Zhi-huang Dong aka Benkate, is a concept and storyboard artist. Originally from Beijing, China, she is currently living in Canada. In 2014 she started working as a character designer for Toronto-based animation company, Guru Studio.
Though often very sketchy, Dong’s illustrations still manage to convey all the information we need about a character. An over the shoulder smirk, a dropped face with a frown, or a slight touch of an ear, help us connect with them. Dong’s strong understanding of body language is demonstrated in her 2014 portfolio, which is packed with expressive and off-the-wall characters. That same succinct ability is also showcased in her very entertaining short animated storyboard.
For more Zhi-huang Dong goodness, I suggest following her on Tumblr and Facebook.
Zac Retz is a colour artist and character designer for games, film and animation. He had been working at games company Workinman Interactive since 2013, until recently deciding to become freelance. Part of the decision to freelance was so he could work on his own animated short. He has set up a Patreon to cover some of the costs. In return he shares the visual development process as well as tutorials.
Retz’s artwork is stunning owing a lot of its appeal to his understanding of light and colour. Adjusting between realism to expressionism to better suit the story and mood. All of his portfolio is filled with charming illustrations, but his more romantic ones are especially alluring, as they do perfectly convey the emotions of the characters.
You may perhaps already recognise his work from a previous Lounge feature, Gustavo Soares, who turned one of Retz’s images into 3D.
You may recognise Natalie Nourigat’s name from our recent 28 Gumroad Creators You Really Should Know post, but undoubtably you would like to learn a little bit more about her. “Tally” is a cartoonist, storyboard artist, character designer, animator and writer. She attended University of Oregon and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese, in 2010.
Tally is currently working on a creator-owned serialised comic, Over the Surface. The 10-issue miniseries will be published in 2016 by Oni Press. She has started a Patreon for it, where patrons are privy to behind-the-scenes process and artwork.
What is next for the multi-skilled and multi-disciplined Tally? Well, she recently moved to Los Angeles, California to begin her new role as a Story Apprentice at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Sounds about right. I will be looking forward to her future projects.
We asked 200 artists one question.”If I was a magic genie, and could make a book that would solve all of your art problems, what would that book be?” We got many different answers, but after a while, we started to see similar patterns in their responses. Most common problems had to do with character design, movement, facial expressions & drawing hands. 21 Draw solves all of these problems.
21 Draw is a book about character design, movement and expression drawn by over 100 amazing artists who have worked for Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Rockstar Games, Marvel, D.C Comics, Capcom and other giants of the entertainment and gaming industry.
The Book Review:
21 Draw is the exact type of project that could only be conceived and delivered with today’s social media and crowd-funding backdrop. The Lounge was lucky enough to be contacted by Chris O’Hara about the project very early on. So, in May last year, once the project went live on Indiegogo we watched in anticipation how well it would be received. However, with the roster of phenomenal artist including Steve Rude, Ariel Olivetti, Kim Jung Gi, Artgerm, Loish, Phobes and many other industry giants attached to 21 Draw, we needn’t fret. In just one week the project raised $77,000. Over the course on May 2,337 backers raised $150,181, more than 3 times its original goal.
The 21 Draw dream was to be both an artbook and a reference book. It focused on answering common artist problems. After surveying 200 artist, the recurring topics were a lack of good character references, action poses, drawing faces and (no surprise) drawing hands.
Addressing this, the book is broken up by character type, for each character the artists produce two pages of headshots, turnarounds, action poses and hands. Included are common characters tropes such as adventurer, detective, hero, magician, pirate, princess and more, as well as quite a few not so common ones, like Kawai Tokyo girl. I enjoy this repetitive nature of the book, comparing how each illustrator manage the same brief. All artist, except Kim Jung Gi, whom the editor thought would be “cool” to give him a much looser brief, I think most of us would agree.
As well as being categorised reference book, 21 Draw includes 13 tutorials, in which the artist explain their process from sketch to the final image. Including what medium and programmes they work in and a few neat tricks. I love going behind-the-curtain of such skilled illustrators. Out of all the tutorials, for me, the highlight was Steve Rude’s four pages. I would more than happily buy a full book of just those.
Flicking through the book, just when you think you have had your fill of inspiration, it keeps going. Like a five-course-meal, with two deserts. 21 Draw is an achievement that not only collates an excellent array of talent, it is genuinely helpful. Even if it is just a springboard of inspiration, the quality and diversity of the illustrations; both in terms of style and subject, will undoubtedly earn 21 Draw a permanent space on your drawing desk.
A follow-up book titled 21 Draw: Illustrators Guidebook is in the works which I am very excited to see what it has in store. You can find out more about that on their Facebook page.
Hardback or Paperback
215 x 255mm
Valentin Seiche is a French cartoonist and comic book creator. Born in 1987, young Seiche basked himself in Super Nintendo, Japanese culture and Japanese art. A combination that would heavily influence the direction of his art style.