Meet the Artist: Nicolas Bouvier (AKA Sparth)

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  05 May 2005
Hi sparth

2 questions here
  • Whats a day like in Ubisoft, typical working day, I guess from 9.00am to whatever 5.00pm
  • How about when deadline approaches?
This message DOES reflect the opinions of the extraterrestrials
  05 May 2005
wow, its the 1st time i saw your work and Im an instant fan. I love the bold & fast stroke. I dunno if this was asked already but my question:

1. Do you still do line sketch or just build up your colors and progress on as ideas came in?
2. I dunno if you've been a part of interviewing/evaluating portfolio from applicants, but in your opinion, what images would strike most, sci-fi, epic, characters,... ?
3. Im a beginner in 2D, my M&S entry is my very 1st, though I dabble w/ painting as a hobby, whats your advise portfolio-wise as to what images to put up front(besides it beeing your best, of course) for a beginner like me.

Thanks for your time & more power to you!!
2D Spec

theres not much difference between your pencil tip & a diamond

Last edited by arkinet : 05 May 2005 at 09:29 PM.
  05 May 2005
Sparth! I'm a huge fan (been admiring your work on your website for ages) and love your energetic, painterly style. Love your colour choices too! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this Q&A session. You honour us!

1. What things do you do to excercise your creativity (how do you keep from getting mental creative blocks)?

2. What kinds of things do you suggest an aspiring concept artist show in a portfolio?

3. Do you do research to add all that wonderful detail on your spaceships and buildings, or do you just make it up as you go along? If so, what kind of stuff do you use for reference (especially for the futuristic spaceships).

4. How do you like Canada?

Thanks again for you time...

my CGPortfolio
my BLOG of art goodness
my MASTER & SERVANT 2D entry

I'm dancin' like a monkey!
  05 May 2005
hi nicolas,
I would like to ask you a little question (that may interest only a few french dudes ) :
- Did it help you to come from ENSAD, and if yes or no, why ?

I graduated from there 3 year ago, experimenting different medias for 5 years, as they encouraged us, but... It's hard, once finished, to become competitive with guys who seems to have had only one thing in mind : work in the gaming/movie industry. I had to violently kick my ass...

So I think it would be interesting to have your opinion on that school, because of your 9 years career both in France and Canada.



Last edited by Arctis : 05 May 2005 at 10:15 PM.
  05 May 2005
Thumbs up

Oh, by the way, I really love your Expose entry : "hidden in the desert". That's a pearl.

Last edited by Arctis : 06 June 2005 at 04:35 PM.
  05 May 2005
Hi sparth, i admire your concept designs and the way you can paint them, i would like to take this chance and ask how do you practice painting, i mean you have an innate ability to draw your designs and at the same getting better at painting and composition, would you suggest a way to practice painting regardless to the subject? i mean somehow i tend to feel that painting its almost an abstract process, is this correct from your experience!?

Thank you sparth
  05 May 2005
Hey Sparth

Hows it going

I got a question from a Budding Concept artist here. what do you recommend for Practice just basically take and develop whatever comes to your head as your skills allow? How do you recommend concept artists develop there skills to prepare them for Showing there products for potential jobs.

3d Poly handler
"have polys will handle"
  05 May 2005

first of all, thank you for your kind comment.

1. as you went from country to country and were influenced by all different cultures does that affect your work as in, when you are creating art do you add different ideas you have recieved from cultures to produce the image in your mind? If so what steps do you take?
- i guess it has to do more with a global attitude towards art, rather than anything precise. i would say that we are the result today of all the things we have gathered and lived in your past. education, culture... i am convinced all the things we live are written forever in our brain, even though it is not that easy to determine the amount of influence it has in the creation process. it is just there as a whole.
to put it simple, i suppose it helps being passionate and curious. if i have to concentrate on precise exemples, yes, i'd say that my past will always have an influence on my actual art. in 82, i followed my parents and went to live in singapore. i was ten years old.
you wouldn't believe how much impact these sort of trips and moves can have at that age, especially when the cultural gap is large between your country of birth and your new home. i still remember the malaysian roads, the shape of the fruits available in the small markets, the people and their traditions.... once we did a trip to kuala lumpur. we rented a car and went north west. we arrived at the hotel. i remember that the hotel was a bit lost in the jungle. and then there was this hotel wall ....white ... where all these butterflies had gathered. thousands of large and amazingly colored butterflies all over that wall .... some sort of a meeting point.
- in bali, i still remember the excitement when i grabbed that stone for fun, realizing there was a scorpion beneath it.
- i still remember how much amazed i was landing in honk kong
- i remember the number of soldiers in xian's terracota army .....
and on .... and on ....
i suppose it helps a lot when imagination is stimulated in a kid's mind.
and i will always be thankful towards my parents for this same reason.

2. were you always interested and good at being a concept artist , because many people ahve this skill as a natural skill, my question is did you develop it or was it natural for you? if it wasnt natural please explain how you developed your great skill?
- there has always been something from the start, it's true. but it doesn't mean a thing.
certainly not that you need talent from the start. it would be ridiculous.
you're not really conscious of all these things when you are a kid. you just feel urged to create, probably because you simply find it fun, probably because your parents look very happy when you draw well, so you instinctively do extra efforts in order to please them? i don't know. maybe that initial natural skill is not important. the most important factor is to keep your ears opened to music, your eyes opened to forms ....
today, in order to keep all my ideas and test new concepts, i write everything down in a txt, right on my desktop. now there's no real formula in there. art has nothing to do with definite formulas, and formulas will never be able to describe an abstraction process or an impulsive creative move. however, i write small sentences explaining how i see things, how i feel about an image, how to improve a process etc ....

3. What software do you prefer and if you were to create your own software to help artists out there to achieve there goal what software would you create and what would it be used for?
- i'm a photoshop fan. and have always been. the only thing that lacks is the fact of being able to mix color together. or the fact of being able to paint with more than one color at a time. so many features could be added actually. there are ways to experiment these features, like using the stamp tool though.
also, i really believe that the layering system is a revolution. i wouldn't be as creative if this feature had not been discovered.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
Hiya sparth, I too saw you demo back in austin... incredible man... simply incredible.

I've always wondered the same thing Byran just asked earlier: Where DID the nickname sparth come from?
  06 June 2005
Hello my friend !

One thing I'd like to know : What are you dreaming of ? (real dreams, not wishes)

  06 June 2005
Thumbs up Hola Sparth!

Hola Sparth.

Thanks so much for the time you’re dedicating for this. It is quite nice that, thanks to CG Talk, we finally have the chance to get some feedback from artists we admire.

I would like to take some lines to explain how passionate I do feel for conceptual design and how big and important has been your work (among the one from other amazing artists) to inspire me and to encourage me to follow my dreams with passion and dedication.

I’m from Venezuela, a country (packed with corruption and unstable political and economical situation) were art and related forms, since as far as I remember have been, by far, less important than beauty pageants, good alcohol (beer and rum) and oil production. I spent my childhood drawing from time to time but not having here a way to explore, study, get inspiration and improve my skills (by means of a animation industry or videogames industry, for example, or even information about what all this is about) made me turned my back to what I enjoyed most and followed a path I wasn’t happy to follow, studying and preparing myself in what the society and the situation around me somehow suggested me to take. Fortunately, like 8yrs ago, I decided to make a big change and do what I felt it was the right thing to do, what my heart and passion told me to do. I stopped studying Business Administration just like that and studied Graphic Design, and just last year I was graduated on Commercial Animation (Cap College, Vancouver), majoring in Character Design. It was just by the end of the program that I saw for the very first time, while checking some websites, what my talent (still unpolished but craving for a chance to show that it has something to offer) is more suited for, or where it has more chance to be developed…at least, that’s what I believe, and what my friends, teachers and colleagues say and encourage me to do.

I still remember like it was yesterday that I saw pieces from your conceptual art and it was something completely new for me. I was speechless, really. Just thinking that something you draw could be used and seen later on in a videogame or a movie just blew my mind. Yes, I was that ignorant about this. Just last year I got the idea what Concept Art is. And now I see movies, videogames, TV shows and are all fascinated with what pre-production is, and I feel that I could give the best of myself in that area. I mean, I’m 30yrs old now, but honestly, it feel like that kid I left behind years ago, the one who wanted to draw all the time, came back claiming for a chance to draw and create again.

Sometimes I do regret that in our country we have never had information that could tells us what concept art is about and how wonderful and beautiful is this industry and yes, how cool is this creative worldwide community that I have discovered. But it’s never too late, so I started to draw again, and I’m here, sending portfolios overseas since last year ( feel free to check the latest one at ), following my dream, improving my skills everyday to truly gain the opportunity to work in this industry, to do what talented and freaking amazing artist like you do. So thank you so much for been such an inspiration and such a great sneak peek of all what this crazy and creative world is all about. All the blessings and best wishes for you.

So now, I would like to ask you some questions:

-I know and fully understand that videogame and animation companies first look for local talent for employment before considering foreigners, but I’m wondering, Do you have any idea how’s the situation for foreign talent in Canada? US? Is it that hard to get in the industry?

-Could a solid and professional portfolio knock down this sort of been-foreign barrier easier and get me a spot in the group of candidates to consider for the job I’m applying for, or as I think, is could be still harder because of my situation?

-Do you have any quotes, inspirational thoughts, or words of courage to share with the people living the same or similar situation like mine, where it’s a bit harder to take the first step, where there’s a fight to never give up even though when what’s around you or the place where you live makes everything more difficult for you?

Again, thanks a lot Sparth.



PS: sorry for the long note, but this opportunity to share, to say thanks, and to get some feedback is precious, yes sir.
  06 June 2005
WOW finally !

Hello, Sparth my name is Attila Szigeti !

I'm always amazed by the forms, you use to build up your compositions, and characters. I can almost see how they develope from dynamic brush strokes to finely detailed pieces.

Your work is always fresh, which I find really hard to pull off, with the warm subtle colors scheme you use. Just incredible!

The other thing I really like is the ingenius use of contrasting/complementary color stripes and dots. The blues and the really saturated oranges and reds. Jaw dropping sence of ballance and dynamic.

1. - Your armour and vehicle designs seem to draw a lot on natural froms, crabs and other insect like. Do you get alot of inspiration from nature ?

2. - Do you work in traditional media besides digital ? If so whats your favourite tool ? (chalk, pastel, oil,...)

3. - Do you use small thumbnails to get composition and tones right, or do you just jump in and overpaint if something is not in the right place ?

4. - I read an interview with you, on another CG site, where you talk about balancing work and family life. Could you give any advice for freelance artist, what to look out for, if they want to remain freelance, but still have a family ?

Great having you here !

The Dune covers are the best !!! Frank Herberts vision comes to life. Wish I had a copy of those editions.
  06 June 2005
Je vois beaucoup de questions sur quelle école tu as fait etc... mais le secret su shmilblik c´est le talent, ça ne s´apprend pas, et toi tu en débordes... si tu pouvais nous en donner un chti peu hein
  06 June 2005
Hi!, I´m a fan of prince of persia 2, mainly because the scenarios and the dark mood of the game.
As a concept designer of the game, I assume that those mood it´s a creation of yours, but ¿have you asked about those specific look? Why in your opinion is so radical the difference of the ambients between POP1 and POP2?

I agree: layering painting it´s one of the best ideas of the mankind

Last edited by Vincent Walhem : 06 June 2005 at 10:14 AM.
  06 June 2005
Sparth, I always liked the spontaneity in your paintings and the your effect of painting with a big brush.

I have some questions for you:

How do you make such a good contrast? I alwas sucked at making contrast in digital paintings. All my colors are unsaturated and pale. I must adjust the contrast and color balance in photoshop to get it wright, but it's unpleasant. Here's an example (i haven't tweaked contrast or color balance in this one):

I have that art tutorial of yours, in pdf format, but that only explains illumination & color stuff, wich I mainly knew about. What I was searching for was your brushing technique. Could you share that with us mortals? If it's your professional secret, forget that you read this.

You once made this tutorial, but I can't see any images besides the final image. Do you happen to have the illustrations for the other steps?

thanks for your time
me @ deviantfart

Last edited by Dimmur : 06 June 2005 at 12:11 PM.
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