Q1: Let’s start with the common question, if you can kindly introduce yourself.
Sure. My name is Daarken and I am a freelance concept artist and illustrator working in the game and entertainment industry. I’ve been working professionally since 2004 and I’ve worked with clients such as Wizards of the Coast, Blizzard, Big Huge Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Trion, Kabam, Honda, and EA to name a few.
Q2: How did you get into the field of your work?
Hah, well I always find it a bit funny when people ask me how I broke into the industry because my story is completely uninteresting. About three months after I graduated from the Academy of Art University inSan Francisco, I was sitting at home when I got a phone call from both Fantasy Flight Games and Wizards of the Coast asking me if I would like to work for them. I think they actually called on the same day too. It was a pretty big shock too because WotC is one of, if not the top company that all freelance illustrators want to work for.
The way I broke into the video game industry was exactly the same. I was sitting at home one day when I got an e-mail from BioWare Mythic asking if I wanted to fly out toVirginiato interview for a concept artist position to work on the game Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I flew out for the interview and was hired a few days later.
Q3: Do you have any current favourite artists, comic artists, photographers who may have influenced you to become the artist that you are?
Oh yeah, there have been many artists that have influenced me over the years. When I was younger I grew up collecting comics, so all of the big comic guys were a huge influence. Image had just started, so all of the guys like Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, and Marc Silvestri were the artists that I looked up to. I was then introduced to anime and manga, so I started looking at guys like Yoshitaka Amano, Nihei Tsutomu, and Miyazaki.
As for contemporary artists, I really look up to Brom, Justin Sweet, Kekai Kotaki, Aleksi Briclot, and Todd Lockwood. Brom is actually the person that got me started in the fantasy genre. I saw his book when I was younger and I knew then that I wanted to paint fantasy characters and monsters.
Q4: What are the main tools of your trade?
I have a few different tools that I use. I have an Intuos 4 that I use when I am working on my Mac desktop, an Intuos 3 when I am working on my Mac laptop, and then I also use a Fujitsu ST5112 tablet pc. All of my work is done in Photoshop. I use CS2 on my tablet pc and then CS3 on my Mac.
Q5: How was it for you to learn the process of that? Did you teach yourself, take classes or learn from other existing artist’s tutorial?
I am pretty much all self taught in terms of digital painting. Back when I was teaching myself Photoshop, the internet was still fairly young. There weren’t really that many online tutorials, there weren’t huge art forums where I could ask for help, YouTube hadn’t been created yet, so I basically had to do it myself by just opening up the program and messing around with the tools. I was still in high school when I started teaching myself Photoshop. I didn’t have a tablet back then, so I did all of my art with a mouse. Since I didn’t have that much control with a mouse, I used the pen tool to create lines instead of free handing them.
Q6: Do you think its possible for you to describe the process of your art style, what are the dos and don’ts, the important aspects you set yourself to achieve your style of design?
Usually when I start an illustration or a concept I try to think in shapes in silhouettes. I was never very big on line drawing, so when I started using Photoshop I just started each painting by using large brushes and painting in big shapes. Having strong silhouettes is key to character design and composition. The other thing I try to keep in mind while I am painting is realism. What can I add to make the image more believable? What should the armor look like to make it look believable? Some ways I try to achieve this is by basing my designs and ideas from things that exist in reality. If you are designing a creature, take a look at animal anatomy and then give it your own twist. Lighting also helps a lot when trying to depict a realistic painting. Study how light interacts with objects and try to find interesting light and dark shapes to tell a story.
Q7: What are the biggest struggles you encounter as a artist?
Staying confident. I’ve never really considered myself as being a very good artist, so I always have to try and stay confident while I am painting. Going to sites like CGHub can be extremely dangerous because there are so many amazing artists out there. I look at their profile and realize they are only 18-20 years old. Sometimes I feel like giving up because I don’t know how I could measure up to all of the other talent out there, but then I just tell myself that I have to push on and try to be a better artist. Not being happy with my own art might actually be beneficial because it does push me to try to be a better artist. If I was happy with my art, I might end up becoming lazy or stagnant.
Q8: Do you have any other future plans that don’t involve creative art? Would consider working outside that field and into something new?
Not really, but it has crossed my mind several times. I developed carpal tunnel in both wrists a couple of years ago, so it got me thinking about what I might do in the future if painting becomes too painful. I guess I could always start teaching, but that is still part of the creative industry. If I could do something that wasn’t art related at all, it would be hockey. I was a huge hockey player back in the day and played college hockey for the UniversityofTexas. As a freshman I actually became the starting goalie for our team and we made it all the way to Nationals. I am way too old and out of shape now, but I wish I could go back and make a career out of it.
Q9: Do you have any personal mottos, quotes or existing quotes that motivates you to do what you love doing? Can you share it with us or provide words of wisdom from your experiences for those who look up to you?
Hah, I dunno if I have any personal quotes but I have a few “words of wisdom” that I can pass on. Don’t give up. I know that seems really hackneyed, but it is true. A lot of people don’t realize that it takes years of training before you can become a successful artist. I have some people that e-mail me saying they are getting really frustrated with their progress, but they have only been painting for a few months. It took me years and years of drawing every day before I started my professional career. If you don’t see progress right away, don’t get discouraged, just keep at it. Being an artist is a lot of hard work and if you aren’t willing to work for 12 hours a day, then you might need to think about another career.
Q10: To round off the last question, where can your fans and new fans find updated news and progress from you, – Where can we find you? (links mate, websites, include everything that you want people visit you on)
My main website is www.daarken.com.
I also have a blog that I update fairly often located at www.daarken.com/blog.
I also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daarken/45213851359.