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Art Advice 2.0 from Joe Madureira

Joe Madureira has continued voicing his art advice with details on what gear he uses, his influences, and skills needed for working in the game or comic industry.

Art Advice 2.0

Now for the specific art questions I do get very often:

 1-I use a technical pencil with HB lead 99% of the time. Staedler, Koo-in-oor, Prismacolor Turquoise, it’s all good. Take your pick. I use them all. Sometimes I work on paper that’s a little different ( smoother or more coarse ) and I may move up or down to an H or a B lead if needed. But I find H and 2H digs into the paper and is too hard to erase ( Which sadly I do a lot of ) and B is too soft ( smudges like a mofo.) B is fantastic for going back over lines, darkening , and adding weight to your lines. Basically, ‘inking’ with a pencil. **Just keep a sheet of scrap paper under your hand or you will smudge the shit out of your drawing!!!**

HB suits my needs 99% of the time. Really no need to switch it out, just adjust your pressure. Harder or lighter. Usually I’m too lazy to switch, but I will occasionally. It’s a good idea to keep 2 or 3 pencils ( ie. Lead holders) handy with different leads so you don’t have to switch them out constantly.

2- Paper—I like to work on smooth paper. 11x17 or 8.5x 11 depending on what I’m doing. Bristol with a smooth ‘plate’ finish is what I like. The coarser paper doesn’t handle large areas of blacks or ‘shading’ very well when you use a pencil, as you can see the grain in it ( and I currently don’t use an inker ). Not to mention, I don’t like the paper fighting me—feels nice to just have the pencil ‘glide’ across the paper. This is total personal preference. I know plenty of artists that love the grainy paper. I’ve actually been using the ‘smooth 100lb cover stock’ Bristol that they sell at Kinkos lately. It’s not the greatest, but it gets the job done. I’m comfortable with it. And it’s cheap. It is HORRIBLE for ink, so I recommend it for pencils only. It’s also a little thin. Sadly a lot of paper manufacturers have started to suck, and there are many rants by professional inkers about the downgrade in paper quality from manufacturers such as Strathmore, etc. Do some research if you are planning on inking your stuff. Speaking of which…

3- Inking—having done this myself recently, there are two huge problems to look out for when you are selecting the right paper for handling ink. 1) make sure the paper isn’t so grainy that you ‘lift’ some paper grain as you are inking. Especially if you are using pen nibs!! The paper literally flakes apart. And 2) some paper that is nice and smooth doesn’t have the problem of breaking apart—but once you go over the final inks with an eraser to remove the stray pencil lines, the ink comes up with it. Ie. It doesn’t stick to the paper well. You will end up having to do hours of ‘touch ups’ to get those faded grey lines looking black again. Many paper wholesalers will let you test sheets of paper in the store. I highly recommend this!!! That said, I still haven’t found a paper I love for inks yet. The search continues. Until then, I’m sticking to my smooth Kinkos paper. And using a pencil

4- I do NOT work digitally for the most part. Not for comics anyway. I will occasionally do ‘silhouette studies’ in photoshop to get a character nailed down if I have too many ideas or I’m not feeling confident about my direction ( there is nothing like ‘layers’ and ‘undo’. ) , but more often than not it’s pencil on paper. Depends what I’m working on. Tablet/photoshop lets me experiment more and be wishy/washy / try new things but I find that I approach things differently when I put pencil to paper. I’m more committed/ confident and I often like the results better. Often times ( but not always! ) , your first attempt is the keeper. Go figure! Again, this is personal preference. It really depends on how confident/ experimental you are ( and how cool your Art Director is ) . Some guys can fill an entire sheet with 50 variations on the same thing. That’s okay. If it’s in your head, put it on paper! You have to get that shit out into the world! It’s not good to anyone locked up in your brain.

5- My influences, in no particular order- Art Adams, Alan Davis, John Byrne, Mike Golden, George Perez, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Lee, Mark Silvestri, Mike Mignola. On top of that, many, many Japanese manga artists. Anime series. Video games. Film directors. Nature. And lately, countless artists all over the web. Everyone finds inspiration in different places. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re excited. Most mornings while I’m having my coffee I’ll browse the internet for inspiration to get me pumped. DeviantArt is fantastic!

6- Working in Games—For concept art, much of it is digital ( I use photoshop, many use Painter, Manga Studio, etc ) , but believe it or not, it’s still a lot of pencil on paper ( for me especially ). You can take your sketchbook anywhere, and you never know where you will find inspiration. Draw often. 3D modeling--- it’s either 3DSMax ( what we used at Vigil ) or Maya. If you learn one, you can figure out the other fairly easily. So don’t stress it TOO much. If there is a particular studio you want to work for though, you may want to find out what they are using. Animation, same rules apply. For 3D sculpting, most studios use Zbrush. There are tons of forums for pretty much every discipline with the absolute best talent in every field offering advice. If you aren’t already soaking this stuff up…you should be. Post your stuff. Often. Heed the advice of your peers. And you never know, you may actually impress people and make a name for yourself! The important thing is, get your stuff out there! Many project leads look to sites like deviantArt, CGhub, etc. to find awesome talent. Get your stuff up there.

7- For either Games or Comics—you absolutely have to learn Illustration. Figure drawing. Perspective and lighting. Animation ( for killer poses and moment ) . A lot of concept design and comic illustration/ visual storytelling is about *CHOICES*. You can copy an artists ‘style’, how he lays down lines, but it’s really the ‘choices’ they make that makes them unique. You can’t think like them. You never will. But---When all else fails, copying your favorite artists and trying to figure out WHY they made the choices they made is extremely valuable **AS AN EXERCISE**. It certainly helped me. Just DON’T copy stuff when you’re working professionally and your work is being published. Everyone will know, and-- It’s just embarrassing. ..

8- Don’t worry too much about your ‘style’. Everyone stresses that. When I started I had no idea what my style was going to be, I was just a horrible amalgamation of all my favorite artists. It will come to you in time. Every drawing you do will get you closer to ‘your’ style. Because it’s about your decisions. They are different from everyone elses. You can copy the lines but you can’t think line someone else. It’s all coming from you. Just keep drawing.

I’ll update soon with some more, but that’s the major stuff. Good luck!! And make sure you post your stuff. Use the internet to your advantage. This is a valuable tool we did not have years ago when I started!!!!!!
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LEX! said…
When I was trying to be a comic book artist I always used the 2mm leadholder and H or 2H lead. So, this is pretty close to what I thought was right.
When I started my book Tension everyone acted like I was crazy for not inking it. I must have had ten inkers offer their services when I started it but I really like the look of straight pencil (sometimes in an "inky" smooth style and often with rough, sketchy edges) and had noticed quite a few artists starting to do this. The only reason inking became the norm is because of technological limitations of the day. Scanners and programs like Photoshop CS6 make it possible to have great looking pencil lines in a comic or illustration.
Matt James said…
Awesome article, Joe Mad is one of my biggest influences and favourite artists.

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