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Comics Features - Artist Spotlight

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By Blazej Szpakowicz     December 27, 2005

Welcome to the latest edition of the DCG Artist Spotlight!

Our victim today is YOUR CHOICE for the Best Artist of 2005, QuantumFX.

Comics2Film (C2F):When and how did you get into manipping?

QuantumFX (QFX):Back in 1999 I encounteredHurricane Season'swebsite. From there I discoveredRay's Superheroines andWelchcat'ssite. Finally I foundReptile625's *cough*OpticalIntruder's*cough*website which was encouragingsubmissions. I produced some of the cheesecake stuff that all beginnersstart with. I dropped out for a while as I was making my wife angry withthe base images I was using. I got back into manipping in 2003 when Idiscovered HeroMorph. My wife came around when I limited myself to swimsuitmodel types and 3d models. I didn't start posting in the DCG until myUltimatespiece because it was the first true C2F manip.

C2F:What software do you use?

QFX:Photoshop, Photoshop and more Photoshop. Oh yeah! I use Poser sometimestoo!

C2F:What is your background in art? Any professional experience? [If you'restrictly an amateur, I'm going to have to kill you...]

QFX:I have been drawing since I was a little kid and made sure I spent as muchtime as I could in art classes. I graduated (barely) from Collins Collegein 1994 with an AA in Visual Communications. Collins introduced me toPhotoshop but left me with a feeling that I could have used my time better.So in Fall 1994 I came back home and signed up for as many art classes as Icould at my local community college. I got introduced to two of the mostimportant things in my life. One, the woman who eventually became my wife.Two, Ruben Heredia's basic figure drawing class. Ruben's influence wasn'tjust in drawing people but in the use of multiple mediums. (Charcoal, Chalkand Charcoal, Scratchboard, Color Pencil, etc.) My Photoshop training camefrom reading internet tutorials, attending a few 1-day photoshop classes andworking for a newspaper.

C2F:What do you think was your best work?

QFX:Best... I can't say I have a favorite that I'd never change. The MOAP isthe piece that I'm known for.

C2F:You're forced at gunpoint to redo one (and only one) of your earliermanips. Which one do you pick and why?

QFX:Astro City's Winged Victory! Don't remember that one? Well that'sbecause it disappeared off of the internet. I'd like to restore it to myportfolio.

C2F:What aspect of your work do you think sets you apart from the crowd?

QFX:Per DarkKnightDK, I'm the George Perez of photomanipulating. Meaning I doa lot of stuff with multiple characters.

C2F:...and what aspects of your craft do you feel you still have to work on?

QFX:Composition... Composition will forever be my Achilles heel. You'llnotice that I borrow layouts from other artists or just manipulate what'salready there.

C2F:What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?

QFX:Whatever catches my attention at the time.

C2F:Which DCG artists' work do you enjoy?

QFX:The diversity of work in the DCG makes this an almost impossible questionto answer in one sitting without forgetting someone! I think at the core ofthis question is "Which DCG artists influence my work?" Android andSerayalaare probably the 2 artists that I've tried to emulate the most.Welchcatmade a big impression on me when he talked about his workbeing an expression of his love of comic books. Bill Turner'swork keeps me thinking that it's okay to redo entire portions of an image, just so long asit makes it better. (ex. Zatanna had 14 versions of fishnets and 5variations of her vest.) Millennium Bum's"That 70's Legion" inspired the Farscape/GL crossover.MysticMorganand B keepreminding me of the traditional art fields (pencils, paints, etc.).Suppaimon'smetalwork has influenced me over the last few months with his Wonder Woman pic.Zac andWinterhawkinspire me by the fact that I've watched them go from beginnersto their own artists.

C2F:How about mainstream or comic book artists?

QFX:Top Ten: David Mazzuchelli, Drew Struzan, Neal Adams, Byrne Hogarth, AlexRoss, John Rominita Jr., Travis Charest, Bryan Hitch, Gary Frank, AdamHughes.

C2F:Any advice for aspiring artists?

QFX:I'd tell any artist to play with different mediums. It alters yourperspective on your media of choice. I have examples I learned from Ruben'sclasses. Charcoal or inks force you to learn adding midtones and shadow towhite. Chalk and Charcoal teaches you to pull highlights and shadow frommidtones. And lastly, white ink or scratchboard will teach you to pullmidtones and highlights from shadow.

Build up a portfolio of photo references. I have about 6GB of photos ofpeople, materials, and scenes available to learn from.

For Photoshop artists I have 2 recommendations. First, stay away fromfilters as much as you can. (The blur, sharpen and extract filters are theexceptions to this recommendation.) You'll achieve much better results withyour own creativity. Second, learn as much about working with a realairbrush as possible. My experience has shown me that airbrush artists"get" the ideas of layers, masks and low opacity brushes faster than otherartists.

C2F:Who do you want to manip/colour?

QFX:I'd love to have a name artist e-mail me a pencil drawing with a requestto colorize it.

C2F:Who're your favourite comic book characters?

QFX:I'm more of a fan of the 60's-80's characters. Most of the 90's felt likea marketing ploy rather than pushing the boundaries of the medium.

C2F:You do some of the best latex or rubber style costuming in the manippingworld. What's your secret?

QFX:Reference pictures. Like I mentioned earlier, I look at the referencephotos and try to understand why stuff looks like it does.

C2F:What inspired your Farscape/Green Lantern series of manips? Which ofthem are you happiest with?

QFX:The episode "Throne for a Loss" inspired that series. (Which isn'tfinished.) Crighton makes an off-handed comment that the alienblaster/juicer gear "works like a Green Lantern ring." It made me thinkabout how many of the Farscape characters parallel GL characters. JohnCrighton / Hal Jordan is the cocky main character. Aeryn Sun / StarSapphire has the messed up relationship with the main character. D'argo /Green Arrow is the unlikely buddy that gets stabbed in the back by his son.Stark / Guy Gardner is the nutcase. Alan Scott / Jack Crighton is theelder GL/Astronaut. Crais / Dr. Light is the minor villian. Scorpius /Sinestro is the very frightning reoccuring villain. So far my favorite isTheDouble Life of Star Sapphire.

C2F:How the heck do you approach turning Shade's (excellent) pencils intothe Shade in Technicolor series? Can you walk us through your "colouring"(for lack of a better term) process?

QFX:A tutorial is in the works with an expected ETA of 2006. The process iskind of involved and requires picking apart how I make an image.

For more of QuantumFX's art,check out his DCGgallery.

Interviewer:Blazej Szpakowicz


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