Meet the Artist: Feng Zhu

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  04 April 2005
Feng -

you have been an inspiration for me for many years. Thank you.

a simple question(or two). When you used pencil/ink, did you use a ruler for your straight lines? Now what do you use in digital?

Thank you once again. I am already purchasing your Concept Design 2 dvd from Gnomon.
Maya | Mocha | Mudbox | Nuke | Photoshop
  04 April 2005
hi feng zhu,
its nice to have the chance to ask you some questions so i´ll begin:

im finishing school this month and planing to study industrial design next year. im very interested in design and till today i designed some furniture and smaller things wich where produced in small number. the only problem that is that im not the best in drawing, ill try to get better and learn it but i think i have to learn a lot. so what would you say, is it really really important to be perfect in drawing before studying or will i learn this when i study.
or are inspirations and the idea behind something more important? im not sure what i should do and it would be nice if you could tell me how you handled it.

i really like your pictures and its a pleasure to me,
thanks for your answer!

greetings from germany

sorry for my englisch.... i know its not the best
visit my website...!!!
  04 April 2005

Some of your character designs have labels all over them describing elements of their design (such as clothing, weapons etc) while many of your designs do not bother with them. These days what is your favourite method of communicating a concept to 3D artists?

Huge thanks for giving us your time.
  04 April 2005
architecture & concept artist

Hi Feng Zhu. I love your concept artworks a lot.
On your website it's written that you studied architecture at UC Berkeley. I'm 19 and I'm now at the point where I have to decide if I should study architecture at ETH Zurich or visit an art school to improve my skills in painting and concept art. Im very interested in both. But as an architect I can't use my imagination as if I work as concept artist or for movies or games. On the other side, architect demands me in diffrent ways and it has a stronger connection to the reality. So my questions are, what can u use from architecture study as concept artist? Why did you studied architecture? Why did you choose to work as a concept artist and why not architect? If you could choose today, would you do the same way like you did, or what would you do diffrent?
Hehe, anyway I think you choose the right way because now you are one of the best concept artist. What are positively and negatively sides of architect and what of concept artist in your opinion? If you could give me some hints that would be great and very helpful for me. Opinions of people that have a lot of experience may make that decision easier for me. Here are examples of my work >>

Thanks a lot !!!

(sorry for my bad english...)

Last edited by mb : 04 April 2005 at 11:27 AM.
  04 April 2005
Hi, Feng!!! I've been a HUGE fan of yours for several years now. Love your work... inspirational as always.

My questions:
1. Ever have a creative roadblock? If so, what things do you try to overcome it?
2. I know it's easy to become 'pigeon-holed' for doing just characters, or just vehicles, or only environments... how do you push yourself creatively to avoid this?
3. IF you were accepting portfolios, what are some of the things you'd be looking to see?

Thanks so much for taking the time for this Q&A... I really appreciate the rare opportunity. Oh, can't wait for the book and toys to come out!

my CGPortfolio
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my MASTER & SERVANT 2D entry

I'm dancin' like a monkey!
  04 April 2005
Hi Feng,

Like everyone here I think you are the King of concept art
So with that out of the way, here is my question.
I apologise that it might seem a bit left field..

I know you said you have'nt been working on paper for a while but I was wondering what type of pencil sharpener you used to get that really fine point on the Prismacolor pencil?

Again sorry about this, but it is driving me crazy I have checked every sharpener in the north of england

Thanks in advance dude!!!

  04 April 2005
Yo Feng,

Just wanted to say that I think your work is amazing and you are one of my biggest influences as far as workflow goes, I purchased your training dvds a few months ago and my work has increased in quality and decreased in turnover time by a large margin.

I also think that you are an excellent teacher and it is very easy to listen to you and your teaching experience comes across the screen amazingly well (compared to some of the other lecturers from Gnomon, who seem rather uncomfortable speaking into a mic) - I'm actually using your dvds to help get our new in-house artists up to speed.

I just recieved your New Empire poster - which although looks like it was damaged by the gnomon staff (grrrr!) is an awesome piece.

I too noticed that you have shifted away from your analog traditional media to more digital these day especially with your new tutorials, and I think now would be an awesome time to release a few new dvds covering the same topics as done previously but done digitally as obviously the workflow will change - I know I'd spring for them!

Keep on teaching,

Its only when we've lost everything, that we are free to do anything...

- Tyler Durden
  04 April 2005
Interesting stuff so far.

Feng you talk about the importance of perspective. Do you see this still being vitally important when working digitally? Its pretty easy to set up block models in a 3D application to act as a guide when creating images. I suppose it would be faster doing things in 2D if you can do it well.

Are there are good reference books you would recommend on learning perspective. I come from an industrial design background as well but our tuition was not as thorough as it should have been and its been a while. I would really like to brush up on this stuff to an advanced level.

Also, now that you are working digitally do you still do a lot of line work up front, or do you tend to block in shapes and then refine?
  04 April 2005
First I just want to say that your work is amazing. Wing Commander is actually the first computer game I played. Its why I bought a computer! And Aliens is one of my all time favorite movies.

1. Since you work totally digital now, how do you handle perspective? Do you simply draw loose freehand or do you have a method for being more acurate?

2. If you do use a more acurate method, how do you deal with the fact that vanishing points are often kept well off the page to avoid distortion?

3. Often different projects require a person to create architecture from different time periods. What sort of reference books do you use to help you create acurate time/culture specific buildings?

4. I was wondering. Since you work totally digital, how do you get past the "disjointed" or "disoriented" hand eye feeling you get when drawing on a Wacom but having your work show up on the monitor. I find it difficult to draw fast/well when I can't actually see the results on the surface that I am working on. How do you manage?

5. Do you do anything special to your tablet so that it feels more like a natural drawing surface? I find that the surface of my Wacom is bit smooth and it makes it harder to maintain tight control of my lines.

Edit: BTW, you wouldn't happen to know of any Gaming places in Toronto Ontario that take on Student Interns? Happy to work cheap or free.


Last edited by Darkmatter : 04 April 2005 at 02:50 AM.
  04 April 2005
hello feng...
wow...your art is just amazing ... it's so incredible what you did and let me mention that I love your work since I found your site on the internet years ago!

well ... I would know :

-are you still teaching at gnomon school?!and would you recommend this school?!

-is there a possibility to get a signature of you?

thx so much!

  04 April 2005
Hey Feng, just to start off. I love your work. Its so inspiring. I am more into the 3d realm but wouldl ike to get better in 2d. When I was younger, I drew alot more than I do now. I've noticed that Im not as good as I used to be. But anyway, on with the questions.

1) Are there any games or movies you will be working on in the near future?

2) When you actually have spare time, what do you do with it?

3) Are there any other ways to get good contacts with the industry besides classmates from college?

4) Whats the average salary of a Concept Artist?

5) Do you have any good contacts (2d and 3d related) that you can share with us?

6) Can you buy me a Wacom? lol j/k (PM if your up to it )

Well thats about it for the questions. Please continue making your incredible art, as it helps me get out of major creative blocks. Wish you well in the future.
  04 April 2005
Hi Feng!

I admire ur designs and pics very much! Besides they inspire me, they also push me further to learn more and try new stuff. Thank u very much for sharing ur work and ur time at the moment!

And I have a question, which I think it wasnt posted before...

Is it possible to make just 2d art today? I mean being hired just because of ur 2d skills and live from that salary? Or clients (in gaming and film industry) hire mostly people with both skills (2d and 3d) coz its obviously cheaper for them.

Thnx again for ur time and keep up ur marvelous work!
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  04 April 2005
First I would like to thank you for all the inspiring artwork you've made. I am new to the concept art world and was wondering how many pieces of work do you produce a day at the level of quality that the ones at the start of the thread are made. I know different people work at different speeds and it depends on the subject of the piece, I'm just looking for a generalization and something to shoot for. Once again, thank you.
  04 April 2005
Hello, Feng

I'm wondering what is the influence of music on your art. Some great artists find little inspiration in sound, others put it simply as a background for the process. There are also some people that actually put much attention to music and, for instance, let the music-born feelings paint pictures and ideas in their minds, which are later weaved into the creation.

How does it work in your case?

And what are you listening to? ; )

  04 April 2005
Awesome thread! Like everyone else here, I've been a fan of your art for a few years. I think one of the main attractions to your art, besides being well designed, is the fact that its so clean and, in my eyes, perfect.

Stephan Martiniere was on G4TV last night and he was showing off some of his work on Episode III. Amazing work. Whats your take on his concept art?

Thanks for your time. I'll be following your progress for many years to come.
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