Franklin Chan is a Hong-Kong born and raised artist whose works include concept art, illustrations, and matte painting, mostly with influences from science fiction and fantasy.
Iulian: Tell us a little bit about yourself: where did you grow up and how did your early life influence your future as an artist?
Franklin: I was born in Hong Kong and moved to UK when I was a kid. I also moved around a lot when I was young, so I guess that made me want to constantly explore new places and experience new things. Although, I think my biggest early influence as an artist is watching a lot of movies growing up, which I still do to this day. What I enjoy the most when I paint is capturing an intriguing story or profound emotion and how lighting affects the mood of a scene. I think I’ve learned a lot of that from watching movies.
Iulian: What are your favorite design tools and how did you get to learn them?
Franklin: My favorite tool is definitely Photoshop, since I use it for my work most of the time. I also use 3D programs like Sketchup, Modo, Maya to aid my design and drawing process. When it comes to learning, I am pretty much self-taught by going online and searching for video tutorials.
Iulian: Are there any other artists out there that you admire and whose work has helped shape your work?
Franklin: I think there are just too many to name them. I came across Dylan Cole’s work when I was in University. His matte painting and concept art is what made me aware of the entire industry. Feng Zhu and Ryan Church are two artists I really admire, not only because they produce great works, but they are also great teachers.
Iulian: Where do you find inspiration?
Franklin: I think reading novels provides the best inspiration. It gives you an interesting story to base your work upon, and your job is to take the novel’s words and add your own interpretation.
Iulian: How would you break down your workflow in steps?
Franklin: I emphasize the efficiency of my workflow because I spend most of the time working as a freelance artist, meaning that you have to make your own schedule and discipline yourself to meet deadlines. Therefore I am really careful with the steps I am taking when creating a project from start to finish. The most important thing I stress is research, before I even start doing any painting, I ask myself what is it that I am trying to achieve? If this is client work, what is the purpose of the artwork? Is it for a pitch? Is it a concept for another production artist? Is it for marketing? If this is a personal piece, what is it I am trying to learn or achieve at the end of the process?
When I set myself a target, I think about how I can achieve that with the highest quality possible within an appropriate time constraint. If capturing the mood of a story is important, I tend to start painting directly, and I can quickly explore color and lighting. If I need to illustrate an idea of a man-made structure and how it’s put together, which later needs to go to a 3D artist to be built, I will start with a line sketch and then refine it in 3D. If the idea is based on something that already exist and the client wants photo realism, I would go out and shoot for reference and paint on top of photographs. I am sure every artist would have a different approach, but the general principle is understanding how each tool will contribute to the final result and be very flexible with your approach.
Iulian: Your work is very fantasy-driven. What drives you to that subject?
Franklin: I think the power to imagine your own world in your artwork is really the most precious thing in the world. It is also the process I enjoy the most when I paint.
Iulian: If there was one piece of advice you could give other beginning artists, what would that be?
Franklin: Since I am completely self-taught, I think the best advice I can give is to be patient and enjoy the learning process. It takes years of practicing and studying to become a great artist and the beginning journey can be very painful. And if you want to choose art as your career, that painful process will never stop even when you are experienced, because you will always have to learn new things and face new challenges on the job.
Iulian: We selected one of your pieces for the cover of our magazine. Tell us a few words about how that piece came to be.
Franklin: I always enjoy doing sci-fi painting. Ever since I heard the new Star Wars Trilogy is coming out, I wanted to do a piece to show my admiration for the genre. And, I wanted to do a scene where a gigantic industrial city is built on the surface a planet like Mars.
Iulian: Where can we find you on the web?
Here are some samples of Franklin’s works:
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