Wednesday, September 28, 2011

George Kamitani

The illustrator I've chosen to talk about is the president and one of the founders of a small gaming company, known as Vanillaware. While they've only made a small number of games as compared to other much larger companies, Vanillaware's titles are known and well loved for the effort and detail put into their artwork. They're also known for sticking with purely 2D art and animation in their games, in a field where almost everything besides portable and largely independent games use 3D graphics. In fact, the main reason I was first attracted to their games was because of the high quality 2D art and animation, since I prefer 2D to 3D.

As the president, Kamitani is responsible for much of the artistic design and direction of the games. He helps design the characters, produces official illustrations of them, and also helps animate them. His style and character designs, though they range slightly depending on the current game, tend to be very cartoony, having elements of both eastern and western cartoons. The proportions on the characters vary wildly. Physically stronger characters and giant monsters tend towards giant, hulking brutes with the classic exaggerated huge upper bodies and muscles combined with much smaller lower bodies, whereas more magical based characters or less physically powerful characters tend to have smaller, thin bodies with bigger heads. Most of the protagonists are in the second camp. Older characters such as adults will usually have more standard human proportions, though still with some exaggerated characteristics.

His works are very detailed, with tons of small and large touches that make the character designs very visually interesting. Armored characters tend to have elaborate armor, with lots of interlocking pieces and designs on the armor itself. Their clothes also have lots of bright colors and interesting designs, and many characters have costumes with other colorful details to really help them pop out. Despite the detail of the designs and images, however, they never became too chaotic and distracting. I think this is largely due to the color choices, with the vivid colors separating different parts of the costumes and characters. This is also apparent in the games themselves, where the character sprites and the backgrounds are all very detailed, but all stand out due to the different colors used for each, with the backgrounds having more subdued tones and the characters being brighter and more colorful, but not so bright as to clash.

Another thing I love about Kamitani's art is the way he paints and colors. He is very adept at blending different tones and colors together, such as skin with touches of reds, pinks, blues, and yellows. Such subtle shifts in temperature make for some really visually interesting coloring, and add good contrast to the overall image. His treatment of the image is nice as well, with a good mix of both lots of blending in places such as skin and stronger blocks of contrasting color in places such as clothing and armor. All in all, his cartoony style that plays with proportions to suit the character combined with very nice use of color and very detailed designs overall make his work and Vanillaware's games be unique and very visually interesting and engaging, and is the main reason why I am interested in their art and games.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peter de Seve

Peter de Seve is a world-renowned illustrator. Even if you’ve never heard of him, I can guarantee you’ve seen his work. He is unique in the fact that a good amount of his drawings are converted into animations for films, television and advertising. He’s done the character designs for numerous blockbuster hits, such as Finding Nemo, Mulan, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan, and Ice Age. He’s done numerous covers for the New Yorker and has also worked on a variety of children’s books.

One of the things I love about de Seve’s work is his ability to maintain a level of accurate realism while still generating characters that have their own unique persona.

Just looking at his work, especially with his animal illustrations, you can see how purposeful he is with certain details, like the spikes on a puffer fish. It’s obvious that he studies from life. However, while his illustrations are instantly recognizable, he still manages to transform the subjects from simple renderings to actual characters, full of life, emotion, and personality. Most of his illustrations also have a certain comical flair or humor to them. What I like about this though, is that he does it subtlety, he’s not overly obvious about it. He’s able to create a picture that’s funny without hitting the audience over the head with it.

There’s a certain calm relaxed element in his work that makes each piece seem so natural. There’s good flow to all his drawings and even the simplest sketches show his thoughtfulness and unique perspective. I love the way he thinks and the idea’s he comes up with. I believe that’s one of the reasons he’s so popular, his ability to create visual art that is stimulating and entertaining for audiences of all kinds.


I’ve never even thought about trying a hand at graffiti art, unless you count drawing on school desks or answering to bathroom stall questions. Even though graffiti isn’t apart of my own work it is my favorite kind of illustration, most likely because it’s so physical with energy that a flat surface cannot compete with. I recently fell in love with a collective graffiti trio, FAILE, because of their mixed media style of wheat pasting and stencil collages, paintings and prints. Their simple messages in the contrasts of war and peace, sexual images with cute icons, or religious idols in their pop culture style, also draws my attention.
image in Amsterdam is one of my favorite stencils, really only because the it is so odd it makes me laugh; a woman giving a blow job to a bunny tit, awesome. I also enjoy the mix of cultures of japanese cute bunny and a western comic art woman. I do get an almost Andy Worhol feel, or Roy Lichtenstein only because it's pop cultured, but both of these artists are overused in the art world though, so it's kind of a turn off. However, they are not either of these artists and their work has a mind of it's own too.

Collages and stencils do have a sculptural aspect to them, but Faile goes more than this with their prayer wheels, also one of my favorites as it also includes a participant to turn the wheel and read the words like a prayer. When illustrators skip over the line of editorial work or book arts and goes to gallery work, I want to celebrate because it almost smacks art elites in the face especially if it's a graffiti gallery. I would love to go to one of Faile's galleries. If you want to see more art,, this is where I got these images.

Aleksi Briclot

Aleksi Briclot began his career as a concept artist in the video game industry and has since been the art director and lead artist for several major titles. He's also worked in print; in novels, comics, and graphic novels. In addition to the more traditional print media, he's illustrated for table top and trading card games, most notably, Magic: The Gathering. His work often deals with fantasy/sci-fi subject matter and he works mainly in the style of digital painting. What fascinates me most about his work is his ability to create captivating and visually striking images within the extremely close confines of a card's particular prompt. These card descriptions often specify every element required in the desired illustration down to minute detail. Yet even within these confines, Briclot is able to bring a great deal of creativity and artistic vision to each piece. Among the multitude of commissioned artists, his work stands out because of his intense visual style and technical skill.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Justin Sweet

The Illustrator I have chosen to talk about is Justin Sweet. He is a fantasy artist who works mainly with digital. He works as a cover and concept artist. His work has a very loose and painterly style to it, but still manages to be exciting and interesting. Often his paintings will fade away at the sides, and yet are very dramatic and imposing. Other times when needed, he can make very crisp and clear images that fill the page. His illustrations can be very moody, and I think clearly portray emotion through his pieces.
Of course, I also just like how fantastic some of the creatures in his work are. His sketches also are extremely fun to look at, the lights and darks and sense of movement are all still there.
Going through his work, as it gets older, you can see just how much he has progressed. Some of his earlier work is incomparable to more recent works. Many of them look unfinished in comparison. Although the composition and would be dynamic-ness of the piece is there, you can clearly see that he wasn't quite as proficient at using digital as he is now.

Ashley Wood

I was introduced to the art of Ashley Wood about 5 years ago, and have been following him ever since. Originally famous for his comic book art, Wood has explored other areas of art, including video game concept art, and 3D collectible "toy" design. Since my discovery of his work, I have purchased three of his books: "Popbot 8", "The Journal of Ashley Wood", and "Zombies vs. Robots".

The first time I saw his work (in a comic book), I fell in love with his texture and limited color palette. There is just something about his mark making that makes me want to pick up a brush and try it out myself. Wood works in mixed media, integrating oil painting with digital manipulation. His images are dark, moody, and contain an apocalyptic feel. I enjoy how Wood integrates "hard" and "soft" subjects into his paintings, (ie. women [usually nude, and very explicit... I chose PG images for the blog] and robots). His play on soft and beautiful against cold and hard is intriguing to me.

Another thing about Wood's art that really speaks to me is his ability to stay so loose. In my own artwork, I have a natural tendency to make things as perfect as possible. I admire anyone who can open up, and allow the illustration to be more abstract. Wood does this amazingly well, and somehow achieves an incredible amount of detail while maintaining large and expressive brush strokes.

Wood's sense of proportion can, at times, be off (as seen in the second image above). However, I am not bothered by this at all, and actually enjoy the fact that Wood is "brave" enough to challenge our view of the world. I think that abstraction such as this, when done deliberately and with intention, can be a very powerful focal point to a piece.

Needless to say, I will continue to follow the works of Ashley Wood. I really enjoy his work, and always come away from them feeling inspired and wanting to work.

Marco Wagner

Marco Wagner is a German Illustrator, who also works as a fine artist. He has exhibited in oth Germany and the USA. He has done work for companies and magazines such as Slanted Magazine, Murphy Design, Nintendo, Senses Magazine, Tush Magazine, The New York Times and, Playboy Germany. He is a mixed media illustrator using collage, paint, markers and photoshop. His color pallet is pretty muted and greyed. His compositions are usually pretty centered and in a majority of his stuff, things appear to be flat. For the most part I don't think those things are hurting him. I think he is an interesting illustrator, he is doing something some what different. Everyones shit looks the same right now.

Brian Bolland

Trying to pick a favorite illustrator seems to me, to be a near impossibility. I can only think of who has been influential to me and most of these names are from the comic book realm. I could go on and on about how much I love Tim Sale's character design or about just how good Dave Mazzuchelli is, but I don't want to. I want to instead talk about an artist who has been, as of the past few years, forgotten. If you mention his name most hardcore comic fans will smile and get pretty excited, but on average the name isn't heard much. and the name is, Brian Bolland.

Bolland was first introduced to me as the artist that brought Alan Moore's Killing Joke to life and I have had a soft spot for him ever since. The cover to the book is certainly horrifying (evermore so upon reading the book) and his dramatic lighting of the scene works wonderfully. The level of detail he has brought into the pose is great and, even if we knew nothing of the Joker character, the illustration still underscores so many aspects of the character. We sense the danger and the twisted psyche of the figure before us. One eye is blocked by the camera and the other is nearly completely closed, but the hint of a highlight on the darkened globe inside his head is very effective. The way the metacarpals in his hand pop so dramatically emphasizes the extreme pose of the figure. The composition is nice, and keeps me involved with the piece as a whole. with this particular piece I would have to criticize the size of the figure's head, which seems just a few sizes to large. This of course would be something I could find passable in a more stylistic drawing, but this image feels so grounded in a firm reality that I find it a bit distracting.

The next image in the set is the one that I find to be the weakest of the bunch. As is always the case, texture is completely under control here. The frayed and straw-like nature of the hair is perfect. The grotesque proportions and skin texture of the figure is excellent. The starkness of the characters tuxedo is also nice, but the problem seems to be with how the two come together. Because of the sharp white of the character's shirt, I am instantly drawn to the figure's chest and have to fight to look back up. more often than not, my gaze is funneled down the front of his shirt and completely off of the image. Here, i feel that Bolland's daring compositions have run amuck and left us with an image that is a bit hard to look at. Of course, thematically, it could be the point. It may be that he is consciously diverting our eye. We are left with a faint memory of the figure's features, but nothing concrete. our own imaginations then contribute to his ghoulishness.

The strongest image of the set has to be of good old Sargent Rock. The textures and the proportions are beautiful. His pen work is creating tension. It feels frenetic, but somehow completely controlled. He applies a lot of nifty little technical tricks that really add to my enjoyment of the piece as a whole. Saying anything more is pointless. The image speaks for itself.

And so does Brian Bolland, through his tremendously detailed artwork. I do love his work and I certainly do wish i heard his name more often.

Adam Hughes

I chose Adam Hughes as my favorite illustrator to write about because of his portrayal of hair and fabric in particular. The way he makes capes, flags, long hair, even some short hair, seem so weightless and flowing is so alluring, and they way that he makes it so your eye follows them all around the page, never quite leading you off. Even his simple line work and sketches are beautiful to me, showing his knowledge of anatomy and how a person looks relaxed versus stiff, and what they're wearing falls upon them. I have not much to say about his color choices, because drawing pre-existing characters is difficult to have your own take on, since you have to stick to the tradition, but I will say how he shades things, and shows direction of light is so amazing to me, using heavy dark and showing the roundness of muscles, fabric, an object and how it casts a shadow is great. Adam Hughes is mainly known for his pin-up style versions of popular comic book characters, and I think they are fantastic, because something I have noticed in the comic book world, a character can be absolutely stunning, sexy, beautiful, whatever, without showing an inch of their skin. The way he shows how a costume that is probably made of latex or spandex or tough material, wrap around a part of the body is so beautiful, and the way he can show weight, and balance. Although I don't always agree with his choice of how women in the comic universe always being the ideal figure and large bust, I will say he does a decent job of making it look not too ridiculous, and sort of possible to be those dimensions. Like making the character well balanced enough all around the body so that it doesn't look like the character will break in half or just fall over. He has a great sense of perspective as well. No boring images.
He is an artist for DC comics, Marvel, Dark Horse and many others.