• Incredible Attention to Detail! - Imalou Artist Spotlight / Interview


    Of all the artists we have here in ponyland, I think Imalou has been the most dominant as my phone background. So many of her drawings have taken over my lock screen while greatly improving my mood every time I check the submit box simply by being there and being amazing. I'm pretty sure her attention to detail is the best in the fandom, from incredibly complex eyes, to individual hairs adding a whole new level of fluff to her cartoon horses. Needless to say, this stuff is awesome.

    Who better to artist spotlight?! And just like her art, this is one of the most detailed we've gotten. Head on down below the break for that, plus a short gallery!

    And as always, drop some comments if you like these posts! It's always appreciated.

    The Interview!

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

    (Snowing, 2012)

    I would lie if I say I always loved the My Little Pony franchise, but I used to play a lot with G1 and G2 toys when I was very young. I was that little girl crazy about horses, I used to ride ponies during the week ends, collect horse magazines and eventually draw my little pony characters, played the pc games (my favorite one was My Little Pony Friendship Gardens where you feed your ponies with pizzas). In kindergarten I made a pink pony drawing and all my classmates loved it, the teacher put it on the wall and I had my first artist fame. My pony love ended on a tragic story, a pony from the “pony club” ate the top of my ear by accident. After that I quit riding horses. When I grew up, I always saw the franchise as a “little girl” thing. I was far from believing how things would turn out.

    In december 2010, a friend posted on facebook a my little pony G4 fan comic, and I was very surprised with the artstyle, I’ve made researches but couldn’t find anything as the show just started. For months I had thoughts about this fun comic with ponies and after a new successful research around march 2011, I found the very old french youtube channel who used to post the episodes, the name of the channel was “vivelepetlol”. My first episode was the Zecora one. I remember I was very amazed by how cool, funny and cute it looked as my mind was still stuck with the G2/G3 designs. Then I watched the first episode, the second, the third, and couldn’t stop. I really fell in love with the show with the Winter Wrap Up episode.

    Then I started drawing ponies (my first pony art http://fav.me/d3cig12 ) and couldn’t stop doing so, at least twice a week I was doing some pony illustration. I had my first contacts with the fandom on the “vivelepetlol” forum known as “French Brony”, EqD featured my art for the very first time around november 2011, and now here I am, still drawing ponies after 8 years. I’ve been through a lot doing theses 8 years, drawing ponies every day/week for a year (around 2012) really made me improve quickly and put myself into a “creative mind”. The show was very inspiring and all the great artists around me during that time (tsitra360, crookedtrees, Celebi-Yoshi, harwicks) helped me to push more my art. I always drew a lot even at a young age and started digital art at age 11, I used to draw furry, sparklewolves, dogs so I wasn’t unfamiliar with fandoms. Tho, I consider that I really started to be serious with my art during my pony years.
    I’ve been through different phases in my pony art, I was 15 when I started, quite young and still searching for my own artstyle. At that time, it was grimdark (http://fav.me/d4jovu1) , CrookedTrees was my favorite artist and they made me fell in love for digital painting. I don’t consider myself a grimdark artist anymore as it’s not my aesthetic now, but I was lot into creepy, weird pony looking. Who wasn’t an edgy boi during teen years? But it made learn how to paint on digital, so that was a good thing. I also tried “anime” style (http://fav.me/d532vq7) , cell shading/lineart (http://fav.me/d4tdj7h ), manga (http://fav.me/d4r3equ ), and sceneries/paintings (http://fav.me/d50low2 ). In 2013, I pushed my painting skills a bit more but that’s it, it was quite a boring year (http://fav.me/d65uclo ). In 2014, I was busy with finishing high school and making up a portfolio for the art school I wanted to go in so I stopped doing ponies for a while. I came back with a few more cute, lively paintings right before season 5 ( http://fav.me/d8g1e8l ). My angsty teen years were done and my love for cute stuff arrived soon after I spent nights watching 3D cheesy animated movies. My philosophy with pony art became “I don’t want to do creepy stuff anymore, I want people to see my ponies as cute looking fellas but realistic at the same time”. That’s how my art should feel, at least I hope it does !

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

    (I love christmas lights)

    I first learned digital art with Photoshop, I had my first tablet (wacom bamboo) at age 11 and kept it until I was in art school, then I moved on intuos pro and now I have a cool kid Cintiq 22hd I bought 4 months ago. On my first pony artist years, I was painting with SAI, but I don’t know why, I think it was because I liked doing linearts on that software. I came back to photoshop in 2014 because it’s industry standard and I wanted to go to art school. I don’t know why I wasted so many years with SAI, Photoshop is way better for painting (I’m sorry SAI fans, it’s still a good software).

    When I have something new to draw, I do at least 1 hour of reference researches. For example, for this painting : http://fav.me/dbw8yjd I set up a “moodboard”, which is a page with color palette, photos and paintings that have the feeling I want to paint. If It’s a material I don’t know, like metal, gold or silver, I do make some textures study from photos or artists who masters it, but that happens when I’m not lazy. Otherwise, it’s a lot of just looking at the references and try to get as close as possible while painting at the same time, it’s not as cool but it works for me.

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


    Yes I do, I always wanted to go to the professional route and worked a lot for it during these last few years. After a year and half in the parisian art school New3Dge,I started working as a freelance artist, working from home for game companies, mostly mobile games. I was in charge of working on characters, environment props, concepts etc. My goal was to reach the animation industry, I went to many festivals and met a lot of people from the big big animation industry, sent my portfolio to every studio I know etc. I even tried DHX but Canada is a bit too far. My first gig in animation was doing character design for a cute show at b.water animation, but I didn’t stayed long there because a month after, I earned an in house position at an infamous studio as a character designer on a cool to be announced project. I’ve been in this studio for a year now, after my contract ends I’m thinking of doing a small break and then maybe try others animation studios !

    Q: ) Who is your favorite pony and favorite princess? And if it's different, who is your favorite pony to draw?


    Since day one, Pinkie Pie is my favorite. She’s me on so many levels (said every Pinkie fans), curly hair, crazy, weird and way too extravert. People who met me at conventions knows about it…! She is not my favorite to paint actually, her hair is a pain to render, I’ve tried many times but failed. I actually paint a lot Rainbow Dash, Twilight sometimes and a lot of Scootaloo too. I really like Scootaloo’s colors and they’re the best the paint. I think the one pony I had a lot of fun to paint was Countess Coloratura. If I had to paint a duo, it would Starlight Glimmer and Trixie, it is one of the best friendship duo since season 1.

    I don’t have any favorite princess, I think the one I like the less is Cadence. I like Celestia because of the memes and Alumx’s animations. Season 1 Luna is the cutest, if I was in the obligation to pick one, it would be her.

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

    (Tian Huo)

    I don’t have this kind of problem with canon characters. When I watch the show and I see a character I would like to draw, it’s because of their personality, story, design that inspires me, so I never dealt that much with this kind of challenge, I rarely force myself to paint a character that doesn’t inspire me.

    But the real challenge for me is to do a scenery with an original character, and to be honest, I hate it. I prepared myself to specialize into character design and learned to have a critic mind with characters, it’s hard for me to appreciate regular OCs, I sound very petty, I’m sorry. I now dislike drawing OCs that doesn’t have any story, character, cool concepts, it doesn’t inspire me. Drawing an OC is a challenge for me.

    Q:) The detail in some of your pieces is incredible, particularly the fuzzy fur textures you draw on your ponies! How long does it usually take to pull something like that off?

    (speed painting)

    Thank you ! Not that much actually, in general, my paintings take 6-8h to do, but it depends. For example, the Gallus portrait took me 2h30 to paint, while the dragon painting took me 15h, it depends of the complexity of the scene. I’ve also trained myself a lot to speedpaintings, as it’s “industry standard” to come with a concept fast enough, so doing 15h paintings is very rare for me. Also, I have a strong set of fur and textures brushes, I have tried them all one by one and I know exactly which ones I need to get the feeling. I used to study pictures of animals, watched tutorials from masters (especially Aaron Blaise) and I always search for references if I don’t know how to paint something. And to be honest, after years of drawing ponies, I know how to paint them by heart. I’m like we call in french “un homme pressé”, I like to do my stuff fast so I always come up with ideas for being fast : precise organisation in my layers, references ready before painting, basic composition of the painting before starting to render (thumbnailing, composition, blocking shapes), and having a good night of sleep !
    But what counts the most is before I paint, I always do the basic composition first : thumbnailing sketches, that means doing a lot of little sketches of the scene on tiny canvas with silhouettes, values and composition only. I pick the sketch that looks super cool and I then draw a cleaner sketch of the characters until I’m very happy with how it looks. I can have 4-5 different layers of the sketch before having the result I want. After that, I block the shapes with the colors : body, legs, eyes, ears, hair, tail etc.. Every elements on the characters that requires a precise painting is separated from the mother layer that I call the body layer. Then after that I can start painting, that’s how I do it for having the fast painting process because I only have to pick the leg layer, do a brush stroke for shadows, light, bounce light, and it’s done. I’ve also learned that way so it can be less painful when I have to change the anatomy or the size of one element.

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

    (I hate painting armors but they’re cool)

    I like my ponies naked ! But if I have to chose, it would be socks. Never ask me to paint a full body armor, never.

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

    (Chin up!)

    I might have my glasses tainted with nostalgia but I love how season 1 feels, it’s cute, comfy, funny. I love the characters and I think the overall cuteness feeling made me fell in love with the show.

    It’s the fandom that makes me keep drawing the ponies, I love the fandom, I have so much stories with the french community that inspired me and helped me grow as an artist, if it wasn’t for them I don’t know if I would still be a pony artist today. In general, I like it when I make people happy with my art. It has been my philosophy for years now, knowing fellow friends from this community is inspired by my art, people who are happy to see cute fuzzy ponies on a daily basis, I do it for them, and for me too. Drawing for the fandom can be stressful, but drawing ponies for myself, it’s a nice feeling, they’re easy to draw, very relaxing and I love that each character has a cool personality I can play with in my paintings.

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

    (Up and Up)

    I’m gonna repeat what a lot of people might have already said : keep working, draw a lot, passion, curiosity, and motivation is the key. If you don’t have fun while drawing something, try other subjects but don’t stay too much in the comfort zone. If you want to go on the professional route like me, best is to have an open mind on art subjects. If something requires doing some 3D, do it. If something requires to draw cubes in perspective, do it. If you can go to museums, go there, grow an artistic library in your mind, get curious about art techniques from old masters or current artists. Only that way you can compete with the professionals out there, at least in my opinion ! A lot of artists would say the same and the opposite, so best is to get educated about the industry and art in general to keep a “critic” mind.

    If someone tells you drawing fanart will leads you nowhere, it’s a lie. Do fanarts but staying creative and imaginative is the key !

    If someone tells you that you will never make it in art, prove them wrong !

    On a more personal note, I’ve been told to give up on art way too much from my family, my siblings used to make fun of my art and draw stupid stuff over my sketches, I’ve heard everything “digital art is not real art”, “do some real studies just in case”,”you can’t have a job in art”, “drawing furries/animals/ponies is stupid”, I had to deal with that at a very young age, it’s not great because I am very sensible to critics and I don’t wish any artist to grew up with that, it’s not healthy. But mostly : I prove them wrong today, and that’s how it has to be if someone keeps make you feel sad about your art, always prove them wrong and you will have the most satisfied feeling ever.

    Besides that, it’s fine to keep art as an hobby, never let someone tells you the opposite.

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

    (giddy up, 2015 summer cup)

    Passion keeps me involved in this community, I think MLP:FiM became successful because the fans grew passion for it. The fact that such a girly show can be more than a stupid cartoon surprised everyone, me included ! And I think we wanted to feel special with that. Writing, drawing, animating, doing music with ponies was something so unconventional for people back in the days but we did it and it was great ! So many great talents started because of their love for a cute silly show. The fantasy lore kept people being inspired, there was so much to explore, so many new fresh ideas to do. Everything was so new and it was an amazing feeling. I also keep doing it because I still feel inspired, I still have this magical feeling when an episode inspires me, when I discover new remixes, new artists. I’m glad the show still exists and people are still there to enjoy it, I’m sad I’ve lost friends who grew up from it but I’m happy when I meet new brony friends, I didn’t really wanted this to happen but MLP became my life, I’m sure I will keep liking it and drawing theses cute horses until my very old days.

    Thank you for reading me and thank you Equestria Daily for featuring my art since 2011.

    Mini Gallery

    [1] Source

    We're Friendship Bound by Imalou

    [2] Source

    Scootattoo by Imalou

    [3] Source

    The lost one by Imalou

    [4] Source

    Style and speed by Imalou

    [5] Source

    Bow before me by Imalou

    [6] Source

    Picture this by Imalou

    [7] Source

    Stairs!!! by Imalou

    [8] Source

    Autumn Leaves by Imalou

    [9] Source

    Bucking by Imalou

    [10] Source

    Morning Frost by Imalou

    [11] Source

    Battle for beauty by Imalou

    Check out the rest of her deviant art gallery over here