I've been drawing on-and-off since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Whatever interested me, whatever grabbed my attention at the time - books, comics, tabletop wargames, television and movies - all of these things inspired me and motivated me to draw, to get the pictures in my head out into a form in which they could be shown to others. Drawings are a very effective way to convey information, and you can get more detail from one well-rendered picture than you can from reams and reams of descriptive prose.
Most of my technical knowledge has been garnered from a range of reference books, online tutorials, and extensive practise. Digital art really helped with that last one, as it's very forgiving and allows you to play around with techniques and effects without fear of irrevocably ruining a piece, and that encourages learning through experimentation.
While I was interested in art at school, the accepted wisdom was that you couldn't make a living from it. I continued to draw as a hobby while at university, and it was after university that a friend of mine who was a design graduate saw my pictures and suggested that actually I could make a living from art, which goes to show what accepted wisdom knows. She introduced me to digital art and the use of a graphics tablet, and I never looked back.
My main games industry experience came while working for mobile game developer IOMO, which was very educational with regard to how things work in the industry - development schedules, deadlines, how the creation of the art assets is broken down into manageable chunks, and so on. It was also an interesting challenge to work within the limitations of the platform - very much a matter of getting the most out of every last pixel - while also keeping in mind the range of screen resolutions and height-to-width ratios used by different handset manufacturers.
I've also produced commissioned illustration pieces for a number of publications - the No Press RPG Anthology, Third Order webzine, and a piece of cover art for an impending Call of Cthulhu RPG supplement.
Monsters, hands down. It's a lot of fun just to let my imagination go and come up with strange and outlandish beasts, to try and convey a monster's behaviour or character. I'm a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons monsters - not just the obvious ones like orcs and trolls and such, but often the more esoteric beasts. I've a particular soft spot for mindflayers - psychic tentacle-faced horrors that eat people's brains. How could anyone resist?
I've found that digital painting gives the most flexibility when it comes to bringing an image to life. You can start out with a rough thumbnail and expand on it and refine it from there, with a much wider range of options than traditional media - and if you decide that this or that element isn't quite in the right place, it's very easy to rearrange things and tweak them to fit.
For sketching I tend to prefer a combination of pencil and pen, as that's the quickest way to get an idea from my head onto the paper, sometimes shading with markers or watercolours.
For digital work I have my trusty Wacom Intuos2 graphics tablet which has served me well for a number of years now. For traditional media I make do with whatever's on hand, but when inking I've found Faber-Castell PITT artist pens to be thoroughly worthy.
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