My thoughts on Patreon are simple. You shouldn’t consider it as a way of making money, even if that’s the primary aspect of it […]
Andreas Rocha is a Portuguese environment artist who specializes in fantasy and Sci-Fi. He started out with a degree in architecture, but now he’s working as a freelance concept artist whilst creating exclusive content for his sixty-seven patrons. In the past, Rocha’s painterly style earned him the opportunity to work for world-renowned clients like Fantasy Flight Games, The Mill and Wizards of the Coast. Now, you can often find him posting amazing fantastical paintings on his ArtStation page. Our personal favorite is “High Places,” which is a piece he created for one of his Patreon illustration packs (inspired by Paro Taktsang monastery in Bhutan).
In this exclusive interview, we will discuss how Rocha feels about Patreon and the benefits that it can bring. Having to make various extras for the people who are supporting you certainly takes its toll, but Rocha says that the pressure of having to make something each month can really help you move forward as a creative. He’s currently offering 2x hi-res paintings (JPG + PSD), step-by-step JPGs and Photoshop brushes, but if you pay an extra $5, you can also get 2-3x videos of the painting process. (There’s also an extra JPG + PSD if you go for the higher tier.) You can also find a variety of older content on his Gumroad page. All in all, Rocha does his best to make sure that his patrons get their money’s worth, and that’s a commitment that every Patreon creator should take very seriously.
We hope you enjoy our talk with Rocha. I’m sure it’s very enlightening to those of you who are considering setting up a Patreon of your own. Definitely read over questions five and six if you’re interested in learning more about how Patreon (and other platforms like it) could change an artist’s life for the better.
What sparked your interest in digital art?
I discovered a Fantasy Art forum called Elfwood during the second year of my college degree in architecture. Unfortunately, it no longer exists, but I assure you, it was huge back then. I started to contribute scans of my pencil and coloured pencil drawings. It was exciting to share my work with the entire world, and it was this sharing that made me aware of another artist’s work—one who used a Wacom tablet to create his paintings. I was fascinated, and soon after, I bought my own.
Everything changed for me then. This was also when I found out about what you could do with digital tools, because it wasn’t just airbrushed paintings (which is what I was into in the beginning), but artworks full of gestural brushstrokes like the ones you’d see in traditional painting. The works of Craig Mullins were an eye-opener and a definitive source of inspiration for what was possible.
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How did you go about finding a personal style that’s unique to you?
You have probably heard this before, but you should not search for a particular style. The style will eventually evolve on its own throughout your years of painting. I remember saying that, “my style is a collection of failed attempts at trying to copy the style of the artists I admire.” Although I don’t think like that anymore, I do believe there is some truth to it: Your style is profoundly influenced by the things that inspire you to create your own artwork. In my case, it was the love for fantasy and sci-fi art created by artists such as Craig Mullins, Drew Struzan, Jeff Easley and Khang Le. These are the artists who spurred me to begin my quest, creating my own work in a style that found its own place. Honestly, I still don’t think that I have a “particular” style, although I have been told that people can tell if a painting was done by me just by looking at the thumbnail.
Could you walk us through your creative process from start to finish?
I can give you a broad overview of what I think works best for me at the moment. However, I have already tried so many different ways to create a painting that I believe I don’t have a definitive “creative process.”
It usually starts with one broad idea which usually is fantasy or sci-fi related. If it is something outside that spectrum it usually doesn’t captivate me that much. Once I have a general idea I may or may not gather references, although the right way is to always search for references. I collect photos of the subject and paintings by other artists whose content and technique also inspire me. I put them all in PureRef (awesome little software) and put them on the side of my monitor. I then create a page full of gray-scale thumbnail studies. I compare all of them and pick my favorite sketch. Afterwards, I do a color sketch on top, still at thumbnail size, and once I am satisfied that will be the base to create my high resolution painting. I like to create my paintings in a “traditional” way applying layer upon layer of paint instead of using a more digital approach by separating layers by content. But, this depends a lot on the final use of the image and how clean and detailed it has to look. I clearly prefer the painterly way, but understand that it does not fit all needs.
One very important thing about this process is to do lots (and I mean lots) of intervals. For me it is much more productive to do FOUR 10 minute painting sessions with 5 min intervals than ONE 60 minute session. It may look like you painted for a longer period of time, but the benefit of stepping away from your painting cannot be underestimated.
Finally, I leave the painting to rest for one night and come back the other day for the final touch-ups and some post production layers to change overall colors and levels.
Of course, this is a very broad view, and it has a lot of nuances that vary from painting to painting.
Fortress – A
What makes a good environmental design?
I believe the key aspects (which I sometimes overlook) are a dynamic composition, depth and mood.
Regarding DYNAMIC COMPOSITION, there is a really good book that I advise everyone to read. Its name is: The Simple Secret to Better Painting. It basically tells you to not make two intervals the same. These “intervals” can be any “thing;” size, space, value, edge quality, content, colors. Essentially, a dynamic composition has to entertain the viewer’s eyes. That it is done by creating a dynamic balance between unequal things. This will keep the eyes moving from one thing to another without becoming too bored. (something that would happen if all of the “intervals” were equal).
Now, talking about DEPTH, it is very important in environments, because they deal with places that the viewer can visit and should wish to visit. That is achieved by first sparking the viewer’s interest to “enter” your painting, but also by creating depth that pulls the viewer in. The 3 main aspects (that I can currently think of) are overlap (foreground, middleground, and background) perspective (using vanishing points) and aerial perspective.
MOOD is the most subjective of these and it is the ingredient which only appears in very specific, unique situations in our lives: it could be a lighthouse on a foggy morning, it could be a vibrant sunset, it could be a rainy day in a city punctuated by neon lights, etc. Light and atmosphere play a very important role here, and if you manipulated them correctly, they can suck the viewer into your painting in a heartbeat.
It’s quite amazing to see how far digital art has come. I’m seeing a lot of new people who are getting involved every month, and this rapid growth means that the flow of information is only going to increase. Because of this, people are wanting to learn new things very quickly, but they don’t realize that this can only lead to disappointment. Unfortunately for you (and me) the human brain isn’t capable of processing so much information in such a short amount of time.
Take it easy. Try choosing a specific subject in art—one that you want to learn and master. Time management is every artist’s weak spot, so learn to use it strategically in order to improve by processing information properly. It’s better to be a master of your craft than to know a little bit about everything.
World Of Twilight – II
What are your thoughts on Patreon?
My thoughts on Patreon are simple. You shouldn’t consider it as a way of making money, even if that’s the primary aspect of it. The payment is a reward, and the fact that your patrons are paying you is something that forces you to stay on track. Be respectful and try to meet their expectations. Ever since I joined Patreon, I have been forcing myself to create new paintings each month. And they all have to have a certain degree of quality. If they don’t reach the desired quality, my patrons won’t like it and that might lead them to delete their pledge in the following month. Of course, if they like the content, they will keep supporting you.
It also forced me to improve my technique because people don’t want to see a video of me making mistakes. That part has to be kept private. I only want to show them the successful parts. But I have learned a lot from my mistakes, perhaps even more than what I know from my successes. Another thing that is great about the illustration packs I create is that I can also learn from the content I created. I am really glad that I can review the painting process of my more successful paintings to analyze what I did right. I am constantly refining my process and trying different ways to create my paintings. In the end, I try to only show them the successful path.
Please give us your No. 1 piece of advice for concept artists who want to start using Patreon.
As I said before, don’t expect to make money out of Patreon. Instead, see it as a tool for improvement, because it’s something that forces you to create good content on a monthly basis. Even if you don’t have any patrons, or very few, which can be disheartening (trust me, I know!) just keep at it. I don’t have that many patrons, and every month, new patrons come to support me, whilst others choose to stop pledging. My average is somewhere around 60 patrons. Still, when I see everything that I learned and created for Patreon, I begin to realize how beneficial it really was.
What are your thoughts on the current state of art in the game industry?
Unfortunately, I can’t give a very good answer as I see art in the games industry the same way most of us do (as an outsider). I have done art for games in the past, but it’s only a small part of my body of work. However, I do think it is becoming more and more useful and necessary if you want to create a good looking game. Most games nowadays are made in 3D, so it’s clear that that’s where the real focus is. But I believe that if you want all of that 3D work to be successful, there has to be strong 2D imagery to serve as its foundation. I love Naughty Dog’s “Art of…” books. The artists behind those concept paintings are some of the best in the world. Their work is a great source of inspiration, and it’s so amazing to see how the concept art and the final product work as one to create a brilliant piece of interactive entertainment.
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What’s next for Andreas Rocha?
That I can’t say… my father keeps telling me I should ask myself where I see myself in 5 years and what my goals are… but the truth is that I have a short vision for the future. I believe that what I long for the most is to improve my technique and become better at what I do by creating what I love. I strongly believe I will keep designing environments in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genre. The rest is uncharted territory.
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist.
© Andreas Rocha or respective copyright holders.
Article in Slovak language;