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In part one of this interview, we learned how Robert Simons’ career in concept art began before he even graduated from art school.

His designs for an indie sci-fi short called Project Arbiter demonstrated artistic maturity beyond that of the average nineteen-year-old artist and opened doors to the vfx industry.

Now, in part two, Robert and I discuss his experiences working on Hollywood blockbusters, breaking into the big-time, how his childhood inspired his concept art portfolio and a whole lot more!

Episode Highlights:

  • Sketching on mobile devices.
  • What it’s like to see your concept art come to life on set.
  • The ups and downs of epic personal projects.
  • Working for other people.
  • The future of independent film.
  • The downsides of digital effects.
  • The lonely side of success.
  • How to deal with haters.
  • How his childhood inspired his concept art portfolio.
  • Concept art internships and breaking in.

…and we swap Steven Spielberg pseudo-stories!

Find the links and show notes at ChrisOatley.com/robert-simons-…

  • Listening to: Passenger
  • Reading: "How To Build A Dinosaur" by Jack Horner
  • Watching: WALKING DEAD SEASON 5 OMG!!!
  • Playing: Nope...
  • Eating: Tuna Melt
  • Drinking: Chamomile Tea



Whether you’re into concept art, illustration, character design, comics or storyboards, I’m constantly pushing you to create personal projects and pursue amazing collaborations.

Why?

The success of concept artist Robert Simons is why.

Previously, on the ArtCast, I interviewed the director and composer of Project Arbiter - an indie sci-fi short film with a big-budget look.

Robert Simons’ concept work on Project Arbiter demonstrated a surprising level of maturity (He was only 19 years old at the time).  Unsuprisingly, his career now includes concept work on huge films like Ender’s Game and The Amazing Spider-man 2.

In this interview, we hear how Robert’s career evolved, his attitude toward criticism, obsession and creating art with meaning.

…and in the Q&A segment, my good friend Matt Kohr joins me to respond to a listener question about whether you need to move to the west coast of the United States in order to become a concept artist…

Click here to learn more…

  • Listening to: Hendrix and Skynyrd
  • Reading: "How To Build A Dinosaur" by Jack Horner
  • Watching: WALKING DEAD SEASON 5 OMG!!!
  • Playing: Occasionally
  • Eating: Gluten Free Flakes, Rasins, Banana
  • Drinking: Mental Rocket Fuel
Starting tomorrow, I'm giving away a free lesson from my new course called "The Magic Box: Everything I Know About Digital Painting"

Sign up here to get the details: ChrisOatley.com/newsletter/
  • Listening to: Way too much of myself.
  • Reading: My Feedly
  • Watching: Mad Men Season 6
  • Playing: Rarely...
  • Eating: Cafe Gratitude
  • Drinking: Constant Coffee
Submit Your Portfolio For My Live Critique Session NEXT WEEK!

SIGN UP HERE: ChrisOatley.com/early/

To celebrate the launch of my new online course offering - Painting Drama: Composition & Color Theory for Concept Artists and Illustrators I'm inviting everyone who is interested to submit work for me to critique at The Portfolio Party.

The tentative date for the Portfolio Party is Saturday, November 10th.
Painting Drama will open for enrollment on the day of the Portfolio Party.

I hope to see you there!

SIGN UP HERE: ChrisOatley.com/early/
  • Listening to: Seth Godin's Startup School
  • Reading: Seth Godin's Startup School
  • Watching: Walking Dead
  • Playing: Getting ready for Painting Drama!
  • Eating: Cafe Gratitude
  • Drinking: Coffee (of course)

I just launched a new Digital Painting Tutorial "Super-Post" on ChrisOatley.com!


This one is about The Hudson River Painters and it includes a video tutorial, a blog post with even more, in-depth study and a Downloadable PDF Guide so you can easily share it, print it and keep it on your mobile device.


I've been working on this post for weeks and I'm SUPER-EXCITED to share it!




Artists are always asking me about rendering.


Even though I make a big deal about the importance of Strong Structure and how rendering can't save a flawed or weak drawing...


...rendering is still important.


No matter how realistic your style, rendering accounts for a HUGE percentage of the time and energy spent on a given painting. 




BUT rendering is also complex.


It's about light, reflectivity, composition, design, color and so on...


I knew the complex process of rendering would have to be broken-down into separate lessons.


So I decided to begin by addressing one of the most common MISTAKES that concept artists and illustrators make when rendering their paintings (pros and newbies both).


...and what you can do to rise above it.




DOWNLOAD Your PDF Guide Here:


So, enjoy the video, read the article and don't forget to download the PDF Guide:


The Hudson River Painters Vs. The Texture Monster


Ask any follow-up questions in the comments section of the post and I'll be sure to respond to them!


There's even a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT! 


You're gonna love it.




=====


ALSO! I posted a Digital Painting Resource Page to make sharing and browsing my tutorials faster and easier for everyone.  


Check it out here:   Digital Painting for Concept Artists & Illustrators

  • Listening to: The $100 Startup
  • Reading: Rafael Rosado's 'Giants Beware'
  • Watching: Raising Hope
  • Playing: Preparing my Digital Painting Course
  • Eating: Bananna
  • Drinking: Coffee
Have you ever been a part of a failed collaboration?

Or how about a harsh critique?

Has anyone ever just ripped into your work and thus, into YOU as a person?!

It's happened to all of us.

We all have baggage from failed collaborations and scars from harsh critiques.

But without healthy critiques and collaborators, you'll never grow - as an artist, as a storyteller or as a person.

Although it's tempting to just go all "Boo Radley" and shut out the world when you work on our comics or concept art...

...you really shouldn't.

As painful as some of your past experiences have been, isolation is not good for us.

And most of us crave creative community.

...we just don't know what to look for in critique groups and collaborators.

Without healthy critiques and collaborators, you'll never grow - as an artist, as a storyteller or as a person.

Creating out of your own self-contained motivation gets exhausting.  

And authentic artistic growth is slow (if not impossible) without regular, objective insights from a fellow creator.

But you absolutely DON'T need another failed collaboration or critique group where we can't let our guard down...

What YOU NEED is a creative 'Circle Of Trust.'

In this week's episode of The Paper Wings Podcast, www.paperwingspodcast.com/2012… we will show visual storytellers and artists of any kind how to gather a group of trustworthy creatives who can then form healthy critique groups and productive collaborations.

With a healthy "Circle Of Trust" you'll waste WAY less time and energy going in creative circles.

You'll find new motivation, clear perspective on your art and story, encouragement and a sense of belonging.

So...

Gather a 'Circle Of Trust' to Grow & Get Motivated!
CLICK HERE: www.paperwingspodcast.com/2012… TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST and change the way you think about critiques and collaboration!

See you on the blog!

Chris
  • Listening to: The Paper Wings Podcast
  • Reading: Rafael Rosado's 'Giants Beware'
  • Watching: The Newsroom
  • Playing: Preparing my Digital Painting Course
  • Eating: Disney Salad
  • Drinking: Coffee
Hey, DA Friends!

I released my new webcomic!  

"Greg The Megabeaver's Prehistoric Sideshow" updates every Friday at PrehistoricSideshow.com! :: PrehistoricSideshow.com!


...and here's the pitch:

"Greg The Megabeaver's Prehistoric Sideshow could ensure the survival of the freakish in a world ruled by dinosaur celebrities." :: PrehistoricSideshow.com!



========================================


Also, I just released a new episode of my ArtCast called...

"Artistic Growth Is NOT A Goal and How To Become An Early Riser."

You can download it here:  chrisoatley.com/2011/12/19/art…



Here are some highlights from the episode:

    5 Tips to make the new year productive and creatively fulfilling.
    New Year's resolutions I DON'T recommend.
    What art & religion have in common.
    How to learn to love early mornings.

PLUS: we have music by the amazing band 'Good Old War!'


I think you'll LOVE it!


========================================

WHILE YOU'RE THERE: Subscribe to my 'Digital Painting Tips' Newsletter where you can ask questions about digital painting, character design, portfolios, or working in the animation industry and I will try to answer them via email or on the show.

You can subscribe in the sidebar at ChrisOatley.com :: ChrisOatley.com

You also get THREE sets of my custom Photoshop Brushes and instant access to my email mini-course called "The Key To Great Paintings"!

========================================

Happy New Year!!!

oats
  • Listening to: Odd Soul by MuteMath
  • Reading: Sarah Vowell
  • Watching: Breaking Bad
  • Playing: Working on my comic
  • Eating: Water
  • Drinking: Caffiene
Hey, friends.

I thought you might like to know that I've posted some of my visual development art from Disney's 'Pixie Hollow Games' which aired this past weekend on The Disney Channel.

I can't legally post it here on DA but in case you'd like to see it just go visit my personal site: ChrisOatley.com


There I've posted some paintings, some high-res detail images and some "making of" insights which I think you'll enjoy.


Here's the link one more time:  ChrisOatley.com


Thanks for reading!

oats
  • Listening to: The /Film Podcast
  • Reading: Disney War
  • Watching: The Walking Dead & The Sing-Off
  • Playing: Working on my comic
  • Eating: Cereal
  • Drinking: Coffee, DUH.
'The Dreamer' creator Lora Innes and I have just launched our new podcast :: paperwingspodcast.com

The Paper Wings Podcast is here to help visual storytellers find more artistic freedom.  And we all want that don't we? We want more freedom to do personal projects, to land that dream job or simply improve our craft.

The show features two episodes per month, one focused on art and the other on story.

With passionate, efficient communication and a mission to advance the state of the art of visual storytelling, PaperWingsPodcast.com is sure to fill your tank with high-octane inspiration.

This is a podcast for all creators!

Whatever your chosen media for the stories you want to tell — animation, comics, video games — we'll have something for you.

Our first string of episodes includes TEN STEPS TO A WINNING PORTFOLIO and TEN STEPS TO A WINNING PITCH.

Click HERE: paperwingspodcast.com to learn more about the show and how to get our first PAPER WINGS GUIDE: TOP TEN PORTFOLIO PITFALLS as a FREE download and learn more about how YOU could WIN a WACOM Intuos4 Tablet!!!
  • Listening to: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (meh)
  • Reading: EW article about what the LOST cast is doing now
  • Watching: Morning Glory & The Fighter (both good)
  • Playing: Working on my comic
  • Eating: Sweet Potato Muffins
  • Drinking: OJ
Phewie. I can finally talk about this…

I've been working as a Character Visual Development Artist on Planes the new Cars spin-off franchise from Disney/ Pixar since November 2010.

Planes is a true Disney/ Pixar collaboration and of course, as with all Disney/ Pixar endeavors, story is king.  This movie definitely lives in the Cars World, but it's a completely original story and has all kinds of awesome new characters.

We are all very excited. The energy in the studio is just so positive and inspiring… I wish you could be here to experience it.  To be a part of the Art Department on such a fun and energetic project, working alongside my remarkably talented peers and leaders at DisneyToon Studios is a career high-point.

I can't wait 'til they start releasing images. Friends, it's just so fun.

Head to ChrisOatley.com ChrisOatley.com to read the full press release.
  • Listening to: The Stand
  • Reading: Y The Last Man
  • Watching: Parenthood (TV)
  • Playing: Not too much...
  • Eating: I'm hungry now.
  • Drinking: coffee, of course.
chrisoatley.com/2011/02/09/ums…

In the most recent episode of Chris Oatley's ArtCast ::

Steve Umbleby's career in character design takes another leap forward and the modern anthropology of a children's story anthology reveals how any project can find it's finish if it can find enough artists.

chrisoatley.com/2011/02/09/ums…
  • Listening to: Internet Business Mastery
  • Reading: The Stand (still)
  • Watching: 30 Rock
  • Playing: Nope.
  • Eating: Burrito.
  • Drinking: OJ
Lora Innes, creator of "The Dreamer" and I are starting a NEW PODCAST for visual storytellers called The Paper Wings Podcast!

It will feature two shows per month, one focused on art and the other on story.

With passionate and efficient communication, a consistent, dependable release schedule, and a mission to advance the state of the art of visual storytelling, The Paper Wings Podcast, supported by The Paper Wings Talent Exchange Program (created to bring back the lost art of apprenticeship) is sure to fill our creative tanks (yours and mine) with high-octane inspiration.

Hear more in the latest episode of Chris Oatley's ArtCast :: chrisoatley.com/2011/02/09/ums…

Lora has also written about our new show on her blog. thedreamercomic.com
  • Listening to: Internet Business Mastery
  • Reading: The Stand (still)
  • Watching: 30 Rock
  • Playing: Nope.
  • Eating: Burrito.
  • Drinking: OJ
Chris Oatley's ArtCast chrisoatley.com/category/podca… has been on a short hiatus so I can focus on prepping my new Web Comic for launch.

The show will return at the beginning of February with an exciting, new contest with awesome prizes, a series of inspiring interviews and a vision for the show that will synthesize the explorations of past episodes and carry the show into it's next stage of evolution.

This is a very exciting time.

You can listen to me share in greater detail about the hiatus in Episode 52 :: chrisoatley.com/2010/12/15/rya…

The web comic title will be announced around the same time of the return of the show and I'm hoping to launch the comic before April 2011.
  • Listening to: Iron & Wine
  • Reading: Disney War
  • Watching: The IT Crowd
  • Playing: Coffee
  • Eating: Wife's Homemade Potato Soup
  • Drinking: OJ
Interview with Concept Artist Ryan Jones about "Back To The Future: The Game" NOW AVAILABLE at ChrisOatley.com!  chrisoatley.com/2010/12/15/rya…

IN THIS EPISODE ::

Ryan Jones’ first job is also his dream job. He’s a concept artist at Telltale Games where he designed stylized versions of Doc Brown & Marty McFly for Back To The Future: The Game.

Play the episode chrisoatley.com/2010/12/15/rya… and hear Ryan talk about his creative process, how he landed his gig as a concept artist and how his illustration background informs his design work for Telltale Games.

PLUS: Joel Dreskin, the Telltale Games Marketing Rep shares a bit about another upcoming Telltale Title:: Jurassic Park!

chrisoatley.com/2010/12/15/rya…
  • Listening to: Punch Brothers
  • Reading: The Art Of Tangled
  • Watching: The Assassination Of Jesse James
  • Playing: With my dog
  • Eating: Fruit Salad
  • Drinking: Grande Americano
You can achieve a sense of tension in your work by moving areas of focus away from the center of the picture plane.

You can achieve a sense of balance in your work by moving areas of focus toward the center of the picture plane.

-----------------------------------------

This one concept of compositional balance vs. compositional tension holds an endless amount of inspiration and experimentation for the artist.  

If you are struggling with the "mood" or "feel" of a piece, you can use this concept to help you get a fresh perspective and find new ideas or a different approach.

-----------------------------------------

Find more INFORMATION INSPIRATION like this EVERY WEDNESDAY at ChrisOatley.com!!! ChrisOatley.com
  • Listening to: Internet Business Mastery Podcast
  • Reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  • Watching: The Event
  • Playing: Work IS play, right?
  • Eating: Fruit Salad
  • Drinking: Coffeezilla
I'll be doing live Visual Development demonstrations and reviewing portfolios for DisneyToon Studios this weekend at CTN-X.

Save 10% on your registration fee by using the PROMO CODE:: COATX10

My live demos will be Saturday at 11am and Sunday at 3pm. Both demos will be held in the atrium.

I'm not sure when I will be at the DTS booth for the portfolio reviews (I'll be posting that schedule here and/or on Twitter as it develops) but I will also be wearing my "Speed Talent" badge for most of the weekend, which means I am available to do a quick portfolio review even if I'm not at the booth.

So if you see me, just stop and ask.

I hope to meet up with as many ArtCast listeners as possible (and hopefully have a couple of larger group gatherings like we did last year), so please connect with me on Twitter to engage in that kind of stuff.

Hope to see you there!
  • Listening to: Internet Business Mastery Podcast
  • Reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  • Watching: The Event
  • Playing: Work IS play, right?
  • Eating: Fruit Salad
  • Drinking: Coffeezilla
Everyone has an idea.  Creative people have tons of ideas. Ideas are awesome and fun to generate. And they should be celebrated...

...but not worshiped.

Generally, as creative people, we are far too easily satisfied with having ideas.

Eventually, if we want to contribute anything to this earth and this culture, the ideas have to become something. We have to start making decisions, putting pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard, push through the frustration and insecurity, open our mouths and say something.


An idea holds the potential to be great, transcendent. To risk that potential in pursuit of a deliverable can be terrifying.

It's tempting to just keep the idea pure and perfect and unsullied by the process of art making.

But that's selfish. The idea is just for the artist. The ideas-turned-art (the paintings, the stories, the songs, the poems etc...) are for everyone.

That, of course is the struggle of storytelling. Storytellers have to make decisions.

Storytellers have to decide whether the hero prevails or fails. The storyteller has to determine every nuance of every character, every motivation, every turn in the plot etc...

So the question, for me, is less about where I start writing a story (its different every time, in fact) and it's more about how I tell it.

That is where fundamentals serve us well. The fundamentals like "The Hero's Journey" are the color theory or the chromatic scales of storytelling.

Are you writing a story? How do you begin? If you're not a writer, which stories mean the most to you? Please comment below.
  • Listening to: Internet Business Mastery Podcast
  • Reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  • Watching: Alien
  • Playing: Work IS play, right?
  • Eating: Fruit Salad
  • Drinking: Coffeezilla
The following question about story & character sparked a series of blogs that will be posted on my website chrisoatley.com in coming weeks. I'll post the first part here on DA and if you want to read on, check my site every Monday for the next couple of weeks..

Anonymous asked: The foundation of a satisfying story can be 1.) What the hero wants? 2.) Why they want it? 3.) What’s stopping them? 4.) What’s at stake? Plus 3 acts & turning points. Chris, when coming up with stories do you use structures like these or start from a character?

In my part one I presented the idea that catharsis = satisfaction. This week: The hero’s want.

To be human is to want something – a person, a validation, a fix, an answer etc… And to want something is to face a series of challenges to that pursuit whether the want is tangible or intangible. Often, when our human wants are challenged, we discover a transcendent need of which our want is, at best, an echo.

This is not news to anyone who has given any real thought to these kinds of questions so I won’t waste any time here. But if you want to learn more, you can read “Story” by Robert McKee. McKee is brilliant and compelling and yet I disagree with him on many, many points. However, what I think McKee does better than any of his peers is illuminate the transcendence of story and thus raise the bar for storytellers in every possible medium. (If you’re just looking for a great book on story structure, Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat series is, in my opinion, the best.)

In response to the question: YES. The foundation to the stories that I write (I promise you’ll get to read some of them in the very near future) is what the hero wants. BUT the want is generally filtered by the truth of the character’s transcendent need.

Luke Skywalker wants to be a pilot and join the rebel alliance but Obi Wan (his teacher) has different things in mind. What Luke really needs (his destiny) is to become a Jedi Master and revive his spiritually-dead father, Darth Vader.

It is important to note that the two paths are not entirely dissimilar. Luke’s want (to become a fighter pilot) is an echo of Luke’s actual destiny. Both plans get him out of his boring hometown. Both plans promise adventure. Luke’s plan makes him a better man but Luke’s destiny changes the world.

So now we’re back to catharsis. The character’s want (and thus our human wants) are echoes of a transcendent need, of the inherent human desire for meaning in our existence, pursuits, struggles, failures and victories.

Are you writing a story? What does your character want/ need? If you’re not a writer, which stories mean the most to you?

I want to hear your thoughts/ opinions and follow-up questions. Part three will be posted next Monday.
  • Listening to: author Blake Snyder
  • Reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  • Watching: Looney Tunes
  • Playing: Work IS play, right?
  • Eating: Vegetarian Taco Salad
  • Drinking: What else? Coffee.
The following question about story & character sparked a series of blogs that will be posted on my website chrisoatley.com in coming weeks. I'll post the first part here on DA and if you want to read on, check my site every Monday for the next couple of weeks.

Anonymous asked: The foundation of a satisfying story can be 1.) What the hero wants? 2.) Why they want it? 3.) What's stopping them? 4.) What's at stake? Plus 3 acts & turning points. Chris, when coming up with stories do you use structures like these or start from a character?

A satisfying story is a subjective concept. …a moving target.

However, I believe that a satisfying story reflects the truths of humanity and provides a catharsis for the audience through the characters' experience. That is to say that in storytelling: catharsis = satisfaction.

We like stories with characters who face our own fears and weaknesses (especially the ones that we ourselves are afraid of facing) and ultimately prevail.

We also like stories where the characters do not prevail, or survive at great cost to themselves, because that reflects the many sad realities of our collective human experience and helps us to process loss, face death, feel comforted and less alone and even heal from our own wounds… …at least a little bit.

What do you think? What are the elements of a "satisfying" story? Please comment. I want to hear your thoughts/ opinions and follow-up questions. Part two will be posted next Monday.
  • Listening to: Lunchtime silence at the studio
  • Reading: Endurance by Alfred Lansing
  • Watching: Venture Bros. Season Two
  • Playing: Work IS play, right?
  • Eating: a carrot
  • Drinking: Naked Strawberry Banana Smoothie
I thought my DA friends might be interested in a couple of my newest ArtCasts:

IN THESE EPISODES ::

I explain my own process for developing pitches for animated TV shows.  

I also share a few insights about what I value in collaborators.

I raise one very important question that we all need to ask ourselves as we develop pitches for any medium and I talk about how I think that character turnarounds are overrated.

I also recommend a few books that cover the development and pitching of animated TV shows.

----------------------------

Part One:  tinyurl.com/ngc36b

Part Two:  tinyurl.com/lsd2u9


REMEMBER:: New blogs, podcasts or art tutorials at ChrisOatley.com EVERY MONDAY!

Until next week...

GO WELL.
  • Listening to: Death Cab For Cutie
  • Reading: Save The Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Watching: Friday Night Lights (again - SOOO GOOD)
  • Playing: with my dachshund
  • Eating: cereal
  • Drinking: WAAAAAY too much coffee...