Meet Wendy Jim aka Rydeen, who specializes in illustration and color direction. Being a self confessed comic book nut, Rydeen always knew she wanted to be a digital artist and went on to pursue a career in multimedia design. In this interview, Rydeen talks about her work, education, experience and experiments in digital art.
Q Hi Rydeen, give us a little background information on yourself; tell us where you're from.
My name is Wendy Jim, though I usually go by Jim, I’m from Singapore. My experience in this field has primarily been in animation (2-D), and I’ve worked for animation and games companies here for the past 5 years as a background colorist and art director. I specialize in illustration and color direction. I’ve only just started work for an interactive media company, and although the experience is still quite new, it’s pretty exciting and fun.
Q When did you decide that you wanted to be in the digital art field? Did you take any formal education in this field or are you self taught?
I knew long ago, after my ‘O’ Levels (aged 16), that I wanted to try my luck in this field. Being a comic book nut who would copy pictures of Wolverine and Gambit onto my desk at school, I was fortunate to have a teacher who encouraged my interests, and suggested I pursue design for further education. I Enrolled and later quit a formal visual arts education after 2 years. I worked various jobs in the intervening years such as sales, waitressing, bartending, being a tattoo artist before returning to tertiary education at Nanyang Polytechnic - studying multimedia design. There was a pretty weird leap from old-school graphic design (pre-photoshop era, laying out type with letraset) to using computers primarily, but now I can’t do without Ctrl-Z. I don’t think anything beats life experience. I am self-taught in vector programs though, since my major in animation didn’t cover it much.
Q What is your work flow for creating a typical image? Do you start with a sketch before you mask the final piece?
I start by doing a rough sketch in Flash CS3 with the brush tool (I like the immediacy of the drawing tools provided by the program). After the rough sketch, I’ll do a cleaner trace of what I’ve drawn with the pen tool to solidify the image, and proceed to coloring it from there.
Q What attracted you to vector? What tools and applications do you use? Would you like to share with us your favorite vector tool, trick or technique?
I’m not particularly attracted to vector art, I’m just more comfortable with the programs. In all seriousness, the speed with which Illustrator or Flash can convey an image from my head to something that’s solid and visible is a big factor in why I prefer the medium… that and the MUCH smaller file sizes. As for tricks and techniques, I can only recommend research. Watch artists whose styles you admire, experiment and try to mesh their particular styles with your own work – coming up with something new as a result.
Q Who or what inspires you? Have you explored different technique or styles of digital art? Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Comic books still inspire me. I admire the ability of these artists to be able to not only convey an idea, but an entire narrative in the medium. When you combine that with skilled draftsmanship, the effect is mesmerizing. I look up to artists like Michael Kaluta, Charles Vess… I’m sure there’re dozens that I love, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately. As for different styles and techniques, I’m now experimenting with digital painting in Corel Painter. Sometimes I try to use that to enhance the look of my work in vector, most times I just paint for the heck of it. I think I am definitely moving away from vector right now, but who knows.
Q Apart from art and illustration what other things do you enjoy? How do you recharge your creative batteries?
Hmm… I read, I watch a lot of TV, comic books too. I guess I’m primarily attracted to the visual mediums of communication. Right now I’m re-watching HBO’s Rome (good program, that). That said, I’m happiest spending time with my family (and pet guinea pig).
Q If you could boil art and illustrations down to three basic points, what would they be?
Form, function and technical ability. Clients want their illustrators to fulfil their basic requirements, to be able to sell their products in a creative (read: trendy) and succinct manner. As an illustrator who is paid for my skills, it is up to me to be able to translate their needs well, and if I can, add my own individuality to the final product.
Q Thanks for the interview Rydeen. Would you like to share any tips or advise for aspiring designers and illustrators?
Thank you for the opportunity! My advice would be, know your strengths and pursue them, and keep on drawing - you can’t get worse.