Rhafael Aseo

Vincent Rhafael Aseo
Vincent Rhafael Aseo is an illustrator and designer based in Makati, Phillippines.

After graduating from the Asia Pacific College school of Multimedia Arts, he worked with companies like BoNa Coffee Company, Sujivana, Onyx Web Wizards, Bohemian Trading Co and Freespeech Publications, and is currently taking on freelance assignments.

Aseo works in vector illustration, creating pieces that are alternately simple and complex, colorful and almost monochromatic.

He often incorporates design elements into his illustrations, with both natural and abstract forms providing both background and foreground additions, but always with a strong primary focus and skillful path for the eye.

He uses adjoining areas of subtle gradation within his vector shapes to both suggest form and give a crisp graphic feeling to his portraits and other faces.

In addition to his website, Aseo has a blog and several other web presentations of his work. I’ve listed several below, but you will find additional pages linked from his site.


Pascal Campion

Pascal Campion
Pascal Campion’s illustrations are, quite simply, a treat.

Campion rarely uses line, working directly in areas of color, sometimes augmented with textures, but his images are so fundamentally graphic that his springy, energetic compositions carry much of the visual charm of drawings. At the same time they have the atmospheric qualities of painting.

Like Tadahiro Uesugi, who works in similar applications of graphic color, Campion uses carefully chosen colors and a masterful touch for value to evoke mood, time and place with a finesse that would be the envy of many artists who work in a more elaborate manner.

Campion uses of areas of distinct light and shadow, and in particular splashes and patches of bright light within subdued backgrounds, to lead your eye and highlight the focus of his images.

He has a wonderful ability to use these effects, along with strong compositions and adept control of his color palette, to bring drama and energy to even the most unassuming of subjects; intimate domestic scenes and quiet moments of solitude become as visually compelling as raucous action.

Campion is French-American. He studied at Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg in France and now lives and works in San Francisco, where his clients include Dreamworks Animation, Disney TV, MTV, Nickleodeon, Cartoon Network and PBS.

Though he also works in traditional media, Campion works primarily digitally. According to the About section on his website, he works in a somewhat unusual manner, sketching and coloring his illustrations in Adobe Flash. He then takes some of his images into Photoshop for final touches and lighting.

(Creating still images in Flash is not as odd as it may seem. I work in Flash a lot and I can attest to the nice set of vector drawing tools — in particular a brush tool that responds to pressure sensitive tablets like superbly springy brush/pen combination.)

There is an interview with Campion from the CharacterDesign blog in which he describes his daily routine and some of his working methods, and a very good video interview on Vimeo that includes brief time-compressed sequences of him working in Flash and Photoshop.

In addition to the still images on his site, which are primarily personal rather than professional, there is a selection of short animations, some of which are essentially stick figures with more life and vitality than stick figures have any right to exhibit.

He also has a blog on which he posts more recent work, and you can find a link at the bottom center of his home page by which you can subscribe to the “Pascal’s Sketch of the Day” malling list.

Campion has posted a generous selection of his work on the site. The images can be viewed in the order they’re posted or by themes selected from a dropdown. Open your browser window to full screen to see them to best advantage.

The images, in fact, are so numerous, the quality so consistent and the entertainment level so high that I will issue a Time Sink Warning, which is unusual for the site of an individual contemporary artist.

Campion’s subjects are also delightfully light hearted, with storytelling aspects that frequently speak to the small pleasures in life, particularly of home and family.

Like the best art, if you connect with his images they may accomplish the magic of allowing you to see the everyday world around you with fresh eyes.

Like I said, a treat.


Andreas Aronsson

Andreas Aronsson
Whenever we look at a representational drawing or painting that appears to have depth or dimensionality, we are looking at a “projection”, a two-dimensional representation of a three dimensional object or scene.

There are several types or projections, the most familiar are “perspective projection” (traditional linear perspective), in which lines drawn from the sides of parallel objects converge on vanishing points, and “oblique projection”, in which those lines remain parallel (the “Sim City” look).

In any of them it is possible to create an image that superficially seems reasonable, but would actually be impossible as a three dimensional object. Many of us are familiar with these in the form of traditional “optical illusions” and in the graphics of M.C. Escher.

Andreas Aronsson is, in his words, a “Professional IT‑technician. Spare time multimedia experimenter. In Sweden.” He has a fascination with impossible objects, and regularly posts his own playful “Impossible Figures” to his blog.

These often take the form of objects (usually done in perspective projection) with shared sides or lines of connection that defy real-world geometry. They make for fun visuals; and examination of them generates a playful brain-tickle that gives us pause to reflect on the nature of the visual presentation of objects, what we take for granted and how easily our eye can be fooled into accepting the three dimensionality of lines in a two-dimensional surface (even if that surface is a screen).

You can flip through the posts on his site tagged with “Impossible Figure“. You can also read his page “About Impossible Figures” in which he talks about his fascination with them and his working process in creating his images.

[Via Neatorama]


Arthur Mount (update)

Arthur Mount
What strikes me about Arthur Mount’s crisp, clean illustrations is what he leaves out.

I’m not just talking about the degree to which he simplifies his images, extracting from his reference material just those visual elements that are crucial to conveying the subject, but the line he draws (if you’ll excuse the expression) between a final piece and the temptation to add more.

There are areas in his drawings, particularly of faces, in which most artists would find it difficult to resist adding more, like shadows on noses. Mount holds back, leaving a kind of dynamic balance between rendering and abstraction that walks the edge, and works wonderfully.

He conveys much with his carefully placed and shaped areas of color (which I presume are drawn in a vector illustration program), choosing colors that, though they appear naturalistic, are actually not the colors you might find in a photograph or representational painting of the subject, but are carefully designed to “fill in” for a wider range of colors, a bit like bass players who fill in for rhythm guitar in power pop trios.

I first wrote about Arthur Mount back in 2005. Since then he has added considerably to his portfolio. In addition to his people, who include a number of famous faces, he has sections for architecture, places, objects and maps.

Both his “Storyboards” and “Instructional” sections contain some fascinating wordless storytelling.

Once you pop up a detail image from a thumbnail, you can move forward or backward through the gallery selections. It’s worth noting that simply clicking on the image will move you forward, a nice usability touch.

Mount has an extensive client list, including The New York Times, Fortune, GQ, The London Times, Popular Science, and a number of commercial clients. The Selected Projects section walks though a few of his projects in depth.

I really enjoy beautifully done diagrams, which at their best are a seamless blend of art and design. Mount brings those design skills to his illustrations, with a control of negative space that is the powerful foundation on which he builds his clear, forceful images.


Eric Feng

Eric FengEric Feng, a.k.a. Freic, draws images of what might be called constructs, combining mechanical elements with stylized forms from humans, birds, insects and other animals.

He draws them in elegant vector lines, usually monochromatic, but with delicate traceries of softer tones and transparencies, giving them a feeling of depth and x-ray dimensionality. The resulting drawings have a charm and informality that belies their vector origin.

His… entities have a charming whimsical appeal and are fascinating in their blending of the mechanical and natural forms. A bobbin-headed, Buddha-faced, doll-like character fishes out of the head of an elephantine mechanism apparently equipped for water and air travel. Owls have wheels. His Buddha-faced child wears an airplane. Mechanical birds sit in trees, and monkeys perch on the branches of a mechanical tree.

The galleries on his site, Fericstudio, are divided into Fevolution I, Fevoultion II and Inside Out. The later contains animated pieces as well as stills from a longer animation by that title. (There is a link to a video, but I couldn’t get it to come up in Safari or Firefox for Mac.)

In the still image galleries, many of the drawings have options to view enlargements or image variations.

[Link via Netdiver]


Nancy Stahl

Nancy Stahl
Back in the mid-90’s, when the web was maybe 1/1000th of it’s current size, and digital art was in its infancy, I saw an image in a magazine (I think it was an illustration issue of Communication Arts) that grabbed my attention. It was a portrait image. It looked painterly, but with flat colors arranged into tonal areas, and had something of the feeling of gouache, but not quite.

The description of the image said the medium was digital (something still relatively rare at the time) and listed the software as an application called “Painter”. I had just started swimming in the digital art waters of Photoshop 2.5 and though I had seen plenty of digital art at by that time, most of which looked like identifiable “computer art”, this was my first exposure to “digital painting” (the use of digital tools and a pressure sensitive stylus to “paint” in manner analogous to traditional media).

I wasn’t familiar with Painter (at the time produced by Fractal Design), but that image was enough for me to say that whatever “Painter” is, I want it. Since then I’ve used it extensively, both for digital painting and to draw my webcomic.

Painter, currently owned by Corel, is a now a familiar application for most digital artists.

The image that introduced me to digital painting was by illustrator Nancy Stahl, who is still know for her exemplary work in Painter, though she has said that her clients tend to prefer her digital work in Illustrator; not so much because of the look, but because it’s easier for art directors to ask for changes (which some of them just love to do) with pieces created in vectors.

Stahl is a widely recognized illustrator whose clients include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, American Express, Sony Records, Der Spiegel, Business Week, Ballentine Books, Lippencott an others.

Her work is familiar to many digital artists through inclusion in numerous how-to books, including the Illustrator CS Visual Quickstart Guide, the Painter WOW Books and the Illustrator WOW Books. She has also been included in Roling Stone: The Illustrated Portraits, Walt Reed’s Illustrators in America and the Society of Illustrators’ touring exhibit Women Illustrators Past and Present.

Stahl’s boldly graphic images, whether painterly or rendered in vectors, have a terrific sense of color and design, and are textbook examples of how to see and isolate the geometric forms produced by volume, light and shadow. Hidden planes reveal themselves, and people, objects and landscapes shift between representational images and pure design.

Her illustrations sometimes have a retro feeling, harkening back to the poster and advertising art of the 30’s and 40’s. Her interests extend to textiles and crafts and her portfolio includes a section of knitted and embroidered images used as illustration. Stahl has also created five stamps for the U.S. Postal Service.

I’ve wanted to write a post on her work for some time, but was put off by her personal web site, in which the images were (and still are) so small as to be essentially pointless. She now has a portfolio site, however, on Illoz, and a portfolio on Workbook, in which there is a selection of images large enough to get a feeling for the appeal of her work. Her personal site still has some useful links to other info about her work. There is also a section of links on the Illoz site.

She also now has a blog on Drawger, in which her work is reproduced in much better detail than anywhere else and which includes discussions of her process.

She has a new book (one of those ones with a little painting kit included) called Real Art!: The Paint by Number Book & Kit (with Douglas Brenner).

Stahl is currently on the faculty of the Hartford Art School Limited Residency MFA in Illustration program.

[Link suggestions courtesy of Jack Harris]