Interview - Bobby Rebholz

Bobby Rebholz is a freelance creature and character concept artist for games and television. He also has a background in teaching art and drawing at college and high school levels.

Bobby Rebholz is a freelance creature and character concept artist for games and television. He also has a background in teaching art and drawing at college and high school levels.

Thanks for speaking to 3dtotal, Bobby! Could you please introduce yourself: who are you, where are you based, and what do you do?

Bobby Rebholz: I'm honored to be interviewed!

My name is Bobby Rebholz and I am a drawing instructor as well as a freelance concept artist. My focus is character and creature design. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and recently moved to New Haven, Connecticut so my wife can attend grad school. I was a full-time drawing instructor at the college of Design, Architecture, Art & Planning at the University of Cincinnati for four years. After moving, I currently teach visual art at the Co-Op Arts & Humanities Magnet High School in New Haven.

I love drawing and I do it every day. My freelancing takes me on a lot of fun artistic journeys. I draw character and creature concepts for the show Face Off on Syfy. I've also designed characters for War for the Overworld by Subterranean Games.

What inspired you to pursue art as a career? What inspires you today?

B.R: When I was about four years old, my cousin brought home a bag of small plastic dinosaurs. At the time I think there was some scrap paper laying on the table next to them. I started scribbling the dinosaurs and before I knew it, was hooked. I drew just about every day forward. It wasn't until I was about 8 that I really loved drawing and I especially liked drawing creatures. Early movie influences were Aliens, Predator, and An American Werewolf in London. There was a point when I knew I wanted to draw for a living because I was doing it every day during my free time.

Today, I'm still inspired by movies. They play a big part in my inspiration and they always energize me, especially horror and sci-fi horror. Artists like Alex Konstad, Neville Page, Peter Konig and Patrick Tatopoulos. Patrick's work in the 2006 Silent Hill film still gives me the chills. I am also heavily inspired by nature.

An extremely territorial creature, the Guropa is both male and female. It is able to procreate to sustain the necessary
number of members for a thriving population. It is only hostile when its territory is threatened.

What tools and materials do you commonly use?

B.R: I am a traditionalist at heart. I love sketching on either Moleskine paper or Graphics 360. Moleskine has a very smooth quality to the paper and I really like how it looks with a finished sketch. The natural color adds an old-school authenticity to the sketches. When I was in college, we used Graphics 360 because of the smooth quality and transparency. It was and still is ideal for fast concept design, especially for industrial design.

I typically use three different tools to draw with: a Bic ballpoint pen, black Prismacolor pencil, and a 6B. I also work digitally in Photoshop. Most of my work is traditional and later I add digital elements.

A dinosaur-inspired creature sketch

A dinosaur-inspired creature sketch

Could you describe your general concept design process for us?

B.R: One thing industrial design taught me was to never marry the first idea you put down, because most of the time it will suck compared to what you can come up with later. If I'm sketching a creature, I almost always start with the eyes. To me, getting the eyes down first tells me something about the creature's personality, and then I can work around it. I always tell my students to find an awesome creature illustration and cover its eyes up. The illustration loses about 90% of its appeal if you do that. Rough thumbnail sketches are key for me. I spend no more than 5 minutes on each thumbnail. When I'm sketching a scene or character, I will sketch a light outline and then apply several directions of shading on top to get a nice coat. Then, I add details. Everything we draw should have values no matter if it is in the dark or light.

Tell us more about your new Kickstarter book, Subconscious: Sketches from a Dark Place. What can backers hope to see from this project?

B.R: Ah the book! Subconscious was an idea I began developing about a year ago. I had so many sketches built up from daily spitpaints to personal sketches, and artists started asking when I was going to make a book. It seemed like the right time to launch a Kickstarter. My style is dark fantasy. The book consists of vicious creatures, eerie places, strange characters, all combined into a single book. My goal with this project is not only to make a book, but make a book that will inspire artists to take a pencil and start drawing. Tablets and Cintiqs are wonderful tools but I want to take backers on a journey through traditional sketching. It all starts with the sketchbook.

Subconscious: Sketches from a Dark Place, a new Kickstarter art book by Bobby Rebholz

You're also planning to take part in 3dtotal's Kickstarter project 100 Hours, which your background as an instructor makes you ideal for! What are some important things you've learned (or taught) during your career as a drawing instructor?

B.R: I can't wait!

I've learned several things throughout my years of teaching but there's one particular thing that I tell all of my students at the beginning. I tell them it is okay to be bad at drawing. You have to let yourself be bad before you get good. There is no shortcut. I tell my students that keeping a sketchbook is like keeping a diary. Nobody has to see it, so nothing in it has to be perfect. Sketching intimidates people who have never done it before. That is understandable. But patience is key and results will come with patience.

A digital creature concept

A digital creature concept

Finally, what do you do in your spare time, if you have any?

B.R: Let's see. I draw! I love spending time with my wife, watching movies, and going to the gym. I've also been an avid Halo player for 15 years. I absolutely can't wait for the new Doom.

Related links

Visit Bobby's blog for more artwork here.
Help bring Subconscious: Sketches from a Dark Place to life!
Learn more about 100 Hours here:
Love sci-fi concepts? Check out Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi, featuring 50 brilliant artists including Bobby Rebholz.

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