Matrixblur -

Comics Features - Artist Spotlight

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By Blazej Szpakowicz     January 22, 2006

Welcome to the latest edition of the DCG Artist Spotlight!

Our victim today is the infamous (seriously! just ask anyone whoknows him...) MatrixBlur, aka ETD, akaBlurry, aka Matrix[expletive deleted].

(Please note that no Matrixblurs were harmed in the making of thisspotlight. Not much anyway.)

Comics2Film (C2F):How and why did you start manipping?

Matrixblur (MB):Probably my predilection towards hot women in sexycostumes. To see all the characters I grew up withbrought to life, was an intriguing prospect.

C2F:What is your background in art?

MB:My grandfather had great talent. He always sat with meand we would draw the Sunday funnies together when Iwas little. He wasn't famous or anything, he was justan exec at RCA. When he did artwork, it was for us. Ialways thought that was really cool.

C2F:What software do you use?

MB:Photoshop.never tried any other drawing programs. Inow like to incorporate different programs into eachpiece. Exploring different ways they can be used.Illustrator, Bryce, Poser, Imageready.

C2F:What new techniques or effects have you recently been experimenting with?

MB:All of 'em. If there's one thing that I hopecomes across from my work, is that I try to reallyexperiment, going in totally different directions witheach piece.

C2F:What's your favorite of your own work?

MB:My newest. Magdalena.

C2F:What do you think is your strongest asset as anartist?

MB:That I have no life. That I can dedicate obsceneamounts of time "researching" base models. That,and the simple joy I get out of doing manips. If youtruly enjoy what you do, it comes out in your work.That is an asset to me.

C2F:What do you still need to work on?

MB:Capes. capes and wrinkles. and backgrounds. Oh yeah, worst problem is coming up with creativescenes. I see some of the stuff others come up withand it blows me away. Recently I saw a pic where thebase model looked as if she were straddling a pole. Astrippers pole, most likely. He transformed it so itappeared she was holding a sword, point-down in theground. Brilliant.

C2F:What's your favorite part of doing a manip?

MB:I can't say it in mixed company.

C2F:What inspires you? Where do you get your ideasfrom?

MB:You guys.

Stealing has such a negative connotation. I prefer tothink of it as effective time-management.

C2F:What annoys you about photomanipulation as agenre?

MB:Standards and practices. This is art, baby. Iget discouraged sometimes when I think an artist isrefraining from really experimenting because he or sheis too aware of the scrutiny it has to pass.

C2F:Who are your favorite DCG and Heromorph artists?

MB:Well, here I have a lot of favorites. But I have hadthe honor of working with both Kevincal and Shaylinn.These are two amazing and talented people. Um, you'repretty good too B. [B stealthily hidesthe stiletto he had pointed at Blurry's back. While whistlinginnocently. Nothing to see here, folks... move along...] At HM, many of the membershave become friends as well as fellow artists. Thereare too many to name.

C2F:How about professional comic book artists?

MB:I like Alan Davis. His way of making a line both softand strong at the same time. Bart Sears. Silvestri.and near almost the whole group that started up TopCow. Of all, Jae Lee, is probably my favorite. Some ofhis stuff is stunning.

C2F:Any advice for aspiring artists?

MB:Yeah, go back to school. and do this for fun. I'mserious. GO! Now! Can always do this when you retire.with a pension.

C2F:What're your favorite comic book characters?

MB:Ghostrider. Blackbolt. Wonderwoman, The White queen,Viper...any super-heroine that wears a thong....prettymuch all the female villains....heh...

C2F:You do some of the best metal objects in themanipping community. Care to spill some of your metallurgicalsecrets?

MB:Thank You B. Yes! I would love to! But I don't knowhow!

Its really hard to explain. I have been asked thisbefore and have been unsuccessful in my reply. See itsnot thats its difficult, its just....well, I wing it.Every time. See, I can never remember what I did onthe previous manip, so I know each time I've donesomething different. I suppose I must be at leasttaking similar steps each time, or I would be totallylost. I would love to be able to go through the stepswith somebody, if to just help me figure it out. But, it occurs to me that I have hardly answered anyof B's questions, so I will make an honestattempt at this one:

1st step is to create your base object. Whether youfind a photo or a 3d object, or create a metal area inPhotoshop using gradients described in all the metaltutorials. A simple shape with a good mix of gradientscovering its surface. Problem is, when most people getto this point, they stop. That leaves the objectlooking metal, but flat, or disconnected with the restof the image. The next step is to incorporate the objinto the image. Once placed, it now needs to "react"to environment as a piece of metal would. This iswhere tons of experimentation comes in. I guess if Ihad any kind of secret, it would be at this juncture.I tend to make several different layers of the metalobject, and start adjusting each one and blending themtogether. Like one layer, I would exaggerate thehighlights, the other layer, exaggerate the shadows.Then start playing with blending modes of each layer;see how they interact. Really try to exploit all ofphotoshops capabilities. Maybe even throw some filterson some of the layers. When I feel I have brought theoriginal gradient to a really busy liquid form, I goabout giving it form, and dimension. This is easy.Create a combined layer from all the layers you wereblending. Lighten or dodge the surfaces closer to you,and darken the surface areas that fall into thedistance or behind other objects, to give itdimension. To really pull off a reflective look atthis point, add actual reflection on top of everythingyou just did. This has been described in tutorials bysimply taking a pic, and placing it over your objectin a screen mode or multiply mode, depending on thelighting. Just so the image melts into the surface youhave created, and it appears to be "projected" on toit. If you have to, distort the overlying pic to matchthe surface. For Magdalena's gauntlets, I had a smallpic of a sunset, and set it to screen mode, and"sphere-ized it" in distort-filter, to match thecylindrical shape of the wristband. The last step isto add a layer of glow. a simple airbrush of white oryellow dabbed over the brightest areas. Let theairbrush spread unbounded. This will cast light on anyobject near the metal. See, each case is totallydifferent, depending on the lighting, tone and colorof the pic. That's why its so hard to give generaladvice. If I can't find a photo I need of something, Itry to make a 3d object (like her gauntlets). If thatfails, I do it all in photoshop. But this process iskey, because researching photos and rendering 3d metalobjects, gave me invaluable insight into how todescribe reflective metal in photoshop. And mostimportantly, some cheats that really pull off theeffect. If I go into more detail, this interview willbe several pages long. But,(and this will probablywork better) if anybody has any projects that theywant specific advice on metal-work, I'm there! I'llhelp. Its easier than I'm making it sound.

C2F:Your recent manip of the Magdalena received ravereviews from all and sundry. What were you trying to achieve with thatimage? Did it turn out like you were hoping?

MB:It turned way more than I ever thought it would. Thetime, effort, result, were all more than I planned. Itkinda just happened. No, I had not planned this to beremotely anything close to what it became. I jokedwith a lot of fellow artists she was my "Moby Dick."Truth to tell, I started this like a YEAR ago, and ithung over my head ever since. Finally, I picked it upagain, and was determined to try some really dynamiceffects, just to finish it. Towards the end, was whenI realized I could theoretically work on it forever. Ihad to just let it go.....

I'll let you in on a little secret. I never. ever.Know what my final piece will look like when I start.I may have an idea of the pose I want, or the generalmood it should have. But I have never been gifted withwhat you would call a "vision." In a way, it makesdoing this more enjoyable. I don't get frustrated bytrying to make the image fit into a predeterminedmold. And best of all, I get to enjoy the finishedresult along with everyone else!

For more of Matrixblur's art,check out his DCGgallery or go to his website.

Interviewer:Blazej Szpakowicz


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