Amazing artists I discovered this week #4.

As an illustrator I am looking for better and interesting ways to tell a story. Every illustrator does that. This is why I am looking somewhat deeper into my illustrations and stories. Medieval times do have a lot to offer, but they are way back then. I think I can add more elements from these days. That is why I thought of one of my heroes I discovered at art school. A really kind person who helped me out with a lot of things at school. Most of the techniques I use are based on his work. This weeks artist is: Keith Thompson.

Zombie design by Keith Thompson
At art school we called him Zombie Thompson because he made a guidebook about how to draw the undead but he has a lot more to offer. 

„Keith Thompson is a professional freelance artist who specializes in concept art for movies and games. He also illustrates books and his work has appeared in magazines and online.

Keith Thompson is best known for his illustrations in the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. His art has appeared in the Spectrum Art Annuals and his piece 'The Prophet' was selected and displayed by the magazine at their exhibition at the Museum of American Illustration. Mr Thompson is also widely known for his work designing the creatures in Guillermo del Toro's film 'Don't be Afraid of the Dark'. His other works include; . Concept art for the promotion of Skyrim . Illustrations for the Arcane Codex RPG . Illustrating Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel . Concept art for the Iron Grip game series . Concept art for the game Borderlands . Artworks for Truemax Studios . Artworks for Novaris Entertainment

Keith Thompson uses a 50/50 mixed media technique to create his artworks, all lines are drawn by hand, then the drawing is scanned to a computer, and the colours and shading are layered on with different glazes in Photoshop.

Mr Thompson has two books (Drawing and Painting the Undead, 50 Fantasy Vehicles to Draw and Paint) and a DVD (Character Design Techniques) out, and fine art prints are available for purchase on his website.
(source:  IMDb Mini Biography By: Hecci666”)
Illustration of The Prophet exhibited in 
the Museum of American Illustration
Scott Westerfeldt rewrote World War I and made it completely steampunk. Here is where Thompson could show his skills and his creative mind. You can see him designing the characters. not only how they look but both Scott Westerfeldt and Thompson brought them to life. Then all the machines, he shows you skills in designing functioning constructions both small and enormous. This is a skill not many illustrators manage to tame. We have to know how a machine of this size has to function, who needs to operate it, what does the operator wear at that place to not to get hurt while doing his job, what fuel does the machine use, and how much of this fuel does he needs to put on board to travel? all of these questions are answered by Thompson. And THAT is storytelling.
I highly recommend to buy the Leviathan series. It ia a fantastic read and the illustrations are something that makes the book really complete. It is not a series written for adults but I promise you, you won't be bored at all as an adult.

So now we could say he is a great character and industrial designer. And that is true, He also worked on several designs for the movie Pacific Rim and games like Warframe.
Why I think he is a great inspiration. Keith Thompson is an artist who works mixed media. He still has his hands in the medium and that is something I really like. The way he draws his detailed figures and scenes makes his art suitable for more media than just computer games or books.
Design for the video game Wareframe
by Keith Thompson

Indeed I bought the books written by Scott Westerfeldt. Leviathan, Behemoth and Goliath are all amazing books. (a link to his website is at the bottom of this entry)

But now something that is even more impressing. He is proves he is not only able to let a machine function like a machine but even animals. The Darwinists in this series, work with „grown” machines with whole bizarre ways of communication on board with animals who can remember small sentences and many more ways you would never thought of. I would really recommend reading this series. It shows you things you never seen before.
(characters, machines, darwinists)

Besides his use of technique is his amazing twisted mind something we all should respect. His designs are weird and surreal, with steampunk inspirations. He knows what shape he has to use to tell the story. What material is important to show things are hard or fleshy. What pose he needs to use because of something a character wears.
The last point is something we should keep in mind too. A character, building or machine has a function, how does it function? How does it move, and when you ad something, how does that influence the movement or pose. These things are all things most artists forget and makes things seem static or not plausible.

Design for the movie Pacific Rim
Illustration by Keith Thompson

Warship Leviathan.
Illustration by Keith Thompson
I think we all have enough to do now. This is an illustrator who made so many bizarrely amazing drawings and designs. You should take a peek on his website and do some more research on the internet. He has more to show you then you could imagine.
So let’s take a look deeper into your own work and figure out how your characters are standing in their own world, that is what I am going to do anyway. Keep on asking yourself the right questions when you are drawing. It is good to take some time so every now and than and think of what you are doing and then take a look at your heroes to see how and what he or she is  doing.

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Kind regards,




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