Darek Zabrocki (Interview)

Originally published on CG Hubs on September 7, 2014.

Welcome to CGButterfly: Interviews. This week’s artist is Darek Zabrocki.

What brought you to CGButterfly?

You guys! Thanks for invitation, new site looks quite cool and interesting, so I fully keep my fingers crossed that you can go well with your campaign!

Do you design as part of your employment, or is it a hobby?

Back in the days it was hobby only, now it became my full-time (freelance) job. It still gives me a lot of fun though so, yeah, it is like a dream job for myself, you do something you really love, and you get paid for it. Can’t complain.

Do you have any special preference, such as texturing, painting, lighting, modelling, etc?

I used to be a traditional painter in the past. I’ve been drawing on paper with my pencils, sketching and concepting the stuff even when I was only a hobbyist. I used also acrylics and oils to work with colour, but in 2007 I had my serious highlight. I bought my first tablet and started something absolutely new to me. Since then, I became mostly, and now only, digital painter. I almost never use my traditional tools due to lack of time. Now I am using a wide range of techniques including: photobashing, matte painting and some of 3D stuff as well. Generally, it is still ~90% painting process, I just use everything to speed up the process and to achieve the best possible results in the limited time that is usually given. It’s only up to you what you will use to create an exact picture, whether these are painted-over photos, or pure painting – up to you. For a concept artist, what really counts is mostly time, so you need to be fast.

Do you have a favourite piece of art?

Hmm, it is a really tough question since I am not a big fan of my works, I always want to make something better and afterwards I am quite satisfied with the result of the exact picture, after a few days I think I should have done it better, haha. If I had to choose one, I think I couldn’t, but I can name a few that I like quite a lot ;) First one would be my “Nazgul” artwork, that I did in 2011, I guess. It was done for a Polish board forum for a speed painting contest. I had a 1-hour version of it that I had to put into the contest, but I thought I would spend a bit more time on that one and do some portfolio piece from it. I spent an extra 2-3 h on polishing it and posted it on every online gallery I had. It became very successful, I am sure it was mostly because of Lord of the Rings scheme, but, yeah, it was my real tribute to this world with quite a big impact from myself, with redesigning the Nazgul character, etc. Another one is “Imperial Walkers” picture I did while I had my Eizo monitor crashed. It was done on some small 19′ shitty, cheap Samsung, and I wasn’t sure if it has right colours/values, haha, I put it on the net anyway, it became spectacularly popular, and I knew I need to continue expanding my Star Wars fan art series. I made a few more of them, and it brought me to some really big contacts that I can’t tell anything more for now.

I also like the “Red Lights” picture that is inspired by my previous sketch of rainy London after my trip to London earlier this year. I wanted to create some moody city shot with very intimate lighting and suggestive atmosphere. The last one I really like is “Knights Division” that I did for 3DTotal with a big tutorial process for that one. Afterwards, I put many speed paints focusing on painting horses that I really like to paint, I decided to create one big complex shot with some knights’ division moving from their kingdom on the reconnaissance before the war begins. I think this one turned out quite cool and I like to watch the more refined horses silhouettes I didn’t use to do in the past.

What is your workflow from the idea to the finished design?

Hmm, usually I start with a very initial colour sketch (it can be values only sketch as well), establishing lighting, mood of the picture and, of course, composition. When I think the thumbnail looks good, I go further with the detail, expanding colours’ palette, adding details, fixing and adding lighting effects etc. Usually, I really like to start with some initial idea, I don’t like doodling around on the canvas because I lose too much time for it, sometimes it is cool to sketch out something and wait for some happy accident, but I learned to do accurate sketch and keep it to the final stage.

Where do you get your inspiration?

From everything, starting with nature and everything that surrounds us. I also like to watch movies, being in some inspirational places, searching for photos, looking at some games and read some excerpts from the stories/books.

What is your current project? What are you working on right now?

Unfortunately, all under NDA, but there are some really big things and I can’t wait to share it with the people. Anyway, I can tell that I am working on 2 big instructional programs for workshops. One of it is VFX workshops that I always admired! I will also run my online class in 2-3 months that I will focus on creating concept art for games and movies. It will last for a few weeks, and I am planning to cover a lot of subjects, from practical knowledge to advanced concept art pictures. I think I will go through all kind of concept art stuff from enviro to character and marketing illustrations. More to be announced soon! :)

Is there anything you want to share with our community?

I can mention only one thing – LEVEL UP! program ( I founded with my friend, Wojtek, in 2013. Now, there are 3 of us, and we are doing weekly YouTube sessions with top artists of the industry, sharing the knowledge, all for free – having a lot of fun!

You can find Darek Zabrocki on his personal website.