Categories: Interviews

Interview With Concept Artist From Montreal Donglu Yu

Hello Donglu, thanks for taking time away to chat with us. Can you briefly give us a little insight into your background as an artist, and how it all started for you?

Hi, thanks for your interest in my artworks. Being a concept artist is not an coincidence, I made this decision after exploring different fields in digital art. My parents started sending me to many art classes since I was still a little girl, studying Chinese watercolor, calligraphy, oil painting, etc.

Academically, I was enrolled in Illustration and Design for my College studies, that is where I was officially introduced to both 2D and 3D tools. It was a great blast, so I decided to pursuit my university studies in Film Animation.

I had lot of freedom to explore different animation styles, including cell animation, stop motion, 3D animation during those years. After working as a texture artist and a 3D artist, I finally realized the concept artist position is the one that I would enjoy the most.

Such position requires lot of brainstorming, fast sketching ability and it offers the freedom to explore different flavors of the visual material in order to assist the Art Director’ vision.  Now, I am working for Eidos Interactive in Montreal as a concept artist.

Where do all your ideas and inspirations come from? And why do you love creating them?

Daily life observations, movies, novels, legends are all the sources that provide me with inspirations. Creating artworks became an integral part of my life, art is my best friend, with whom I express my feelings and share the fantasy world that I have in my mind.

We are very interested to know what type of graphic softwares do you use?

I mostly use Photoshop to create my works. Randomly, I also use ArtRage for color mixing and its ability to mimic the traditional media. For brainstorming and doodling, I enjoy using Alchemy, a handy software which can provide interesting shapes to start a fresh design.

Do you use any special techniques and tools, such as a tablet, or is it mainly the mouse doing all the work?

I had my first tablet almost 6 years ago, since then I don’t want to draw digitally without it. It was a great invention that can translate the traditional way of drawing and painting into computer. Mouse is fine for graphic design work, however it totally lacks the ability to give different sensitivity and pressure to the brushstrokes when it comes to paint and mix colors.

What has been your greatest artistic achievement in your life so far?

This year is the first year that my work got into the Ballistic Publishing series. “Hansel and Gretel”, a work that I created for the CGSociety Steampunk Challenge was published in Expose 7, it was truly a pleasure.

Do you do any preliminary drawings before you model, or do you just start and see what happens and how long on average would you spend on an image?

I absolutely love to do sketches before I start in Photoshop; it is probably due to my traditional art background. I really like the little noise that the pencil makes when it is drawing on the paper as if it is whispering softly some fairytales to me.

I enjoy the brainstorming process even more than the final rendering process which is mainly technical oriented. I usually spend 3 weeks to 4 weeks on a piece, around 2 hours per evening excluding weekends.

Do you think sketching is necessary for the 3d Artist or is there any other way round?

I think sketching is an important process to warm up and to get the ideas running: it is the time to explore the mood, camera angle, color palette, character expression and/or interaction, architecture design, etc. However I do notice that many 3D artists around me feel less comfortable to draw, which is totally fine. Sketching is a synonym of brainstorming for me, doing it in 3D is as good as in 2D.

Doing fast low resolution models in any 3D package to study the proportions, seek the right camera angle and play with lighting can be even more efficient than using the 2D tools. Always see creating artworks as a fun and exciting process full of surprises instead of a merely technical experience to explore the newest features of the digital tools to create an image.

You  are formally trained as an artist, there’s a well known debate in the design community regarding the role of education in a designer’s work versus no design education, what do you think about this ?

A self-taught artist can be as skillful as an academically trained artist. Creating good artworks depends on solid understating of the visual language, observation and hard work. Academic environment can enhance the learning experience, but not absolutely essential for someone to become a great artist.

However I want to point out that digital tools are not magic tools, artists who can efficiently control and use those tools are the ones who grasped firmly the fundamentals of the aesthetics principals.

Of all of your artwork, which piece is your personal favorite and why?

I like all my artworks because they all mark improvements in my artistic creations. I don’t like my artworks because I always believe that my next one can be better. Hehe, so the personal favorite one will only be in the future.

Traces of Wisdom is my favorite image, can you tell us little more about on how you went to create this image?

Thanks for giving interests in this piece, so I am sharing the step-by-step images here. I created this image few years ago. I grew up with my grand parents in China before immigrating to Canada; they taught me so many things about life through stories, their own actions and experiences.

That is why I always wanted to create an artwork to acknowledge the wisdom from life experience that the elders possess. For me, that is how their beauty shines in everyway.

Where do you plan to take your designing career in the future? And what do you hope to accomplish in the next couple of years?

I am looking forward to participate in inspiring video game or film projects by creating a wide range of concept artworks. Furthermore, I am very interested to do freelance works in order to further explore my artistic potential.

What are your hobbies and please describe your free time, if you have any?

I spent most of my free time to draw. For the rest of the free time, I enjoy going to different places, seeing different people and their culture, and being in the nature. Whisper from the trees, dance from a butterfly and water drop from a leaf can all remind me how simple and happy life is.

Well its been a great pleasure and thanks for taking the time out to talk with us.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about my works.

For more info Check Donglu’s CG Portfolio

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