Thursday, October 20, 2005
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1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
I’m from Barcelona, Spain.
It all started with my brother Victor (5 years older): when we were kids he spent all the day drawing on every piece of paper he found. And I started to do the same, giving me to be drawing all my life, everywhere.
After school years I started Fine Arts, but left it after the first year (of five) to start learning animation during 6 months. After that I started to work on animation (doing almost all the possible kind of works of this field, from background to animation and art direction) until the past year, when I decided to try professionally to work on comic-books and illustration.
2. How do you go about designing a character, and what goes through your mind, from start to end? (Please be very detailed and in depth with this question)
I think that when you are in charge of developing a character from a story, you have to believe on him as it is "real". You have to think on every little question about his behavior, his needs, the kind of life that he could have had before, during and, when possible, after the part of the story where he/she is involved. And this works not only for giving more depth to the graphic design. It is really grateful when you find an element of the character that everybody can understand, and it’s not detailed on the story. That adds the value of complicity with the audience, and makes the character be more close to them easily.
Also it depends a lot on the final media were it’s going to be showed the character. When you work for traditional animation you should keep an eye on avoiding unnecessary work for the people who will work after you on this character. A single stroke, a single line of volume can cause a lot of troubles.
On digital animation there are more technical values that you may know (something difficult as it’s a field in constant evolution) , and things that you can consider hard to do graphically, they can have it solved with software. But it’s always good to solve in advance any technical issue that may happen, by doing a good, or at least "intelligent", design.
In any case, the first and most important question that comes to me when starting the design is try to make it simple. This is something that animation field has proved to be really useful. It’s essential that the audience recognizes the whole character by seeing only a little part of it. I would like to give the characters an "icon" value when possible. That’s more difficult on a more realistic kind of work, where you cannot play too much with proportions or sizes. But then you have to work on the attitude, the way they walk, how they move their arms or hands when talking, etc...
3. What do you think really helps you out in designing a character?
If you have to work on a story it’s easy to find elements to play and translate to the character. You can use the reference of people you know, actors or animals to understand the actions and behaviors (and/or tics) of each characters, and then you can give the difference on your design. Observation is always basic, essential, but you should give something different to the design, to make it interesting or believable. There are a lot of people who may have your same references, and you have to find the key to make a character close to that reference, but giving the audience a "possible surprise”, something they haven’t expected for the "reference". But that they can agree and like for your design. It’s always good to have the audience in mind for this possible game with them.
When you don’t have a story as a reference you play god with all you have in mind. For example, I use to take a look to all kind of clothes, old and modern. And as many people do, I’m always hunting faces and models on the street.
4. From your own experience and maybe from some people that you know, what should we put in our portfolio and what should we not?
Unless you have an extraordinary talent on all kind of art works (and this kind of people exist, I have seen them!), it’s better to focus on what you do best. If you are only good on backgrounds, then put all your best on the first page. if you only like to draw fairies , do the best fairies you can, and then show them without fear. If the person who has to give you a job is good on it, they will recognize your skill on other things by taking a look on your fairies. From my point of view I don’t mind if you have a strong portfolio of pages and pages of beautiful studies of hands, if later you show me a character and the "essence" of the hand is not translated there. I know people really good on life drawing that seem to not understand the volumes and the anatomy when designing a character.
5. What are you working on now? (If you can tell us)
I’m close to finish the third and last volume of the "Wizard of OZ" comic book that will be released in France at the beginning of the next year (Editions Delcourt).
6. Where is the place you would like to work if you had a choice?
During many, many years I would have loved to work on Disney, Dreamworks or Pixar, but now I’m not really sure (except for Pixar!). The videogame’s industry is another field really interesting that I would like to try someday. By now I’m ok working in home, doing personal stuff. The bad side of it is that you are not on direct live touch with the way other artists work. Working on teams, if you find a good team, is always a pleasure and a push to learn and evolve.
7. Who do you think are the top character designers out there?
It’s difficult to say. Before the "boom" of websites, forums and blogs it seemed that these kinds of people didn´t exist, and that make great artist anonymous to the audience. Now you can see great pieces of art and great character designers jumping the crazy way from one blog to another (that reminds me that I have to add the links section to my blog! Arg...!).
Just to say a couple of the ones that most impressed me when I discovered their work: Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz), and Claire Wendling, whose versatility always inspires and impresses me a lot.
8. How do you go about coloring the character, what type of tools or media do you use?
I do blue pencil drawings (0,5 mm) and color with Painter. Sometimes I use colored pencils and pentel brushes for fun. It’s good to touch all the possible media you can to choose the one that fits better with your style. And sometimes the use of a different media or tool gives you the key to find your style.
9. What type of things do you love to draw, and why?
I love to draw faces, expressions, because they can give a lot of information at the same time you, as an artist, can find new ways of doing designs or solving volumes with strokes, etc.
10. What part of designing a character is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
For me the most fun is faces, and the hardest sometimes...foot. I don’t like to draw it. There’s a lot of ways of drawing a feet but I don’t like most of them, and always try to make them as simple as I can to skip the problem.
11. What are some of your favorite character designs and least favorite, which you have seen?
Maybe Hellboy. I love a lot of character designs of animation movies, books, etc. But Hellboy has a lot of power on his design, at the same time that works alone narratively. Also it seems easy to draw it, but it’s really difficult to capture the essence.
The least favorite I can’t remember. Maybe because it was done so bad that it didn’t impressed me enough to remember!.
12. What is your most favorite subject to draw?
Maybe the subject "warriors" is one of my favorites, because you can put them in action, and at the same time you can play with different clothes and metals, weapons and art designs. I love to take a look at ancient civilizations art, and imagine how people lived the day by day, how they used all their objects, how they created them and for what, etc...And then arrive the warrior horde and waste them all!! Ha,ha,ha!!...ugh...
13. What inspired you to become a Character Designer?
I have been always thinking on doing my own stories (for any media, cinema, books, etc. -Dreaming is free, isn’t it?-), and for those stories I always wanted specific characters. Maybe that leaded me to design them the way I liked.
14. What wisdom could you give us, about being a character designer? Do you have any tips you could give?
To give all the information you can to the audience or to the team that works with you, and in the easiest and simplest way, to keep as much as possible the essence of your drawings.
15. If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted? (Email, Web page)
17. Finally, Do you have any of your art work for sale for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
By now the only stuff that can be found to buy is my comic books, and are by now only in French or Spanish: "Libertadores" in Spain and "Les LIberateurs" in French, and "Le Magicien d´OZ" (an adaptation of the Wizard of OZ to comic on three volumes) in French too. Please take a look at "Amazon.fr" if you don’t find any other way to buy them (I’m sorry I don’t know another neither...)
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