Average time per image: Varies depending on mood, project and inspiration. “The fastest artwork I’ve done is in five hours. Things are different when doing comics because there are some essential stages. It takes me at least two days to do a finished page.”Web:www.velinov.com
To those who instructed Svetlin Velinov in his formal art studies, the fact that he creates graphics on a computer is pure heresy. The 27-year-old Bulgarian artist, however, whose comic art and distinctive fantasy artwork is fast gaining in popularity, now says that he uses nothing else.
“My professors, educated in the staunchly academic tradition, felt that painting is all about getting dirty with paint and materials,” he says. “However, for good or for ill, I knew my own mind and followed my own path.”
Instead of indulging in his early aptitude for painting and continuing his education at the National Academy of Arts, Svetlin chose instead to study animation in the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. It was here that he was exposed to new digital techniques and discovered an enduring
love for the comic art form.
Just like any other student, Svetlin needed to earn a living from his chosen path, so he found a job at one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in Sofia, where he worked for three years as their creative designer.
“Over time, my interests expanded,” he recalls. “I found myself drawn to fantasy illustrations, character design and concept design. The lively and dynamic drawing style, typical of the comic genre, impacted on my general approach to art and helped me build an individual graphic style.”
In 2003, Svetlin quit his job and dedicated himself to drawing. He now works as a freelance artist, a role that enables him to work on a variety of projects. Digital man
Svetlin doesn’t pretend that his background is grounded in the comic art and fantasy genres, rather he says he was influenced by the classicism of Bulgarian and Russian art. “Only when I discovered artists such as Luis Royo, Brom and Simon Bisley, did I decide I wanted to experiment in this aspect of painting,” he explains.
Running concurrently with Svetlin’s journey into the world of comic graphics was his departure from the analogue world of art production. “In time, I was totally turned off from using paper,” he continues. “The scanner became useless. I now do everything with the computer.”
For this digital approach, Svetlin prefers to use Photoshop. “This is the program I feel most comfortable using, and with which I feel I can best develop my artistic potential,” he says. “I use Painter, too, but unlike Photoshop, my confidence with this program is much weaker, and so the environment feels less intuitive.”
On the 3D side of things, Svetlin says he’s a big fan of ZBrush. “I really fell in love with this software,” he says. “To be really good at 3D art, it’s not enough to just have talent. You need to think in a 3D way. That’s why there are so few artists who are really good at both 2D and 3D art. ZBrush provides the 2D artist with an accessible way to get in touch with this ‘unknown domain’ and really takes the fear factor out of manipulating 3D objects.”
After going freelance, Svetlin honed his style and improved his drawing techniques. He says it’s difficult to generalise when describing how he creates artwork, however, he reveals the basics: “I begin by roughly sketching with the brush.“My approach depends on whether I have a concrete idea or I’m just looking for an outline or another form to provide inspiration. After the rough sketch, I try to clear up the composition, working on specific sections. I lighten and flesh out the dark silhouette, then set the form in stone, designing the character and background, and further developing the colour. Applying the right lighting is very important in my pictures. It gives life to the drawing and creates the necessary ambience. Then comes the fine detailing stage and the addition of any important accent colours.”Body of work
Red Moon was the first piece of work that Svetlin published online, at the CGTalk forum. It garnered huge interest and received good feedback. “I know that the forums aren’t objective enough and one can often receive praise,” he says. “However, this feedback made me believe in my capabilities and my potential. It made me look seriously at becoming a digital artist.”
The biggest challenge so far has been his environmental concept work for video game Death Jr. 2 by Konami. “This was probably my first brush with the professional market and it defined my working style,” he reveals. “It taught me a lot and made me more disciplined, because I had to be exact and work to a tight deadline. I succeeded because I just couldn’t afford to fail.”
During the last few months, he has worked on illustrations for Warhammer 40K and Warmachine. “The work on the projects was a real challenge, but fun,” he says. “At the moment, I’m working on a game project for the Nintendo DS and a character concept for a future MMO game. I hope to continue illustration work for World of Warcraft and there’s the possibility to work with Darkhorse for one of their editions.”
“I have a stimulating and interesting work schedule, which provides me with real pleasure and satisfaction,” he concludes. “In the future, I hope to produce a book showcasing the best of my work and including previously unseen artwork.”