2008 at 12.21 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
We move the vector artwork world show to Argentina for some painterly illustration style that will surprise you as much as it did with me.
Hi, my name is Alex Dukal, I'm an illustrator born in 1966 in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia Argentina. Early on I spent ten years in Buenos Aires, where I studied fine arts and started to publish comics in the legendary "Fierro" magazine. Back in my hometown I began to setup some painting exhibitions (I've already took the job of eliminate 95% of such material) and teaching illustration and comics to young people. That all happened during the nineties.
Then, in the year 2000, I travelled to the UK to create a digital paintings exhibition and to offer a workshop. Back home I decided to work mostly in web design, a new exciting area, learning a lot of new things and planning to return to Europe later. That was eight years ago, when Argentina experienced serious difficulties, not a good time to save money and to buy an airline ticket! So I continued working as a web designer while deciding what to do with my career. Only two years ago I decided to get back to illustration, working mostly for children's books, and that's what I'm doing since then!
Alex has a very painterly style that I totally love. He is also a master in using brushes to get that nice surface effect. Be sure to check out his brushes in the link below. His characters also show very strong expressions. These expressions are such a big part of the story and make you think about the story that is going on in front of you. A perfect addition to our continued illustrated journey.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an illustrator and was it hard to find your own style and make a business out of it?
Ummmh yes! I knew it! but not exactly 'an illustrator', when I was a kid I dreamed of being a drawer, a comic-books artist, a painter or anything related to graphic arts. Everything has been happening in a natural way: a child scribbling the walls of his parents house, a comic books artist, a painter, a teacher, an illustrator and actually a "children's illustrator".
Some elements of what today appears to be "my style" emerged magically ten years ago, but I feel that my style is still under development, trying to go as far as I can from moods or fashions. This year I'm trying to do the big change, leaving my work as a freelance web designer and trying to do my business as a fulltime illustrator, working with some great editorials, seeking for a rep (not an easy task!) and working on some picture books.
Do you first sketch your illustrations on paper? Can you reveal a bit of your usual workflow? Which applications do you mainly use?
Yes, everything starts with pencils or a ballpoint over paper, then I scan that and do some cleaning in Photoshop (here's a tutorial that I wrote about this step). I'm using mostly Photoshop but when I bought my Wacom tablet I had an affair with Corel Painter for a few months. At a certain point I started to flirt with Photoshop again, trying to obtain a more natural and "artistic" results and creating a whole new set of brushes. From that point on all my illustrations are done in PS.
The process is the same inside Photoshop or Painter. I create a flat color for the background, a layer with the line artwork, under that layer a new one to paint a whole colour reference, and above all these layers a new one with the final color with all the details. That's the basics, then I use layer masking to apply some textures and sometimes I modify a little bit of the color curves or apply the "Photo filter" to change the whole color. Of course, I also love to use inks, watercolors, collage, woodcuts, etc, but actually I can't take my hands off from digital creation!
How does your ideal day looks like?
Wake up early on a spring morning, take a delicious breakfast, walk by the seafront, cross the main street, get in the bank and collect a nice check in order to draw the rest of the week without money worries.
Does your work environment have an influence on your inspiration or work?
Not at all. I think that there's more influence from the region where I live, most of the people hate the strong winds here but I love them and of course I love the fact that the sea is just 200 meters from my study!
Ernesto & Bubblegum Man
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
In perfect times: mountain biking! But of course there is other stuff too like reading some books, watching some movies or TV series, visit some friends, and listen to music! ... Music is always a good source to put your mind in a good vibe before and during the creation process! Inspiration is like an English rain, it's always there ... but depends on your decision to keep your head wet or to be inside the house safe and warm!