Chris: Yeah, I wait usually a week before I put anything on Deviant Art or on my website (inaudible) and part of that is because I have so many other things going on. In fact, when we were hanging out in Burbank just a couple weeks ago, Natalie Hall who was also on the rising stars of animation podcast said to me, she was like, “So….you going to post any personal work anytime soon?”
Sarah: Natalie is like the queen of posting every hour, so…
Chris: Yeah, she’s like, “I haven’t seen any personal work from you recently, Chris.” I’m like I know. I actually do have some paintings, but the point being…this is not about me, this is about Shane and so I guess that’s advice. I don’t know if it’s advice or not, it’s just what I do, I wait and then the pieces that need to go up steady in my mind. They keep tickling my brain and I’m like okay, that one really does need to go public. But then specifically about concept art, that is actually to me, I don’t know…I would assume your opinion is similar Sarah, that is actually one of the easiest jobs to figure out what to put in the portfolio for because there are so many concept art books available to buy. So you can go and see literally how they made the movie and in fact…
Sarah: Or the game.
Chris: Or the game, exactly. There’s a post on ChrisOatley.com and I believe it’s just ChrisOatley.com/concept-art-books but it’s my personal top ten favorite concept art books and you can get some great examples of some to go order. But yeah, it’s all there, that’s what the art of robots, the blue sky (inaudible) is actually a fantastic example because that book is really comprehensive, it’s not just the super loose, beautiful sexy kind of concept art, there’s plenty of that in there. But there’s a lot of the mechanics kind of concept art, the functional concept art that Sarah and I were talking about earlier where when we say you’ve got to make the movie, there’s a lot of that in there. That to me is one of the best books for really showing what it’s really like to work on an animated feature.
Sarah: I think that the most important thing to take away as your portfolio needs to be geared towards the job that you’re applying for. And so, if you want to work on featured films, looking at the art of books for feature films is your basic answer is, this is the kind of work that I need to be doing and I would be doing at my job every day. Now, I will say something kind of as a side note to take from that is generally in the art of books is the prettiest most wonderful paintings.
Sarah: And I think a harsh reality that I’ve seen for some people which actually was helpful when I was a PA to see this side is, you don’t always do the most glamorous paintings or the most awesome drawings, you do a lot of assets and characters that aren’t going to visually excite you the way that the stuff they put in the art of book does, but that’s part of the job. And everything that you draw at your job is going to be the most awesome thing ever, and you can make it as awesome as you want in your own head, but the whole point of the job is, you’re trying to make a movie which is greater than just the assets that you’re working on. They have to be able to work within the entire scope of the movie. So if you’re working on something that is in the hero prop, it’s not going to make it into an art of book but it’s an essential part of the movie making process. So I’ve seen that with people that have come into the studios without much experience, they’re like, “Well why am I not working on the stuff that I see in the art of books?” It’s like well you get to do that every once in a while, so the art of books don’t always show the nitty gritty, like they don’t show the texture callouts which you’ll do a lot of, or the orthographic turnarounds which you do a lot of.
Chris: Oh yeah.
Sarah: So, they’ll show them to the main characters but there’s a lot of side characters that need that love too.
Chris: Yeah, and that’s actually a really good point. That’s how you stay employed.
Chris: When they say that the movie took four years, it’s because everybody was doing that stuff, you know? It’s like yeah sure, there’s the blue sky phase at the beginning where everybody’s having fun and you’re brainstorming, and joking around, and that’s all great. But then yeah, year three of the film…
Sarah: You want work on more generics?
Chris: Exactly! Yeah, yeah. Costume, color shifts, and just all kinds of crazy stuff.
Sarah: And you know, in the grand scheme of things, it’s still fun. You’re working on cartoons but it’s not like the glamour shot. You have to be able to work on the things that aren’t necessarily going to be in the art of book. So taking an art of book and pulling the parts of it and looking at the film and seeing the kind of work that is featured in that book and then figuring out what you can do to emulate that with your own work is really important because your portfolio will then when it’s shown to an HR person or a hiring person, which 99% of the time is who’s looking at your portfolio first before an artist, they’re going to see that you’ve fit the little checkbox on their Excel spreadsheet to being able to fill that position.
Chris: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah, and on the note of loose and polished, of course do both. Do concept art portfolios specifically, do loose stuff and polished stuff.
Sarah: Yeah, so the color keys are super loose, so it’s a great idea if you want to do color to explore a sequence and how the color shifts look. And gosh, there’s that really awesome Pixar book that’s only color keys.
Chris: The Art of Pixar.
Sarah: Yeah, The Art of Pixar Color or something.
Chris: Yeah, it’s like Color Scripts from 1995-present or whatever.
Sarah: Yeah, The Incredibles ones are insane. You don’t have to do that with your color script, but it’s a good place to start when you’re looking at paintings that aren’t necessarily polished. It’s like oh, if I can convey mood and story and lighting, a really quick hour to two-hour painting, that’s a really great thing to include. And maybe on your portfolio on your website, you include an entire sequence of several of these as opposed to having a separate page for each one because they’re quick studies but they convey something greater than just one can say in a way. And then you have your more completed polished pieces which are lighting keys or the piece that hangs in the CEO’s office or whatever. No big deal. It’s really important to have a range, if your capabilities are highlighted by that range. If you’re really really good at one thing, then treat that thing really really well and you’ll still get work.
Chris: If you have a question that you would like for me to answer on the artcast, go to ChrisOatley.com/contact.
In this episode, Sarah talked about how she lacked a clear picture of her future as a professional artist until a few years after she graduated from art school. How clear is your own vision of the beginning or the next stage of your creative career. How can I help you through this show and through my blog make progress? Please help me to continue to create content that empowers and equips you on your creative journey by sharing your response in the comments at ChrisOatley.com/Sarah-Marino. Again that’s ChrisOatley.com/Sarah-Marino. In the next episode of the artcast, Sarah discusses her parallel career as a YA illustrator and talks more about her work at Reel FX and Nickelodeon. You might have heard that Sarah will be offering mentorship sessions for students in my digital painting course called The Magic Box. And so if you are interested in having Sarah Marino as your creative mentor, go to ChrisOatley.com/Sarah-Marino for more information.
If you are an intermediate digital painter or a beginner who likes to learn quickly by being thrown into the deep end, then I encourage you to enroll in the very first digital painting course offered by the Oatley Academy of Concept Art & Illustration. In true Oatley Academy fashion, it has a snappy title. It’s called The Magic Box: Everything I Know About Digital Painting. In the Magic Box, I will show you every work flow, every technique, every time saver, everything I have developed over my past eight years of professional digital painting experience including my time as a visual development artist at Disney. The Magic Box will empower and equip you to paint lifelike and animal characters, to control color, light and atmosphere, to achieve a professional level of polish and dimension in your work, to avoid overworked paintings in the flat coloring book look forever, to increase your speed and efficiency with techniques that will work in any painting. And of course, to break through the overwhelm of working in Photoshop. Plus, you’ll have access to a huge community of passionate, focused artists with whom you can connect and collaborate. So if you want a clear step-by-step method designed specifically for concept artists and illustrators, head to ChrisOatley.com/MagicBox and enroll today. It’s completely risk-free and you get instant access to the first set of lessons as soon as you enroll. Here are just a few testimonials from current Magic Box students.
John Acuna says, “@ChrisOatley, those lighting tutorials helped me make a major breakthrough today. Two days of work done in as many hours. Thanks!” @Frederick_S says, “First time I’ve looked at a painting I’ve done and not wanted to scrap it asap. Thanks @ChrisOatley!” @ThousandFoldArt says, “@ChrisOatley, that last lesson changed my life dude #magicbox.” And @DrakeStudio says, “The Magic Box courses from @ChrisOatley have made me question my entire digital artwork flow. The learning! It hurts! Hurts so good!” I love you guys!
So head to ChrisOatley.com/magicbox to learn more, to enroll and we would love to see you join the Oatley Academy.