Artist Spotlight: Mike Hernandez — Digital Painting Expert

Mike Hernandez • March 27, 28, 2021

Mike Hernandez brings us our first digital painting workshop designed to help artists of all mediums. We have had a number of people inquire about having one, so here is your chance to learn from one of the best instructors I know to teach such a class. Mike Hernandez has over 20 years at DreamWorks Animation, creating environments for digitally produced feature films such as Sinbad, Spirit, Over The Hedge, Shrek 4, Puss In Boots, Bee Movie, Monsters Vs Aliens, and Turbo. Mike returns to lead this workshop after instructing two previous gouache painting workshops for Carmel Visual Arts in the past few years. By way of introduction, I have talked to Mike about the upcoming class and I think this interview will help you see that you can get some great insight from a natural light, color and atmosphere expert.

CVA: I know you started painting in gouache in a design class as a student at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA. After graduation you started straight away at DreamWorks Animation. What have been some of the most important lessons learned as an artist in the animation world?
MH: My best lesson from the industry is to be intentional and to have a narrative. Some kind of focal point and concept. In filming our audience has only seconds to get our concept from shot to shot so the quicker the read the better. Don’t confuse the audience with too many details and no focal point. Also have a hierarchy to your color choices for focusing your points of interest. Don’t just put color everywhere.

CVA: In your previous gouache workshops I heard you tell students about how working in gouache allowed you to work out designs much faster than using oils. Can you tell me what elements carry over to your paintings?
MH: The biggest obstacle in oil painting is its application. Edges tend to get blurry and colors muddy when first learning the medium. Gouache allows students to regain edge control and cleaner colors. It also helps to paint smaller when learning and gouache is ideal for that.

CVA: Some traditional artists are intimidated by a digital painting workshop. What would you say to a non-digital artist about what they would get from this online workshop?
MH: Not to fear any and all mediums. These are just additional tools for learning. Photoshop is such a forgivable and fast tool for discovering colors and lighting. Nothing is ever too precious when painting digitally. Adjustments are also very quick so the learning turnaround is faster. None of what I do digitally is meant for a gallery wall. Just a supplemental learning tool for my traditional work.

CVA: I know using a Wacom tablet with a stylus on my computer has been very useful in my own digital work. What hardware do you recommend students get for this workshop?
MH: A Wacom and stylus pen would be the least. My preferred tool of choice is a Cintiq tablet but those can be very expensive. Also, any tablet that allows you to use a stylus pen directly to the screen will be perfect.

Mike Hernandez’s Digital Painting Workshop is coming up in March 27, 28, 2021 (Sat-Sun) This online class will be taught via Zoom. During the workshop, students will have the opportunity to interact with Mike, watch his live demos, and receive instruction and limited feedback. For more information and registration form, go to https://www.carmelvisualarts.com/mike-hernandez/

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