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Interview with Lee Chak Khuen (Puppeteer Lee)

By Simon Morse

Web: http://puppeteer.cghub.com/ (will open in new window)
Email: moc.liamtoh@505eelaaw

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Date Added: 18th July 2012
Hello, it is great to get this chance to catch up with you. I like to start all my interviews with a similar question: can you let us know a little about yourself, such as where you are from and how you got into the industry?

Hey, I also have to say thank you for letting me do an interview for your site. I'm Chinese and was born in Malaysia. I am skinny and live a pretty lazy lifestyle. I've been in the industry for approximately 10 years and my first job was doing some exclusive comic work for my local comic magazine. In those days I was just starting to learn CG whilst trying to increase my creative field. After that I started to do some illustration and character design for various projects.

So it seems that you must have worked in both the concept art and comic book industries? Which of these do you prefer? Also does your style differ between comic work and concept work?

Yeah, I love both, but comics are not that simple compared to concept art. With comics you have to clear the entire concept before you start the first page. Because of that I wouldn't do it as a main income project, if I had a choice. I used to struggle with the difference between comic and concept work, but now I try not to over-polish the work that I do in comics. This will save time that can be used to work on another page. Also too much detail in the images ruins the dynamics of the panel. Telling the story is the main point of a comic.

Are you a self-taught artist or were you educated at a CG school? I notice that you use Painter. Do you prefer it to Photoshop or do you use a little of both in your workflow?

In my generation CG art schools were not popular in my country and I couldn't afford to go to traditional art school. Instead I learned from everything I saw around me. My first piece of software was Painter Classic, which came with a Wacom tablet. I loved it, but since it became too old for new devices I changed to Painter 11 last year. Photoshop is also an awesome piece of software, but I mainly use it just for color adjustments.

When looking through your gallery I was blown away by the variety of images there. Are you influenced by any specific artists or have you developed your own way of painting?

Thank you! I try to work with everything that interests me. That is why you can see various styles and ideas in my gallery. I have been influenced by so many great eastern and western artists. Moebius, Simon Bisley and Akira Toriyama inspired me in my early days. Katsuya Terada blew me away when I first saw his digital color comic illustrations, and it was him who made me want to start working in the CG world. Most of the time I just enjoy playing with ideas when doing a piece. Then I just try to paint the image in an interesting way.

I notice that you mention comics as one of your areas of expertise. I love comics myself. In fact I often tell my mother that I was brought up by Judge Dredd and Slain rather than her! Which is your favorite comic and have you ever thought of creating a new comic series?

Most of my favorite comics are Japanese manga ones like Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, Vagabond and all the others. Simon Bisley and Moebius are my favorite western comic artists. I'm always thinking about starting my own new comic. I have few scripts in my notebook and can't wait to start it, but cannot at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to soon.

That sounds exciting! What kind of comic book do you think you would create? Would it be a superhero-type comic or something a bit more gritty and dark?

I would prefer a fantasy or sci-fi background to my story. I would like to create a comic in a flexible way, with less of a rigid story so it was just like watching the characters living their own way in the world I create. There would be some heroes, but not just for justice, and there would need to be something more dynamic than that to provide a basis for an interesting story.

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