• I'm Pretty Sure You All Know This Guy! - Artist Spotlight / Interview with Harwick

    You've all been bombarded with his art a ton over the years. He pretty much dominates every event we do, with many a pony theme day submission and 40+ drawfriend headers. Needless to say, this artist is a badass. It's time to spotlight Harwick!

    On another note, he just opened commissions. Considering how long he has been flooding the community with art, I look forward to seeing what requests you flood his way right back!

    Now go check out the spotlight below.

    The Interview!

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

    I moved back to my extended family’s home town when my grandmother needed the help, and that often included looking after/spending time with my little cousin (around 4 at the time) who proudly showed off her collection of colorful horses. This would have been right around the launch of the show itself. I know I saw an episode or two that she watched, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it at the time.

    Then, the following summer between the first seasons, I was working freelance on some background assets for a stylized mobile game and was searching for inspiration. I vaguely remembered that the pony show had a cool stylized look to its environments, so I looked it up online and stumbled across the fandom. I ended up watching the entire first season online as I worked and was hooked.

    For fun, I drew a picture of the Mane Six for my little cousin’s birthday, and then some more. Being aware of Equestria Daily by that point, I ultimately decided to send them into the Drawfriends and got such encouragement that I kept drawing ponies in my spare time.

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

    I’ll usually do the linework in an old copy of Manga Studio 5 that I only vaguely know how to use, drawing directly on a digital monitor. From there, I’ll take the line-art into photoshop and color it.

    Beyond that, my process is all over the place. I developed as an artist before digital was the standard it is today, and I’ve never had as much formal training in the tools as I would have liked, so I’m often still poking around and trying things out.

    Q:) How long does your typical pony drawing take to make from sketch to completion?

    That’s a hard question to answer, as I rarely do an entire piece in one sitting. A lot of my fan work was done in between working on paying assignments, so it was more of a relaxed process with a leisurely pace and not very goal oriented. They are, in a way, doodles that just keep going until I feel like I’m ready to put them away for good. As a result, I’ll work on them in snippets over long stretches… weeks, even… putting in a little time here or there. I often have multiple images in the works at any given time, and bounce between them as my mood dictates.

    Still, if I had to put a number on it, probably anywhere from 8 hours to 20 of actual work for the elaborate ones.

    Q:) Do you still use references for your art? Or have you gotten to a point where you can draw from memory?

    It’s usually a mix for me, but I usually use some kind of reference in most works… and those could be anything. Early on, I really wanted to maintain the look of the show but transfer it into more of a fully-rendered style, which wasn’t as common back then as it is today… so a lot of my expressions are straight-up based on ones from the show.

    Nowadays I don’t sweat the looks of the ponies as much, but I still use references for more elaborate poses, angles and such. And the lessons from life drawing classes in college keep me calling up photo references for all sorts of things from anatomy to objects in the environments.

    Q:) How did you learn to draw? What age did you start and what path did you take to get to where you are today?

    I’m a believer in the idea that it’s never a question of when we start drawing… everyone draws as children. It’s an inherent form of expression, from caveman times on until today. The real question is when did each of us stop drawing, and for how long?

    For me, I don’t know that I ever did. I remember that I used to take copies of “Dragon” magazine back in the 80’s (dating myself) and try to recreate the cover art as pencil sketches in my notebooks. For the longest time, however, I took a kind of stupid pride in being good at art without ever really training in it. It wasn’t until late in High School that I realized that was holding me back.

    I went to university on a Liberal Arts program, but I knew that I wanted to transfer into the university’s Fine Arts program… I just didn’t have a portfolio as a result of avoiding actual art classes in High School. Luckily, I was able to take some of the basic art classes there as electives, and petitioned the school to let me in based on my coursework from those.

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

    I do. Most recently, I have worked providing concept and production art for various video games. I’ve been a freelancer for much of the last decade, and a lot of the work available there is for mobile games which can pay well, but usually involves drawing fairly mundane stuff in a very specific style, so drawing magical ponies however I want is something of a release from that.

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

    Tough calls, all the way around! I’ve always related to Twilight from the beginning, and so she’ll always be my favorite, but despite that I know in my heart that Rarity is the best character on the show. And Sunset is hands down the best human, and way up there as a pony.

    As for Princesses, while I was never against it, I don’t feel like they ever quite made the most out of crowning (winging?) Twilight… For me, she was never as good as she was back when she was just a regular old unicorn. My princess preferences instead go to Celestia and Candance, who both get overlooked to a degree. I love Celestia played straight as the wise, caring and nurturing mentor. A little bit of “humanizing” is good, but I think the character lost a bit too much mystique over the run of the show. As for Cadance, I’ve always loved the “older sister” vibe of her… the one who is just a few steps ahead on the path of life, able to offer good, practical and relatable advice without feeling too distant or perfect.

    And Luna’s awesome too… but she has enough fans already.

    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?

    Since I have always liked to do rendered versions of the character designs, there have been plenty of times where I struggled to imagine just what some stylized design would translate to in real life. Pinkie’s hair remains a mystery… I think I do something different with it every time I draw it.

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

    I do love ponies in armor, but at the same time I like to keep with the actual vibe of the show… and as much as I enjoy conflict and such in my entertainment, it’s not really true to the show’s theme. Still, I’m overjoyed when they give me an excuse to draw some dramatic war ponies… and I occasionally break down and provide my own reasons.

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

    The community, first and foremost. I just like interacting with the people in it. I like drawing things that I enjoy, and showing them to people who would get a kick out of it.

    And beyond that, I do enjoy the show itself… I’m a sucker for stories about bands of misfits who bring out the best in each other, and the empowering nature of love and camaraderie.

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

    Just keep drawing. Don’t quit. Back in the old days, I used to tell people to go to the office supply store and buy a big box of thousands of sheets of printer paper to draw on, and suggest that they just go nuts with it instead of futzing about with expensive notebooks that preserve, forever bound, the many, many drawings that they’ll produce that they’ll inevitably hate. You’re going to draw a lot of crap, and that’s not really going to change by your estimation, because as you improve even the stuff you liked before is going to look worse to you. But you will be improving, and you’ll be turning out more and more good stuff among the crap. Let the failures go and keep chasing the good stuff.

    And don’t be an idiot like I was… take some classes if this stuff interests you.

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

    From an artistic side, I think the show drew a ton of interest from creative types because it did such a great job with a property that most would have written off… and when you work in the art world, that’s inspiring. We’re all assigned to work on something at one time or another that just isn’t our dream job… not by a longshot. But Lauren Faust and the creative team took on a project that most would have called lame at the time and injected their own enthusiasm into the material while staying true to what it was, and ultimately ended up reminding many of us that rainbows, unicorns, pegasi and friendship were pretty cool stuff all along. It just takes some talent and effort to bring it all out.

    And I keep coming back to bask with my fellow fans in the pastel glory of it all.

    Mini Gallery

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    Big Brother Best Bulletin Board by harwicks-art

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    Sunday Shimmer by harwicks-art

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    The Wrong Crowd for a Celebration by harwicks-art

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    Reunion Beneath Canterlot by harwicks-art

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    Autumn Blaze Mood Swings by harwicks-art

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    Fluttershy Day by harwicks-art

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    The Mare Nubium Sets Sail by harwicks-art

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    You can follow Harwick over on Deviant Art here, or support him on Patreon for perks here!