Álvaro Calvo Escudero: illustrator & concept artist interview

Álvaro Calvo Escudero talks about the creative curve that all beginners should understand, orcs, and a workflow that integrates Photoshop, Manga Studio, and 3ds Max...

Álvaro Calvo Escudero talks about the creative curve that all beginners should understand, orcs, and a workflow that integrates Photoshop, Manga Studio, and 3ds Max...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Álvaro Calvo Escudero: As a Spanish concept artist and illustrator, I studied a Fine Arts degree and Master in Design, before moving into traditional and digital techniques. With more than 5 years of professional experience and after several fantasy and sci-fi works for editorial, cards, and video games, I'm always looking to collaborate with creative and passionate teams.

3dt: What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?
AE: Orcs! As a war game fan its something that I had in mind some months ago. Something different to add to my portfolio, introducing another kind of subject, and looking to design something funny. Orcs give you the possibility to be very creative and develop your imagination if you really understand their attitude.

I almost always structure my workflow in the same way. I begin with some thumbnails with big masses looking at compositional aspects. When I know what I really want, I go to my favorite artist and study for inspiration, how do they represent what I am looking for? After that, I take all the reference photos I need to create my panel. I use a lot of time thinking and working on a line-drawing base, and after I continue developing the mood with big brushes before going into the details from the focal point to the rest, until the final render.

3dt: What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?
AE: In this piece the perspective was the best challenge. Taking a low-angle camera view and trying to improve the ferocity of the orc with the other goblin looking on. I had to do some variations to be happy with the orcs expression, and it gave me an opportunity to discover a lot about orcs anatomy.

On the other hand the consistency of the materials was a challenge too. In a scene with so many different clothes, armor, and weapons, you can easily lose this verisimilitude if you dont pay attention to all the characteristics. Ive learned a lot with this piece. Ive taken time to study each problem, to try to avoid similar difficulties in the future.

3dt: Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?
AE: Ive been using Photoshop since my beginnings as a digital artist, and Im very comfortable with it. Ive discovered Manga Studio and Im going to go deeper with it, as Ive heard so many good things about it. At the same time I use Procreate on tablet. Im very impressed with it. Its something very cool to be able to easily share your sketch process to social media, and if you need to work hard out of home. For concept art I use 3ds Max to establish a perspective and light source. I dont model a very complicated mesh, only something to help me with a solid base to gain some time.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?
AE: Nowadays I start the year developing through a bunch of thumbnail. They are going to be my new portfolio. I spend a long time sketching so continue to create until I have at least ten that Im convinced about, though I always find other good ideas throughout the year. After that, I divide my work day into: professional work, portfolio, and daily sketch. The best tip in this case is always to manage your time as well as you can to work in your portfolio in a comfortable way. This is the time where you have to give the best. Finally, I find it good to have at least five very good pieces to share.

Something really good when youre getting more experience is realizing more and more what it is you need to change or improve. You can see your achievements day by day, and learn from your failures easily. Its important for beginners to know something about this creative curve. Its not something constant at all; I think its more like an ascending wave, with little ups and downs. Were not machines! We have good days, bad days, and sometimes of course fail in tasks. The importance here is to be conscious of it and to constantly learn from these failings. Never give up!

3dt: Are you a member of any social media groups? Any favorite hashtags you check on a daily basis?
AE: I like to share my work in some groups on Facebook: Ten Thousand Hours, The Grind, Art Cafe and Spanish Concept Art. All are different, where I can share and discover new artists. About hashtags, I dont really have any favorite. I only check depending on what Im looking for each time. Most of the time fellow artist. Now Im working on improving my character sketches and line quality with pencil so Im studying classic artists like Zorn, Sargent, or Frazetta.

3dt: How important is the recognition of your peers?
AE: I always listen to and learn from people that walk the same path as me, there are many of us in the industry and if an artist takes his time to give me some words about my work Im always very grateful. But, as an artist, I think you have to trust in your own possibilities, be self-critical and constantly analyze your work and be aware of what you need to improve.

3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
AE: Nowadays I would like to be part of a really passionate team with a very wide point of view about the creative process. Share and develop interesting things and know how people from other parts of the world smile and enjoy the industry, thats amazing. I dont think you have to look for AAA or indie projects only, I think its more important to develop something that you can be proud of, and make others happy.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
AE: Im always looking for new artists to contemplate and learn from. I dont like to self-limit my influences. I have my preferences in style as always, but I like to jump and introduce myself to new, different visions once in a while to enrich me and my work.

Some of the great artist I follow and study every day would be: Karl Kopinski, Paul Dainton, Joaquín Sorolla, Mike Mignola, Naoki Urasawa, Katsuhiro Otomo, Claire Wendling, or Victor de la Fuente. There are so many other creators, and generally what I like to discover with them is their intelligent and fresh way to represent their reality. I love how they try to be as honest and genuine us possible, leaving out the unnecessary things.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
AE: I need some months to finish and complete my new portfolio, but I usually update my final pieces on my ArtStation from time to time. Although, you can follow me on Instagram to discover my daily sketches where I put my best ones. On the other hand, over the next few months, Ill continue working on fantasy cards and illustrations, and I expect some surprises that I can share with you.

Related links

Create a neon-drenched cyberpunk high-speed chase in Photoshop with Alvaro Escudero
Alvaros ArtStation
Alvaro on Instagram
Grab a copy of Masters of Sketching in the shop

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