When I was a kid,
I was dreaming of being
I ended up drawing dinosaurs […]
Gaëlle Seguillon is a French concept artist and matte painter who specializes in the creation of digital environments. Some of her recent projects at ILM include blockbuster films like Aladdin (2019), Ready Player One (2018) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018). For her first job in the entertainment industry, she worked as a junior at MPC, and she was lucky enough to work on a highly ambitious shot early on in her career. It was a beautiful vista of the city in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) that was given to her because there were no senior artists available. Safe to say that Gaëlle nailed it despite the pressure, telling us that, “the team loved it so much they made it their wallpaper!”
During our talk with her, she also told us a little bit about herself:
I always look forward to enjoying my passion, working on many great projects in the future and using my skills to travel around the world. I have been drawing since I could hold a pen, and I have always had a creative touch. […]
If you’re looking to see what it’s like if you have a true passion for art, are taught by the talented teachers at ArtFX, and have a work history as impressive as Gaëlle’s, then this is the interview for you. In the following answers, she is going to tell us a little bit about the aforementioned ambitious shot, walk us through the making of her “Storm Peaks” artwork, and tell us how nature and wildlife help to inspire her. Without further ado, here’s our newest exclusive!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in digital art? Were you formally trained or self-taught?
I have been drawing since I could hold a pen, and I have always had a creative touch. Still, my interest in digital art came pretty late, when I was a teenager and when I started thinking about what career path I would choose. At that time, I had no idea what career I would do. For me an artistic career was not an option, I had no idea that jobs like digital artist, concept artist, matte painter, VFX and animation existed until a digital art/animation school came to my college to present their work. It was a revelation!
I knew instantly that this was the career path I wanted to do. I applied at a few of those schools and got admitted to ArtFX, a school of visual effects in Montpellier, France, where I learned Photoshop and all of the VFX workflow.
Nanuqsaurus courtship display
This is a personal piece I did at Jellyfish Pictures between projects. Nanuqsaurus are polar feathery theroropods half the size of a Trex.
Every spring, they come together to perform a mating display.
Could you tell me a little bit about the first artwork you were genuinely proud of?
There are many drawings I was proud of doing when I was a kid, but one of the artworks I was the most proud of since I started working is a matte painting I did at MPC for Guardians of the Galaxy. I was hired as a junior there, it was my first job. At the very end of the project, two weeks before the final delivery to Marvel, they had an establishing shot left to do. This breathtaking vista of the city, it was a beautiful and ambitious shot. They had no senior artist available to take on the task, so they gave it to me.
It was quite a lot of pressure because I knew I only had one week to do it from start to final and I had no second chance, it had to work and look great for the delivery. In just one week! I worked hard this week, I really liked the result, and when we showed it to the VFX supervisor, he loved it and said it looks stunning! I was so happy and proud, and the team loved it so much they made it their wallpaper!
We found the U.N.S. Tharsis
Personal concept art.
What are your current influences?
My greatest source of inspiration is nature. I love watching documentaries about nature and wildlife, and also travelling and taking photos. I am always amazed by the beauty of the earth. The shapes it creates, the colours, the light and even the sound and smells are a huge source of inspiration for me. It helps me create more believable worlds. For that reason, my influences are mostly nature photographers, like Yann Arthus Bertrand, Erin Babnik, and Sebastiao Salgado.
I like the way they capture how strange, majestic and powerful wildlife can be. I also like Alexandre Deschaumes for his work on composition. Jama Jurabaev is also a great inspiration for me. I have worked with him, and I am always amazed how efficient and creative he is.
The Battle Begins
Concept artworks done at ILM for “Ready Player One.”
Art director : Stephen Tappin.
You’ve worked on famous projects like Guardian of the Galaxy, Ready Player One, Aladdin, etc., etc. So we all want to know, what was the most exciting project one worked on and why?
They were all very exciting in their own way. I enjoyed working on Guardians of the Galaxy and Ready Player One the most. The first one because it was my first job and the first movie I had the chance to work on. I was so excited just by the idea of working on a big blockbuster like that. And the work itself was a fun time. The movie is full of crazy alien planets that we had to do concept art for too. It was my first concept art opportunity. And we had an amazing team which made my experience even more enjoyable!
Ready Player One was the other most exciting project because the movie was so creative and also full of crazy worlds, it was really cool to work with Steven Spielberg on his project, even if not directly. This project was also my first experience in an art department team at ILM. I was totally out of my comfort zone, but it was so interesting and rewarding. I learned more in six months there than in my previous four years as a matte painter. The team was the best I had the chance to work with, we were constantly sharing tips and tricks, as well as sharing music and evenings playing board games!
Do you have any tips and tricks for concept artists who are wanting to speed up their workflow?
It might sound counterproductive, but I always recommend spending some time gathering a maximum of references before starting any work. It will make your work look more believable and will save you a lot of time in the process because you will have all the references ready for photobashing or as an inspiration for your 3D scene or digital painting.
I would also recommend building a library of references and 3D assets over time to spend less time searching and have it all ready for your next project. I always save all the references I gather from every project in my library, and I know where to find it when I need it again. Another quick way to save time is to create actions in Photoshop to summarise a series of steps that you frequently take in a simple shortcut key.
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Matte painting / concept (look, mood) done at MPC for this establishing shot on “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”
Please walk us through the processes you used to create the Storm Peaks artwork?
For this artwork, I was first inspired by a photograph I took during my trip in the High Alps. I loved the mood and perspective in this photo, and I thought it would make a good start for an illustration. I sketched my idea directly on top of my photo in Photoshop, cutting and moving some parts and painting over to make a composition I liked. I had this idea of ancient gothic ruins on top of the mountains, with clouds around and dramatic lighting. I thought it would be best to use 3D for the ruins as it’s hard to draw architecture, especially with that strong perspective.
I modeled rough shapes in Blender, and I did the texturing in 3Dcoat. I was able to paint photo textures of gothic cathedrals directly on my model, and very quickly it looked believable. All the details come from the texture because the model itself is very simple. I then placed those ruins in Blender in the right angle to match the background of the mountains and rendered everything in Octane. Octane is great for concept art to render quickly and change the camera and light in real-time. I also rendered some mist in Octane to help make the ruins more readable. I then comped my render in Photoshop with my background and painted over to create the image I had in mind.
Many artists we have interviewed talk about importance of personal art. What do you think? Do you have any ongoing personal projects at the moment?
Personal art is indeed very important because all the work you do professionally, you do for a client. You visualise someone else’s vision, which can be frustrating sometimes. Moreover, deadlines are often pretty short, so you don’t always have the time to experiment.
Personal work allows you to experiment, create what you really like and tell your own story, regardless of what other people like or want to see. It’s your own work, and you do it for yourself, it’s pure creation. You are free to experiment, to fail and express yourself. I always have ongoing personal projects, however I don’t always post it because I do it for myself to learn, also the work is unfinished.
Any advice you’ve got for people who’re just starting out?
I would say to follow your dreams and never give up~! And that practice is the key to learning. The more you practice, the more good pieces you will produce.
I would then advise to build a portfolio with your best artwork. No need for many images, quality is better than quantity. And to share it online on many platforms and social media to increase your chances to get noticed for the work you do and to be offered the opportunity to take the job.
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What’s next for Gaëlle Seguillon?
Many more travels! Besides travel and work, the next step for me is to start doing tutorials, talks, and why not teaching?
Visit Gaëlle Seguillon’s ArtStation
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist
© Gaëlle Seguillon or respective copyright holders
Article in Slovak language;