Scott Flanders AMA - Concept Art & Character Design
4mo
Stan Prokopenko
@Scott Flanders is stepping out of his Monster Lab for a day to answer YOUR questions! Ask him anything you want, starting NOW! Scott will start posting answers at 12pm PDT on June 22nd. Make sure to check out Scott’s Proko course - Character Design Monster Lab! Scott is currently the Creative Director at Tar Pit Studios and is a concept artist and game developer. Scott has worked on popular games like League of Legends and Evolve. While he has a broad range of interests when it comes to art he’s especially passionate about sculpting and character design.
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Radoslav Todorov
Amazing artist and very good concept designer with incredible and unique technique! I admire you :)
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Daniela Ivanova
Asked for help
Hi, Scott! Thank you for doing an AMA for us. Do you have any tips on starting out with character design from an illustration basis? How to combine and approach studying anatomy, shape design, value grouping etc?
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miguelabr
Hello Scott, I have been a huge fan ever since I got to know about you in Proko channel. I'm an art student mostly self thought up until now. I got into a concept art masters in Barceloona/Spain which I'm hoping to get some guidance from (I literally dont care about the diploma, but I'm eager to interact with other students and be challenged in different projects. I find right now that the lack of deeper understanding of fundamentals (perspective and anatomy right now) as well as my struggle with branching in the blue sky/brainstorming phase of creating character concepts (I also like creature design but I'm more fascinated by simple and effective character designs for games). Ultimately my FIRST question after all this nonsense is: When you got your first job did you already have a good foundation when it comes to perspective and anatomy, or was that something you got over time when already working professionally? Would you consider in a situation like mine more important working in flexing my creative muscles (do more creative sketching) or would you advise on strengthening my fundamentals? Second is: How do you prevent your human character designs from becoming too alike in that initial experimentation phase? I find hard to iterate sometimes because of the human structure ultimately being so similar among everyone (vertical body, 1 head, two arms, etc) contraty to animal-esque creatures. Any tips on this is GREATLY appreciated. Greetings from Portugal!
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Scott Flanders
Hey Miguel, that's super cool man. Thanks a lot for your support. To your first question. No. I did not have a great grasp of fundamentals when I got my first concept art gig. I seriously think you need both technical skill and a lot of creative energy to do this job over the longer term. You need both. Most artists will lean one way or the other, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Second question. I know what you mean here. Gesture drawing is the key. The more you do, the more poses and nuances of body language you will internalize/commit to memory, and will therefore be able to draw from. To pull from your mind. To recall at will. Thanks for the questions :)
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Lig ma
What's the biggest problem you've had in your journey as a concept artist/character designer, like when you just got in the industry, did you face any problems while doing concept art/chatacter design ?
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Scott Flanders
Real talk? Sucking was my biggest problem. Insecurity. Fear of failure. Pride. Being a slightly disagreeable cave man. But more seriously, not having a process was a problem. I had no formal design training to speak of. The university I went to did not have an 'entertainment track' in the way a lot of art schools do these days. I think they do now. My point is that I did not feel at all prepared to enter the work force when I graduated. In retrospect (and broadly speaking) I think that is indicative of a problem with the way art education had been conceived of and implemented over the past 40 or so years...but anyway, these days there are numerous avenues you can take to get where you're trying to go. Internet ftw :) Thanks for the question.
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Christopher Lebreault
Hey Scott! I'm going to try to keep this question short, let's see how I do. As a 29 year old who has decided to do their art education online with aspirations to work in entertainment as a designer (character, prop, etc) or story board artist, I've found myself with a lot of uncertainty in what I should be learning(and where to find it), how to structure this learning, and what I should be doing to break into the industry. What advice would you offer to someone who is in such a predicament? What should I be focusing on/direction I should be going. Any words of advice will be much appreciated. Thank you for taking time out of your day to do this for us.
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Scott Flanders
Look within. Ask not what you SHOULD do, but what you WANT to do. I'd start there man. Honestly. See what happens.
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Mengu Gungor
Have you tried using SketchClub on the iPad? It's a sketching app, it has a vector tool (which should be called enclosure tool), that might fit quite well into your workflow of working from silhouette with lasso tool. I can see you are super used to photoshop lasso/fill/erase routine and are super fast with it, but it might feel more natural to have the tool fill as you make the enclosure. Anyway, I haven't used it in a while (here is a really old sketch to show you how it sort of feels: https://app.sketchclub.com/sketch/4998401559887872). If you have tried it I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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Scott Flanders
Very cool. Thank you for the heads up. I will check it out when I get an iPad in the future :)
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Daniel Dimas
Asked for help
Hey Scott, hope you can answer this one. For someone who is new to art, lives in a very small town and with limited funds what would you suggest doing to make connections with the right people? Or even acquiring a mentor, as some artists have mentioned having a mentor along their way. It seems like conventions are the best way, however even knowing that I’m not sure how to go about that. Do you take your portfolio and share with pros? Or just talk? Thanks ahead of time!
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Scott Flanders
You should try it all man. Foreal. I tried all kinds of things. Community is great, but isn't available to everyone. If that's the case, I'd encourage you to build your own. Use one of those MeetUp apps. Create a life drawing group. Gesture drawing. Plein air. Sculpting. Table-top gaming/and miniature painting, kayaking, fishing, etc. Try a little leadership on for size and see how you like it. A mentor is a good call man. My own mentors have been invaluable to my own unfolding story. Seek and you will find.
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Germán Olivera
How did you "cut your teeth" in the industry? What kind of work did you do before being a concept artist?
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Scott Flanders
I cut my teeth by being a young inexperienced crappy concept artist for like 3 years. Seriously. I am still thankful for the grace period which was provided for me by the founders of Turtle Rock Studios. They created an environment where the young artists amongst us had some wiggle room to experiment, grow and learn. Before I got into games, I worked on an apple farm, as a lifeguard, teaching swim lessons, at a GamesWorkshop store, as a tutor, as an RA in the dorms at CSULB, at a restaurant, at a Boy & Girls Club, as a ranger for the Wildlands Conservancy, and taught art to kids and high school students at the San Diego Super Computer Center. I did a bunch of different things..probably because I had no clear idea what I was doing..lol. And I went around to cons and showed my dubious quality noob art to people I looked up to, and who were for the most part gracious enough to encourage me and to offer constructive feedback. The apple farm, lifeguarding, and the ranger gig were probably my favorites. Reilly's Log Cabin for life.
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Fair Cat
Hello Stan & Scott, first off thanks for doing this AMA, people like you make the internet a better place! I'd like to ask what kind of road map or skill set you'd suggest a Concept Artist needs to be great. Personally I've learned human anatomy, perspective, composition; but I feel lost in what I am missing to be that great Concept Artist.
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Scott Flanders
Thanks a lot Fair Cat. We're trying to be ourselves. As far as a road map. I would spend a lot of of time learning about the artists you admire. Art History. There is an untold story of the History of Concept Art which can be traced with some effort, and it is amazing to think about. You can learn an enormous amount by attempting to absorb the lessons and takeaways that are offered by the artists and creative people you admire. I did a lot of this kind of thing when I was in art school and afterwards. I read about the people I admired, not only to understand their craft, but to know more about who they were as individuals. To know more about their values, their lifestyle. About the kinds of choices they made. About their mistakes. I seriously cherish the insights I gained as a result of that reading. Look to those whose lives you admire, and find out what it is about those people that makes them who they are. What steers them. Great question. Thank you :)
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Mitchell
I'm looking over the edge and about to jump off into full blown commitment to my art. I would love nothing more than transitioning from writing fantasy into Illustrating/writing books and children's books. Any advice for a new artist about to make the plunge? I know they're no shortcuts in life but in your honest opinion what would the best way to go about this be if I want my skills to skyrocket over the next year? Thank you and keep making amazing art!
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Scott Flanders
I think that sounds like an awesome edge to jump off of. Good for you. You won't die bro. I'm serious. You are the descendant of millions of generations of living beings which 'made it'. You will make it too if you don't stop. It's actually in your DNA. You have it in you to survive, and to make something wonderful of your life. All of us alive today are at the spearpoint of time, space, and the process of evolution. That's a pretty cool to think about. It means you're sort of a badass filled within untold quantities of untapped or latent potential. Thanks for the question, and thanks for your support man. Good luck. Use the tools you have at your disposal. Find your path and walk it.
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Luca Giovani
Hey Scott, I noticed that (especially with characters) you often use multiple values to better separate important details (ie teeth, item, face...). My question is, how do you choose these values and their corresponding shadow values?
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Scott Flanders
Typically I'm just selecting values which have a significant degree of contrast between each other. The idea is to achieve clear differentiation between the various elements in the character art. I don't select any particular numeric value to define the lightness or darkness. I am typically responding to the initial value I have laid down. Navigating value relationships is similar to navigating a conversation. You speak then I speak, then so on. Art is very similar in this way. In every case a given image is a developing conversation. An unfolding relationship which is negotiated over time throughout the act of creation. The rules/fundamentals help prepare you/equip you to navigate the conversations which you are inevitably going to encounter.
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Noe (Noah) Martin
How did you become so radically cool? Nah, but in all seriousness, I've been think about the path I want to take as an artist. I love drawing creatures and currently I draw lots of paleoart and fantasy creature designs. Im currently an intern as a paleoartist and it's fantastic so far, but a part of me wants to also reach into the game/movie industry creating creatures. As a newbie, should I just stick to what I have for now or should I try to branch out early on? I hope the context I gave made the question a bit more clear. Thanks Scott!
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Scott Flanders
I think it all started back......in 1989, when I encountered my first florescent colored Maui and Sons t-shirt..and then again in 1990 with the release of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. When I left that movie theater in Fontana California I knew then exactly what kind of tubular dude I wanted to become. But more seriously, I seen no reason not to branch out from your paleoart roots into creature design. I think the two go hand in hand. The one will inform/benefit the other and vice versa. Thanks for the fun question :) Cowabunga Broah.
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Brad Guinen
Hey Scott, absolutely love your work. My question for you is: In your art journey, what studies do you feel were most useful in lending such believability to your creatures? Thank you for your time.
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Scott Flanders
Thanks a lot Brad. I grew up hunting and fishing and hiking, and I think my earliest experiences engaged in those activities had a significant/formative impact on the way I see the world as well as my appreciation for wildlife. In terms of which animals I have found to be the most useful to study for creature design, please see the post below where I refer to 'The Big 5 of Historical Creature Design' and 'The Big 5 of Contemporary Creature Design'. Thanks again for your support. Good luck designing critters.
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Camara Stephanie
Hello, Scott! I've been working as a freelancer for a few years doing private commissions but i want to start working in the Game Dev industry as a concept artist and 3D Artist. Is having a diploma/degree necessary to get hired and eventually reach more advanced positions (such as an Art Director) in a studio? What helped you most when getting hired? If you manage hiring other artists, what did you look for in their portfolios? Did you look for studies or degrees? Thank you kindly for the chance!
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Scott Flanders
Real talk. I don't even know where my college diploma is. I have never needed it for anything since I 'graduated' from art school. I'm entirely serious. The coolest thing about my diploma and the only reason I'd have to dig it out is the fact that it has Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on it, because he was the governor of California at the time that I graduated. "GETODACHOPPA!!"
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sirdiesalot
Asked for help
Hello scott I've been drawing for some time and allways had a hard time with monsters dragons and fantasy creatures as a dm(dungeon master and player) i love drowing my cherecters and monsters but i straggle alot any tips for guys who bigginers at that and have a hard time?
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Scott Flanders
There are a handful of animals that I think every hopeful creature designer should have some familiarity with. I refer to them as 'The Big 5 of Historical Creature Design' and 'The Big 5 of Contemporary Creature Design'. For reasons which I will have to explain another time :) The Big 5 of Historical Creature Design * Big Cat * Horse * Dog * Ox/Bull * Raptor/Bird of Prey (eagles, hawks, falcons) The Big 5 of Contemporary Creature Design * The Great Apes * Bats * Arthropods * Cephalopods * Dinosaurs From these 10 groups of animals you can create a majority of fantastical creatures which have ever been designed. Great question btw. Thanks.
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miguel pineda
Hello scott, I've been working freelance for quite some time now and I just gotta ask , how do you know your picture is finished? , I've seen pros don't really render everything and I wanna try doing that painterly look on my client work too but I'm too afraid the client would reject it as its not as "polished" to the untrained eye sometimes. love your shapes and how simple yet complicated your works are! keep on lasso-ing c:
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Scott Flanders
'Finish' consistently appears to be subjective thing for most artists I've known. I've known guys that would scoff at the idea of sharing the kind of work I create for being too rough. And I know and admire artists whose work is looser and 'rougher' than my own. This is another case where I believe it is important to attempt to get in touch with you inner sense of intuition. Your 'creative conscience' if you will. How does this thing which you have created make you feel? Do you hate it? Does it make you feel like a dishonest hack? Does it make you feel good. Strong? Proud? Ambivalent? I tend to lead from within, and I have found that approach consistently yields results that I can live with.
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Adrian Tomalla
Hey Scott, When you have been working fulltime as a character designer did you still do your own art projects in your free time? And if yes how much and in what way did your company work effect your personal work? I am currently working as an Software Engineer and i find it hard sometimes to keep coding after a long day. I was wondering if the same thing is true for design and painting. Also how much of your client/company work reflects your own personal taste and how much the requirements/taste of your client or art director? If personal expression is your main goal with art would you still recommend going to the industry or just do it as a hobby? I was also wondering how well the shapecarving technique works for drawing hairy or furry creatures. Do you think you could showcase this sometime during your course. Love your content, Thank you
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Scott Flanders
Dude. It's totally true that your 'work work' will have an effect on your personal work. For good or ill. In my case I have set up my life in such a way that the majority of the work I do is centered on or related to some theme or subject matter, or medium that I am personally attracted to. Essentially, I try to only work that I enjoy/find satisfying/meaningful. This approach is likely to come with ramifications. Say for example, if I have committed to doing only those things which I believe in or am excited about, then that has very real potential to limit the kind of work I am offered, or the kinds of clients who will be interested in working with me. But I regard this potential impact to be a consequence of the creative freedom I am pursuing. A consequence of of my choices. I find this to be a tolerable compromise. I think it's important to be real with yourself about things like this you know? If I don't enjoy rendering, then I don't do it, but this means I don't get work which requires a lot rendering. I don't force clients to see it my way, I create conditions which allow them to self select out of a business/creative/collaborative relationship with me. If you wanna do things 'your way', you must accept that their are likely to be consequences. That being said, I think sometimes those 'consequences' are entirely positive and awesome and fruitful.
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Charline B.R.
Hello ! I have a basic question for you, sorry if it sound a bit "egg and dinosaurus" question... Should a concept always fit a purpose or can a concept create a story/purpose instead ? When it come to artist trying to get some "creative muscle", and assert their artistic preferences, I mean. Thanks :)
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Scott Flanders
Haha. Chicken vs Egg! It seems to me like both are possible. I know I have certainly experienced both ways of developing an idea. I think some of these things are largely going to end up being determined by personal preference and the sort of problems you are required to solve in the work that you are doing. Context will always matter.
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Miguel Nieto
How do you think is the best way to present your character desings in your portfolio, should you post them fully rendering with a cool background or is better to post all the sketches and the final one?? Is recommended to do turnarounds??
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Scott Flanders
Well I tend to prefer a bit of both personally. I'm especially interested in how people think, and observing a creative person's process. But not every art director is into that kind of thing. It can help to try to get an idea for the sensibilities of the art director/senior artists that you're work is going to end up in front of.
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Lig ma
What are your inspirations when it comes to art ?
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Scott Flanders
Hey BA. My primary sources of inspiration tend to be drawn from my personal experience of life. The things I have personally experienced so far in my life. I'm a big advocate for drawing from within.
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