Style & Story In Aristocracy & Skylines

Pablo, how did you become a professional artist?

I can’t remember exactly the first time I held a pencil in my hand! For me, drawing has been a daily routine since I was a kid; a hobby that turned into a passion and with it an obsession to improve until I became a professional concept artist. I was born in Jaen, a beautiful small city in Andalucia, the South of Spain. However, due to my father’s job I moved to Madrid when I was still a kid, and I grew up there. During my early teenager years I started collecting Warhammer miniatures and magazines, and that triggered my passion for science fiction and fantasy. That passion mixed with video games and movies turned out to be the perfect cocktail! Nothing different to any other guy with artistic interests I suppose.

One day, I found in one of those magazines the name of a Spanish artist, and that’s when I understood that concept art was actually a real job, and that I could make a living out of drawing and designing for those movies and video games that I used to love. Later on, I went on to study Fine Arts at a university in Madrid, and there I learned about digital art as well as online art communities. Pretty soon I was spending more time online in digital art communities with people around the world rather than in class. Four years after I bought my first digital tablet that feedback would turn into job offers, and here we are now. 

What is your process before starting a project?

I believe that an artist's process is something that you build throughout the years, and you just improve it until you find a pipeline you are happy with. In my case, I jump straight away into 3D, and prepare a layout where later on I play with cameras, light and texture to get the shot that I'm looking for. Something that I used to do was create a super rough sketch, but I don’t spend much time on that, no more than a couple of minutes. Sometimes it's enough with just a couple of lines directly on my phone with my finger; just enough to grasp my idea.

What are the stories behind the two covers you created?

For Aristocracy I wanted to keep a classy style on this one, reminiscent of the style of old landscape paintings of cities like London and Paris. I’ve been living in London almost for a year and these kind of views, with buildings by the sides of the Thames river are very iconic from here. At the same time, I wanted to keep a desaturated but still vibrant color palette, something that could reflect that mix between the textures and materials that represents the steampunk style: copper and brass.

 

For Skylines, there's more of a fun story behind it. On my last trip to Los Angles, some friends (who will remain anonymous) and I, got invited to another friend's house (who will also remain anonymous). There we had a really nice evening, prepared food together, and enjoyed a nice hot tub and rooftop pool with views of the city in all directions. Definitely a night to remember, and couldn’t find anything better than this pack to pay a tribute to it!

 

Must have been some super famous people, otherwise you would have divulged their names. Can you please take us through a step by step creating the Skylines cover?

Normally, I start blocking everything out directly in 3D, so I can rotate the camera, play with the angles and the light. Let's say it's like a sketch in 3D!

Then I throw all my textures in Octane Render, where I use top lay with emissive lights, displacement maps and other stuff. However, the KitBash3d models are so detailed that sometimes using a basic color is enough!

At this stage, the image is almost ready. When my scene is heavy on 3D sometimes I don’t spend too much time in Photoshop, only to get the right modo and some details. After the 3D is done, I start playing with the Depth in Photoshop to get that distance effect of the aerial perspective

The next step would be start photobashing some details like the background or some extra lights. As I said, KitBash3d makes it super easy and fast, because I barely have to spend time on this!

The piece is almost finished, so once I'm done with the photobashing, I would do a color correction pass to control the values and tone of the image.

And it’s done! Only a last pass with some extra textures like clouds and lens flares, plus some brush strokes to erase the sharpness of the 3D and we are ready!

And finally, why do you make art?

I never found art as a way to escape from reality or as a shelter. In general, I never gave a really deep meaning to it, I just really enjoy the process of portraying ideas and telling stories! For me, painting is a language that you can learn, either as an artist or as a viewer, and in both ways the conversation between artists and appreciators of art can be rich and exciting. At the same time, it’s a language that changes constantly, so it gives infinite opportunities to find new statements, visions and inspiration. Let’s say that I do art... because I’m too lazy to write!

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Pablo Carpio is a Concept Artist at ILM and lives in London. He has worked with film and game companies such as Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic, Marvel Studios, MPC, Riot Games, Ubisoft Montreal, Insomniac Games, Tencent Games, Axis Animation and more. He is always eager to learn more and is constantly looking for opportunities, check out his ArtStation here

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