ARTIST FOCUS: CHAOYUAN (Yuan) XU
As a digital artist, Chaoyuan Xu creates beautiful paintings with immaculate detail and realism on a canvas made entirely of pixels. His subject matter ranges from realistic landscapes and city scenes to fantasy creations based on video game properties like Diablo or, more recently, his re-envisioning of the Assassin’s Creed franchise if it were to take place in historical China.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
My name is Chaoyuan Xu. I come from Fujian Province, China. But I reside in the mountain city of Chonqing, which is in the hinterlands of China.
How long have you been designing/illustrating? What got you interested in art?
I have loved painting and drawing ever since I was a kid. Who inspired me to start drawing is Grandpa Yu, an illustrator of a Buddhism temple. I visited him very often and learned how to appreciate art.
Who/what influences your art? Is there a particular person’s style that has influenced you?
Comics, manga, games, and movies influence me the most. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy very much and it’s one of the major reasons that I love to create fantasy art. And for any particular artists, I think it’s Craig Mullins and Donato Giancola. I appreciate their art and try to learn from their masterpieces. It’s one of the ways that I improve my skill.
How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is more fantasy orientated, since I delight in creating fantasy arts. But more than that, I love to try various ways of techniques to illustrate the arts. And what I prefer the most is dark fantasy. I love to add flavors of darkness and shadows into my pieces.
What medium do you typically use when creating art?
The tool I use the most is Photoshop. The reason is because my focus is on the digital arts. But I also make a lot of practices via pencil sketching on papers. I can quickly sketch a concept in my mind with a pencil and a paper. And then start drawing it with Photoshop.
What is your approach when creating new illustrations? Do you plan out the illustration ahead of time or do you just start drawing and let the experience guide you?
Yes. I do plan. Actually I have a standard procedure for creating a piece of art. Usually, before I start, I will imagine how the art (like how the characters and people look like, and the environments) would look like, would be with my mind.
And then I will set up a time for myself to complete it. I make several sketches and see which one could win both my client’s and my heart, and have several meetings with my client to determine if we should proceed with it or not. After the decision is made, I begin detailing and coloring it right away and keep communication with my client all the way to ensure that it matches their vision.
What is your day job?
I am a freelance artist and illustrator right now. I accept commissions from different companies and clients. I also try to do different kinds of projects (like miniature, concept, card games, illustrations).
Tell us about your current projects. What are you working on? Any upcoming art shows?
I have 3 major projects on hand right now. One is concept art for environment design for Lager Network’s developing MMORPG – Colossus. The 2nd project is Blizzard Entertainment and Cryptozoic Entertainment’s WOWTCG art. The 3rd one is miniature concept design for Blackknight Games.
I don’t have any plans for an art show these days.
Has video game art, concept art, or fan art influenced you at all?
I browse those gaming websites everyday, reading all information, art concepts, game designing ideas, etc. This helps a lot. Because by doing so, I can learn from all those successful artists and their incredible masterpieces. It opens my mind, enabling me to overcome many obstacles I encountered during my creation.
Are you an avid gamer? If so, what are you currently playing?
I am a very avid gamer. I played Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3 recently. Diablo 3 is very entertaining and my main character is a barbarian. However I haven’t tried inferno difficulty yet. But I look forward to it. And for Max Payne, it surprises me to see his return. I really like how Rockstar tells the story in the game.
If you could be any video game character who would it be? Why?
Drake in Uncharted series. His adventure is so fascinating and alluring. And I love how he works with his best friend, Victor Sullivan. It’s very enjoyable to have such a great companion to travel and explore the unknown. And besides, Elena Fisher is such a beauty that charms me in the first sight. Drake has such a perfect life that I dream of.
What do you do for fun?
Gaming, watching movies, and walk on the street with my girlfriend to enjoy the simple happiness.
If there’s one thing that you want people to know about you, what would that be?
I am always trying to create a very magnificent and incredible fantasy world, including a systematic world setting and art designs. If I can complete this grand task, then it would be my proudest moment of my life.
Want to keep in touch with Chaoyuan or see what he is currently working on? You can see all of his work and contact him through deviantART.