Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to Get a Job as an Artist using BUSINESS Principles - Work in Progress

Teachers teach great classes on art, but not so much on the job finding process. 

Asking a teacher who has been in the industry for 10 years is like asking your 50 year old dad for dating advice! In today's dating atmosphere of texting, snapchat and Facebook - a lot of his tips are dated. The same thing can be said for today's job atmosphere, in today's job culture where Social Media such as Facebook, Linked-In are now job finding tools - students need to stay relevant to the newest job finding tactics - many of those tactics I wish to reveal.

There are some things that change, and some fundamental principles that will stay the same. Business Principles will stay the same. Everyone likes a quality product, personalized service and the feeling of a good customer experience. I want to show you how to leverage these business principles and use that to propel your career to greater heights.

Art Eduction can be time consuming and expensive. 

I've spent over 11+ years of my life on formal art education. $200,000 for college tuition + expenses. And another ~$15,000 for post college classes.  I'm grateful for my professors who have made me into the artist that I am today, but not everyone has the time nor money to pay for that kind of education,

In January 2013, I wrote a blogpost declaring my intention to work in the theme park industry.  I only created THREE new portfolio pieces. In July - 7 months LATER - I was already working on my first assignment for one of the largest theme park design firms int he world. And today... in the short time span of LESS THAN 2 years - I've had 8 clients and worked on 16 different projects for waterparks, themes parks, museums and exhibits located in countries of the world including US, Japan, China, Abu Dabi, Canada and Dubai.

What's my secret?
A lot of teachers say that you need to work really hard and spend 12-14 hours a day practicing art. They preach the 10,000 hour rule and just accumulating mileage.  I did that - it didn't work for me.  I definitely think that there is a simpler and more DIRECT method. Working hard is good, but try combining that work ethic with what I'm about to tell you next...

Staying Focused 
Art Tuition is not a problem anymore. If you've done your research, you know that you can take classes at CGMW, Animation mentor, schoolism, gum road, free youtube video.  - for a FRACTION of what students used to pay for art education.  You only spend to spend $500 on an art class (Concept Design Academy), for a class that would normally cost $10,000 (Art Center). You only need to spend $5 on gum road video that would've normally cost $500 for an art class.

The problem students face now is staying focused on their goals. Students need to set out a SPECIFIC goal, and do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal without getting sidetracked.

Quote from Harold Speed - The practice and science of drawing
Introduction - What's holding you back?
Artists shy away from learning business principles. Here are some negative beliefs about money many artists have (many of my art teachers have directly and/or implicitly taught these things to their students).

Limiting Starving Artists Beliefs
1) Money is bad. The desire to be rich is bad.
2) Businessmen are evil.
3) My purpose is to protect myself and be safe. The world is dangerous and clients try to take advantage of me.

While some art professionals have formed those beliefs from their experiences - it's not really productive to have those beliefs. Very wealthy and successful people see the world differently. I will now provide you with a different perspective on money and business.

Positive Business and Wealth Beliefs
1) Money is good. It's healthy mindset to believe that you can be an artist and also be rich.
2) Businessmen provide value and help people get what they need.
3) My purpose is to help people in the world - and provide good service and products for my customers and clients.

Students who have trouble finding a job, or professional artists who have trouble finding work are often asking the WRONG questions. They are really barking up the wrong tree.

Artist Centric Questions
1) How can I improve MY artistic ability?
2) How can more people see MY work?

While those questions are good for developing your identity as an artist - those questions are more ego-centric and about yourself.  These are the questions you should be asking if you want a JOB.

Client Centric Questions 
2) What are THEIR needs?
3) How can I solve THEIR problems, and provide better service?

Once you artist asking business minded


1) Know thy customer 
- Your customer - IS your clients or employer. Instead of thinking of thinking of companies such as "Disney" as a potential employer - think of them as your potential customer.

Be a Detective: Companies like Facebook, Target, spend millions of dollars research the identity of their customer/ user demographic. Detectives spend endless night scouring crimes scenes looking for clues of the murder. High school students spend countless hours (and their parents spend $$$) on researching colleges and prepping for SATs. That is the same amount of effort and dedication you need to spend research your company.

Biggest mistake I see artists students make is that they don't bother spending time or effort to know their company and/ industry.

a) You should fully understand the industry you are getting into - whether it is animation, film, games, mobile games, theme parks, comics or illustration. Each of these industry is it's own "country" - you will need to spend time exploring the geography and job climate of each field.

b) Know it's competitors. If your first pick is not hiring (they just don't need talent at the time) - you can also go to their competitors who make a very similar film, games theme park. Some times their lesser known competitors will be more willing to hire.

2) Understand the client's needs
Find out

3) Fulfill their needs

In order for you to get where you want to be - you need to know exactly where you are going.
Now before you read this article, I must make a disclaimer what this article does NOT teach. I do not discuss how to...
- become a talented artist
- create good artwork
- develop a great portfolio
- lead a happy lifestyle doing what you love
- make lots of money as an artist

While I have some knowledge about those topics - this article does not address those issues. There are actually plenty of people who are working art jobs - but have very mediocre artwork. While a great portfolio is helpful to getting an art job - that is not the only requirement. This article is about getting your foot in the door. That's it. Ok

1) What is it you exact JOB you want? BE SPECIFIC
You need to be as specific as possible. Right down to the job description. This needs to be a "realistic" job. I'm not saying to "aim low." I'm saying you need to know EXACTLY what the job description is, about how much it pays, who/ when they are hiring, and people are have had the job you desired.

It is not enough to say you want to work in comic books, films, or games. It is not enough to say that you want to work at a specific company - such as "Disney." There are many Disney divisions -  such as Media, Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Studios, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Interactive. And it is not enough to say you want to work as an artist at "Disney Animation." For example, there are many types of artists such as... "Story Artist, Layout, Editorial, Visual Development, Production and Management."

You should be able to find a job description for the job title. For example, here is the job description for a Production Supervisor. Ultimately you want a "realistic" job - which means that you have the job description in your hands and you know the job is real.  Also this job should be a job you actually WANT. If you don't actually want the job - your efforts will be wasted. Just shoot high and work towards a job than settling for something that doesn't satisfy you.

2) RESEARCH! Contact people to ask for advice! 
Now it's time to find out everything you can about the job position you seek. Do you have the necessary qualifications/ skills about that job? How can you get them? Imagine you a CIA/ detective - and you want to find out everything and anything. Pretend you a jealous ex-boyfriend/ girlfriend - stalking your ex. Or pretend your Batman trying to find out where is the Joker. You should be able to go through all information necessary to make yourself an expert.

- "Research" people on Linked In. You can use Linked In to see people who currently work/ have worked at that company. Contact them directly via Linked In, Facebook or their personal websites. If you google their name - sometimes you can find ways to contact them.

- Use books, movies, online articles, associations, tradeshows, networking events to gather intel.

Based on your research - and the people you talked to is this job what you are looking for? Is it feasible? If not - repeat Step 1 as many times as you need to. Research a different company or job description. The more research you do - the more knowledgable you will be able this industry. 

Most artists go through job hunts kind of aimlessly. I'm telling you to fill all your eggs in one basket - and watch that basket. Of course - sometimes it might be good to have 2-3 baskets. But it's always better to have a couple of baskets - than NO baskets at all.

3) Contact people to ask for advice! 

- first - you should contact the company to ask for advice. Ask the company/ employees what they are looking for - and what you need to to be apart of their team.

- Based on your research - you should have a handful of people who are working the job you want. Ask them how they got the job! The point here is to be as focused as much as you can. For the moment - stop listening to the advice of youtube channels, teachers, parents, friends, students, colleagues - and directly go to the SOURCE of what you want.

- Meet artist/ professionals at conventions such as WonderCon, Anime Expo, Comic Con, CTN. Follow their blogs/ tumblr/ instagram/ twitter.

- One special tip is to email them directly. You can usually find their emails/ phone numbers on their resumes if they have it. You can even try to friend them on Facebook. You can message people you don't know on Facebook for just $1 (super cheap when you think about it). I've used Facebook messaging to contact the Creative Director of a theme park company to get portfolio feedback before.

- Call them after leaving an email. When people hear your voice - they know you are a real person and not a robot.

- Be professional and develop good relationships with these people. Be courteous and respectful - tell them that you genuinely admire your work before you pick their brain. But also be forward in telling people in what you exactly want.  However - be genuine about it. Don't be too fake - know what I'm saying?

- When you email these people, I recommend saying 1) that they are awesome. You like their work. 2) Introduce yourself. 3) What does it take to get a job in that industry? In their opinion - what does the ideal job candidate look like? (You can/ and SHOULD attach your portfolio. But the whole point is not to get a portfolio review. It's to ask them how to get their job - basically. They might look at your portfolio - if it's relevant.)

4) Understand what they need and provide value!
- Earl nightinggale
- Brian tracy

understand their problems/ issues/ deadlines. be able to solve their problems!
Make their days easier. That's the attitude you should have when you go get a job.
Watch these youtube clips.

5) Ask for the job! And ask again - repeatedly!

After you know the exact job you want, you know what exactly what the requirements apply for it! keep creating new work. repeatedly contact the employees. Solicit. Market yourself.
I bought one thing from Banana Republic - and now they email me 5 times a week say they have clothes 40% off. Now emailing 5 times a week is too much - but if you email once 1-2 months with new products, new artwork - and you have the attitude and that you are there to HELP them - your perseverance will be appreciated.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to make a Killer Profile on OK Cupid

No Rules, Just Instruction

There are many OK Cupid tips and tricks articles out there.  However, most of the articles give you RULES - what to do and not to do. These rules are meant to fit the lowest common denominator of users. For example, many articles tell guys to avoid pictures with your shirt off, don't brag, don't take pictures of your car etc... But seriously, there are guys who break all the rules and are STILL successful with the dating website. What's up with that?

Instead of telling you WHAT to put on your profile, I'm going to teach you HOW to figure out yourself what you should write on there that expresses yourself in the most authentic way. My goal is to empower you and allow you to figure things out by yourself.

Before reading this article... I recommend that you go on OK Cupid and give it your best shot. If you can get dates on OK Cupid - good for you! You don't need to read this article. However, if you already given your best shot (I know how hard it can be), and are still having a rough time getting dates - then continue reading this article.

Step 1) Make a profile for an imaginary girl

This is for RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY. Get some photos of a cute girl (Ask for your close female friend for permission to use some of their photos for this "research project."). Create a profile and try to make it somewhat believable.  This "imaginary girl" should be someone you would want to date.  Deactivate the profile after 1-2 days.

There are two reasons why you are doing this.

1) You can understand what it feels like to be a girl on a dating website. Smart businessmen are always trying to understand their consumer, so they can create better marketing material that appeals to their demographic. When you understand it is like to be a girl, you can create better profiles and write more compelling messages and appeal to women.

2) Understand the competition/ Stand out from the crowd.  On a dating website, girls will receive many messages from guys that are unmemorable and lame. But there will be some messages and profiles there are super interesting and compelling. Learn from your competition and evaluate how you will position yourself.

When doing this exercise, try to think about what it is like to be a girl on a dating website. How many visitors and messages do you receive a day? Would you have time to read and respond to all of them?  How do you feel when receiving so many of these inquires? What does the username, profile pic, message and written text say about the guy's personality?

Step 2) Look up the most popular guys on OK Cupid and check out their profiles

It is always an advantage to have the BEST teacher teach you how to do something. I knew that it was possible for guys to be successful with online dating, I only wished someone could SHOW ME. Then I realized that OK Cupid had a system of pinpointing the "hottest" and most desirable men on the website with their rating system! This was too easy!

I was really surprised with the results! It wasn't always the best looking or richest guys who got the most messages. In my opinion, it was the guys with the best written profiles. (Occasionally, there is a dude who happens to be a model and has GQ level pictures - but let's not compare ourselves with them. It's not fair!)

Try this exercise out and see what you can learn. Imagine you were a girl, what is it about a guy's profile that makes him stand out? Which pictures or usernames were the most memorable? What were the most interesting stories you've read? What do all these successful profiles have in common? 

Note: there are some guys with "red" ratings that still have lame profiles. The system is not perfect. But it's a still a good way to filter out the best from the rest.

Step 3) Where to start? Congruency and Authenticity 

Ok - so lets say you already did the "research project" - and you know what it's like to be a girl on a dating website. You've studied the top 1% of most successful dating profiles for men. You have all these ideas of what to do and your brain is about to explode. Now what?

I suggest you start by understanding your core values. If I were an advertising consultant and you were a multi-million dollar corporation - that is what they were start with as well.

1) Write down 20-25 traits/ characteristics of your ideal girl. Take your time.

2) IDENTIFY YOUR CORE VALUES. You will find that many of the traits you written down are synonymous with each other. Group all of these traits into 3-5 broad categories. Those 3-5 words are your core values.

3) LAW OF ATTRACTION: Ask yourself if you embody those core values. Law of Attraction states that you must BE what you want to ATTRACT. If you feel that you value beauty and health, you must also be well groomed, stylish and fit as well! If you value spontaneity, adventure and travel, you probably should be doing some crazy and fun stuff. Whatever you expect from the GIRL - you need to expect from yourself. It's only fair that way - and it's the Law of Attraction. (I acknowledge there is the other theory about "opposites attract" and stuff - but whatever...)

If you feel like you do NOT embody your core values - stop reading. You have some work to do. Go work on yourself. Live your life fully and authentically. Having a girl in your life will not make your life more fulfilling.

If you answered YES - and you are living your life to your core values, it's time for your to develop a username, photos and write a profile that embodies that. All you need to do is to make sure everything you put on your profile is CONSISTENT and CONGRUENT.


The biggest mistake guys make is when their profile lacks a clear theme. They have a vague username like DanSmith123 (says nothing about their interests), they have a mishmash of pictures that don't really convey a theme, and their profile is just a description of everything cool that they've ever done in their lives. There is no consistently and you can really tell what they are about. 

When I was doing research,  I noticed that really successful profiles had a really CLEAR message, and it was easy to understand what they were about. Some guys are really into outdoors. Some guys are really into music and their band. Some guys are really into trucks and they are kind of a redneck. Whatever you are - a girl should be able to figure all of that out in a split second.


Core values: Adventure, Travel, Living life to fullest
Username: SkydivingMan67
Photos: pictures of you on mountains, hiking, biking etc...
Profile: Write about your adventures and where you have traveled.

Core values: Food, Live to Eat, not eat to live, Relaxing
Username: FoodieLA11
Photos: Pictures of you with delicious food
Profile: Write about cooking, eating, and your interests in food.

Core values: Anime, Comics, Gaming
Username: OdinsHammer
Photos: Pictures of you at Comic-Con, Cosplay, playing computer games
Profile: Write about the games you play, and comics you read.

Find the Simple statement 
Maybe you are a really well rounded guy with many facets to your personality. Perhaps you like hiking and outdoors, but you are also a hard core gamer, you like clubbing, and you are into knitting! Confusing isn't it? If your personality is really multifaceted, I recommend having a different profile for each of your interests. It's just kind of like how clothing companies have different brands for different demographics! 

The Bottom Line...

You don't have to be the type of person other people want you to be. No matter how fancy the camera, you cannot change the way you look. You cannot change your current job or school. You don't have to have the same interests that everyone else has. But you can own up to who you TRULY are and fully embrace what it means to be yourself. Identify your innermost core values, and have everything in your profile (username, photos, profile, message you send) really embody that.

Confidence doesn't mean being cocky and a douchebag. Confidence means living your  life inline with your innermost values and principles. Really embrace who you are - the energy you exude will attract someone who vibrates at a similar frequency. 

My Dating Profile

Lastly - I want to show you something that many articles and ebook do NOT show you. I want to show you my OWN dating profile. Of course - it is not perfect, but I made many annotations to show you what I've learned from my research and how I updated. You can view my previous version HERE.

With my old dating profile, I only got about 3 visitors a week, and maybe message responses from 1 girl a week. With my NEW profile, I was getting 15-18 visitors to my profile in a week, and message responses from up to 10 different people! That is a 500%-1000% increase in a results. (Just to note, this is while I was actively browsing and messaging other girl's profiles)


Last Note:

I just want to say that no matter how good your profile is, there are some limitations. This article ONLY covers the dating profile - That's it. There are many other elements that lead to a relationship. Some of them include...
- you are horrible at texting and creating interesting conversation
- you are not good at dating
- you are not good at relationships
- you don't have time for a relationship/ are too busy
- the girls on the website don't "click" with you

These are all separate topics. There are books on that stuff, and some stuff you just have to learn from experience. Good luck.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Darren Quach & James Paick workshop at Brainstorm

Yesterday, I attended a Darren Quach + James Paick workshop hosted by Brainstorm school. It was located at James's studio - Scribble Pad studios in Glendale. There were 30 students. And it was a very very small and cozy environment - felt like a Starbucks or coffee shop. The popularity of Brainstorm can be attributed to it's Facebook group - which boasts 15,000+ members, and has recently become popular because of the "Batman" challenge. Brainstorm's first workshop sold out within a couple of days. The Facebook marketing was brilliant - although I don't know if it was done on purpose (if is was... genius!) Facebook marketing is unstable though- groups such as "Daily Spitpaint" or "Viritual Plein Air" seem to be cool for about 1-2 months, but then quickly lose "coolness" as the group loses it's "intimacy" due to too many members. (Or people just get bored)

Signing up for class + Price + Format
Brainstorm School uses the platform Storenvy - which is really easy. You just click and pay online. Very simple. This seems to be the standard nowadays - no more writing checks!
The class was $185 - which is on the higher end of art workshops. CDA has 5 hr workshops for $120. Inland Empire Art Institute offers them fore FREE! However, Brainstorm offered 2 instructors instead of 1 - to justify it's price. Darren did a 3 hour demo. Followed by a 1 hour lunch break. And then James did another 5 hour demo. Followed by a 1 hour Q+A session.

Darren Quach

- Quick sketch. loose
- used free transform tool for about 30 minutes fiddling with proportions.
- Line art
- Colored it in. Add photo bash towards the end.

Notice how the proportions changed dramatcially

Space to Detail Ratio
Cluster your detail, instead of having detail all over the place.
Think about your space to detail ratio. 90:10, 80:20, 70: 30?
Generally larger objects (space shuttles), have a lot of space, and have detail clustered together.
Generally smaller objects (children's toy), have a lot of detail uniformly all over, and little empty space. (exception would be high tech devices such as iPhone/ apple products)

In the demo, Darren clustered his detail around the cockpit - which is where he wants the viewer to look. There is a lot of empty space on the "wing" - where he doesn't want the view to look. Don't have detail uniformly all over the object.

This principle  also applies to environments. A large space to detail ratio gives a scene that EPIC feeling. Currently, I do a LOT of detail all over for my theme park illustrations, I want to move towards a better detail: space proportion.

Line weight trick
Duplicate the layer. Erase the interior lines - where you want lighter line weight. This gives you a line weight variation without haven't to retrace the image.

James Paick

- break workflow down into different parts. Focus only on one part at a time. Easier for brain. This is similar to the way John Park and Khang Le paints. 

- Graphic composition
- 3D space/ topographic layout
- Photobash
- Lighting Pass
- Vehicle/ People elements

graphic shapes

create a layout/ path

transform/ distort

Photo Texture

Lighting pass/ Add props/ Vehicles

What I realize is that James paintings, they don't look that awesome until he does that lighting pass - which is about 75% through his process. When he does the photo bashing, it's really not THAT cool or exciting. But he is patient and methodical, he just works patiently until the painting is ready for the lighting pass and BOOM it's awesome.

This process is almost the reverse of traditional painting. In traditional painting, you kind of do the lighting pass first, and then you work your way into the detail. However, for James' workshop, he does all the detail (photo texture) first, and then does the lighting pass in the finishing stages. 

This process kind of drove me crazy, and made me feel very impatient - but it was actually very efficient for James to work this way and he had a great product in the end. 

Why are you so fast James Paick?

James said he attributed efficient to his personality trait of breaking things down and categorizing things. He used to do martial arts as a kid, and you have to break down and practice the movements one by one, and then you link them together really fast. I guess how that relates is that James practices the individual components of creating a painting separately, and then links them together in the end so it's fluid. 

I can relate this - this is kind of similar to the way I practice popping and dancing. It's just muscle memory. Deconstructing and breaking down steps is also a process really encouraged by Tim Ferris - who is is a master as meta learning. 

How to master any skill by deconstructing it

Other Notes
- Another thing worth mentioning is that James has a strong background of games and always like blueprints as a kid. You may notice above in the "layout" phase - he created a topographic map and free transformed it onto his painting - it was like creating a  blueprint. 
- When deconstructing your workflow - remember to practice all the step. If you have 10 steps, you need to practice and review all of them. Not just the ones you like the most. 

Q + A Session

One of the unique attributes of Brainstorm School is it's smaller size. At the end of the workshop -  we took all the chairs and formed a circle. Then we had an informal discussion where we could ask questions to Darren, James and John. I haven't seen this format done before at other workshop and it felt very valuable. They also did a raffle in the end with some free sketchbooks, prints and hard drives. 

Informal Portfolio Review
After the Q+A session there was an informal portfolio review where students could show the instructors work. I think stuff like Portfolio Reviews could use more formal structure such as lines and time limits and stuff. This part was kind of hectic and unorganized - hence they called it "informal." 


On the contrary - One of the most organized portfolio reviews I've ever seen was hosted by Shaddy Safadi at the Massive Black workshop - he allowed each student to choose only ONE work to critique - and he set a timer of 1 minute on his iPhone. Students could get back in line if they wanted more pieces reviewed - but everyone had the same "1 minute" of critique time. I felt something like that is really effective - and I hope more studios/ schools pick up on that.  

Overall Experience - "House Party not a Club"
The school advertised that lunch would be provided for all students - but that wasn't really true. I asked if there was a vegetarian lunch option - and even though they told me "yes"  TWICE - mind you - lunch was just a platter of turkey wraps from Costco. The staff was pretty helpful and directed me to a Trader Joes which was only about 2 blocks away - and I walked their with a friend who - like me - ALSO had dietary restrictions. Vegetarians are really common nowadays - ESPECIALLY - in the art field. C'mon - keep up with the times Brainstorm. 

This was probably an honest mistake - especially for their first workshop. While James and Darren are very experienced instructors, what they lack is a dedicated admin staff like CDA. It's probably not that big of a deal - especially if you like the fact that James is operating his own art school. This is more like "house" party rather than going to "club" in LA. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

John Park Workshop at Art Institute - Notes


John started the workshop by asking us "what makes a good image"? The students said things like.. design, detail, composition, value, color etc... lots of stuff. John's point was that there SO many things to juggle at one time. His approach was to isolate one element and work on it one at a time.. -> composition -> design -> props etc... Because he kind of works on this artistic principle one at a time - I found his approach to be really improvisational - he was really creating his piece as he goes along - instead of sketch out the rough idea and fleshing it out. This was a very fast and direct approach - he finished his piece in a 2 hours with full detail and polish - with another 1.5 hrs left of the workshop to spare!


I didn't take photos of this segment. But basically John take a cool image, posterized it. 
- duplicate, rotate, scale it -> to make his graphic black and white composition. 
This is similar to method that James Paick & Charles Lee uses for the initial part of his composition. 

UNIQUE VISUAL LANGUAGE - make textures from photos and stuff. 

John recommends creating your own visual library so you aren’t regurgitating the same thing over and over again. Basically, he took a T-rex skull, and made patterns of it so that it became a floor plan, tower, pillar etc...

I can see lots of applications for abstract, sci-fi, fantasy for this technique. In John's line of work - he needs to create a lot of designs for his art director. With this method, he is able to create a visual language that is unique and completely original - cuz he JUST CREATED IT!


John taught us to make props THEN  make the environment.** (Kill 2-3 birds with one stone)
I think this was a valuable lesson - because I feel like it makes the painting feel more authentic then just "stock image" props. In a production environment - you are able to accomplish multiple tasks this way as well!

Other tricks and notes

- John does mostly key frame and mood pieces. 

- do the photo textures, then make a mask for the lighting. 

Soft Shadow for people - dab it and then stretch it out. 
- paint on top of the person. add some stuff. 

- matte painting trick - copy layer gaussian blur and lighten layer. mimic photography. 

- unsharpened mask, and mask out the focal point

This was the demo that John completed for the workshop in 2 hours. The uses of photo textures is really clever. He makes his own photo textures through his unique compositing method. The person in the white has suit is cut out from a photo - but he painted on top of it to add interest. My favorite part of the workshop was when he added that person.  Once he added the guy in - I could understand why John had to do prep work with the environment and made those design choices. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shading Techniques Class

Hey guys! My friend Chris Legaspi just released his new course in shading and rendering. 
It's called Shading Techniques in Photoshop:

Mr. Legaspi is a good friend and very talented artist and experienced teacher. He teaches at some of the top schools in L.A. including Gnomon of School of Visual FX. He's also written several instructional articles for Imagine FX magazine.

I took a painting class with Mr. Legaspi and he is a cool guy and very generous when it comes to helping people. He's given away free tutorials, videos and articles on his for years.

I just checked out the course today. It's pretty good so far. Very professional.

Check it out. Support a fellow hard working artist. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Figure Invention taught by Lucas Graciano - Notes and Review

Figure Invention at Watts Atelier - taught by Lucas Graciano

"Really great, innovative and fresh drawing exercises!" - reviewed by Chris Chien

This was a special 5- week course at Watts Atelier. It was only $220! What a steal compared to the $600-$700 price tag of CDA. The scenic drive from Irvine to San Diego was beautiful and almost NEVER had any traffic. The students there were very talented and it was a great energy.

That's student work you see on the walls. And...any instructors at the school were also previously students. 

Week 1: Drawing Mannequins

At first I thought this was pretty basic. But I found the exercise very helpful. I'm glad the instructor had us draw from photographs instead of the live model (I find that it's very easy to get distracted by all the details on the live model) It was much easier to concentrate on the task at hand with a simple photograph. You could take your time and really focus on simplifying the form. 

Teacher's Demo

The teacher gave us handouts, and we turned them into mannequin drawings. 

Week 2: Change the pose

In this week's lesson, we mannequin training really paid off. We copied a photo from a photograph and we had to rotate the pose - like it was on a turntable. It was a some guesswork - but if you understood the form correctly - you could do it. It was a great challenge. 

The left and right drawings are different. The left one is drawn according to the drawing. The right one - I reversed the pose (if you look carefully - the legs are different.)

In the left drawing - I drew it according to the model. And the the instructor had us draw the same drawing, but in a slightly higher perspective. 

Week 3: Face. Mastercopy + application

At first - I wasn't sure the purpose of this exercise - but this ended up being my favorite lesson! We did a master copy. And then we stylized the photograph as if that artist did it! Really helped me internalize things and STEAL techniques so it's my own - rather than just copy. 

 Instructor Demo: doing a "Mucha" master copy. During the master copy - he really stressed the importance of going slow and taking your time. Most people rush their master copies and just go for the big picture. But this instructor really instructed us to get the structure down but find the small subtleties as well!

(Left Top) That was my Mucha master copy. 
(Left Bottom) This was a copy of the photographed STYLIZED with what I learned from doing the master copy. This was a SUPER helpful exercise. And really helped me digest what I learned from doing the master copy and put it in use!

Week 4: Drapery from Model

Instructor's Demos: In this lesson - he taught us the 7 different types of folds. He really broke it down. Then when he was teaching us that the folds should really help explain the form. DO NOT COPY WHAT YOU SEE. Sometimes the folds go against the form, or the fold changes as the model moves. But if you understand the different 7 types of folds, you can make it up and it will look realistic. 



Above are my drawings. The lesson was super helpful. Later that week - I drew a cute cosplay girl with a nice dress. I think that week's lesson REALLY helped me make the drawing look so much better. I learned to not just copy the photograph, but interpret in a way that shows the information more clearly. 

Week 5: Draw Model from Memory + Change the Pose

Instructor's demo: This was a GANGSTA lesson. So the model would pose for 5 minutes. And you would just memorize the pose. Then for the next 5 minutes you would draw FROM MEMORY! It was so crazy.  And then to take it even further - you would take the drawing you created, and draw the model from an alternate angel view! Then the model would pose from the back view and you can check to see if you were correct/ make any changes! 

(above) These drawings were created from memory. Afterwards, the model would get back in the pose, and you could make any necessary corrections. This really challenges your brain and pushes your comfort zone!

(above) These were drawings I created. We had to recreate them from memory after staring at the model from 5 minutes. And then translate the drawing to a different angel! In the drawing on the right, the instructor told us to draw the model from a higher up angel! This was really challenging - cuz there was no way to check if you were right or not! 

 Class Pros & Cons/ Observations

- Only $220! Great Deal for 5 weeks. I don't feel like a 5 week course is inferior to a 10 week course  you probably will learn the most important essentials anyways.

- Class is not reoccurring. The school constantly changes it's course schedule from term to term. So you won't be able to get the same deal/ take the same class I did.

- Small class size - about 10 students.

- Great Handouts every class! The class was well structured and the teacher was very organized.

- No homework/ critique. Is this a good thing or bad thing? You decide. You can show the teacher some of your work during the breaks - but there really isn't a formal time for it.

- Very solid classes. Each lesson had a different theme and lesson - so you were learning something NEW each week - with practical exercises that you could do at home.

- I was a little annoyed that people kept asking me how many classes I was taking. The culture at Watts is that students take 3-5 classes a term. And students don't have any homework. I come from a culture where you do a minimum of 3+ hours of homework for every 1 hour of class (at least that's the expectation at Art Center and Carnegie Mellon). It seems strange to me that students and instructors glorify the class hours - and skimp on the homework hours. But whatever - it's just very their school's culture. You can always do extra homework on your own time.

- Despite what I just said previously, most of the students have very exceptional skill from taking lots of classes.  In my opinion, the collective technique skill of the students (in terms of figure drawing) is superior to that Concept Design Academy, Kazone, 3 Kicks Art Studio and LAAFA. You can easily reason that it's their primary focus and hence their strength.  The advantage is that you are surrounded that a higher level of talent and that pushes you more. I would definitely go to Watts to learn figure drawing - and go to another school to learn perspective, digital illustration, concept art and stuff.

Had a great time with the class. I take classes at Watts every once so often. While the San Diego drive is scenic - it's still long 60 minute drive from my house. I think these fine art classes are good for refreshing your art muscles - but there will always be a jump between academic drawing and commercial illustration - and it's up to the student to make that jump. Instructors who tell you that landscape painting and figure drawing will directly help you get a job are... probably just trying to get you to take more classes with them. lol

 I really enjoyed the class and I had a lot of fun. I would recommend you taking the class - except it's not offered next term - and there is no way of predicting when it will be offered. lol. :) Good luck.