The Basics of Getting Better
Please tell us about your work as a Character Designer.
My work as a Character Designer is about finding the desired character for a specific project. It involves a lot of study, practice and finding inspiration every day. Every character I create has to be thoroughly designed, following various steps to achieve the desired goal. This doesn't mean it is appealing or attractive to everyone but it has a certain amount of study and research around the character, so the drawing holds a solid base that could express its own story behind him.
What have been your ventures concerning Concept Art?
I worked for three studios (Zebu Animation, Navegante Entertainment, Revolving Games) doing concept art. I did some character/creature designs and prop designs. The themes were from sci-fi to fantasy and even mixed sometimes.
Is your work process for both the same or how does it differ?
It's different. For animation, the main purpose of the character is the story. So, there are a lot of expressive drawings (poses, facial expressions) that describe how the character is and how it fits into the story. On the other hand, a character for a video game is more about a functional approach. It has to be created with that premise from scratch. How the character is going to look on the screen; its movements during the game; how it will jump, run, etc. There is an interaction between the gamer and the character that must be considered while designing it.
You have to understand the basic concepts of drawing.
What are the essential skills you to master for these disciplines?
Drawing, drawing and drawing. You have to understand the basic concepts of drawing. Namely line, shadow, light, volume, shape, anatomy, shape language, gesture, drawing and so on. It requires a lot of studies, exercises and bad drawings. The main objective is to understand. Every line that is placed on a piece of paper has to have a message; a meaning and a purpose. So, you have to be very precise on how to construct a character from the first line. Also, it is very important to know about composition because that is what will help you tell a story about the character you are designing and thus create a connection with the audience.
Briefly highlight what kind of work have you been doing for animation studios?
I've worked with studios, designing characters for sci-fi games, fantasy books, superheroes for Feature films/TV Series and avatars for commercial brands. That is the beauty of this job. You get the chance to explore different worlds and unleash all your imagination in collaboration with other people.
Kindly take us through your journey as an artist – education, significant projects, etc.
Before I became a Character Designer, I was a manager in a Call Center. However, I always loved to draw. So I was always drawing from time to time as a hobby but never taking it "seriously." Things suddenly changed then and, long story short, I was on the path to follow an undercover dream.
I first started studying at the university in Fine Arts but then focused on drawing more constructively and analytically . Figure Drawing became my way to go. This guided me to know more about this specific career and then began training myself with every resource I could find. Nowadays, the internet has everything that's needed to learn. We just have to be very disciplined and focus-driven to get to the place we desire. It is a never-ending journey but worth the ride.
Please tell us about your work on prop designs and illustrations.
For prop designs, there are a lot of perspectives and volumetric considerations to take during the drawing process. It differs from character to character because you don't have to put an emotion in every line. You have to keep inside the artistic style and how it adds value to the design. In illustrations, besides all the basic concepts, colouring and composition are immensely important. It has to tell a complete intended story in a clear, harmonious and beautiful way to the audience.
What kind of work do you involve in for the gaming industry?
Research is the first step to any direction. You have to get clear guidelines about what the directors or clients want from you. Ask questions! Do your own research in case they don't give it to you. Do a lot of thumbnails and rough sketches. Never trust your first design because you will always find a better or more complete one. It is a process. Understand the art style of the studio and make sure you can match that style. Otherwise, you and the studio are wasting time. However, never underrate an opportunity to learn something new. Give it a try and see for yourself if you can get there and, most importantly, you have to enjoy it.
What have been some of your professional challenges and how do/have you overcome them?
Being in a country (Ecuador) where the animation industry is almost non-existent was the most difficult challenge at the beginning. It is impossible to find a Character Designer role in any job listing because there are no animation studios here. So I focused entirely on finding a job internationally. That means leveling up my skills to be industry-standard anywhere. It is still a challenge but the pandemic opened the door for remote working options and that is an advantage.
What's your advice to young creatives just beginning their journey?
Perhaps it sounds like a cliché but my advice is 'hard work.' You have to be very disciplined and focused on improving your skills; study a lot and don't quit. This is a never-ending journey where you have to find opportunities to learn and take advantage of those opportunities. There will be moments when you think you are not going forward but, if you keep going, life will let you know in different ways that you are making progress. Don't expect inspiration or luck to knock at your door all of a sudden. Go find it in every drawing; making notes; writing or anything you can do to fulfill your journey. Maybe this is hard to understand right now but everything will start to fall into place when you keep going.