First, can you tell us your current title and summarize your day-to-day responsibilities?
I’m the senior color key artist for Lucasfilm Animation. My primary job is to paint the color keys, also referred to as Lighting Concepts (LCs), for each episode. I also work on some of the matte paintings.
I started at Lucasfilm Animation midway through season three of Star Wars Rebels, worked on Star Wars Resistance, and the finale episodes for Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven. I’m currently working on Star Wars: The Bad Batch.
How does your role fit within your larger team?
I am part of the design art department and the lighting team. It’s a unique role. I’m currently the only LC designer. I get to see what is being designed by the concept team months before an episode goes through lighting, and I get to see the lighting and effects shots coming in which is a lot of fun.
When did you start at the company, and in what role?
I started in the spring of 2016. I was hired to fill the LC role held by a friend who was moving over to Industrial Light & Magic. He was my office mate years ago at LucasArts, the former Game division of Lucasfilm. I never knew there was even a position like that within Lucasfilm at the time. I told him, “Let me know if they ever need another color key artist.”
What were your first impressions of Lucasfilm?
I actually started my career at Lucasfilm back in 1999. I was hired right out of art school from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and joined LucasArts. I had some friends who graduated a year or two before me already working for LucasArts and Lucas Learning (another division at the time). I knew about the company through them.
I grew up near Modesto, California, so I was very aware of George Lucas. I really liked the Bay Area and didn’t want to move to Los Angeles or anywhere too far from my family. When I graduated, I only knew of LucasArts and Pixar in the area. Luckily LucasArts was the first and only place I applied, and I was offered a texture painting position. Even though I was hired as a texture painter, I had no clue about 3D animation. I studied illustration and painting in art school. I wasn’t computer savvy, and didn’t have any 3D graphics experience.
My first art director and I started on the same day. She taught me everything from Photoshop to Maya. The project we were put on was at the very beginning stage of development, and didn’t need a texture artist yet. She asked if I could work on key art and concept design. At that time the concept drawings were done with markers. I was a figure drawer in school, and painter. I had no clue how to use markers, and be successful at what she was asking me to do. I had photoshop, but no one was using it yet for concept art. I told her I knew how to use oil paint and acrylics, so she drove me to the art store. I never took on the position of 3D texture artist. I spent the next 13 years as a concept artist at LucasArts working on games for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Monkey Island, and became part of Lucas Labs (a team at LucasArts developing Indie-style games and new IP). My first impressions of that time were of a company that was fun and supported growth for new artists coming into the field.