Interview with Dmytro Lisin: Freelance Concept Artist & Illustrator
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Hi there! My name is Dmytro Lisin. I was born in one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities of Ukraine – Lviv, and I still live and work here as a Concept Artist.
How did you get started in being a freelance concept artist?
I was drawing since I can remember myself. One of the clearest memories is how I would redraw some pictures that I found in a friend’s magazine. It was images from “World of Warcraft” which was one of the most expected games at that time. And every time I was drawing I imagined the stories behind these pictures. Years after I graduated as a historian and got a Ph.D. degree in medieval history. During my studies, I remembered my hobby and realized that I can not only study history but also create stories in my images.
It took me some time to learn digital art but I never regretted it after that. Now I can tell that my previous experience helps me a lot. Especially when I have projects that based on some existing culture or time period (like Ancient Egypt or Viking Age). I already have some images in my mind after I hear these words and need less time for research.
What got you started with Blender in your process?
The industry is evolving all the time. And if you want to be professional you need to evolve with it. At some point, I realized that I needed to involve 3D in my workflow. It can help to push your art further. I tried several different programs and chose Blender because it is easy to learn, it has a full range of uses (modeling, sculpting, rendering). You can even sketch in it!
Do you use any add-ons for Blender?
All the time. EVERY TIME. I guess one of the first add-ons I bought was BoxCutter by masterXeon1001. After that, there was: HardOps, Building Tool, Physical Starlight and Atmosphere and more from different creators.
Can you give an overview of your process "Source of the Force"?
The idea of the project was evolving for a long time. I like “Star Wars” and was interested in the history of this universe since I was a kid. But the origin of Jedi and the Force was the most mysterious part of the lore for me. How did they appear? Where it was? I reflected on it a lot imagine my own fan stories. This project is one of the possible locations of the source of the Force.
First of all, I asked myself what the source could be? An answer came quickly. It should be an ancient temple because such a place should be sacral for the first Jedi or Sith. But how ancient? What ground should I choose for the temple? After making a search I understood that I wanted to create something based on ancient Middle East architecture since this region is called Cradle of Civilization. Numerous ancient cultures appeared and lived there. Finally, I chose the Mesopotamian region with its incredible statues and bas-reliefs.
After research, I always continue with sketches. It helps to find the right point of view, composition, and shape. In this stage, I understood that I needed to focus more on architecture since it will be the main environment in the scene. I add brutalism to the style to add a sense of monumentality and majesty to the temple. Finally, I switched to Blender and started to play with shapes. I like this part because at this stage you can continue experimenting. After making a few simple blocks I used the Randomize Transform tool a lot. It gives you a variety of forms and you can always find something new.
Also at this stage, I understood that I want to show more interior of the temple because it gives me more possibilities to explore the idea of the Source. Also, I used the model of a statue that I found on Sketchfab. It helped me to save time and consider more on other issues. As a final touch, I added a character. It always brings a story to your scene. Who this Jedi is? Is he Jedi at all or did he fall to the Dark Side? Where does he go? All these questions add viewers an ability to think over your image and continue the story by themselves. The next stage – texturing and render. I prepared some textures in Photoshop using commercial-free photos of ancient bar-reliefs. Since I’m not a 3D artist ,I always try to make this process as simple as it could be but useful at the same time. And here comes Blender again. One image, few nodes – yay, shader is ready Blender has both ray-traced based and real-time rendering. Switching between them is very useful.
Shader system is very intuitive and easy to learn so rendering in Blender is easy and gives the ability to make changes anytime you want. After playing with cameras and rendering (3D gives the amazing ability to create several shots of one scene so you can choose the right one) I finished my work in Photoshop. Here I spend different amounts of time depending on how photorealistic the image should be. In the case of this project, it took me a few hours of final touches, color editing, adding noise, and other effects in all shots.
What do you wish you would have known before becoming a concept artist?
That I will love it. The process of career-changing is always full of doubts. Even if you like it. And Concept Art is full of challenges and I asked myself from time to time: “Is it worth it? Should I change my profession?” Now I can answer myself: “Yes, bro. It is!”. Yes, there are challenges all the time but when I get to the final point when I see my images involved in the stories it gives me the motivation to move forward and keep exploring this field. If I knew this at the beginning I guess I would have learned harder.
What do you recommend practicing for someone wanting to become a concept artist?
I guess you have already heard that Concept Art is more about Design than Artistry. You will have to solve some design problems in your art. What I can recommend is to practice the variability of your designs. Since you will be able not only to draw something but also see how it could be changed, what other steps in design could help you to find another solution to the same problem and you will become more professional. Don’t be satisfied with every first decision you find. Keep searching, truth is always near. The other thing I can suggest is to keep your designs grounded.
I saw a lot of newcomers that try to imagine unbelievable starship or building and create intricate shapes (I was one of them ). But it still looks poor because their design has no real base behind it. As viewers, we will be inspired and entranced much faster if we will see something that will remind us about our own experience. That is why it is very important to base your image on something that already exists. Are you planning to draw an extra futuristic one pilot vehicle next time? Look at what our scooters or bikes look like. Want proof? Next time you watch a sci-fi movie try to analyze the shapes of the vehicles you will meet there.
What artists do you look to for inspiration?
Ohhhh… There are too many of them. Really. It is very easy to inspire me But I definitely can name some of them. Maciej Kuciara. I have no words to explain how his works involved me. Actually, I started to learn 3D after seeing his amazing art. The way he creates his photorealistic concepts is stunning. And his recent “Showtime” Anime Short blew my mind. Eytan Zana and Paul Chadeisson, both of them create Environment Concept Art how it should be, in my opinion. And yes, I liked environments because of them. Each time I see their art I see the story behind them. I want more. I guess this is a mark of successful art.
Where can people find your work?