Friday, January 27, 2012

Digital Paint Workflow: A Loris Attacks Video Tutorial

A total beginner to the concept of digital painting?  An experienced veteran with years of professional experience?  This video tutorial offers a buffer for the new digital artist and a fresh perspective for the veteran.

The painting I will be using is one I have been working on for Kimberly Kinrade of Evolved Publishing.

It is for a children's book called Maddie World which is currently in the very early stages, so you are offered what amounts to a sneak preview of the flavor so far.  Maddie World is book three of a series of books I have illustrated called the The Three Lost Kids series; these books offer an unusual challenge as the style of the illustrations is not native to me.

Bella World (book two) is done and is going to be released soon, but you can see more examples of this art style in Lexie World (book one).

If you like what you see, check out my Facebook, DeviantArt, or Website.

Advanced Photoshop Workflow Tutorial
(by one of my favorite artists EVER!)

Thanks for watching and I hope it was both enjoyable and educational!
-Josh Evans

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Loris Interviews Jaqui Oakley

In a shift from the digital, here is an interview with the absolutely inspiring artist, Jaqui Oakley. She works physically in acrylic, oil and acrylic ink. Jacqui Oakley has received awards from Applied Arts, Communication Arts, American Illustration and The Society of Illustrators Las Angeles. She currently teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Go to her page, gawk, and weep.

This interview contains her tips for aspiring illustrators.

LA! How did you put together your portfolio and did you select your work based on the markets, subject matter, or style?

Oakley: Out of school I really had hardly anything in my portfolio so in my spare time I would try to work on 'real-world' projects which would hopefully pique the interest of art directors. I would look through magazines at the sort of pieces that were getting published and try and do something with a similar subject matter. I also tended to focus on what I was good at (which at the time was portraiture) and really tried to finesse it. As years went by I got more interested in doing hand-lettering but had no examples of this in my portfolio. So once again I just came up with my own projects to fill out my portfolio more.
You'll find that working on your portfolio and 'style' is a continuous process. Sometimes illustration work will give you something that you've never thought of before and this will lead you down a different path. As long as you stay interested in art and design, those inspirations will seep into your work and your work will evolve naturally into something you're excited by and something that plays on your strengths.

LA! Describe your process from getting contracted by a client to finishing a project.

Oakley: After accepting a job from a client, and having received the pertinent project information (article, brief, etc.) I start off brainstorming with words and small doodles of random ideas that come to mind, then maybe collecting a bunch of reference images before then moving onto roughs and linears. Once a linear is approved, sometimes after some revisions, I blow it up to the size I'm going to work with and transfer it onto paper. I used to work in oils, but these days I usually block out a few areas in acrylic paint, trying to keep it loose and get some texture in there with dry brush. Then I go onto inking lines, and then maybe a few spots of colour again in acrylic or coloured ink. Sometimes, especially for smaller spot illustrations, I'll ink the lines by hand, then scan and add the colour digitally. At the end I'll place the image up on my server and send the client a link to pick it up.

LA! What do you think are the best tools for promoting yourself as an illustrator? Are book portfolios still in demand?

Oakley: I've found that it's hard to tell what's best for promotions. It changes so quickly, and it's such a different experience for each artist. I've always had a good experience going to New York and meeting people in person, which I've not had a chance to do in the last few years. So, I've not used my book in quite a while now.

I've had a good experience with getting a mailing list (I use Agency Access) and mailing out an email promo once every other month. Mailing list services will be able to tell you which people opened your email and who actually clicked though to your site. This is obviously extremely helpful. Once or twice a year I'll follow up with a smaller run of postcards that I'll send to focused groups based on the response from the email promo. I really try and do my own research by looking at illustration and design award annuals and seeing who hires illustrators.

I've also had a good experience with Twitter and Dribbble, which is sort of a portfolio site for designers. I've also got good feedback when I've collaborated on projects with other designers or artists, which have then appeared on blogs, sending a bunch of traffic my way.

You have to remember that art directors come across so much work – the key is to be persistent. Even though ADs might like your work the first time they see it, it'll get filed away until a suitable job pops up. By then you could be at the bottom of the pile, so have a regular schedule that reminds them but doesn't harass them. Also, as your career develops you'll find that business, promotion and administration will take up most of your time so try and find time to do personal pieces which will keep your work fresh and exciting to yourself and to others.

LA! What advice would you give an illustration student?

Oakley: It's tough at first going out on your own. Remember that everyone has had really slow times. Just keep promoting yourself and doing good work and it'll pay off. It's silly, but don't forget that you enjoy art & design. Sometimes when art/design becomes a daily routine it can seem like a chore. So, try and remember to work on personal projects when you can, collaborate with friends, & continue looking at things to keep getting excited & add to the vocabulary of your work. It'll come through in the end.

LA! What is the most difficult part of being an illustrator and what is most rewarding?

Oakley: The fact that your job is so tied to your personal interests is both a blessing and a curse. It's hard to separate your personal life from your professional life especially when you work from home. You want to put in long hours since you enjoy what you do, and sometimes you need to because of tight deadlines. So trying to maintain some semblance of a schedule is key. On the other end of things you get to draw for a living and collaborate with interesting creative people, which is pretty amazing. You're part of a long line of illustrators that have commented on and even changed society. An added bonus is not needing to get up early and go to an office and you can wear track pants all day if the mood suits!

All images are from Jacqui Oakley's site at
Have a nice week!
-Bridget Beorse

Josh's Several Cents and Links:
Greetings all!  Next week will be the first instillation of a video tutorial series (by me) on digital arting as well as some awesome new articles from Bridget (Keeping art supplies affordable?  What wizardry is this?)!  Stay tuned!

Awesome HDR SkyMaps for fellow CG folks

Empty Kingdom, a social networking site for artists

The Art and Business of Making Games

 Tools and Advice for becoming a Level Designer and Environment Artist

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Loris Interviews Stephan Martiniere

Before getting back to our regularly scheduled barrage of helpful articles and (coming soon) video tutorials, I have the honor of introducing a fantastic Artist and Art Director, Stephan Martiniere.  He has been winning awards for his imaginative and transportive work since the early nineties and remains a frontrunner in the art field to this very day.

Stephan Martiniere has worked on films, books, games, and even designing amusement parks among other things.  Recently, he just published a fantastic art book called Velocity (also available in a Limited Edition version!).

Before reading the interview he gave us, be sure to check out his expansive portfolio.

LA!  A major step between a student and a professional is a solid portfolio. How did/do you approach building yours? Are book portfolios still in demand?

Stephan:  One of the advantages of a book portfolio is the face to face interview you have with the client; you can verbally expand on each image, talk about the technique used and sell your personality. You can also sense how the client reacts to the work and direct him to the works that will matter to him. But as in depth as these interviews can be they are time consuming and costly if you have to travel long distances to meet the client, you also need several portfolios if you need to send it to several places at once. But this was then. When computer started to become more of a common thing I created CD portfolio, this allowed me to create something more interactive with FX and sound, the cost was reasonable and I had multiple copies at my disposal. There were still a lot of clients who wanted to see me be I could always leave them the several CD to be passed around after the interview. Now days with the Internet being part of everyday life I direct clients to my web site.

 Mine is relatively straight forward but today artist can go more complex and be very creative if they want to. There is no need for a CD for me anymore but the book portfolio is still very relevant. I do a lot of shows and lectures and sometimes there is no computer at your disposal. The lower cost of printing also allows a lot of artists to create many different types of portfolios, from fancy brochures to mini books, there are a lot of creative and relatively inexpensive ways to reach clients. I do a lot of brochures, flyers, cards and now that I have three art books I can use them and offer them as well when necessary. I always tell aspiring artists and beginners to be prepared for anything, so having multiple options is a must. In terms of how I present my art whether in a book portfolio or online I tend to tailor it to work for all my different clients so it is divided right away in categories ranging from creatures and robot, characters, to books, animation, games, environment etc, so my clients can quickly go to what interest them.

  LA!  Quite often students of the arts are told things like “it’s all about connections”. How true is this mindset and how did/do you approach forging your connections?

Stephan:  In my opinion, good work will always get you there, its just a matter of time, but connections are very important and having them will most likely get your foot in the door faster. I guess it’s more about how much in a hurry you are. For me my connections happened slowly but steadily. I was also working in many different industries at the same time so it took a little longer to build a solid network. The market is constantly changing so making connections never stops; I am still making connections every week. I believe as long as you stay relevant as an artist you ll keep making more connections. The hardest part when you are connected to so many is to stay connected.

LA!  As an artist in this technologically advanced age do you find yourself returning to fine art or digital? What mediums do you utilize the most?

Stephan:  I was trained traditionally and that has never left me, I still use pencil and paper in one form or another regardless of how much digital I use. My primary digital tool is Photoshop, then Painter but I now also use more and more 3D software such as 3d studio max, Sculptris, or 3d coat these tools allow me to expend my creativity and help me with complex ideas as well as to achieve different results. These softwares are incredible, they have reshaped my career and I hope they will continue to do that in the years to come but as cool as they are there is still no feel like a pencil on paper or a brush on board or canvas. I remember when I was working at Cyan on Myst 5, I had to come up with a series of characters and I had to choose how to execute them, my choice was to approach the execution as if different fictitious artist’s from different Myst periods, had drawn these. This decision allowed me to go back to drawing in charcoal on big size paper, a thing I hadn't done since school.

I remember how frustrated I was at the beginning; nothing was coming out right and my garbage bin was filling up with one failed attempt after another, but drawing is like a bicycle. Once you've learned it, you never forget. It took me several days and I remember the intensity and pleasure once it started to come back, the large and bold gestures with your hands smearing the charcoal on the paper, digital can't give you that feel. Even on a smaller scale, when I draw with a regular pencil, there is a precision in my gesture that I cannot emulate on a tablet or even a Cintiq. All in all I am glad I can switch from digital to traditional and enjoy both.

 LA!  What do you find to be the best tools for self promotion?

Stephan:  These days I would say my online portfolio, my art books and emailing and updating clients on my new works.

  LA!  How often did you “work out” artistically in order to reach the level of excellence you currently enjoy? Do you still practice as often or does it eventually just come naturally?

Stephan:  I am trying a lot of new things lately, as I mentioned previously I am using 3D more and more and I am very demanding with myself so there will be a lot of practice, trials and errors to reach the comfort zone I'd like to be in. This was the same way when I started with Photoshop. I just knew I had to learn it. I could see what I could do with it and that inspired me for many years. I am obviously a lot more comfortable with it now. Once the technicality is not an issue all the concentration goes to the creative aspect of the work and that's when cool things start happening. When I started with Photoshop it was important to me to find an artistic signature and that forced me to push the envelop and explore different ways to use the software. Over the years I was able to find some very unique and personal ways to paint with some satisfying results. A lot of what I do now comes naturally and that's a good thing. It allows me to be fast and efficient but there is still a part of me who keep looking for new challenges and 3D seems to be the new frontier for me.

LA!  What advice would you give an artist wishing to use their creative talents as a career?

Stephan:  There are tons of artistic possibilities out there. When I was younger I never fully realized how many artistic options existed. I would say that for anyone wanting to make a career as an artist, knowledge is the key. Today with the Internet at everyone's fingertips there is no excuse for an aspiring artist not to know what possibilities are out there. Films or games are cool but not necessarily the coolest fields one could aspire to work in. There are fields such as art, photography, fashion, graphic or web designs, industrial design, publishing etc, the list is long. The important thing is to always be curious and once one picks an avenue, do more research in depth. I always tell students, "know your industry, find out who's out there, the schools, companies, what and how they do things, who is your competition etc. The more you know, the better your chances”.

LA!  As a professional artist, what is the most common "rookie mistake" you see?

Stephan:  I would say the most frequent I see from “rookies” is not having enough solid artistic foundations to support their art. Another mistake I see a lot is the tendency for students to embrace a popular technique without fully understanding it thus mimicking and only scratching the surface but this is also due to the lack of the basic artistic foundations mentioned above. The good news is that these common mistakes are not new, they take on a different form due to the new tools and techniques offered but they are part of the artistic process, digital or not, I used to make them myself too.

Many thanks to Stephan Martiniere for the advice and guidance.  Be sure to check out his new book Velocity, and his killer-cool portfolio!

Until next time,
Josh Evans

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Loris Interviews Jon Schindehette

This week Loris Attacks! was provided the opportunity to interview the award-winning senior creative director at Wizards of the Coast, Jon Schindehette.

Aside from being an artist himself, Mr. Schindehette has started a giant art community that offers creative challenges for fellow artists as well as professional advice and guidance via insightful blog posts. I highly recommend anyone attempting to break into an art career to check out the ArtOrder community!

LA!: A major step between a student and a professional is a solid portfolio. How did/do you approach building yours? Are book portfolios still in demand?

Jon: Strategies for portfolio building are often more art than science. In fact, I'll be doing a weekend workshop on this project in September - it's that big a subject! A couple of things that I keep in mind when I'm building my book(s):

• Who is the book for? Which company, which product line, which art director? A book needs to be targeted and relevant to capture the eye of a potential client.

• What work do I have that best represents the needs to the person the book is for? I start out by sorting my work by 'appropriateness" rather than whether it is "my best work". Sometimes my best piece isn't relevant and will actually bring down my portfolio in the eyes of the reviewer.

• Thin till it hurts. Did I cut it down to 20 pieces pretty easily? Great, then cut it to 15. It it was tough, but not grueling...then cut it to 10. Cut until it feels like you couldn't cut a single image and still hold your book together...and then cut one more.

Physical portfolios are STILL in demand. In fact, they are still my preference over viewing bloated and unfocused portfolio sites.

LA!: Quite often students of the arts are told things like “it’s all about connections”. How true is this mindset and how did/do you approach forging your connections?

Jon: It IS all about connections. Building connections should be one of the most important tools in your self-promotion toolbox. You can be the most amazing illustrator in the world, but if an art director or editor isn't aware of you - you'll never get work. Creating connections is another of those questions that could take hours to really address fully. I build connections in any way I can dream up. I get to know the people in the industry that can get me work, I get to know the artists that are getting the work, I get to know rising stars, and make myself available to folks that have less experience than myself. I volunteer my time and energy locally and globally in as many ways as I can find ways to make myself of service. I never say "no" to a "learning opportunity", and every time someone asks for help - it's a learning opportunity :)

LA!: Although you are primarily a digital painter, do you ever return to the fine arts mediums? If so, what mediums do you utilize the most?

Jon: Loving oils again. I've gotten back to them after a 20+ year break and am just loving the newfound freedom and expression I'm finding in the marks! I have recently started working in metals again, and having fallen in love with blacksmithing. I think every creative venture helps us improve our eyes, and opens up new creative space in our brain. I know that pottery helped me see spatial forms in a way that I never suspected back in my earlier career, and doing 3d modeling opened my eyes to spatial forms even more. Never underestimate how playing in a different medium will open your creative world!

LA!: What do you find to be the best tools for self promotion?

Jon: Your mind.

LA!: How often did you “work out” artistically in order to reach the level of excellence you currently enjoy? Do you still practice as often or does it eventually just come naturally?

Jon: See #3

LA!: What advice would you give an artist wishing to use their creative talents as a career?

Jon: Work hard, draw/paint daily, expand and grow your skills. Learn something with each and every project, grow your network....and follow the Robh Ruppel credo "Be good. Be nice. Communicate."

LA!: As an Art Director, what is the most common "rookie mistake" you see?

Jon: Two-fold...
1) Not including contact info or portfolio url in communications.
2) Not showing relevant work samples

Closing notes:
Many thanks to Mr. Schindehette for this fantastic interview, I look forward to using this advice to strengthen my body of work and encourage our readers to do the same.
Brew your coffee, sharpen your pencils, and boot up your imagination; your next masterpiece is just around the corner!
-Josh Evans

Supplemental Material:
The ArtOrder
The blog of Jon Schindehette