTIC FUR The easiest way to learn how to create believable fur is to study photos of fur. Notice which way the fur flows over different contours of the body.



Continue with light washes

I now start to work with lighter washes across the rest of the wolf. In this step, I’ve chosen to use a complementary colour (those colours located directly across from each other on the colour wheel) on the wolf’s chest. Because I’m using blue for the top of the wolf, I choose a golden yellow-orange for the chest.


When working on Bristol board, limit the amount of water you use to prevent the paper from warping.


Put down a fourth wash layer


Start on the colour pencil detail

After waiting for the previous layers to dry, I continue with a fourth layer of wash. Once again I work from light to dark; this layer is slightly darker and more pigmented than the previous layers. I create the illusion of shadows and fur with a few selective dark strokes.

Tackle the background details

I’m now beginning to add background decoration using a painting technique called ‘wet-on-wet’. I do this by placing non-pigmented water on the paper in swirling patterns. When the water is placed in the right locations, I then apply the watercolour pigment on to these wet areas. The pigment will flow freely and create swirling patterns in the water.

After the watercolour has thoroughly dried, I begin using colour pencil on top of the loose watercolour base. I use the pencil to sharpen the image and highlight details that I want the viewer to notice, such as the fur, nose and ear. I use a dark brown pencil to accent patches of the wolf’s fur.




Introduce reflective light

One way I like to tie the abstract background details to the rest of the drawing is by adding the illusion of reflective light. I do this by adding a colour that matches the background to the edges of the wolf. In this step I add warm yellows, pinks and oranges to the wolf’s fur.

Continue the pencil fur detail

I continue to add detail to the fur using colour pencils. I add the illusion of detailed fur without actually drawing individual strands of hair. This can be done by selectively adding dark accents underneath patches of fur. I also darken areas such as the crevasse of the ear, the inside of the mouth and the nose.


Prismacolor pencils are a soft lead pencil, so be sure to keep them secure to prevent dropping. One drop can shatter the lead.

ARTIST INSIGHT BURNISHING WITH COLOUR PENCILS Burnishing is a helpful technique when using colour pencils. To burnish, lay down a layer of colour pencil. Next, take a pencil of a lighter colour and then firmly press the two layers together.


Develop abstract fur patterns

When I draw my animals, I enjoy laying down abstract patterns and details to the surface to add visual interest. These patterns always flow with the natural forms of the animal and can either be interpreted as adornment or fur. In this step I use a burgundy and navy blue to bring in these surface details.



Burnish layers with colour pencil

At this point I’ve built up many layers with colour pencils. To create a smooth and polished surface look, I use a technique called burnishing (see Artist Insight, below left). To burnish the previous layers, take a lighter pencil colour and firmly press the previous layers together with broad strokes.



Place a pencil layer on top of the burnished layer


Adding white highlights

I now have a sleek and smooth layer of burnished colour pencil. At this point, the fur may look too polished and artificial, which is a common problem with burnishing animal fur. To combat this, I’ll add another layer of pencil detail. The fur now features dark browns, burgundy and navy blue.

Finish the final details

During this step I work on finishing my final details with my colour pencils. This includes adding some finishing touches to the wolf’s fur, nose, and ears. At this point, I use the darkest tones to pull forward areas of importance. For me this includes the eyes, nose, mouth and certain patches of fur.

In this final step, I highlight certain details with white liquid acrylic or a white gel pen. This includes adding white highlights to the nose and lips, creating the illusion of wetness. I also add highlights to certain patches of fur. Lastly, I add white highlights to the background for a ‘magical’ atmosphere.



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Imaginefx annual 2018  
Imaginefx annual 2018