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Character Design

Andrew West: Character Designer for BrokenSaints.com

Tell us about yourself Andrew; where are you from and What is your role on the Broken Saints team?
Well I am 23, Born in Canada, currently living in North Vancouver. I was the Art Director for Broken Saints. But as Ian and I were the only artists, there were not many people to direct!

How did you get your start in Character Design?
Broken Saints was the first project I had ever worked on. So I would have to say that was my BIG start. When I look back at what I did, I can't believe they even let me work on it! ;) But I have always just loved drawing characters, it would get so bad that I would neglect all other things in art, And just focus on the characters.

How serious are you about Character Design? Is it a career for you or is it just a hobby?
I think it could be a passion of mine! I would like it to be a career. It's something i love doing, but it's also a hobby. I am trying to make it my career anyways!

What would your dream job be?
I think my dream job would be something similar to what Alex Ross does! He's such an amazing artist! I would like to do comic covers, or be a character designer for some game company, like Capcom, or Square/Enix. Those companies always have really cutting edge character designs.

Are you a self-taught artist or do you have formal training as a Character Designer?
I am mostly self-taught, if u could call it that. I did take art classes in high school, but I can't say I really picked up anything useful there. I just had the opportunity to use different mediums and experiment a bit. I always deviated from the class and drew what I wanted. I do plan on taking an art program in September at a local college. Unless something better comes along!

Do you think that artists with a formal education in Illustration have an advantage over self-taught artists?
I think generally, It might look better on your resume if it said you went to such and such's school. And one might be able to pick up some pretty awesome techniques at school. I don't think creativity is something u can teach someone however, and creativity is the strongest asset someone can have in my opinion! So in that aspect I don't think there is any advantage. And some people are complete naturals, so they might not even need the education that the rest of us need!

What software do you currently work with? And why do you choose to work with these software packages?
I work with a Wacom Tablet 9''11''. I also use Corel Painter 7, and Adobe Photoshop. Painter is the best art program in my opinion. I don't know how i lived my life without it for so long!

Where do you get the inspiration for your art?
I watch a lot of movies. Read books, and catch the odd anime. I listen to music too. I don't think i could ever draw even a single line without music. I think it's the most important thing for me to have around when I wanna create.

What three pieces of your artwork are you most proud of and why?
Well I would have to say Broken Saints, as a complete art piece is what I am most proud of. I have a few pieces on my website that I love. But nothing really compares in scope to BS.

Could you take us through your creative process when starting a new Broken Saints project?
Brooke (The Creator, Director, Writer) would make up a shot list for me. Which gives a short shot description. Then him and I would make storyboards together. After that I would take the storyboards and start drawing out the shots on the computer, just doing quit sketches. The next process is inking, then my favorite part; painting! Then I would pass the shots of to Ian (Technical director) and he would do some sweet image work on the shots in Photoshop; clean-up, extra lighting, just giving the shots more overall mood! And then they would be put in flash! Where Brooke and Ian would slave to put it all together with sound, and story, and music! And that's pretty much the size of it!

What artistic media do you prefer to work in and are there any that you don't like to use?
I prefer to use the computer nowadays for all my art. I use oil pastels and pencils and a little airbrush in Painter mostly! I like to use everything though.

If you had the chance to work as a Character Designer on any Video Game, Comic book or Cartoon series, which one's would you choose and why?
Oh man, I would love to work on any game by Capcom. I have always enjoyed the characters Capcom has made. It would be an honor for them to even look at my stuff! To be part of what they do would be a dream to me. If I had to work on a comic I would like to work on something by Dreamwave. I think they have a big roster of nifty comics. Great artists too, I get the feeling though that comic artists have real elitist attitudes and stick their noses up at other people trying to get in. It's almost a major turn off! But they have great projects that I find very interesting! When I see an awesome animation, I always want to be apart of it. I think everyone feels that way they're being inspired. I would have loved to be apart of Evangelion, or Cowboy Bebop, those shows are just brimming with style, it makes me sick!! In a good way.

Can you tell us a little about Broken Saints? What is Broken Saints?
Broken Saints is the award winning 24 part online series, or as we like to call it "Cinematic Literature".

How was the concept of Broken Saints conceived?
Brooke went on travels around South East Asia and Australia and New Zealand. He came up with concept for the storyline during his stays in these places! Then he brought back an awesome story, and he shared it with us. And we all dug it and we went to work on creating a trailer. Brooke and Ian pitched it to a local design firm Fleming Design/Switchinteractive where Ian was employed. They brought us on and helped in a big way to get us started! Then the project started going in different directions, so we parted ways and remained close! And then we moved to Ian's basement and moved ahead with the project! The rest is history!

How long have you worked on Broken Saints and how did you get started working on Broken Saints?
I worked on Broken Saints for a total of 3 years, July 2000 - July 2003. Brooke asked me when he got back from his travels, if I wanted to work on his comic with him! Brooke and I have been buddies for many years and have always talked about making something together! So I thought it was an awesome opportunity!

Who's your favorite Character on Broken Saints and why?
I think I enjoyed drawing Raimi the computer hacker most. I had a lot of freedom with what I had him wear and look like a lot. It was very enjoyable dressing up. But I guess I liked them all the same. It's like parents like all their kids the same I think, it's too hard to choose one over another!

How long does it take to complete a chapter of Broken Saints?
There was never a set amount of time in which it took us. Sometimes it would take a month, and then other times it could take as much 3 months. But that was a real stretch, cuz some of our chapters were massive! But we hustled all the time to bring them out as fast as possible! In the beginning we tried to get the chapters out every 2 weeks. After a while it just got harder and harder to reach those milestones with all the content we wanted to add in there! It just had to be the best it could be and we didn't care how long it would take!

Are there any plans to take Broken Saints into the Comic Shops as a Monthly or Bi-Monthly comic book?
There are not really any plans at this time, but that is not to say it could never happen!

I see that there's an up coming Broken Saints Video Game could you tell us a little about this project?
That is a project Brooke is working on with a small company called Gnosis Games in Vancouver. It's in its very early stages, but I think it's looking pretty sweet! I was amazed to see the Teaser they did for the game. Very very cool!!

How involved are you in the creation of Broken Saints the video game?
I'm actually not involved at all on that project. It's something Brooke is doing with another company.

What's next for Broken Saints? Broken Saints the movie?
U never know!! Brooke talks to a lot of people. So I can't really say if that would ever happen. But I would pretty stoked to see a movie of BS, so long as the good storyline doesn't get screwed. Because lordy knows that happens a lot ;)

What's next for Andrew West? Are there any new projects on the horizon for you personally?
Well thanks to a friend of mine www.laramarie.com/, my website has just been released, www.andrewwest.ca I think she did a super job of making my site cool. I don't have a lot of knowledge about HTML or anything, so she really did me a huge favor! I think right now I am just doing small jobs here and there, but I am always looking for work. My big plan is to go to art school for a while and see if I can pick up some more techniques. I feel like it's my time! After that well I don't know, I hope some people like my art and want to hire me. I can't say I care too much about what the job is, I just like doing art, so it doesn't matter I don't think.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring artist out there?
Just keep working at it. Find some good inspiration, it's very important I think to have a lot of good influences. Don't ever stick to one style or medium. Mess around with as much as possible. You have to keep the creative juices flowing!

Thanks to Andrew West (http://www.andrewwest.ca/) for agreeing to answer the questions we had for him.

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