Thursday, December 8, 2011

Playing with fire

I was browsing my Frazetta folder today, and I felt energized. I wanted to paint, no matter what. I made a martini drink and then sat at my desk. 30min later, I was done but the glass was still half full.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

After a Year

After a year, living in Shanghai. This is what i'm dreaming about...

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tom Buchanan

I'm reading The Great Gatsby and feeling inspired by the era and the setting, I'd like to make an attempt to design some of these characters, here is a quick study for Tom Buchanan. My design for now is too suave, Tom should be more rugged and beasty, a gruff husky voice.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Art: Triumph & Despair

I grew up along the West coast of Africa, in a wealthy family far away from the daily struggle of the surrounding population. A family of mixed origins, proud of its tradition and proud of it strong convictions. I remember my uncles and aunts during parties and dinners, they, loudly, loved to talk and laugh. All dressed in colorful splendid fabrics, the scene was a dazzling explosions of shapes and colors, cigarettes smoke floating in the air and the smell of J&B Whisky. They were all laughing about our own idiosyncrasies, the ape-like regime running the country and the plundering hands of western countries. While my cousins and brothers played outside, I loitered around in the living room eavesdropping on adults talk, playing waiter from time to time. The best parts was when they suddenly lower their voices almost to nothingness, so you had to read lips to complete the sentences. Stories of how they defied the government, stories of people disappearing, or the latest officials slip ups. These were fun times. Inevitably, in the story arc of any dictatorial regime, things started to get really sour when a series of plots where discovered followed by outburst of firefight. The Empire crushed the rebellion, we had no Jedi. We couldn't afford G.I to help we have no oil. The Puppet President started arresting peoples, including some of my family members. Have they been unjustly accused? I hope not. Anyway, after a year in jail, my mom got released, she decided to take care of what was more important for her, us kids, and chose expatriation. Abandoning all she has built behind to start all over. How did she got out of prison alive? My dad befriended a high ranked officer in the army. It seems after all, dancing with the devil has its perk.

Now looking back I understand where I took this pride from. The principle to stay true to my belief, even in the face of adversity. To disregard authority when it contradict my ethic. No consequences on earth is worst than the one after being subdued. It allowed me to do some pretty stupid moves in my life. It’s like a blessing and a curse at the same time.

I grew up with the conviction that I could achieve anything that is humanly possible, probably more... As long as there is a will. So with pride, I decided to become a video-game artist. Some people think artists are born as they are, that the gift of artistry is given at birth. Therefore failure was the only outcome, there was nothing in me at birth. Just an empty canvas. My parents aren’t artists, I barely drew as a kid, my favorite subject matters in school was math, right handed, outside as far as I was concerned all shadows where grey. My only asset was a deep love for video-games. I started sending my portfolio to various studios across the globe, mainly 3D renders but I soon realize that I wasn't up to the standard. My technical knowledge was fine, but I lacked something. I couldn't articulate it, because I couldn’t speak a word of a language I wasn't even aware of. Out of this relentless job search, help came. It was one of these rejection letters, but unlike the others, it had some pointers on how to improve. I can't retrace that person today, but she took the time to explain to me what was wrong in my work, the 3D modeling itself was fine, but my presentation was weak. I had a 3D render of a church lighted in a horrible way, light was white, contrast was low, the image was boring to look at, all the incredible amount of details was meaningless. She told me, “Think batman, think star wars, be dramatic”...and my life changed. I started to see in colors and few months later I landed at Ubisoft.

Was I an artist then? Nope... to some extent I was faking it. Which ultimately led to the impostor syndrome. Thinking that soon someone will discover who you really are. Instead I was moving up the work was often chosen to be used for public demo by the marketing team...I was flabbergasted. I tried to catch up, life drawing, pastel painting, photography and addiction to art book. Along the years, I became Art Director, and the pressure even grew stronger. Socially it sure felt good, but at home in the quietness of the night it was a horrible thing. The shoes and the hat felt far too big. Even after shipping my first game as AD, Splinter Cell Double Agent 360, I was still feeling mediocre. I was entangled in a strange dynamics, while I was getting approval from my peers and superiors, earning a regular paycheck for my art capabilities, I was still doubting myself, yet trusting that I could be greater than what I was currently offering. I picked up watercolors and started blogging, first to keep a record of this journey, but also to be out there, naked, in the community.

I remember in 2006 opening an old sketchbook from 2001, It was shocking, because I really liked what I found in it. I was discovering it like someone else’s sketchbook. I got sad, because I felt I couldn't draw the same way... total confusion. The content of the old sketchbook was fresh and done innocently, my sketchbook of 2007 was done with a tons of art principles that I was trying to control at once. Direction, Value, Rhythm, Balance, etc... In 2001 I was drawing from the heart, intuitively. In 2007 I was drawing with clumsily acquired knowledge, cold.
Undeniably I was progressing, just unaware of it. It’s a slow painstaking process, it will make you doubt and reach dark places, sporadically intermitted with intense moment of joy and creative flow. No matter what, you have to persist for what you really want, do not subdue to popular belief around any craft, you choose who and what you want to be. You’re the one setting the tune for your life. Its just take time.

The greatest help I’ve received was surely through friendship that came along. There are generous people out there, talented, giving away all they can for the sheer pleasure of sharing. Sometime in a friendly manners, sometime like a knife thru your skull. One way or another, the key is to really listen without being gullible, drop the ego, take a step backward, squint, evaluate and only then you’ll know what to do.

If I could give any advices to art students and people dreaming of a life of artistry, be aware of these few points below. They reflect the beliefs in which I found comfort and enable me to do what was needed to become who I wanted to be.

1-Artists are made, not born.
2-Trust in yourself, don’t ever give up.
3-You will rarely discover things on your own, share that journey with others.
4-There will always be a difference between your vision and what you’re able to do.
Its the only way to grow.
5-Fake it til you make it.

Today, am I an artist? Yes, I am, I’ve chosen to.
Do I paint/Draw like I want to? Nope. Far from it.
Will I ever be able to? I doubt it, but that’s the way it should be.
There is no destination, only an open road ahead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


If you've been in a karaoke night with me, you'd know who that guy is!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011


Some stuff I've been doing recently, the piece below is a piece I did helping some friends, Watercolors on 1/4 Arches paper, then inked with a japanese brush pen. The life drawing is a 20 minutes poses same size 1/4 of a full sheet. I'm quite happy how it turned out, I usually struggle a lot with althetic or skinny models. I'm starting to feel a maturity in my colors arrangment. Ahhhh.... progress at last...

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

San Francisco #2

I recently spent few days in San Francisco. I love being there, and that city love me. The diamond sparkling sidewalk and the beauty of the constant changing light from sunshine to fog in half a minute. With countless waves of panhandlers with each a unique way of approaching you. I've joined Dr Sketchy to wash down some tequila and shuffle my brushes. The highlight of that trip was the quest for the perfect burritos, and I think I found it at La Corneta on Diamond street. Steak & Shrimp, serious $%@%$! I also discover a great breakfeast place, Pinecrest Diner. They have a mean Reuben. Already looking forward to get there again.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Me & Jin

I'm very fortunate these days, Jin, living in Singapore, has decided to take a little break to visit Shanghai. So here we are, walking down the cut-throat alley of Shanghai. Armed with brushes and paper, we assault all shapes, volumes, shades, and mood daring to challenge us. We're unstoppable, riding the surf of our washes trying to land on the shore of beauty island. The fight is fierce but under the constant gaze of the curious Shanghainese crowd.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tong Li

Today I went out of Shanghai. After an hour bus ride, I've arrived in a rural area of China, a beautiful village, with water canal a la Venise. The old town center is forbidden to cars. It's quiet and peaceful, It's The postal Card's China. I've fled the tourist track, and wandered in the tight alley until I stumble upon this view. I've unfold my stuff and paint. Some kids were occasionally passing by.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Crow

The main evil character of the the animated short I'm working on. This is just a 1st draft to get the ball rolling. Ideally I would like more stylized lines and shapes. A lot has been lost in the watercolor phase, and I was too eager to ink them back... and failed most of them. I'll give another try someday.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coquelicot Picnic

The setup of the animated short I'm working on. Nothing is settle yet, we're still exploring at the moment. I like the way this one turned out. How the flowers scatter across it. I'm trying to illustrate... "The perfect day to propose".

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Liu Shu

I had a lot of fun yesterday, I went outside of my palette, I tried a combination of Orange Iron Oxide, Nickel Azo Yellow and Indigo. I really liked to work with these pigments, the azo is very very strong, but the two others are very transparent and need a good wit to have them to punch. They are very forgiving when making unsure marks, as they lift off the paper very easily. In this particular session, I had trouble with the head, the model had quite a large head compared to her body, so i tried to compensate, but... I guess I did too much. All poses were 30minutes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Env Design #2

A second sketch following my yesterday's attempt. I'll do few more iteration of this one, to really get where I want. 2 things noted from yesterday: First the background wasnt distant enough with the foreground, I partially fixed this issue on the left part, but I still feel some fighting near the main tree and the bushes at the back. Secondly, the overal was too cool(in term of atmosphere not color) for what I wanted, so today, I forbidded the use of ultramarine blue(not completely) but mostly relied on Phtalo Blue, the overall result give a much more sun filled atmosphere. This is confusing because Ultramarine is a warm blue... and phtalo is cool... how cooling off a palette get you a warmer effect of light? Strange but it works...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some Updates

Ok, so The short movie is done, we shot it last weekend, but we couldnt make it to the 48hours competition, the render time took 30min too long. We missed de deadline by a hair. Nonetheless the movie was still screened tonight, but unfortunetly I missed it... duh... yeah I know, I was already absorbed by something else... the other short movie I'm working on. Below are some recent studies I've been doing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


There is saying, every great artist has at least 10,000 bad drawings behind them. Considering another theory, to be excellent at something, you'll need 10,000 hours of practice. At 5000hr you can teach, at 8000hr you're good, but at 10,000 you're excellent. I tried to make a count... of how many hours I've been doing all this, since... 2001. I've reached a gross average of 6000hours. Considering my daily job is kinda related and the amount of actual practice I'm doing outside of the job. What is seen on this blog, is maybe 1/20 of what I'm actually doing. (All failures are usually tore to pieces before the water has dried out.)

There are 8760 hours per year, in which 2/3 is dedicated to work and sleep. The last third is to eat, leisure, transportation etc... so there isn't much left for self improvement. If you're lucky enough to work in your field of interest, you can leverage some of the 2920 hours you spend in the office for self improvement. Otherwise it's really hard to get off the office, reach home, be good at parenting, and then find some time to improve. But not impossible if you believe in it. And remember that....The only way for an artist to fail, is to quit too early.

 Below is a study for a character research I'm doing for an animated short. More to come later!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zhu Fang Hua

Today, we had our first life drawing at the office. I had the pleasure to call on Zhu Fang Hua, an old friend I met in 2005 when she was modeling for us back then. She didnt change much, even her poses where quite the same style. I still have some of thoses drawings, it might be fun to compare a series and do some reenactment. Overall today was a very good session, and I believe one of the sketches could be another cornerstone of this journey. I'm not quite sure, because  I want to see it again tomorrow, with new eyes. But tonight I love it and I want to share it. When I saw the pose, I knew something was bound to happen, and it was up to me. The way the light was falling, and the gesture she was holding, I couldn't let it slip.

Palette is M. Graham, Cadmium yellow deep, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, and tiny touches of Alizarin. On Arches CP 140lbs, rough.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Movie studies

I've been doing some movie studies, practicing color mixing. I'm learning a lot doing this, especially how deceiving a color can be when juxtaposed with another. You might think something is blue, because you perceive it as blue, but in reality it's a dull green.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Change of Focus

I haven't post anything for while. I've been happily busy at home, at the office. I also find some time to do some introspection. Thru the course of these last few years, I've made tremendous progress, artistically and technically. I worked my patience with the whims of water. I remember when I settled for this journey in 2006, buying my first kit of watercolor, brushes, papers, reading Charles Reid instructional book. I didn't know much about what was ahead of me. It was an adventure into new territories. A typical  journey of self discovery :), sound cliche. It all started with a specific goal: Learn to paint with watercolor. Inevitably, all I could find along the way, under every stone I was flipping, was fragments of myself. I learned a lot about me and what I could achieve. I always had misconception about my abilities, things I thought I could or couldn't do. This journey, so far, has been everything except boring. On multiple occasions, I was fighting myself, my ignorance, my impatience, my stubbornness and so on and so on. I'm definitely more serene, when it comes to painting. Which is good, I guess only few people would know the internal gust of emotion such an enterprise could cast. The bitterness of failure or the intense joy of "nailing it down". So... where am I going with this thread... Change of focus, right. I've done a lot of observation drawings/paintings, I've neglected the storytelling aspect of art. My ultimate goal is still to entertain people. Characterization, mood, I come.

Along with that goal, I have 2 projects in the pipe,

A short animated movie, I doing some characters & env design, and later  some shader, lighting and rendering.

A Short live action, which should be finished by the end of May 2011, I'm DOP & 1st Camera.

Stay tuned, I'll be posting more stuff as soon as I can.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The name is Bond... err I mean Audran...

My neighborhood harbor many embassies, as I walk often nearby, I always thought their fixed security guard would make great subject to sketch/paint. Let me tell you the story of this little watercolor.
I was out, dying winter, the light was awesome. I was in no hurry, and of course I had my full watercolor set in my bag. I was hunting for a subject. I walked past an embassy, with their guards standing like statues. Now is the time I thought. So I walk around it to find the best subject of em all. My gaze stopped at the little one. He was in the light, nicely cut and define. I quickly glanced around, and found on the opposite sidewalk a nice place to seat. So I sat... pulled my pad and pencil out and started sketching. As my drawing was progressing, I realize that the little one wasnt still anymore... he was using his walky-talky. uh-oh...and he was looking at me. hmmm problably nothing I thought. Then he went still again, but not for long... he walked into the cabin behind him and use the phone... still starring at me. Ok, it's about me... should I pack and leave!??!? no that would look too suspicious... they'd probably shoot me in the back. A dark man, thick black beard, black fisherman cap, in black clothing, with piercing deadly eyes, in front of a europeen embassy... any law enforcement manual would grant them the right to shoot on sight. No keep cool I thought... I unpacked the rest of my gear, just in case they wanted to have a closer look before opening fire. One guy came to talk with the little one... they talked...looking at me. On my left I could see another guy coming, he had crossed the streets, and was walking toward me, a hand on his holster... This is the time you wish you have Ninja SmokeBomb in your pocket. I didnt. He was smiling and that was creeping me out. Trigger happy kinda smile. At last something was happening in his day, and maybe today he'll have to open fire on a deadly threat. As he was getting closer, I wondered... should I raise my hand in the air like in movies? very slowly... and avoid any brusque movement. No my stuff could fall on the ground. He was now close enough to see my full arsenal. Brushes, pencil, paper... and colors... he sighs, and shout to the others, "TA HUA!!!" (he is drawing). The little one rushed to the phone in the cabin... came back and wave at him. A little "ni hao" came out of my mouth. "b-bye" he replied. The little one went still again, I could continue my study. At the end... I folded my stuff, and gave him a little military salute. He nodded back. I hope nothing happen at this embassy in the near future... They probably got plenty of satellite imagery of me, I must have been followed and my photo is probably hanging in a Chinese Secret Service Agency for a full background check. The name is Bond Audran... Audran Guerard.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Project with friends

I havent posted anything much recently, here is an insight with a project i'm working on with some friends.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


When it comes to plein air painting, the most annoying part for me, is how to deal with curious people. I know I shouldnt feel that way, because in the end, they are just people interested in art and curious to see the process. From my point of view, onlookers are a concentration breaker. Where I'm pulled out of my bubble, and start being too concern about how the painting look at every stage. Anyway, this time, I tried to stay focus. The crowd was just getting bigger and bigger. Like a flock of seagull around a McDonald trash bin. at some point I had to ask the people in front of me to clear out, because I couldn't see the landscape I was trying to paint. Anyway, I think it's a good school, if you need to learn how not to care, Shanghai is THE place to do your plein air painting.

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