Recently we had the privilege to speak with experienced illustrator David K. Manuel about his life and art. He shared with us his passion for creating art in different mediums, gave his opinion about the contests, revealed what differs him from non-artists, and much more. Read on…
David, tell us about yourself!
Thank you for inviting me to share with you and your extended family of artists! I live in the city of Portland, Oregon in the United States. I serve as the staff Art Director at Hinge, a Portland-based animation and VFX studio. I was raised in the foothills of Mt. Hood and was privileged to have the “hundred-acre wood” childhood experience. I began to attract the attention of my schoolteachers by the fourth grade with my drawings of animals and plants. My parents were encouraged to get me started with some books (Walter Foster) and oil painting lessons in a local private studio. I have been a lifelong student of art and visual perception ever since. I studied art in college until the realities of life (becoming a father) put pressure on me to shift from student to provider. After that I continued to pursue my studies independently, relying on books and rapport with other artists to guide me and feed my curiosity. I eventually found my way into commercial art, despite my lack of a formal academic degree, relying on the strength of my portfolio. I made the transition from traditional materials to digital tools back in the ‘90s. I must say things have improved since those days!
You are a versatile artist who loves to explore various creative mediums. Besides digital painting, which technique or material would you love to dig into more?
A beautiful question! I have a love of crafting leather, stone, and wood into functional items of beauty. I have only scratched the surface of these paths of expression. I’ve made belts, bags, scabbard, and book covers, but I feel I have so much more to do!
Creative people have specific personality traits that non-artists have sometimes hard times to understand. What is something about you that people around you consider different?
I am bound to have some blind spots in this area, but I have noticed a few things. :) I tend to tell the truth as I see it in ways that some might consider sentimental or naive. Other times I may come off as being blunt. I sometimes laugh at things that have just taken place in my mind which can seem out of sync with others as they have no context for my mirth. I can be caught experiencing the world in a way that those around me cannot see. It is like I am seeing “augmented reality” without a device (I have experienced that since my earliest memories). I am a part introvert and part flamboyant performer depending upon how safe I feel with the people who are present. I am either a wallflower or an attention-seeking clown at different times.
Your ‘The Envoy’ painting won a prize in our Artwork Contest thanks to its eye-catching color rendering and detail processing of the fantasy theme. Is there any story behind it?
I became aware of the contest by participating in the Rebelle forum. I was excited to participate, as I have rarely done so in the past. Just prior to the contest, I had watched a Rankin-Bass animated film called “The Last Unicorn” and was thinking of what some of the characters in that story might have been like before the dark events brought about by “King Haggard” I saw the “Red Bull” as a singular mystical being whose purpose was to be a dreamer of the world’s unfolding events and to be a responsive force for balance in times of great need. In the scene I painted, I imagined an envoy of unicorns coming to the bull in supplication and hope of averting the dark events that led to Haggard claiming power. I guess I was painting a prequel. :) I enjoyed the experience very much and I am still proud to have won a prize. I appreciated every single prize that I was offered, but the ones that lasted the longest for me were the software selections. Dynamic Auto-Painter Pro is one of the more interesting programs I have used, and it has helped me with several commercial jobs that had tight schedules. I also got a copy of Flame Painter! Another rising tool in my collection. If I need to paint vibrant light FX I have only to open Flame Painter and the options are vast.
I encourage people to participate in contests and to keep aiming high. The rewards go beyond the listed prizes and impact self-perception and motivation!
In your opinion, what makes Rebelle different from other painting software?
When I first encountered the flowing liquid dynamics of Rebelle’s watercolor engine, I was amazed and filled with childlike glee. I felt that I had regained the allegiance of gravity, liquid, absorbency, and other natural elements of the real world. In short, I had regained organic chaos as an ally in my creative process. It leads to beautiful moments of creative discovery. Hand in hand with those things come the truly lush papers that are offered. I have bought them all. I cannot recommend the software and papers highly enough.
What hardware and equipment do you currently use in your creative process?
I have a desktop system that runs Windows 10 Pro. It is an x64-based PC with an MSI motherboard, 128GB RAM, Intel Core i7-6850K CPU @ 3.60GHz, 6 Cores, 12 Logical processors. My video card is an NVIDIA Quadro M2000 running a 27” Wacom Cintiq 27QHD (not the touch version) a 17” Samsung monitor and a 32” Samsung TV. I use the Cintiq as my main painting hardware and the other two monitors serve to hold reference imagery or toolboxes. I am also an avid user of my 4th gen iPad pro with the apple pencil. I often start out work on my iPad and move it to the PC and develop the main painting using Rebelle. This allows me to create most of my thumbnail sketches and color mock-ups on the iPad wherever I find myself and then take all of that prep to final with the more robust tools of the PC. I also work with audio, VO and music on both iOS and Windows 10.
What websites do you check regularly and find them inspiring?
Aside from my visits to the Escape Motions software forums, I enjoy visiting artstation.com, cartoonbrew.com, muddycolors.com, gurneyjourney.blogspot.com, illustrationage.com, and really so many others. The world is full of both inspiration and that which will steal your attention and drive. Have a care to focus more time on the former and let go of the latter.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you! We wish you all the best for your future and a lot of fresh creative ideas!
Visit David's portfolio at: