3DTotal:Hi Dan, how are you? It’s great to have this opportunity to chat with you, so can we start off simply by learning a little bit about you? For example, what’s your current location and occupation, and are you working on any exciting projects right now ? Dan:Hi! Good to chat with you too. I’m currently located in a suburb just outside Kansas City, Missouri, in the United States, working as a Freelance Illustrator. I’ve recently started doing some Star Wars covers for Dark Horse comics, which I’m really excited about. I also regularly contribute to the Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft TCG’s. Plus there are some exciting projects I’m working on for the Dungeons and Dragons license that I can’t really talk about yet.
3DTotal:Wow, so you’re keeping busy then?! OK, so I feel like there will be many artists out there
now who will want to kick me if I don’t ask you how you originally got into this industry? How did you
get your first job creating artwork for trading card games? Also, where do you think you will go on
from here? What paths have opened up for you whilst you’ve been working for the likes of WoW, Warhammer, Wizards of the Coast and DC Comics? Dan: Well my first commissioned work was for a little Internet collectible card game called “Chron X”. Of course, it paid horribly but at least it paid, and it gave me experience dealing with deadlines and an Art Director. It also helped me build my portfolio which I used to get, what I felt like at the time, was my big break, the Warhammer 40K CCG. Getting to work on a big name like Warhammer was really cool and I think my work grew tremendously during that time. My Warhammer work got me into doing art for Magic: The Gathering, and so on.
Over the last few years it has been nice to have Art Directors contact me for work, rather than hunting them down. It has given me the opportunity to pick and choose jobs a little and work on things I really enjoy. I’m really happy with what I’m doing now but I definitely still have plenty of goals for the future. Comics were my first love, and the thing that got me into art, so it would be really great to get the chance to paint more of my favourite comic book characters. I’ve even tossed around the idea of trying painted sequential art although I’m not sure how I’d ever keep up with a monthly deadline. That’s a lot of work! I’d also like to explore doing more book covers or video game packaging at some point in the future.
3DTotal:I am always very curious about how digital artists originally found their way into the CG world. What events and decisions, etc., have so far informed the path that you have taken to where you find yourself today ? Dan: Doing fantasy, sci-fi, and/or comic art was always my dream, but as a kid I never expected I would be doing it on the computer. I think it was around 1992 or ‘93 when my family got our first computer. It was a Macintosh and had Photoshop installed. I was amazed at the possibilities and would spend hours trying to paint cool pictures using the clunky, single-button mouse. In the years to follow, I got to use Macs quite a bit in college but still didn’t think it would ever take the place of my trusty brush.
After I graduated college in ‘96 I got a job in the “real world” as a Production Artist where I used Photoshop on a daily basis. This really helped me hone my technical skills in the program. I learned how to really take advantage of Photoshop’s short-cuts and actions. I also learned a lot about the.
colour manipulation capabilities in the program. On the side, I started doing art for the Chron X game I mentioned earlier. In the beginning all my pieces were painted with acrylics. Eventually, I started
dabbling with scanning my paintings in and doing minor tweaks on the computer. It wasn’t until 2000 when I started doing work for the Warhammer 40K CCG that I attempted to do an entire piece digitally. Originally, I worked exclusively in Photoshop but eventually I overcame my fear of Painter and started working in that too. For quite some time I would still do my pencil sketches on paper and scan them in to render them on the computer, but over time even that fell by the wayside. Today just about everything I do is 100% digital.
3DTotal: But, do you still sketch for fun with traditional media, or is everything that you do now purely digital? Do you ever feel a little guilty having left your roots behind? Or do you feel that there is really no difference between sketching/painting whether traditionally or digitally? Would you say that either way uses the same skill and has the same feeling of satisfaction as the other ? Dan:Unfortunately, I rarely sketch with a pencil or paint with a brush anymore. I don’t get the chance
much to do art for fun so anytime I’m drawing or painting, it’s on the computer and for a paying commission. I have tons of respect for artists that stay with traditional media and are able to achieve results they are happy with quickly. For me, I wouldn’t be able to work near as quickly or accurately and would really miss the ability to make changes to my painting on the fly.