Ricardo Padierne: illustrator interview

Sevilla-based illustrator Ricardo Padierne talks about adding story elements to his illustrations, improving your portfolio, and his inspirations...

Sevilla-based illustrator Ricardo Padierne talks about adding story elements to his illustrations, improving your portfolio, and his inspirations...

3dtotal: Tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
Ricardo Padierne Silvera: I was born in Morón, Cuba in 1992. When I was 6, my family decided to move to Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, where I grew up drawing everything I could imagine. Over the years, that habit became an unstoppable force inside me so I made the best decision in my entire life; making art for a living. Nowadays, I consider myself a storyteller as well as an illustrator, because I believe every piece of visual information always contains a narrative within it. If you ask me, every professional illustrator should always aim for storytelling over technique.

3dt: Tell us about your art: your style, themes, genre, and some of the favorite projects you have worked on.
RPS: I think my style is classified under the genre of fantastic realism. I always try to achieve realistic lighting, proportions, and textures, while my themes are usually related to fantasy in some way or another. About my favorite projects, I must say I loved working on all of them, but If I had to pick one, that would be the artwork for the videogame Embrion, because I was able to learn how to be proactive and interact with a team in order to create the best possible product. That experience served me really well in later projects, like, for example, a roleplaying book called Epiphany, where I managed to comprehend and implement straight away the briefing the client gave to me to create appealing illustrations.

3dt: Can you describe your typical workflow, and the software/hardware you normally use when creating your artwork?
RPS: My workflow is pretty simple. I have a method where I decompose the reality in three main elements: shape, lighting, and depth. The shapes are translated into lines, which I use to create the structure of the elements. Then comes the lighting; I create the shapes and start adding layers of local color, lights, shadows, and so on. When I reach a decent tri-dimensionality, I start incorporating depth, playing with contrast and ambient lights. After this initial setup, the next step is to merge everything and begin the rendering phase, developing complexity in the shapes and pushing the homogeneity of the piece.

Everything is created in Photoshop and, for references, I use PureRef and Google. I recently found that Daz 3D is really handy if you are stuck with a pose, so I would recommend It as well.

3dt: What inspires you?
RPS: Anthropology is my north star when it comes to inspiration. Nothing tells us that much about the roots of our culture and tradition (universally speaking), and so, about the storytelling of our era and our visual development. In fact, studying anthropology is essential to cultivate a profound understanding of the self, and therefore, of one's art.

3dt: How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips
RPS: This one is a hard question, because the "up-to-date" label is intimately related to several deeper questions. Generally speaking, I try to switch my mindset when it comes to keeping my portfolio up to date. Instead of putting up all of my work carelessly, I prefer asking myself if at that moment my portfolio represents what my aspirations are as a professional and, if not, what kind of piece that I've made recently would transmit that feeling to the public. If the balance between simplicity and interest is good enough, there is no need to increase the quantity of the main pieces, but if you wanna show more of your work, maybe you can create a selection of "general pieces" or "sketches" to satisfy the curiosity of anyone looking for more examples.

About some tips, here is one I love: first and foremost, be authentic. Dont try to be good at everything but, instead, try to understand what is it that you want to create, and what you should be showing in order to push your career in that direction.

3dt: Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?
RPS: I like to divide the artists I like between traditional artists and contemporary ones, because in the past we had different priorities than we have now, mixing them would conclude in mixed priorities in our work. I always try to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of each one in order to apply that knowledge to my work.

Traditional masters would be Ilya Repin, Mariano Fortuny, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec and so on, because their work is absolutely astonishing in almost every way. From structure to narrative, everything is integrated and its an organic part of the whole. Lots of information there to be discovered for any artist willing to improve his understanding of beauty itself.

About the contemporary artists, if someone asked me about it, I would say Marko Djurdjevic or Sergey Kolesov straight away, because their visual and conceptual narrative abilities are really deep and powerful. That is really difficult to find nowadays, because the industry has shifted priorities from a deep understanding of the narrative to a superficial aesthetical beautification, which is, in my opinion, terrible. Other examples of great technique and storytelling, in case you want to check them out are: Jama Jurabaev, Anthony Jones, Steven Belledin, Gerald Parel, and Brom.

3dt: What can we expect to see from you next?
RPS: Right now Im exploring the narrative possibilities of virtual reality while working on my second roleplaying book based on the American West. I have been pivoting into less rendered images to have more time spent in the narrative side of the picture, so you can expect some different qualities on my work from now on in term of renders. In the near future, Im preparing a Kickstarter project with something more personal and unique, and, to be honest, Im really excited about it, cant wait to show it to everybody!

Related links

Ricardo Padierne Silveras website
Ricardos Instagram
Ricardos Facebook
Grab a copy of Beginners Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Sci-fi & Fantasy

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