Sunday, December 13, 2009


Final Project: An Interview with a Blizzard Artist

It would be hard to read the interview text off a screen-fitted magazine page, so I copied and pasted the text into this blog for your reading pleasures. The intro is still in Swedish (due to laziness), but otherwise in English.. So skip the intro if you're unfamiliar with Swedish :P

The project itself was to design a 12-page magazine with 3 other people. I chose to do something really exciting with my share of pages, an exclusive interview with a Blizzard Concept- 3D-artist, Marc Brunet! How did I manage to get it? Very simple: Once again artists prove to be some of the coolest people on earth who will not hesitate to help students :)


This is what my two pages looked like!
Click for larger view

PS. All the images are clickable for larger views

Marc Brunet är en 23 årig 3D- och koncept artist. Som många andra inom spelindustrin, är han självlärd, men hans motivation och positiva tänkande fick honom dit där nästan varje spelare eller artist vill vara. Blizzard Entertainment® är ett världsomfattande känt spelutvecklings och publiceringsföretag, och det är där som Marc Brunet har hittat sitt drömjobb. Vi fick denna exklusiva intervju med den unga artisten i förhoppning om att få inblick i hur det är att vara designer och var vi hittar inspiration som grafisk design-studenter.

01. Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to realize art was what you wanted to do.
I’m from Montreal and lived the majority of my life there. It was as a kid that I really started to like art. I was drawing comics with my younger brother all the time and was really having a blast. In early elementary school, I quickly became my teacher’s favorite in art class since I would yell at the other kids to shut the hell up when he was explaining stuff. Just so that I could get to the fun part faster: Doing art. My parents told me I was way ahead of the other kids, coming up with cities drawn in correct perspective while the others where drawing them flat. At that point, I was too young to understand drawing could be my job later on. It was only at the start of college that I figured I would make a living out of this. I was already getting commissions and coloring jobs for comics, so I thought I’d try to expand my skills by taking 3D classes (as the Blizzard cinematics, as well as the cutscenes from Final Fantasy had me drooling over them). I went into a 3D program of 3 years, and stayed a year and a half before I got my first job offer at a Montreal based game studio called A2M. Flash forward 2 years later, and I was getting a job offer from Blizzard Entertainment in California; My dream studio, and makers of all my favorite games. I should mention winters in Montreal are very cold! The choice was obvious.

02. What is it like to work at Blizzard? Can you tell us about your role, and what a typical day is like?
Blizzard is by far the best place to work at, ever. I thought my last job was awesome, until I started working here surrounded by all those insane artists and working on a game that will blow away everything ever made. Doesn’t get any better than this! I think that the biggest difference here is that I care a lot about what I do, and I genuinely want to make it awesome. As far as I can tell, it’s the same for everyone working here, and as a result, we have a very creative and friendly work environment. My position is  2D/ 3D character artist, simply meaning: I do both the concepts and the 3D models.

A typical day is something like this:
I’ll get to work at 10, go grab breakfast at our awesome cafeteria, then come back ready to start my day. Next Gen Characters* take a lot of time to create, so I can easily spend 3 weeks working on one, but let’s say I’m going to start creating a new one: I normally know what I’ll be working on in advance since we have a lot of things to do, but if not I’ll go chat with the game designers and art director to see which character they want me to work on, and what their functions/ abilities will be. When I get a good feel for that character, I’ll start with a bunch of quick sketches, then refine one, add colors, and then have my art director approve it. Lets say I’m going fast and I’m done by lunch time, I’d boot up ZBrush next, and start sculpting my drawing in 3D. There goes my day! After work I often stay to work on personal stuff, so on average I leave work pretty late.

03. How long did it take until you felt like you’ve reached the required level within the industry to start designing professionally?
I’ve always felt I wasn’t quite there yet, at least before I actually got hired. When I did, I compared myself to the people I was working with and I think it was only then that I noticed I was fitting right in, in Montreal at least. But with Blizzard, it’s a different story. My plan was always to work here, but I thought I would spend at least another 3-4 years back in Canada before I’d consider myself worthy of a job at Blizzard. Needless to say, it was a pretty cool day when they contacted me only 2 years after I left school! I truly never thought that would happen.

04. In regards to 3D art, what are your favorite and least favorite parts?
A lot of the modeling process is very technical and tedious, and as an artist I like to create pretty things, so the sculpting part is my favorite. Sculpting in ZBrush is just like with clay, except it’s more awesome. I also learn so many things about anatomy each time I model something, which even helps me in painting. It gives me a better sense of volumes and how light interacts with shapes. I would suggest it to any 2D artist!

05. Which of your works are you most proud of?
This is a tough one! I think I’m always more satisfied with my latest painting. Modeling is such a big part of my job that when I have free time, I usually draw or paint. Don’t get me wrong I like 3D a lot, but I don’t get the same satisfaction looking at a finished 3D character in a boring rig-friendly pose that I get by looking at a finished painting. So to answer the question, my favorite piece is the one I’m working on right now!

06. From your experience, what is the most important asset or skill to succeed in producing decent 3D-models?
Well, most important is good 2D skills; I think those two go hand in hand. A lot of the skills you need for 3D come from technical knowledge. We make games so these models have to run on certain machines, be it PC or consoles, they have to run. It’s important to take a whole lot of things into consideration when creating 3D models. In general, 3D artists don’t start at the beginning,  nor the end of the pipeline. They need to respect the concept, and hand in a model that the animator will be able to animate properly. If your model isn’t well made, it’ll deform horribly and ruin the whole thing. It also has to be light** enough that the game engine will use it without wasting too much processing memory on it, etc. You pick all the technical stuff over time, and any non-artist can learn it.

07. Any  designer has a favorite form of inspiration, which influences and directs  their creativity. Which are yours, and are there any names you’d like to give?
What really got me into drawing was Dragon Ball, so as funny as that may be, I would put that as my top influence. I would copy pages and pages. I actually learned a lot from that manga. Also, it was awesome
Next biggest influence was the asian artist Kim Hyung-Tae. This guy, even to this day, really impresses me with his art. Other than that, my inspiration comes from a bunch of different guys and gals all over the internet, posting their art on blogs and art websites. There’s just so much out there it’s really hard to run out of inspiration.

08. As a design student, I usually find it quite challenging to find a creative environment to work in. Do you have any tips for us on how to create or find creative and inspiring environments other than school?
What I always do when I want to get things done, is down 2 or 3 cups of coffee, put on some music that reminds me of something in the past (which simply brings up good emotions.. I’m a very big music guy), and I don’t go to bed until I’m done. I also forgot to mention, I do that at night only. Somehow I’m more creative then! I used to go through a lot of art online before starting with something (to get my brain started), but that was before I tried coffee!

09. There are just too many people working within the design industry in today’s world. What in your opinion helps getting an artist/ designer hired?
Employers want to hire people who can adapt quickly. It’s always important to be able to render in a lot of different styles to show them you’ll have no problem switching gear and mimicking the art style of a particular game. I think it goes without saying, you have to be good. Your anatomy/ perspective have to be spot on. Lastly, you have to be a nice person to work with! In the game industry at least, the work environment is very interactive and it’s something you learn to like. You don’t really have a choice! I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and I can tell you, we turn a majority of the applicants down because of their personalities, even if their art is good. The less drama  in the work place, the more  space for creativity.

10. 3D-graphics and idea development are two main aspects we’ll be working with regularly. Do you have any advice for us as aspiring designers?
Well, from my experience, the best way to succeed in this field is constant hard work. Very cliché yes, but the people who get the cool jobs are the ones who commit themselves to their work. It’s all about managing your workload, improving, as well as staying motivated and inspired. That balance can be very tricky to maintain, and its often the reason people don’t succeed as much as they would want to. Now that I think about it, it’s almost like a diet; It’s always hard to maintain even thought we all know it pays off in the end. Remember, there’s no such thing as a crazy idea!

I would like to thank Marc Brunet on behalf of my team and class, DG09, for taking the time to answer these questions.

All Pictures © Marc Brunet -

Thursday, November 05, 2009


My Obsession

showreel 2009 from Lois van Baarle on Vimeo.

If the movie isn't starting, as it happens to me too sometimes, see it directly from it's page.

I'm amazed by every last detail, the illustrations, the color profiles, the music. I'm in love.. I'm obsessed!
Seeing this was also sortof a reminder of the dream I left behind when I moved to Sweden, but even though making films would be amazing, I think I still want to pursue concept art now. Old dreams don't have any privileges in my world anymore :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009



I was doing a quick photoshop sketch since I needed a dummy-pic  for a magazine cover project, and ended up working on it the whole day. I actually stumbled upon the flames idea by accident while trying to come up with a texture to blend into it.
Problem is .. I should have used the time to complete the rest of the sketch assignments for tomorrow.
Uni has been tough and shitty actually. I've been missing out on essential lectures and assignments.. it seems that being on the road too often makes the dumb even dumber :( I really hope I'll be able to catch up!

On a much much much more surprising and happy note, my Topanga watercolor painting was chosen as a featured upload on Amature Illustrator :))))))))))))) I'm so happy!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Digital Painting and some nostalgia

I actually saw hints of my sister's face (as a child) while painting with Photoshop, so I decided this child was going to look like her, and tried to make this face resemble her as much as I could (out of memory).

In any case, today has been rather productive, as I've gotten myself through more lighting, skin toning and digital painting studies :))))

Progress waits for no-one

Been doing a little shading- and color-studies. If I ever want to go into concept art, now is the time to start shaping up. I didn't really use all the lighting concepts I've recently learned, but going one step at a time will keep the progress going more smoothly :)

I've been feeling quite down actually as I've not been drawing or painting seriously for too long. I've sortof turned into a washed up half-assed artist wannabe X/
And to add some chocolate cream to the pudding, I'm also home sick because I've been messing with the wrong type of medicine. Lactose-intolerant people, beware the medicines that are made of pure lactose, because the result ain't pretty lol!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Art That Inspires Me

Feeling like I needed a little motivation tonight. I realized I often get my "buzz" from the more clean and simple drawings, but anyway... Here are some amazing inspirational drawings. Hope you get your buzz too :)

and of course the reference list to the artists (same order as the drawings):

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Interview With Matt Dixon

Having worked with game graphics since 1988, and many other licensed publications throughout his career as an illustrator, Matt Dixon is one of the pioneers in the field of Concept Art. The beauty and diversity contained within each one of his works of art, as well as his distinguished imagination, have been a true inspiration to me. In today's post I'll be asking Matt a few questions in which any aspiring artist or designer should use the answers to as a source of motivation.

Q. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up, how did your journey as a concept artist begin, or what were your ups and downs? 
I grew up in Birmingham in the UK. I think I had a very normal childhood, and I always enjoyed computers and especially drawing. That's where my journey as an artist began as there's never really been a time when I haven't been drawing. The progression from drawing for fun to drawing as a job ( if you can ever call it that ) was very natural and was not something I ever planned. After school I worked in guitar shops for a few years until a friend offered me a job at his videogame development studio. I worked there for more than 10 years, gradually moving away from 2D and 3D production art into concept art. Really it was this creative environment of this studio along with security of the job which allowed me to develop my digital art skills and I remain very grateful to the guys who gave me that start.

Q. What different types of projects, commissions, or jobs have you taken throughout your career?
While at the development studio I worked on a wide range of licensed projects from movie properties like Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean to well known game franchises such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. As a freelancer I've been lucky to work with an even wider range of clients, everything from book jacket and collectible card illustrations, to t-shirt designs and even graphics for an office cleaning company.

Q. What is it like to be a concept artist? What were the challenges, daily demands or routines? What do you find boring, and what do you enjoy?
What's it like? If you're someone who enjoys drawing and imagination then it has to be the best job in the world. My daily routine stays pretty much the same - I begin by answering emails and dealing with any paperwork, then the rest of the day is spent drawing. How cool is that? Organising schedules, dealing with paperwork and tax returns is not very exciting, but this takes up a very small amount of time and the drawing more than makes up for half an hour signing contracts or a trip to mail some documents. Really, there's nothing about the job which bores me and the occasional challenges of a changed brief or a very demanding client only help to keep things interesting. It's great!

Q. What's your greatest inspiration, specially since you do have a unique style where people can tell if a piece was done by you. For example, the figures and faces of your female characters are quite special and unique to your style. 
I'm often asked what inspires me or where I get my inspiration from and the honest asnwer is that I just don't know. It's not something I ever go looking for, and there's not a particular source that I look to if I feel uninspired. I just go with what feels natural to me. That's the way I've always approached drawing and I can't see a time when I would do things any differently. I listen to music constantly while I work, so I suppose that must help to inspire me and of course I love to look at and learn from other artist's work and that must influence what I do, but I can't define a single source of inspiration. I think everything has the power to inspire!

Q. Can you summarize the the stages of working on a project and some of the development methods?
It depends very much on the project but I like to start work as soon as possible once the brief arrives. If I know that a project has to be scheduled for weeks or months in the future I put it to one side and try to forget about it. That way I can approach it anew when the time comes to work on it. I find there's an initial rush of ideas as I read through what the project requires and I like to try and ride that wave of energy, getting as many ideas drawn out as I can. Sometimes these are no more than scribbles, but there's usually something in that first flood of thoughts that I can pick up on and develop. Once I've chosen an idea, I like to see it through, so I tend not to abandon a concept even if it looks weak or unsuitable for the project at hand. Trying to solve any problems with the idea can throw up new and interesting directions to take it in and I can always refer back to that initial 'bank' of ideas to start fresh if needed. Any concepts which are ultimately rejected get stored for possible future use.

Q. How big of a part does symbolism, modernism, realism, or any other cultural movement play in conceptual works?

That depends on the artist and their approach to conceptualisation. Concept work usually comes with a fairly specific brief which tends to channel the creative process in a particular direction, though the artist can clearly draw their inspiration from any aesthetic they choose. Where it does play a part, it's likely to manifest more the creative process than in the end result, though it's clearly an advantage to have as much knowledge to draw upon as possible.

Q. Are there any defining characteristics of a concept artists besides being imaginative? For example, I was told by one of my tutors that animators have to be a bit obsessive. It's one thing that gets them through some of the endless frame-work.

I wouldn't agree that you need any particular characteristic to be a concept artist, or any other artist for that matter. Surely what drives us is a passion for what we do, and enjoyment of the creative process? If it wasn't enjoyable, then why would we do it? I imagine that would override any character traits that may help or hinder us to a small degree.

Q. Working as an illustrator, would you say it's true that if your passion (or hobby) becomes your job, you'll have nothing left to do for fun? 
Absolutely not. I'm sure any artist with a good imagination can think of plenty of other things to do for fun! :) And who said that something stops being fun just because it becomes your job? I enjoy sitting down to draw as much today as I did as an eight year old.

Q. What is your word of advice to those aspiring to become concept artists and how they can begin?
That's difficult, as the world of concept art and illustration has changed very much since I began. I do know that it's a very competetive field and there are a lot of amazing artists out there. To succeed in this profession, you have to be good. Really, really good. That means lots and lots of practice - there really is no substitute for time spent with a pen ( pencil, stylus, brush etc. ) in your hand. So if there isn't one there, you really have to be able to justify why.

Thank you so much for your time and insight. Your help is deeply and sincerely appreciated. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Antique Clock

An illustration of an antique English clock. I illustrated this little gizmo for the last project of the graphic-techniques course at uni. We were basically supposed to draw a complicated pryl (swedish word for gadget or thing) using Adobe Illustrator's pen tool and gradients only. I probably should have picked something a little less complicated, but I've just always had a thing for antique gizmos :)
Took about 24 hours of work (yeah I know it's far from being done too) at the cost of my sanity haha!

A little happy update, I actually found a Concept Art course (15 points) that I'm applying to next semester at Gotland University. Wish me luck!
Studying at Jönköping this year helped me realize that I'm actually good at Graphic Design, but it also isn't what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I want to produce things that stir into people's imaginations, putting them inside my work's atmosphere. Not sell them sunscreen or print magazines.

Monday, October 05, 2009


The Queen Vs The Tasks

I've grown some fondness to Queen Latifa after seeing Mad Money for the second time. I realized that I haven't seen her in that many movies, but I did really like her roles in the ones I did see. Specially in Ice Age.
My illustration doesn't resemble her as well as I would have liked it to, but I just couldn't spend more hours on one task any longer. I do have way too many things to do, and  it's actually ironic how there has been almost nothing to do at Jönköping uni all semester until all the tasks decided to pour from the heavens simultaneously in one week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009



Well, it has been decided! This old and forgotten journal shall be used for a task I'm doing at Linköping Uni. I basically have to enhance and edit the layout and style according to course standards, and then promote any new publications through blog-portals, search engines and whatnot.
I'll be posting day-to-day happenings instead of practicing Swedish and uploading art as well. It would probably benefit me to revert back to Swedish once the task is complete, but for now, proper spelling and grammar are required.

Well, it's getting late and I have to catch the 6:35 train to Jönköping tomorrow. We'll be doing tasks that I definitely can't miss :) Good night world.