Artist Q&A

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How to paint a fu­tur­is­tic fire­fighter, an an­i­mal-hu­man hy­brid, quick en­vi­ron­ments, manga hair, magic and more.


Can you help me con­cept some ideas for a fu­tur­is­tic fire­fighter, while main­tain­ing a sense of re­al­ism?

Blake Maloney, Canada


Hous­ton replies

The way fires cause dam­age to lives and struc­tures has re­mained the same, and al­ways will. There­fore, a fire­fighter of the fu­ture will have es­sen­tially the same needs and tasks that a present-day fire­fighter has. The main dif­fer­ence is that tech­nol­ogy can im­prove upon things that are cum­ber­some or not as ef­fi­cient as they are in the present day – and this is where your role as a con­cept artist be­gins.

Start the de­sign process by ask­ing your­self a sim­ple ques­tion: what do fire­fight­ers need? They need tools to put out flames and de­stroy bar­ri­ers or entrapments. They need equip­ment that en­sures their own safety: pro­tec­tive heatre­sis­tant cloth­ing, an oxy­gen sup­ply, lights and alarms that ac­ti­vate if the wearer stops breath­ing, for ex­am­ple.

Af­ter that, try and fig­ure out how those needs could be im­proved by tech­nol­ogy (even if the tech­nol­ogy doesn’t ex­ist yet – you’ll have to use your imag­i­na­tion and some artis­tic li­cence here!). Per­haps to solve the prob­lem of hav­ing to wear a heavy, lim­it­ed­sup­ply oxy­gen can­is­ter, ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have en­abled the cre­ation of a light­weight mask that con­verts the car­bon diox­ide in the burn­ing en­vi­ron­ment into an in­fi­nite oxy­gen sup­ply for the wearer to breath. Maybe this mask also fea­tures a vir­tual heads-up dis­play that mon­i­tors the wearer’s own breath­ing pat­tern and pro­vides en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ments in real time.

Hav­ing these ques­tions in mind will give you a solid ground­work to be­gin com­ing up with your fu­ture fire­fighter.

Char­ac­ters on a white back­ground can have their charm, but noth­ing sells a de­sign bet­ter than when it ex­ists in a set­ting.

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