Laurel Austin, Master Artist interview. I always browse internet to look for great inspirational art work. One day I browse around and I saw this beautiful illustration. It has super duper pretty Griffins and Orges who are trying to steal Griffins’ egg. The expression of every single characters are dead-on and priceless. The way the artist executed this piece is masterful. I just love the way she paints. It’s been a long while since I saw that piece. A couple weeks ago, I contact the master artist, Laurel Austin, if she would agree for short interview. She was kind enough to give some of her valuable time for an interview with idrawgirls.com. And here we are… This post has very very valuable information from her so enjoy the interview guys.
1. How and why did you want to become a Concept Artist?
Laurel Austin: I was one of those kids that was always drawing monsters in the margins of her school notebooks. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but didn’t know until my teens what a great path concept art could be. Forums like sijun.com and CGhub were fantastic resources for understanding what constituted a professional standard, so it was really easy to know where to set the bar and work to achieve it. As far as I know, there’s no other profession where you can be as completely creative as you can with concept art. Even architects designing buildings have to be sure the things they’re designing won’t fall down. Concept art has to look plausible, but beyond that, the sky is the limit. I can’t think of anything better.
2. What is your first art job and how did you start?
Laurel Austin: I’d been freelancing as an illustrator for about a year when I got my job at Splash Damage. The freelance I got generally just by emailing around to various games and book publishing companies. They often have submission guidelines on their websites, so it’s not difficult to simply get in contact with them. At the time, SD were looking to hire an artist to help finish up their game Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and begin the early visual development for the game that became BRINK. I applied and they all seemed to like my work — did an art test and was hired. It all sounds so simple in retrospect, but the getting there was the harder bit. Just work hard to have as good a portfolio as possible, stick your work out there on the internet and you’ll be noticed.
3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Laurel Austin: I have to say I get the bulk of my inspirations from nature, especially anatomy. There’s nothing I love drawing better than figures (human or animal), so whatever I’m working on I often like to see that it has some sort of anatomical bent to it. Even if it’s a lump of rock or a tree root, or any other non-animal form, if it feels like it’s got the most subtle sense of a face or of a figure it will be immediately more interesting to look at, even if the viewer isn’t quite sure why.
4. To you, what are the three most important elements in painting or concept art in general?
Laurel Austin: Only allowed to pick three? Darn… well, these are for concept art.
1. Rendering Quality – how well is it drawn? how clear are its details? how readable is it?
2. How good a model will it make? – not everything, no matter how well-drawn or thought out, will make a great 3D model for a game. Knowing what sorts of things work in a design made for your particular project’s platform. For example, super heroes are usually drawn in comic books as though they are nude people with their outfits painted on them. This works for comic books because it makes it much easier to draw the characters from multiple angles very quickly, as comic artists need to. For games and films this is not a concern, and such simple designs can have the tendency to look very boring or kinda weird. Thus it becomes necessary to redesign the characters, and you’ll notice that film designs always look much different to their comic counterparts.
3. Emotional Resonance – What reaction are we trying to invoke in our audience? Awe? Laughter? Fear? Empathy? It’s important to pin down exactly what you’re trying to make people feel by looking at your art, so you can craft it specifically with that in mind.
5. What would you suggest to young artists on how to get start and become the better artist?
Laurel Austin: I think I’d probably say what any other artist would — to get better at art, draw more. But (since you’ve probably heard that plenty of times before) to be a good concept artist is to work within a team. You must understand what the art director needs from you, and how to translate that into a piece that is both usable for 3D artists and, for hero assets especially, will help inspire the whole team about what an awesome game you’re all making. The more you know about their jobs, the better you will be at doing your’s. This is experience it’s difficult to get outside of an actual industry job, but for aspiring concept artists I would recommend pairing up with an aspiring 3D character or environment artist to create some work. They’ll give you feedback you otherwise never might come across. Their technical limitations are your technical limitations, and knowing how to create an amazing concept within those constraints is a very valuable skill.