Sabin Boykinov shared his route into the industry and talked about exactly what it was about the digital medium that made him want to start the journey…
Starting as a traditional artist many, many years ago, Sabin now works as a Lead Concept Artist at Haemimont Games studio in Sofia, Bulgaria. Beside concept work, he also makes freelance illustrations for projects like Fantasy Flight Games – The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game , The Hobbit and Game of Thrones.
Sabin Boykinov was born in the small town of Rousse, on the Danube River in Bulgaria and from an early age has always been drawn to visual art. This led him to spend every moment he had after school painting traditionally.
A spark was ignited the day Sabin read an interview with two Bulgarian digital artists, Svetlin Velinov and Kosta Atanasov, where they talked about their work in the game industry, and the process and techniques they use to create their digital art. Completely inspired by these two artists, Sabin went and bought himself a tablet, the Trust, which was the only one he could find in his hometown at the time! And there the journey began, he started to explore Photoshop and began the process of teaching himself (he has never attended an art academy), which he found a hard, but amazing experience!
With that very tablet he produced his first tests for a game company, and fully made the transition into digital art, and has since worked on many titles, including the Tropico series and produced freelance illustrations for board and card games. Sabin chats about his experiences and inspirations!
What is your typical workflow? What techniques do you use?
Usually I start with a lot of pencil sketches and a lot of research and then scan the final sketch and continue in Photoshop. I love to use custom brushes that are close to traditional ones.
Where do you draw your inspirations from for your work?
I find my inspiration in everything – looking at nature, reading books or watching nice movies.
It depends on the project you are involved in.
What was it about the digital tools that made you want to pursue a career in the industry?
I really love to use a Wacom Cintiq because it is closer to traditional work experience. You can do many things faster than anything. Working in the game industry is great because of the big artistic freedom and the variety of projects and challenges.
How do you keep your portfolio up to date? Any tips?
I try to post my weekly sketches on my Facebook page and Instagram. Keeping a blog is also good. I think it is important to show your work as much as you can, this inspires you and is a chance to see if you are on the right path.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
The artist who provoked my imagination first and inspired me for many years is the visionary master Mati Klarwein.
I have many favourite artists from the game industry now. I learned a lot from them, though it would be difficult to list all their names here.
What has been your favourite project to work on to date and why?
The SUBSTRATA book project was great because I learned a lot and shared ideas with amazing artists form the industry.
Can you tell us what you’re currently working on?
Our studio currently finished work on Tropico 5 and it will be on the market this month.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists who want to make it in the industry?
First, to have a lot of patience and passion for what they do – hard painting, drawing and playing games! Be like a child and explore everything to find inspiration.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you in the future?
I have a lot of plans and ideas for future works – I hope to be able to share them soon!
Top tip 01: Sketches
Making as many sketches as possible will give you a chance to create better ideas and designs.
Top tip 02: Explore different techniques
Try to explore different art techniques and use different brushes, and explore old masters paintings.
Try to start some of your concepts or illustrations with a different approach from your typical ones.
Top tip 03: If you want to make games, play games!
Explore your favourite titles by playing them – then try to understand how the world of the game is created and find inspiration from the details.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with 2dartist!