• Artist Interviews: KP-ShadowSquirrel

    Before I leave for TrotCon, TwilightIsMagic is back with another wonderful interview with a member of the pony art community. This time around we had questions answered by the talented KP-ShadowSquirrel! Check on after the break for the full interview.

    Have suggestions for an interview? Leave a comment down below and TwilightIsMagic will take your suggestions into consideration.

    TwilightIsMagic's dA

    - How long have you been making art? How did it all start, and how have you and your art fared since?

    I started about 14 years ago. It wasn’t much really - just a little now and then.
    (Before that I was good at art in school. But that was it, I never did anything art related at home in my free time.)
    My pictures of characters were based on simple posed 3d models, that I then traced.
    A few years before ponies, I got even more into 3d modeling and made some presentable models.
    About 2,5 years ago, after finishing the pony models, I came to the conclusion that I finally had to learn how to draw - I did not want to have to rely on 3d models anymore - and the pony anatomy seemed simple enough to master.
    Since then I have been busy learning - not just drawing, but also all kinds of things which go along with it. And, regarding drawing, I was eager to catch up with people who have been at it for 10+ years.

    - What inspired you to start drawing ponies? Was there something in particular that served as the definite motivation behind it or is it just the way ponies are in general?

    I always liked cute colorful cartoon characters. Back then, this new show was so much fun and the characters were so entertaining - I just had to model (and later draw) them.
    I was almost about to give up on art stuff before discovering ponies. At that point I had not drawn anything for some time and 3d was becoming rather boring and tedious. (...Although... I had just finished that dragon model - which took a lot of time and work - so maybe I was just tired...)
    It was at that time that I found this show (sometime mid 2011), fell in love with it over several episodes and wanted to make some 3d models. And after that I realized that I should get back to drawing - and finally learn how to draw characters without depending on 3d models. (Better late than never, right?)

    - Are there any other things you work on now, apart from pony works? If so, what do you work on, if you can share this information with us?

    No, regarding artwork, there are only ponies.

    - Is there a single character in the overall FiM universe that you like in particular, either in general or in terms of drawing them? (As an interviewer’s side note – your Rarity works happen to be my favourite pictures of her among all.)

    My favorite is Rarity. Because she is fabulous. And she is a drama queen. Her voice, the way she speaks and her attitude - all of that is great. She is an artist. She is a lady. She is entertaining. She is complex. She is the best pony!
    I also like Chrysalis, Pinkie and Fluttershy a lot.
    Chrysalis is a great contrast to the cute and colorful ponies. There was not too much of her in the show unfortunately, but the first comic arc gave her a great deal of exposition and a lot more personality.
    Pinkie is great for all kinds of silly picture ideas - there is nothing she can’t do.
    And Fluttershy is so cute, hnnng...

    - You’re known for your contributions to more than just one field of artwork – for example, the 3D pony models you’d made have been a mainstay for a long time. What do you enjoy about working in those different mediums, and how do they compare to each other?

    Well, I pretty much stopped making 3d stuff when I started drawing and have not really done both at the same time.
    With all the crazy cartoony fun that goes on in MLP it would have taken too much time to try and keep depending on 3d models to make pictures the way I used to.
    Getting (back) into drawing seemed the better way to proceed and I have been focusing on that since then.
    There were no rigged GMod or SFM models available back then - if so things may have turned out differently. (And once they were available, I was already too much invested into (obsessed with) learning to draw.
    If I have to compare 3d modeling/sculpting (not talking about animating already made and rigged models here) and 2d drawing - !and this is purely my own opinionated point of view! - in a few words: 3d is tedious, technical and boring - 2d is fast, creative and fun.
    I just don’t have that kind of patience anymore that the 3d stuff requires.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret doing all the 3d models - especially when seeing how much awesome stuff other modelers and animators have done with them.
    So let me use his opportunity to give a big “Thank You!” to all the modelers who rigged, modified and improved the models and converted them into the various engines!

    - Given your work in multiple media, can you say that it has helped you achieve a better understanding of art in general? Also, is there anything in particular that you find helpful for your works that you can share with other artists?

    I don’t know. Some aspects may have helped me somehow, and others may have hindered me in some ways.
    Sorry, I’ve got nothing there... maybe if there was a specific question...

    - I notice that your artwork often goes in series – pictures sharing a particular concept, idea or style between them, often with some amount of time in between each burst of new works. I’ve always been curious about what is the cause behind this pattern, as well as where you get the inspiration for this or that recurring theme or style. Could you share it?

    Whenever I don’t post anything for a long time, I’m busy learning and practicing. Recently I spent weeks with copying model sheets from all kinds of animated movies, analyzed some comics and copied drawings from an old World of Warcraft artbook. Some time was also spent on analyzing some coloring styles of a few other artists.
    As for the series, doing things in batches seems to work well for me - first drawing many pictures and then coloring some of them later. I like to focus on one thing at a time to really dig into it.
    Usually those series are based on practice runs.
    “Let’s train to draw portraits - let’s train to draw poses.” The same goes for coloring those sketches. “Let’s try this style - let’s get into that style”
    There are only a few pictures that are not based on practicing runs.
    Maybe with more experience I’ll start to make individual pictures - from start to finish - more often. But right now, that is what seems to be working for me. It could also be that this approach has not much to do with experience but is just a personal quirk.

    - While we’re on the topic of inspiration – are there any artists, pony or otherwise, who inspire you? What do you like to see in other artists’ works?

    Regarding ponies, there are many artists that have aspects that I like - just look through my favorites on deviantArt :)
    If I had to name one pony artist, that would be Andy Price (the one who draws many of the IDW pony comics).
    Outside of MLP, there isn’t anyone in particular that I could think of in terms of profound artistic inspiration.
    What I am interested in seeing are character expressions, fun, colors, storytelling, character interaction, and interesting situations.

    - What is your creative process like? Do you prefer to work in long sittings or in shorter sessions? How do you go about creating your works; which parts come first and which follow?

    The amount of time varies a lot - sometimes I can work for hours, taking breaks only to get more coffee - and sometimes I can’t focus for more than a couple of minutes before something seemingly more interesting grabs my attention.
    As said earlier, most pictures are based on random training sketches. They are made either on paper or digitally. Those then may later be colored digitally in Photoshop and/or Paint Tool SAI.

    - What do you, personally, find to be the hardest part of the creative process, and why?

    I guess the hardest part is to keep up my enthusiasm and confidence whenever confronted with the work of much more experienced and enthusiastic artists.
    Then I’m like, “How am I ever going to make so much, so good stuff???”
    As for something more tangible, that would be ... drawing. I’m doing fine (more or less) with coming up with ideas as well as coloring. But getting from the former to the latter is the hardest part.

    - Is there a particular picture – or series of pictures – that you like the most, among your pony works? If yes, then why?

    The beach pictures are my favorites. They are warm and bright, colorful and a lot of fun.

    - What do you enjoy working on more – many character sketches with less overall detailing or a single, more detailed character piece? Or do you feel more like one or another approach at different points?

    I prefer to keep it simple and quick. I don’t like to spend much time on drawing details. Maybe I blow my fuse on the “Three unlike sisters” a few years ago. Each of those pictures took FOREVER! ...
    It's good that beaches are so easy to draw :D

    - The parts of your works that, to me, seem the most recognizable, the ones that immediately make me think “This is a KP picture!”, are the way you draw eyes and muzzles and your shading style, which feel consistent between all the different types of pictures you do, and they’re present in most of your works going back as far as 2011. Is it something you settled into naturally and are most comfortable with, or is it something that you developed consciously?

    I didn't already have a specific drawing style when I started with ponies which I could have applied onto them.
    I learned drawing ponies for the most part by copying screenshots from the show. A book about drawing animals, “The Art of Animal Drawing” by Ken Hultgren, also had some influence on the way my ponies look like.

    - Thank you very much for your time, KP! I’m looking forward to what you will make next, as, I’m sure, does everyone reading this interview. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you about your art!

    You’re welcome - And thank you very much for this opportunity :3

    KP-ShadowSquirrel's Gallery

    Twitter: Calpain