• Giving Cartoon Ponies a Dose of Realism - Artist Interview and Spotlight with Tsitra360!


    I've actually known Tsitra since before pony was even a thing. He has been honing his craft for what seems like ages with tremendous progression over the past ~decade. You've probably seen his art in the top sections of just about every pony sphere out there, as the style is pretty iconic. These days he seems to bounce between extreme realism with all the bony little horse joints, to a more cartoon smooth style, with seemingly different mini-fanbases for each side.

    His mastery of texture and the extreme depth of his coloring makes them some of the most memorable out there, with many an epic world-shattering pony drawing to choose from. Basically the ultimate desktop wallpaper bait.

    Anyway, interview and spotlight time! Go get it all below.

    Q:) How did you stumble upon My Little Pony? What was your "origin" story if you will?

    I have seen drawings for MLP back in late 2010, but I dismissed them as simply being random pony drawings. It wasn’t until March 2011 when I saw a AMV youtube video that was all about MLP. It got me intrigued, it made me realize this was a new show and not at all the older gens I related MLP to. So I watched a random episode online called Bridle Gossip (Zecoras first episode). Haha, man I had to pause the video halfway through when Shy spoke with a deep voice. I sat their analyzing shy trying to figure out how she was a guy. To wrap it up, I watched the remaining 5 episodes that was available at the time and found myself laughing a lot. I drew some minor fan art and that introduced me to EQD and the rest of the fandom.

    Q:) What is the process you usually go through when drawing something new? What tools and programs do you use?

    I use a variety of tools. Sometimes I use sketchbook pro for doodling/line work, then hop to photoshop for coloring and detailing. On the go I use my iPad Pro drawing in apps like Procreate or Paintstorm Studio. They all use PSD file formats so I’m able to use whatever program that fits my desire effect. Overall, 90% of the time I paint in Photoshop with a basic brush or grunge textured brush to fight that digital look.

    As for my process, it would depend on the style or effect I want. If I want dramatic lighting, or high control of values, I start in black and white rendering then color. I tend to draw right on top of my sketch on the same layer and block in my shadows and colors. Other times I start an underpainting with 100% opaque colors before painting on top of the sketch, so I don’t have any transparent pixels. I try to be minimal in the number of layers I use in digital programs, it feels more traditional that way, and oddly enough I have more control. Only time you see 30+ layers in my drawing files, is when a lot of light effects are added.

    Q:) Do you draw professionally? Or is this a side thing to another career or job?

    Kind of a hard question to answer at this time. I’ve done quite a few freelance jobs early on but I fell in a procrastination pit. Right now I’m working on becoming a commission artist, but I’m still fighting my time management to make the turn around more reasonable than it is now. However, I am pushing to get some tee designs done again and branch into more licenses with apparel sites like WeLoveFine. So in summary, yes I have made this a job, and I’m working to push more content out to further my career, and not just in the MLP community.

    Q: ) Let’s get the usual required question out of the way: Who is your favorite pony? And if it's different, who is your favorite pony to draw?

    Most people would assume it’s Rainbow Dash, considering I draw her a lot. While she is an awesome pony, my favorite pony is actually Applejack. She is down to earth, but naive a bit of times. She reminds me of a real friend of mine I admire, and who is quite similar.

    Q:) What kind of challenges do you usually run into when drawing a character for the first time? Has there ever been an image concept that completely stumped you?

    Well, it would have to be OCs that are based on pony creator models. Like a pony with Dash’s mane shape. With the owners permission I try to push that mane shape into something a bit more unique. So that’s the challenge for me, creating a concept on the spot.

    Q:) You have gained a reputation for creating a sort of real life horse cartoon pony hybrid style as of the past few years. Do you take inspiration from real horses around you in your real life?

    Well before MLP I did draw some real horses. Both traditional and digital. In fact, my first digital art drawing was a referenced horse galloping. (It was a mouse drawing because I literally thought that was the ONLY way digital painting worked, haha) Since I focused on realistic lighting and shadows, it naturally became the style I was known for. It’s not easy. Ponies are designed to be minimalistic, so adding realism to it becomes uncanny. So just like other artists, I push back and forth between cartoony and realism finding a balance that I like.

    Although I always wanted to make an extremely uncanny mlp piece some day, and hope for people to go ‘wat’. :P

    Q.) How long does it typically take to complete some of your best works?

    It depends how complex the illustration is. If it has multiple characters, set in a background giving off multiple light sources, and filled with motion…. It can take up to 80 hours. That’s how long it took to render my second cyborg pony drawing in a battle of changelings. On the other hand...hoof, I made a portrait of Rainbow Dash set in the alternative timeline of the season 5 finale. That one took me only one hour and it was received well.

    To other artists out there, time doesn’t equal how popular a drawing gets. Feel free to go as fast, or slow as you want...unless you’re doing a commission and there’s a deadline. 0_0

    Q:) Socks, sweaters, silly hats, swimwear, full body armor, ponies have worn it all. What is your favorite accessory to draw ponies in?

    I haven’t drawn ponies in too many accessories. However, my illustration of fluttershy wearing a hippy style clothing was one of my favorites to make. I enjoyed making the clothes fold and overlap. Her tail was covered in a thin white veil, and making it partially see through was a lot of fun.

    Q:) What do you like most about Friendship is Magic? What keeps you drawing so many awesome ponies?

    I guess what I love the most, is how adaptable it can be. Make ponies robots, have it crossover to other shows, throw them in peril, save them from peril, make them fall in love, etc. So ideas keep popping up, it hasn’t feel dull to me yet drawing them.

    Q:) Do you have any tips for newbie artists looking to improve?

    Expect to fail… like a lot, but thats needed to grow. Try not to compare yourself to other artists, it’s quite toxic to the mind if you do it negatively. Politely ask for feedback from family, friends, and other artists. Make sure it’s constructive criticism, and not just praise. Draw things you’re not used to (I’ve been drawing a lot of cartoon humans that I’ve never posted) .

    Advice can go on and on. Whatever advice or tutorial you find, don’t just read/watch it and do nothing. Practice

    Q:) Why do you think My little Pony Generation 4 has been so successful? What keeps you here involved in the community?

    Most definitely the characters. They have their ups and downs through the seasons but the show still makes me laugh. I enjoy the community with their silliness and love to express themselves. There has been some personal dark moments, but applying the few bad experiences to the entire of the community is unfair.

    Where was I going with this? …. Eh I forget. AJ is best pony!

    Tsitra360's 10 Favorites!

    [1] Source

    Flame On _ Illustration for Discords Friendzy by Tsitra360

    [2] Source

    MoonDancer Nights by Tsitra360

    [3] Source

    SuperBolt by Tsitra360

    [4] Source

    Moonlight Night by Tsitra360

    [5] Source

    Fools Love by Tsitra360

    [6] Source

    Zecoras Brew by Tsitra360

    [7] Source

    Warmth by Tsitra360

    [8] Source

    Twilight Storm by Tsitra360

    [9] Source

    You Changed by Tsitra360

    [10] Source

    The Nest by Tsitra360

    More Awesome Art!

    Follow Tsitra360 over on Deviant Art here
    Or go check out his awesome time-lapses on Youtube!