You’ve also got a lot of experience with CG production and animation. What made you want to work in this field and how have these skills helped you grow as a 2D artist?
At various points in my early artistic life I wanted to work in many different fields. Film was an early interest, and I wanted to do monster makeup and miniatures, and later Jurassic Park was the film that opened up my interest to CG. That art book was incredibly important to me. It showed me how the intersection of art and technology can be transformative and innovative. Toy Story came out shortly after that and I felt a calling that I would come back to eventually in art school. But at other times I wanted to be a comic book artist and a car designer too. My interests were always broad. At some point I realized that all of those elements that I enjoyed could be practiced by working in CG.
My career has been in CG, but my role in it quickly transitioned from modeling and lighting into art direction and character design and painting concept art for the jobs we worked on. The three dimensional understanding of creating production worthy characters is hopefully evident in the way I turn a form in my paintings. And my interest and study of cinematography that initially was for use mainly in Maya scenes elevated my ability to cast light on a character and know where the shadows would fall. It was a feedback loop that made me better at both disciplines. Now when I paint concept art, I’m able to predictably translate those aspects of a bit of a style frame into the production piece without too much undue drama.
A lot of your art is done in Procreate (which is so exciting to us), and of course you use your own brushes which you also sell. How did you get into brush making and what inspires you to create these tools?
My first brush was a pencil. I was trying to replicate a specific effect that the built in brushes, as good as they are, weren’t giving me. But I could see the potential with the excellent brush engine, and within the first night of playing with my new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, I had set to creating this brush that would become the 2B Pencil from my Essential MaxPack. I was simply goofing around and making brushes as I worked, with no plan to sell them. But I kept getting questions about the brushes I was using and if I would sell them. I eventually gave in and developed my first two packs and launched on January 1st, 2018. The launch was far more successful than I ever expected, putting me at the centre of a new community of Procreate artists.
My Comics MaxPack came from my interest in comic books, but also from my desire to have my pencil case tools in Procreate. My sketchbook tools are a variety of Japanese pens and brushes, tech pens, mechanical pencils, markers, gel pens, and colored pencils. So everything I use in real life I can now use in Procreate.
My philosophy behind my brushes is to keep the packs focused but flexible. I prefer not to switch brushes endlessly. I don’t like being taken out of my creative flow to open up menus, so to help facilitate that I try to make brushes with the ability to make a wide range of realistic and intuitive marks when varied with pressure and tilt and speed. I love the way the Procreate interface disappears when you don’t need it, and I try to build my brushes to support that. It’s my goal to streamline the creative process and act as a counter to what I feel when I paint in the usual bloated and overstuffed desktop painting apps.
Following that, you’ve just released your long-awaited Gouache MaxPack. How’s the response been to it, and do you have any future brush packs planned that you can tell us about?
I’m thrilled to say that this has been my biggest launch by far. Gouache is a very popular medium in the animation and illustration fields traditionally, but it is such a tricky medium to replicate because it’s got so much range and everyone uses it differently. I knew this would be a flagship product before I began, so I approached it very seriously. They were in development for almost a year, and I’d like to think it shows in the final product. I can say without hesitation they’re my best brushes to date and I’m happy to say the community seems to agree.
For now I’m going to take a little break and paint for fun again. Developing brushes while trying to paint for myself is hard. It takes a lot out of me, and the two goals kind of interrupt the flow of each other. That said, I learned some fun tricks when building the thin, washy gouache brushes in the new pack. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a watercolor set in the future.
On Procreate, what’s your favorite tool and what’s your dream tool?
I am in love with the smudge tool. It might be the best I’ve ever used. It’s so fast and smooth. I have my finger touch mapped to be the smudge tool rather than finger painting by default. It replicates how I work in traditional charcoal where I make a mark with the charcoal stick or pencil and smudge with my fingers. It’s so intuitive and I get to preserve my years of muscle memory. Having a complementary brush in the smudge tool slot further aids my desire to reduce brush switching and interface time. I can paint with a fairly subtle smooth gouache brush, but have an aggressive, textural smudge brush at the ready to break up the edges or blend a transition with a bit of extra energy and gusto.
My dream tool would be adjustment layers. I have a few light workarounds to get me part of the way there to add contrast and finishing touches to a painting, but I would freak out if they were added to Procreate.