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Interview with Talented Digital Painter Marek Okon

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Read Time: 5 min

Marek is a very talented digital painter who looks at his paintings as scenes from movies. He tries to capture the most pivotal moment that will make his art look explosive and amazing. Marek gives us insight on what he does to improve his skills, as well as explains what type of tools he uses to paint.

1. Welcome to Psdtuts+! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in the field.

Hi There! My name is Marek Okon, I come from Poland and I'm 27 years old. My fascination with digital graphics started with an old Commodore C64 and painting Batman fan art pixel by pixel. I loved the possibilities the computer gives the artist and I wanted to explore that passion. During my college years painting was just a hobby to me since I worked as web designer and flash animator.

While this experience didn't improve my drawing skills I learned a lot about how to deal with different clients and of course I got to know Photoshop inside and out, I’ve been using it as my main tool to date. About three years ago I decided to start my career as a professional painter and concept designer. I had a few not bad images In my portfolio, then got my first book cover commissions and thing started rolling.

2. Most designers in your field use PC Tablets, what exactly do you use and how is it more efficient compared to the other products out there?

I work on Wacom Intuos3 A4 and its by far best tool I worked on. I tried three different tablets before but none of them had such precision and control over the painting process. Don't get fooled. It's not a tablet that makes good images, it can speed up the process but ultimately is all up to artist. A tool is just a tool no matter how good or bad it is.

3. The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is quite fitting for your art. One painting looks like it has a whole novel worth of story to it, so where do you draw inspiration to paint such plot orientated illustrations?

When its a book cover, inspiration comes from the story I'm reading. During reading I see all the scenes in my imagination and then I pick one that will fit the cover best, one that will draw attention of the people passing by this book. When its personal works I usually create my own little story around the picture, so every piece of equipment presented, every location and character has its part in the world presented. I rarely go and create something accidental.

4. The imagery in your work ranges from battle scenes to amazing landscape shots, What is your favorite type of scene to paint and why?

I Like mixing SF and fantasy. I love SF because I can show of some of my design ideas and general vision of a future. Fantasy on the other hand has something childish inside which really warms up an image and makes it more appealing to a viewer.

5. What exactly goes through your head when you are about to start a new painting? Quickly walk us through the process of completing one of your amazing paintings.

First stage is always thinking what I want to draw. And while it sound simple it’s the time you have to decide what your image is really about- a core idea as I call it. All the other elements orbit around that core idea and must fit it and support it. Second stage is quick doodling (usually on a paper) trying out a few composition setups, some design elements and so on. Next, I paint the initial sketch on the computer, add some preliminary colors and start detailing the whole piece till I'm happy with final results.

6. Does the outside world influence your work at all? If so how, and does it always have a positive effect on the work?

My main problem is that I work too much, seriously If it wasn't for my fiancé who drags me out from my apartment every now and then I would draw 24/7 with only a few brakes for eating and sleeping. But it’s good to catch a brake from time to time. It lets your brain gain a fresh perspective on a parting, you can relax and attack picture with a new approach and strength. I also love watching movies, Its really useful to look at how the camera takes that directors use to emphasize certain things. I have a huge film shot library in my head that I use every time I have problem with proper framing or composition.

7. Even the best designers practice frequently learn new things, so where exactly do you go to find tutorials or articles that help you find inspiration for your paintings?

I think my biggest drawback is color and tone management. In those areas I still feel unsure and often have to experiment during painting. Unfortunately there isn't much about the rules and theory behind proper color palettes and good tonal management. I bet it’s not a big problem for someone who has art education behind them but for self taught guy like me it is. There are however books about traditional painting where those problems are explained quite well, so lately those books are my main source of knowledge

8. Thanks again for providing Psdtuts+ with this opportunity to interview you, any final thoughts? What would you tell other designers that hope to be as good as you one day?

Thank you for interviewing me, and kudos on the great website. Even I found a few useful tutorials here, and I thought old dogs cant learn new tricks! As for advice I have only one - keep practicing. You will suck at the beginning, like everybody else did, but you have to power through. Learn as much as you can, experiment as much as you can and above all - keep practicing! There's no other way.

Where to find Marek on the Web

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