Today on Death Blossoms, we want to feature a very special artist: Kris, who designed our logo and the emotes for our Twitch channel! I spoke to her about the experience of creating the emotes and also about what got her into art and what drives her in her work. Read on to see what she had to say.
I’m a freelance illustrator specializing in characters and concept art. I’ve been into drawing since I was about 3 years old, and my earliest experience of sharing art was drawing Disney characters from the VHS/DVD covers and showing them to my classmates.
It was a pretty casual affair for most of my young childhood, but in typical fashion, I really got into it when I started watching anime, specifically Inuyasha. Where I lived, it was only broadcast in Spanish, so I was literally watching just for the art and animation. I loved it! From then on it was kind of a battle between art and science for me since I also loved animals, and my parents largely supported me pursuing a career in that over anything to do with art, since back then (late 90’s-early 00’s), the whole “starving artist” trope was still pretty status quo. I kept up my drawing up until college, where I barely drew anything for about 5 years due to studying.
I got my degree in behavioral neuroscience, and at that point, I realized that I really wanted to try doing art for a living. My girlfriend really supported me in that endeavor since she’s also a freelance artist and has become very successful and felt like I had what it took.
So, since 2015, I’ve been freelancing, but within the past 2 years, I noticed how drawn I’ve been to work in the games industry, as opposed to trying to turn myself as an individual into a brand. Working with other people on something big just invigorates me – I’m a very social, extroverted person, and being part of a team gives me the most drive. I’m currently working on a few contracted mobile game projects as a lead artist with the goal of snagging a full-time studio job within the next year.
One specific job I did recently that I‘d love to talk about was making emotes for the Death Blossoms Twitch channel! This was my first attempt at making emotes in general. I knew the most immediate challenge would be working at such a small size. So to be extra careful, I tried at all times to keep in mind the actual size that people would see, since I was working at 300% zoom in Photoshop. That helped me prioritize the specific emotion and key features of each character for most clarity.
With a small final product like an emote, I knew it would be best to make the characters almost chibi style, so a very large head with a smaller body. I tried to exaggerate the expressions as much as I could, so what the character was feeling would be very obvious at any size. Additionally, focusing on the most defining parts of the character appearance would help readability, since the most iconic parts of D.va and Mercy respectively are the D.Va headset and Mercy “halo” headpiece. Highlighting these items in the design allowed me to simplify them from shoulders down since anyone can recognize these heroes by those characteristics.
Finally, since the neat line art would become very fine at smaller sizes and it would start to feel more like a colorful blob, I added a thick black outline around the outside of each character to keep the picture self-contained. Overall, it was pretty fun to create these emotes and I enjoyed the challenge!
Speaking broadly as an artist, my favorite experiences in art so far can be split into two things: learning from others and public reaction to my work.
When I was just starting out freelancing, I was very insecure because I had so little experience. My friends were years ahead of me, and I just didn’t know where to start. I struggled a lot on my own, and I’d feel terrible about going to really high-quality online galleries like ArtStation and thinking, “Man, I’ll never be this good.” However, the online community has some great lessons to teach about focusing on yourself and not comparing your work to others, as well as a wealth of resources on how to study and get better. Everyone is trying to help each other and share advice on how to improve, and I realized it would be a shame to let my self-esteem about my art to get in the way of making the most of that. Now, when I see great work far better than my own, instead of tearing myself down, I think, “What could I learn from this piece? What can I take away from this to add to my own work?” That productive mindset has helped me immensely.
More sentimentally, sharing my work publicly has also been great, not because it strokes my ego or anything, but because once in a while someone will comment or point out one of my works that to me feels old, outdated, the weakest of the bunch, and tell me how much they like it. It always catches me off guard and reminds me that my perception is wildly different from other people’s, because I created it, and that kind of interaction always makes my day.
Regarding the craft itself, I’m fully self-taught. My brother got me my first copy of Photoshop when I was 16, and I’ve been hooked ever since, working in the digital art medium for 11 years now. A few of my peers are also self-taught and are crazy good just due to the sheer amount of drawing they do every year, but I’ve always preferred a structured system to how I pursue improvement of my skills. Therefore I try to take on active learning by going through anatomy/perspective books and studying the core concepts of drawing. In just the past few months I’ve seen tons of improvement in my work by just taking a few hours a week to read and practice from books I’ve read.
On that note, I’ll end with a bit of advice: Becoming good at art is like becoming good at anything else. It’s hardly ever about talent, and even then, you don’t really need talent, just a combination of passion, motivation, and time investment. It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless, and when you see an artist’s amazing work, you just see the image, not the thousands of hours and practice and study over the years that brought them to the creation of what you’re seeing. If you want it bad enough, you can get there too someday. Keep practicing!
Here are some samples of her artwork!
To see more of Kris’s artwork, feel free to visit her portfolio here: https://zinganza.wixsite.com/portfolio