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Fan-Art Spotlight: Arukun14
Welcome to the Gears of War Community Spotlight, our bi-weekly blog that dives into how some of the Gear's communities most talented creators, fans and contributors craft their amazing work! This week, we're talking to long time Gears fan-artist Tim Fangon to get his tips and tricks to creating some amazing fan-art for the Gears universe.
Name: Tim Fangon
Occupation: Artist and Illustrator.
Started playing Gears: 2006… Since forever!
Favorite Gears Game: Gears of War 3
Favorite character: Locust Grenadier
Favorite campaign: I have to say, all of Gears 1. Pretty much got me into the series.
Favorite MP Map: Gridlock
Favorite MP game mode: Team Deathmatch
TC: Hi there Tim! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your Gears of War background.
Tim: Let's start off with the basics. I’m a graduate from San Jose State’s Animation and Illustration program (go SHM!), with the emphasis in visual development, concept and 3D modeling. I do a lot of drawing, more specifically, doodling. For a while, I’ve always the interest of doing artwork, but when Gears of War came out at the time during my Xbox 360 days, that was it. That was when I told myself, “I want to do this. I want to do awesome things in video games.” There was something that captivated me, stylistically, about Gears, more so when I look at the characters that call Sera their home.
For almost a decade, I have been active with the Gears of War community ever since, being involved heavily with events, social media, and of course, doing art stuff. I’m proud to say that I still am.
TC: Describe the typical process that goes into creating a piece of your Gears of War artwork.
Tim: Before I start to put anything down on paper or digital ink, I think very broadly about what I want to do. Once I’ve figured out what I want to draw, I become more specific with the subject. Will it be a character showing off its awesomeness? Is it going to be a monster with a lot of teeth? Will it be frightening? Will it look cool?
Generally, those are what I start off with. When I can’t figure out what I want to do (which, unfortunately, is most of the time!), I’ll scribble on the page until I see something. Most of the time, it turns pretty monstrous. Luckily for me, it ends up how I’ll want it to be in the end. When it comes to characters, I don’t worry much about the details right away. I start off with rough gestures, big shapes, and a silhouette to convey the overall feeling. I love the sketchy, concept-like drawing style, which basically screams Gears.
Personally, when I want to make more complete paintings, I go digital. The freedom of digital media gives you the flexibility to correct errors on the fly (Alt+Ctrl+Z is your friend). But nothing can beat traditional drawing, which, 75% of time, is where my personal and rough ideas go through. All I need is a regular piece of paper, a pen, maybe a few markers, and I’ll get right to it.
TC: What artistic techniques do you favor to successfully capture the look and feel of the Gears of War universe?
Tim: Gears is well-known to be heavy with detail and the delicious eye-candy. To pull off a Gears of War style, while making it with my own twist, is to make sure I capture the essence of what speaks “Gears.” In both digital, and traditional, I try to stay loose, rough, and harsh with brush strokes, pen marks, and texture to convey the gritty, dark mood that Gears of War is known for. If you’re asking what tool I’m particularly using, there are no special tools to pull it off. I use regular brush pens, ballpoint pens, markers. And if I’m working in Photoshop, I’ll be working with the default round brush. I have a few texture brushes to throw faster textures to the shapes that I want, but most of the time, it will be the round brush.
When I worked on the Reaper fan art, I wanted to find a way to establish it in the Gears world, while taking it a little further and make it my own. It wasn’t easy; it was one of the most complex pieces that I’ve done, personally. I had to figure out the lighting, what environment it had to be in, and of course, a way to keep it feeling like it’s Gears.
TC: If you could design a creature, character or location for Gears of War, what would that look like?
Tim: If I could, I'd design so many monstrous beings to put into the universe. Creatures are the best; not only they are super fun to draw, but I like to think of them as little devils in my mind. You probably might question my sanity at this point, but I wouldn't worry about it. :) Anyways, while I have a million ideas, there is one concept sketch idea that I had in regards to the Locust. I call it the Locust Hound.
It's kind of like a dog, maybe in the Locust eyes, a pitbull of some sorts. I love dogs, and I thought at some point, “What would the Grenadiers have if they had beastly companions?” Not to say they don't have any to begin with, but rather than using them as “warfare artillery”, but rather a pet to have around. Of course, they are just as savage than anything else!
They have their Bloodmounts, they have Wretches, they have Siege Beasts. There are so many different creatures that range from the most monstrous Leviathan, to the more humanoid-like Locust Grunts themselves.
Of course, sometimes I would work on the COG, too. While I love my beastly friends, who doesn’t love Carmine? Couple years back, I worked on Santa Carmine, and he was definitely a fan favorite. Still is today.
TC: What was it about Gears of War that inspired you to become such a dedicated art creator around it’s universe?
Tim: There is so much to say about that. Much of the lore is so rich, yet so much potential to have fans asking for more and more. The story is behind much of what I enjoy about Gears, more so when characters take a stand to tell it to you.
But if I had to say what inspired me the most, it’s probably the characters. I’d probably identify myself as a character / creature kind of guy. The Locust were definitely folks that I get a lot of inspiration from: bulky bodies, large claws, and how crazy they can be. I’m a nice guy, but I love my monsters. Shout out to Chris Perna for being such a cool dude for concocting up the Berserker you know her as today. The underground dwellers are very interesting beings, and yet, we still don’t know much of their origins. I am looking forward to seeing more about them. And I certainly would love to be a part of that story telling one day.
TC: Could you share any tips for any budding artists out there looking to produce their own Gears of War fanart?
Tim: The best advice I could give, is to start drawing. Practice, be imaginative, draw from life, tell stories. In all honesty, there is no right or wrong when it comes to art. I would have never imagined myself to be where I am today, almost ten years ago. You don’t have to be a bad ass with anything that you do. As long as you have the drive, passion, tons of hard work, and with little bit of practice, you can make really cool art. Be sure to post it up too, so that we can see it! And if you ever want to hit me up, you can always find me posting up regularly on my Instagram. You can also tweet me on Twitter. I’m always happy to give advice when I can, or have a little chat. You can even check out my little Gears of War forum art thread.
I’d love to thank all of the former artists who gave me the inspiration on a universe that I dearly love. Especially Chris Perna, Chris Wells, J.Hawkins, and many more of you guys.
Big shout out to my dear friend Kevin Galloway for being a fellow Gear over the years. Thanks so much man!
Big thanks to the Coalition crew for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community. And to all of you who watch my work, I am humbled. It is certainly the driving force that wants me to keep drawing and do what I do. The community that represents Gears has that passion that I’ve never seen quite like anything else. Everyone is so well-knit and nice to each other. I’m proud to be a part of it.