PRACTICE MAKES… AWESOME!
JC explains how a lunchtime sketch grew into an epic piece of concept art…
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.
“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.”
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
So many talented artists are making lots of great concept art every day, and so much of it is lost or forgotten
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.”
“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.“ … to an epic finish
“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.” starting out with the composition basics… … before working up elements in the painting…
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!”
“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.” Following my hand