I must say that if you’re starting, don’t start with 3D because you need at least some basic knowledge of anatomy and perspective […]
Tomislav Jagnjic is a Serbian Concept Artist and Illustrator whose personal project already impressed thousands of people online this year. The world of mysterious giants that he’s built found its inception when he decided that the environment art we see on ArtStation simply isn’t enough. It needed to be more engaging than just a lone figure with an imaginary landscape to explore, so he chose to throw a handful of charming storytelling elements into the mix. His artworks go along with funny and lighthearted titles, which makes for a pretty fun experience when you first see a piece by him. But when did Tomislav discover his passion for art? When we asked, he told Vox Groovy that,
I remember all the way back in kindergarten, I was already drawing Batman, Darth Vader, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and robots from an anime called Granzort. I would often pause the VHS tape, watch the TV and carefully draw the characters on paper.
So it’s clear that it was with him all along, even before he learned about digital art during his last year of high school. Now he aspires to make an art book with the help of his Patreon supporters. There are even plans to include comics to expand his story. Join us if you want to find out what fighting for your project’s success could be like.
We’ll be talking about the first artwork Tomislav felt genuinely proud of, the beautiful poster he created for Journey (2012), and some of his future plans for the Patreon project. Here’s hoping you learn something new about one of the Internet’s current favourite artists!
What sparked your interest in digital art?
I remember all the way back in kindergarten, I was already drawing Batman, Darth Vader, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and robots from an anime called Granzort. I would often pause the VHS tape, watch at the TV and carefully draw the characters on paper. I even made a few costumes for some of them.
Considering I was drawing since I was a kid, it was only a matter of time until I noticed digital art and made the transition from traditional to digital. The first time I saw a pen tablet and digital illustrations was during my last year of high school while I was over at a friend’s house. It’s a lot quicker, you can tell what your idea’s going to look like faster and generally produce much more work than you would if you were working traditionally.
hey psst, wanna buy some cubes
Tell us a little bit about the first piece that made you feel a sense of pride when you posted it online. I always notice artists who lack confidence or motivation, so I want to know… What does an aspiring artist need to do to create artwork that makes them feel as though they are progressing?
You’re never entirely pleased with your artwork because you always see something that you can fix and improve upon. Even to this day, I look at my old works and see mistakes that I would like to fix. The first painting I was pleased with was the “Nope, wrong way. Turn around” piece. It was done for the “Super Speedpainting Funtimes” Facebook group. Although it didn’t have a name back then, it was just a practice piece, and I wasn’t thinking about building a portfolio yet. That came later when I was finally considering myself ready to start work on one.
I was gaining followers daily, getting thousands of Facebook likes on my speedpaints, and an insane number of comments from people praising my art. But I was not satisfied with my work even with all of that, always thinking about room for improvement.
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nope, wrong way. turn around
Please walk us through your creative process from start to finish, highlighting some of your favorite techniques for creating digital art. A lot of our readers are beginner artists, so I’m sure they have a lot to learn from someone like you!
It all starts from the sketch, simple three colour tones and shapes, light versus dark. It’s the most important thing for me, creating cool shapes that will be interesting for the viewer… Later on, I build everything in 3D using all kinds of different software, there’s Maya, Daz Studio, 3D-Coat, World Machine. When all of that’s done, I then paint over it or just fully draw and paint everything from scratch. It all depends, do I want to go with a realistic feel or more of an illustration feel? Even though for some clients, I now pose characters in Daz, set up lightning and draw my design (or the client’s) over the model and illustrate it that way.
So as you can see, knowing more tools is helpful because it gives us options. The more tools you know, the more powerful you are as an artist. It worked well for me at least, I know that it’s subjective, some artists know anatomy and perspective so well they don’t need any tools. And I must say that if you’re starting, don’t start with 3D because you need at least some basic knowledge of anatomy and perspective. If you don’t, all of the 3D programs and tools in this world won’t help you.
Could you tell me a little bit about your work on the poster for Journey? We’d love to learn about your approach to commercial work, too.
The guys over at Mondo and Santa Monica helped me out with that one. The Mondo team fixed a lot of the depth and saturation while the guys from Santa Monica helped from the very beginning. They did things like removing some shapes and adding some later on, like clouds and mountains. Both teams were great, and even though those are just a few seconds of their brush strokes it’s all learning for me and it makes the painting look five times better with those single strokes.
It was a hard piece to make. I have to confess, we went over twenty different sketches until the guys from Santa Monica were satisfied. Even then, we combined two of the sketches they choose to make the final one that went into further painting.
You’ve created a world full of breathtaking landscapes and mysterious giants, so I guess it goes without saying that our readers want to learn more about it. When did you start, and what inspired you to create something like this?
As I said, the first one was done for the “Super Speedpainting Funtimes” Facebook group, it was “Nope, wrong way. Turn around.” After that, I made the now-famous “Yo bro” piece. I just wanted to paint a friendly giant who helps a traveller along the way, the idea came spontaneously. And the title was just something to make it more interesting.
There are tons of “stick man in foreground and landscape in the background” paintings out there, so I really wanted to take that further and create some interesting storytelling. I continued doing that and with every future piece, trying to push myself further, both with more interesting compositions and better stories.
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yo bro is it safe down there in the woods? yeah man it’s cool
You seem to love using titles to add a little bit of amusement and charm to each image, but we’re curious if you expected that to help popularize your artworks as much as it did?
No way. I never expected to become so popular because of that. It was just something I added to make my artworks more interesting and to tell the viewer a little bit about what’s happening in the scene. I didn’t even find them funny in the beginning, it was just some casual title for me, but there you go.
dude is this yours, I think you’ve dropped it back over there
I would like to know more about future plans for your current project. Will we perhaps see a book, or maybe even a comic?
Interesting you ask! I’m currently redesigning the main character for the story I’m doing on my Patreon page. I’m pretty far from a book, though, I’d need a lot of pieces before that becomes a possibility. But I sincerely hope that it will happen one day. The money I get from Patreon is not even close to the money I get from commissions which I use to pay my rent, bills, and living costs in general. The problem with commissions is that people pay me to paint their stuff. I want to at least reach my first milestone on Patreon so I can dedicate myself fully to creating my universe instead.
I plan to have short stories in the form of comics in the artbook, I already have all of those sketched out together with the complete story of my world and all of its locations. The story is on Patreon in a simple form, but it will be much more complex and interesting as time passes by. I will get new ideas and I will continue expanding this world with each piece. They all connect wonderfully and I’m glad I started to build this early on because now I can think ahead when I’m creating a piece, making sure that the scene will fit in with my story and this world.
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Kael Ngu is a freelance illustrator from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His focus is on creating cover art for various publishers as well as original artworks for private collectors from all over the world. In the past, he has had the opportunity to work for renowned clients like Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and IDW Publishing.
If you’d like to learn more about Kael and what he can do for you, visit his website at www.kaelngu.com
Everyone has artists that they look up to, so please tell us about yours and how they influence the work that you currently do.
From the old masters, it’s Jean-Léon Gérôme. The first digital art pieces I saw were by Peter Mohrbacher and Kekai Kotaki back in 2009. from the new ones, Eytan Zana and the mighty Jonas De Ro with his Level Up podcasts on YouTube. Others I like a lot: Arron Limonick, Nick Gindraux, John Park, Maciej Kuciara, Wojtek Fus… just so many artists whose paintings I look at and admire the whole day long and get inspired by.
What’s next for Tomislav Jagnjic?
My Patreon for sure, then an artbook one day when I have enough work. It’s good that I started with a story which I can build upon, so in the end, it’s not going to just be forty random paintings. I have it all connecting to one big story. Starting with the universe I want to create as a base makes it a lot easier. I just hope that my Patreon grows so much that I can say “no” to commissions and jobs that can pay my bills.
People would say, “why not both?” But it’s not that easy, this universe I’m building is like a child of mine. I want every single piece to be the best thing I could produce, and I want that energy to be felt. Also, when you paint for eight or ten hours for others and their ideas, it’s hard to sit and paint for yourself afterwards, you won’t have that same energy.
Visit Tomislav’s ArtStation
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist
© Tomislav Jagnjic or respective copyright holders
Article in Slovak language;