Lighting Club #09 – 2D Lighting

Hullo everybody !

Here we are with a new lighting club article. Thank you to always be present ! We will talk about something that could not be usual for a Lighting artists/tds : 2D ! Indeed we though it is a good idea to talk with 2D artists, about lighting, about colours, style etc… As in the Lighting Club we are bad enough in 2D we decided to interview 4 talented people, from different horizons, to get different point of view.

Thus we were lucky enough to interview Florian Escuer, previously 3D animator and currently visual development artist at Amuse Studio, Paris. David Bocquillon Carasco, junior digital matte painter and concept artist at Double Negative Montreal, he worked for example on Altered Carbon S02 or Wonder Woman 1984. Morgan Le Henry, who was colorkey artist and concept artist, is currently visual development artist at Mikros Image Montréal. And last but not least Fred Dupere, lead matt painter and visual development artist at Framestore, Montreal.

Junior, mid, senior, from vfx or from animation industry, we are glad to have a good selection of people to get a large view of what lighting in 2D could involved. Let’s enjoy the interview !

You can find their different portfolios at the end of this article, plus a few incredible images from them all along the interview !

Morgan’s Fan Art Illustration
Florian’s Concept

Hello ! Thanks for answering our questions, you come from different companies with different approaches, could you talk a bit about you and your work please ?

  • Flo : I started as a 3D animator but my passion for drawing caught me up and thus I decided to focus my personal work on drawing to finally be concept artist at Amuse Studio, Paris.
  • David : Hello ! After graduating at Artfx School of Visual Effects, i worked as a Digital Matte Painter at Mr. X and i recently moved to Double Negative Montréal where i’m currently working on the pre-production of an upcoming Netflix show.
  • Morgan: Hi ! After my studies at L’Atelier (France) and a first professional experience in the industry at Mac Guff Paris, I left France to United Kingdom where I was lucky enough to work at Cartoon Network for “The Amazing World Of Gumball’’. Then I was freelance on different projects (ads, music video..). Then, a year ago I took the opportunity to work in Canada as a concept artist for a feature film, which will be released in 2020. Today I work in another studio on another feature film incoming, still in Canada. And I also work in different personal projects.
  • Fred : I started my career back in 2006 as a production assistant in traditional animation, I got my chance to work on key art background on the animated series “My goldfish is evil’’. After working 2 seasons on this show I moved into game industry as a concept artist. After while I wanted to do matte painting, so I get into matte painting since that time. I recently had the pleasure to work on blade runner 2049 and more recently I’m part of the visual development department at Framestore.
Fred’s Concept art

What is your definition of a good lighting ?

  • Flo :  A good lighting is a simple lighting, with a strong direction that will create strong shadows but in the meantime that will allow a lot of bounces/indirect lighting. A good lighting should also give good shape to the characters or the objects. It should be chosen by storytelling as well, a funeral will not be lighted in the same way of a wedding. The consistency is important and if both are controlled, this is a win win !
  • David : From my point of view, a good lighting should guide the viewer through the image and be used as an strong element of storytelling and composition.
  • Morgan :  In my opinion, everything should be lead by the storytelling, we work to tell story, a good lighting will serve the scenario and the director’s vision/artistic direction. It must be both precise and efficient and in the meantime stay in the production constraints
  • Fred: A good lighting for me will guide your eyes and connect with your composition in your image, I also like when a lighting is believable and accurate to real world.
David’s Concept art
David’s Concept art

What is the most important stuff to keep in mind to create a good lighting ?

  • Flo : Never forget the light source, always think about the ambient light. Keep a good depth of field with a good focus point as well.
  • David : There is a lot of things to keep in mind when creating a good lighting of course but i will say to keep in mind : what story are you trying to tell ? what is your lighting adding to your image at this point ?
  • Morgan : The most important is to keep in mind what you are telling in the image. Go beyond the technical aspect, the best is to stay focus on the universe you create, the feelings, the informations you want to transmit to your audience in priority.
  • Fred : I mostly work on photorealistic stuff, I always question myself, if I take a picture is it gonna look like this.
Fred’s concept art

Your work will obviously impact a 3D lighting in the next steps, do you work with this in your mind or you really stay focus on 2D ? Do you try to be “physically accurate” or not at all ?

  • Flo : I studied both 3D and 2D, it obviously impact a lot my lighting and colour vision. The shading understanding and they way you build a shader influenced a lot my way to create an image.
  • David : When you give a concept art to a client, an Art Director or even internally to another department as a guide, it’s good to keep in mind that your lighting will affect other people’s work later on but in the other hand a concept can sometimes be rough and used to sell an idea so it do not always needs to be physically accurate according to the purpose of this on.

  • Morgan : I like to find a balance between physically accuracy and chromatic aberrations, for example I like to delude people with the light spectrum of a color. But during a more classical production I always keep in mind that concepts art should stay in the project’s style and they will be used by different departments. It is a teamwork and my goal is to serve the project, not to create mine.
  • Fred : Always, I try to be the more accurate as I can, and most of the time I use 3D toolkit to give me that accuracy and after I can finish up my image in 2Dpaint.

What is your first approach to begin a mood/lighting ? How do you proceed ? How do you choose your colors ?

  • Flo : Globally I start with a simple color, I look pictures on Internet or movie still frames, and I try to make some color boards. Sometimes I have in idea and I will search for images in this mood. For example if I imagine something red, I know there is in “Only God Forgive” a lot of red mood shots. I roam in films and photos until I have a precise image in my mind thus I start for real : shadow pass, specific colors etc…
  • David : Before starting to work i keep next to me bunches of references that i like and will serve the purpose of my image. In my work i’m heavily inspired by the cinematic mood and the photography of director like Michael Mann, Nicolas Winding Refn and  John Carpenter so watching lots of movies will always be my first source of inspiration.
  • Morgan : I always start with questions : Who is the character ? What should I tell ? What happens before ? What will happens ? Then my approach if not so far away from traditional paint. I start to define a color palette. I like to say that “Colors are all about Value and Relationship”, more values in my image are strong, and more I can try to experiment colors relation, which is what I prefer the most. It is important to stay focus on the image overall and not only on details. I work more or less like with traditional method, like for example with pastels. I try to keep a maximum of empathy and truth.
  • Fred : First I lock the light direction and then sky temperature and after I work on the mood.
Fred’s concept art

Generally in 2D we can see more colors, more saturation than in CGI, the global mood seems to be more assumed. Or not ? What do you think about this ?

  • Flo : I think there is a gap between 2D and 3D. CGI can have a bland effect cause it “simply calculate pixels”. There is no error possibility. Where in 2D you can create error, exaggerate things to avoid 3D aspect. CGI is too perfect, smooth. Its just a feeling, 2D brings imperfection and thus more unstudied.
  • David :  I think that today people are getting bored to see the same kind blockbusters with perfect CGI and i must admit that 2D offers more personal styles, more assumed, with lots of shapes and colors and way more possibilities that brings us back to our childhood or just simply keep us dreaming. I think there is in the 2D a part of magic that we lose with the realism of 3D.
  • Morgan : Indeed, most of the feature film in theatre are in CGI now, and everything seems to be “normalized”. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to create with 3D. I think, and I hope, we will soon live a really interesting time for CGI’s animation films.
  • Fred : It’s really depend on what style you work on, when I was working in animation series, yes saturation was more present and part of the style.
Morgan’s illustration

What do you think about project mixing 2D and 3D such as Fortiche Studio projects or recently Oscar award winner Spider-Man Verse ?

  • Flo : So exciting ! It begins to be a real tool, not just a style. We are not anymore locked between Cartoon Pixar and VFX. Sony Picture translate a 2D univers to a 3D animation movie and create a strong artistic direction that works. They opened doors, they showed to the world we could do something different, cartoon, and make a good box office. The audience is open minded so producers, take care !
  • David : I was blown away by the visuals of the latest Spider – Man Verse movie and what a success ! It feels good to see that people are getting receptive to movies with strong and assumed art direction and we hope to see more of that ! I think that the mix between 2D and 3D is an incredible success because it allows to keep the flexibility of the CG while having that unique graphic styles that 2D offers.
  • Morgan : Exciting ! I had the feeling that until now, more or less all the 3D animation studios wanted to do the same render, and the same animation, matching Pixar and Disney CGI. But maybe with Spiderman Into the Spider Verse or Lego The Movie successes, that will bring courage, I hope, to other studios to search and find others artistic directions using CGI, for both render and animation. We have seen nothing for now, and it begins to be really cool !
  • Fred : I really like the way they achieved it, when everything blend together and you enjoying the experience, kudos !
David’s Concept Art

The VR and new tool like Quill seems to allow awesome stuff with a 2D approach for a 3D result, did you try already? What do you think of it ? Will it be the future way of creation or just a vogue ? Do you think it helps to create a mood or is it more for charadesign for example ?

  • Flo : More than try, I’ve got mine ! It is just an incredible tool, people could say it was better before, but it’s awesome how you can win time, you can create a 3D rough in a few minutes ! I feel this is the future, I use a lot Gravity Sketch to create props, vehicules or sets.. You can turn around and directly see the design issues between 2D and 3D. Then I can rework my frame in Maya, put some rough textures without UV… I bet in 15 years modeler and designer will be merged in a new department. For the texturing, this could change a lot of stuff as well, same for animation or lighting. For now the design of the main possibility in my opinion. I can’t wait to see something mixing Gravity Sketch, Medium and a real time renderer !
  • Morgan : In terms of storytelling I think this is an awesome way of telling story cause the public becomes the camera. I never get the chance to try to pain with it but I’m very curious. I follow the creative Goro Fujita works, whose is really active in VR. For now, which what I have seen, to be honest, I can’t imagine how I could create a subtil enough mood, comparing with 2D, but all is about practice : let’s try then !
  • Fred : I didn’t try yet I want to ! I saw a lot of artist who’s doing amazing things with that medium which is really promising as a tool ! Looking forward to get one soon 😀
Florian Escuer vehicule done with VR and 2D
Florian Escuer vehicule done with VR and 2D
Florian Escuer vehicule done with VR and 2D
Florian Escuer vehicule done with VR and 2D

Any 2D advices for 3D people who would like to improve his 2D skills ?

  • Flo : I think perspective is the most important thing. Without perspective nothing can work. I advice “How to Draw”, written by Scott Roberston. You can do the exercises from books 2 and 3 and then you will have strong base to continue. Life drawing session is a good point too, always draw, that will become a reflex.
  • David : Work the fundamentals and practice day to day. I highly advise young artists to go to master classes and events like Iamag or THU in order to meet artists and exchange with them and enjoy their experiences. I also recommend to watch Alberto Mielgo’s talk ” Bla bla bla ” about the ups and downs of an artist’s career.
  • Morgan : The main advice that comes in my mind is to never stop to observe our world, that will learn you a lot of stuff such as anatomy, perspective, colors, lighting, how to bring life in images and more… You can find solution in shadows or reflection on a shelf. I think you must not be afraid to show your work to people, to get advices and tips, just go around talk to people, they can have much experience… Finally I would say to persevere, to be curious and to accept to not be good enough for now !
  • Fred : Well I’m a user of both, I’ll say to be good in the both world is a must, the best way to improve is to try and look to others artists and there’s no secret… Hard work is the key.
David’s Concept Art

Thank for sharing with us and welcome in the Lighting Club, a last word to add ?

  • Flo : Thank you ! “Be lazy but smart” or “The last will be first”, I’m hesitating.
  • David :  Thank you !  keep making awesome art ! and Go ! Confront the problem ! Fight ! Win ! ”-  Edna.
  • Morgan :  Thanks a lot ! It has been a pleasure, my last word could be « obverse and feed your eyes».
  • Fred : Thanks to you  !  Be curious ! 😛
Morgan’s concept

__________________________________________________

Here is a link to their portfolio, feel free to give them likes and comment 😀

Florian Escuer : https://www.artstation.com/florianescuer

David Bocquillon Carasco : https://www.artstation.com/davidbocquilloncarrasco

Morgan Le Henry : https://www.morganlehenry.com

Fred Dupere : https://www.artstation.com/madvertex

It was precious to get their feedbacks and experiences about 2D lighting, I hope you enjoyed the interview, their images and see you in the next Lighting Club 🙂

wesmO.

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