• Graphic Artists - One on One: Big Casino

    Graphic Artists - One on One.
    Big Casino.

    Captivating. Vibrancy. Expressing emotions. Imagination.

    These are just some of the things you come across as a Graphic Artist. Here on the Final Fantasy Forums we have some amazing and inspiring artists who either just started, or have been doing what they do best for many years. I want to take the time to interview one of our very own; Big Casino.

    Big Casino, a 23 year old - graphic art design Ďhobbyistí. With a recognizable style that sometimes has a very (sub)urban, vectored look, Big Casino, also known as Lewis, has been around on this forum since early 2007. An inspiration to a lot of people on this forum and a good mentor, helping those that just started.

    When I joined this forum, I found myself intrigued by the vibrancy and Ďout thereí style of work. Every piece showed superb composition, teasing colours that brought the attention to every single detail that had been put in, and letís not even get started about the sharp eye for lighting. In fact... We should get started.

    You have been making your style known on the forum for (so many) years now. A lot of people would define your work as suburban and vector styled, like I mentioned earlier. What would you describe your own style as?

    Iíve made so many things involving vectors Iím not surprised people think that. Though recently, Iíve been trying to break away from all the vector graphics and stuff, so I wouldnít describe my style as anything really. I don't think thereís words I could use that would sum everything up. I use every resource I have to my advantage. I smudge, liquify, I use C4Ds, vectors, I use brushes. I render parts of stocks and use little pieces of that as effects. I use textures, wire frames. Everything really.

    What inspired you to actually Ďget startedí?

    It was pretty natural to be honest. My whole life Iíve loved art. Growing up I always had a pencil in my hand. When I finally got internet and joined the Final Fantasy Forums, I saw peoples signatures and I instantly wanted to make my own. I downloaded my first graphics program and spent most of my free time making signatures and large pieces all day.

    Art pretty much plays an important role in your life then, with the signatures aside, what art inspires and interests you?

    The only non GFX art that really gets my attention is strange artwork. I'm not talking modern art, I can't stand that stuff. I love the really colourful graffiti you see on walls. That's always made me stop and stare. Street art, I suppose is my favourite. When artists draw on the pavement using chalk and paints. I love 3D art when an artist draws on the pavement and when you look from a certain angle it appears 3D.

    I find things with strong colours always get my attention. I suppose that's why I like graffiti. You often see huge murals painted in estates in the US. Murals of people like Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Bob Marley, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. They're probably my favourite things to look at. I love caricatures as well. The crazier and wackier, the better. I don't wanna stare at a picture of some hills or a person's face. I would rather go to the hills and experience the beauty first hand. I like art that you can't see everyday day.

    As a graphic artist who has been around for a long time, youíre probably not surprised that your work inspires the other artists on this forum. Are you aware of being a Ďrole-modelí in the graphics world on our forum, and how do you feel about that?

    To be honest that will never sink in, haha. When you say it to me now Iím not sure that I really believe it's true. It will sound cliche and cheesy but being told I inspire someone is the biggest compliment and honour I could ever get about my work. That's why its so hard for me to believe that someone folks truly think my graphics are that. It really does blow my mind. It really is the biggest honour anyone can get when it comes to their art.

    I love helping people improve, too. I love showing people tricks and ways to get better

    Very modest then, I know youíre very honest and straightforward about one thing. Topaz. Youíre very Ďchooseyí about how much Topaz is used, can you share your thoughts on what is too much, and what is just right?

    I wouldn't really say there's a right way to use it. It looks great if you use it right, but absolutely terrible when used wrong. The same can be said about any filter in Photoshop. Moderation is the key. Personally I don't like the porcelain look that the clean filter creates. If, however, you use it right, it looks nice. For example, when using topaz be sure to erase it over eyes and facial features. Especially on real people. Thatís a Ďmust doí.

    Playing with the sliders in the Topaz bar is key to getting it right. I know lots of people just go with a standard default setting and click Ok but that will just make things look very poor. Size, boost and radius are important for getting the right look. I don't use any other Topaz filter other than clean. With De-noise I can get an even better effect using blurring and lighting. The only other one Iíve used is Topaz Adjust and I can honestly say that's the most horrible filter Iíve had the displeasure of using. Why anyone would opt to use that over Curves, brightness, contrast and colour balance - Iíll never understand.

    Topaz Clean works well with vector and bright signatures where you don't mind if you lose depth. Nine out of ten times, I use it before making my signature. Iíll run it over the render Iím using to improve its quality. When you do that you get a nice HQ image but all the effects and colouring you add over it stay unaffected by the clean radius. So you're not losing all the detail you spend so long putting in. Using topaz before making a signature is something Iíve only started doing recently and I find it to be the absolute best way of using it. Your signature also looks more natural this way, as like I said before, the cleaning is not pulling away your detail and making it look smooth. I like my signatures to be a bit messy.

    Have you been using the same program since you started making your graphics?

    The first program I used was Paint Dot Net. Not to be confused with MS paint. It's a fantastic little free program with a lot of support. It has a brilliant website and forum dedicated to learning the program. It's filled with tutorials and How-To's. It has nothing on Photoshop but it's a good program for doing basic editing and you can actually create some really nice effects using it. I stuck with PDN for a few months and then moved up to Photoshop CS2. CS3 has just came out but I went with 2 anyway and have been using it ever since. CS2 and Maxon Cinema 4D are my tools of the trade.

    Does graphic art play a role in actual life outside the internet as well?

    Not really. I find art pretty boring most of the time. Youíd never catch me in an art museum willingly but sometimes when youíre out and about youíll see a poster for a phone or some kinda gadget and Iíll think wow that's really cool. Those kinda designs though are on another level and I wouldnít even try to emulate them. Iíve used Cinema 4d quite a bit and its one of the most complicated pieces of software Iíve ever had to use. After half an hour Iím ready to throw in the towel and say sod it and move on.

    A personal favourite of mine would have to be the ďHot air balloonĒ signature that you have on your Deviant Art. In which you state ďThe idea behind it came from when a friend was shouting at me. And the only thing I could think of was all the hot air coming from his mouth, hence the hot air balloons. Thatís basically an expression to say youíre talking a lot of garbage. I sat at him thinking WTF are you talking about. Are you mad?Ē - source: DA.

    Do real life situations inspire you to make graphics? Because I know music does.

    Nowadays Iím becoming less inspired by real life events and music. What I make is usually a direct result of me loving the image. I used to hate working with images of characters I didn't know of, but now I would much rather make a signature using a good image. When the stock or render is good, ideas flow out of me constantly. We all know when an image is hard to use you just kinda sit there and stare at the screen for ages before actually starting to do anything.

    I've taken a liking to comic book images. Theyíre so detailed and edgy. Some of them are pretty dark looking, even when its a good guy. Drawn pictures tend to be my favourite. Working with real people in my signatures was my favourite, but now I will take a great detailed comic book image or a 3D game render any day. I've never even read a comic book in my life, but the artwork is top notch.

    A situation in real life is gonna have to be pretty crazy before I turn it into signature form, haha.

    How about graphic design sites? Are there any specific places you like to browse through to get some motivation in to your system?

    GFX forums like Sigresource and Gfxresource are the only sites other than FFF I'll go to for ideas. Deviant art is just too much. There's too much stuff on it and you'll spend your time looking through stuff that will never interest you. When I go to a GFX forum I know the work is gonna be of a high caliber and something will give me ideas.

    Even though youíre high up the ladder yourself, who do you look up to? What do you like seeing in graphic artists?

    Mitsuki has always been my favourite GFX artist out of everyone I've seen. Her style is her own. Her work has this glow to it that Iíve tried to emulate on many occasions and Iíve never once been able to make it work at all. Seriously though there are lots of artists I like and for many different reasons. It might be your text work or because you always make weird and unusual things. If Iíve ever took the time to comment on something then it means I'm interested.

    Hereís a few quickies: Favourite brush, favourite gradient map, favourite filter, favourite canvas sizes?

    The default soft round brush. I couldn't work without it.
    The orange and purple default gradient map always seems to work... every time.
    I love all my filters but liquify is something I can't reproduce with a tool so I'll say that.
    The bigger the canvas is the better!

    We all know theyíre out there, graphic artists giving nasty comments to others, while they could improve a thing or ten themselves. What do you think about non constructive feedback, and how do you deal with it? Do you have any tips for the beginners how to deal with people like that?

    It really annoys me when I see people giving out nasty comments or very harsh criticism. For starters it's not helpful at all and shooting down somebodies confidence is only gonna have the opposite effect on a person. I think many people do this for no other reason than to be nasty. They think they're so great and so much better than someone so they jump on their high horse and talk down to this person like they were a bad dog. On forums there isn't much I can do other than go to the persons defense and encourage them. I think it's important for moderators to keep an eye out for this as it can be really hurtful to people. I look at it like this - If I am happy with something I have made then that's all that matters. This isn't something that affects my life so Iím not gonna sit in the corner and sulk if you say that something I make is shite.

    There will always be elitists trying to put you down and I think on many occasions they are jealous and slightly worried that your gonna get better than them, so they lash out. I know when you start out you really want people to like your work but if you are happy with it then really that's all that matters. We all do this as a hobby so we have no one to please other than ourselves. I think it's good to give honest C+C but you have to be pleasant about it because no one likes a prick. Beginners need the most help and it's good to go into some detail with them I think, and point out what could be done better and how they do that. It's very important to explain how to do it.

    Another small peeve of mine is people who always find something in a signature they don't like. I've seen some artists who make amaaazing signatures, and I've seen a beginner who comes along, and it's always this same guy every time. And no matter how great the signature is he always finds something that's not quite good enough. I'm not sure if he thinks it's being helpful or not but I find it rather annoying because they're such minor things and I never even agree with him 9/10 either, but he makes them into such a big deal. He would likely benefit more from his own advice I think. (This is just a member on a GFX forum other than FFF).

    Last, but not least... Do you have any advice or encouraging words for other graphic artists out there?

    Hmmmm, Iím not very good at motivating people but I guess just keep trying because like everything else the more you do it then the better you get. I don't believe that making signatures requires talent of any kind. I think its all (mostly) down to practice and hard work.

    And thatís a wrap. Iíd like to thank Big Casino for his time and for sharing some motivating words for all of the graphic artists out there.

    Big Casino - Deviant Art:
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. The Welsh Paddy's Avatar
      The Welsh Paddy -
      I actually enjoyed reading this, and it really helped me look at my own approach to graphics making from a different angle.
    1. Ewan's Avatar
      Ewan -
      Very enjoyable read! Awesome stuff
    1. Big Casino's Avatar
      Big Casino -
      hahaha thanks people and thanks Kira for choosing me to do this
      Im pretty impressed with myself that i was able to write all of that
    1. Coco's Avatar
      Coco -
      Captivating. Vibrancy. Expressing emotions. Imagination.

      Kira described it well. Another word comes to mind though when I think of his GFX, and that is excellent. All his works are polished to the smallest details. I've always looked up to this style and I always will.

      Congratulations on the feature, Lew! You're in a league of your own. You deserve it. <333
    1. Mitsuki's Avatar
      Mitsuki -
      Definitely a respected artist around here. You've been an inspiration to us, so it's great to see you continue using photoshop and still make signatures or what have you.

      I was hoping to see a bit more of your signatures featured up there, considering it was a lot of content to read, but the ones featured now are really awesome!! It would've been interesting to see which are your Top 3 favorite sigs/LPs that you've made as well, Lew. That's something that I always enjoy reading about, because you get to see the artist's own critiques, pointing out details and struggles that normally a viewer wouldn't see.
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