A haven for heavy metal

The Weta artist shows us around not one but two stu­dios, and pre­views forth­com­ing projects

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation -

Af­ter a busy day work­ing dig­i­tally at Weta Work­shop, Nick Keller swaps a sty­lus for a paint­brush and rocks out while cre­at­ing heavy metal al­bum art.

My workspaces are a some­what schiz­o­phrenic scat­ter­ing: there’s my PC work­sta­tion at Weta Work­shop, a sim­i­lar but more hum­ble set-up at home, and a rented stu­dio space at a lo­cal com­mu­nal art cen­tre in Welling­ton City.

The day job as a con­cept de­signer – mainly for film and TV – re­quires me to al­most ex­clu­sively cre­ate dig­i­tal art. My paint­ing stu­dio caters to my love of tra­di­tional art. This means I can be work­ing on a per­sonal piece, or free­lance projects such as heavy metal al­bum cov­ers. I can be found here at all hours on week­ends and late on week­day evenings af­ter fin­ish­ing at Weta.

My setup is con­stantly evolv­ing as I adapt my work­flow. At the mo­ment, a re­pur­posed of­fice desk with makeshift ex­ten­sion serves as a handy junk-ac­cu­mu­la­tor. I can ac­cess said junk while paint­ing at my main easel.

Un­less I’m ap­proach­ing a dead­line, I’m not par­tic­u­larly good at work­ing from home. I find my­self much more fo­cused when I have a ded­i­cated workspace, ab­sent of dis­trac­tions. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, I’ll start an oil paint­ing project in sketch form, then mock up some Pho­to­shop com­po­si­tions, colour pal­ettes and so on. Quite of­ten

I ac­com­plish this by stay­ing af­ter hours at my Weta PC.

When I’m ready to move onto the can­vas I mi­grate to the stu­dio. Un­til re­cently, it was a bomb site of ref­er­ence print outs, stuck all over the place. A stu­dio lap­top has helped cut down on un­nec­es­sary print­ing.

I’m still try­ing to find the sweet spot when it comes to tak­ing a dig­i­tal mock-up far enough to ad­e­quately in­form my fi­nal piece, with­out over­work­ing it and merely recre­at­ing it in paint. The thing that fas­ci­nates, sat­is­fies and in­fu­ri­ates me about the art form is the evo­lu­tion­ary jour­ney of a paint­ing. Nick is a se­nior con­cept artist at Weta Work­shop in Welling­ton, New Zealand. Visit www.nick­keller­art.com to see more of his art.

Here are two re­cently fin­ished al­bum cover pieces I pro­duced in tan­dem. Usu­ally I like to have mul­ti­ple works on the go, so as to keep up mo­men­tum and avoid any lull be­tween projects, which seems to in­evitably hap­pen any­way. My ex­ceed­ingly comfy read­ing/draw­ing chair. My part­ner claims it’s hers and as a con­se­quence it’s made the jour­ney be­tween our two stu­dios a num­ber of times. This is my Weta Work­shop work­sta­tion. It’s a PC with dual mon­i­tor and Wa­com tablet setup on the mez­za­nine floor above the de­sign room. The rather large ex­panse of table­top seems to en­cour­age a lat­eral spread of my junk. Pic­tured on-screen is a dig­i­tal mock-up for a per­sonal oil paint­ing I’m plan­ning out. My pro­gres­sively evolv­ing col­lec­tion of pewter skulls. Not quite in evo­lu­tion­ary order. My tem­po­rary abode of re­cently fin­ished al­bum art projects that are look­ing for a more per­ma­nent home.

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