Most people mistakenly think our department is the "comic book major" when we are really the "storytelling major". Darnell and his work is a major example of that. His focus is on concept art for video games and movies. That focus over the past few years has taken his work from "above average" to "who wants to hire him immediately?!" He's also expanded his abilities not just in mediums but also styles. Originally very realistic he's found a talent for the cartooned too. Frankly, there's not been anything Darnell hasn't excelled at. What makes him all the more impressive is his humble nature and quiet integrity. Darnell is the complete package.
Darnell has multiple blogs showing off his variety and skills. Illink contains process, works in progress, and academic work, The Art of Darnell Johnson focuses on his conceptual work, and TOON IN is all about his comics and cartooning. Check them both out!
Q. Where are you from and what originally got you interested in sequential art?
A. I am originally from Miami, FL. I got involved with sequential art because it allowed me to visually tell stories. I really enjoy designing characters and environments for a story, whether it’s for comics or video games.
Q. What books (comic or otherwise) do you regularly read and why?
A. Right now I’m slowly working my way through reading Steven Gould’s “Jumper”. I would love to have the ability to teleport anywhere I want. But I’ve mostly been reading and looking a lot of concept art magazines and art books for movies and video games.
Q. Who are your major influences?
A. Sargent, Dean Cornwell, Frank Frazetta, Ian McCaig, Jon Watkiss, Steve Huston, Alphonse Mucha, Carlos Huante, Erik Tiemens, and so many more.
Q. Do you have a specific process in your work and, if so, what is it?
A. Not really. I tend to work in different ways because I try to use different mediums to obtain a look I’m going for or just to work quicker.
Q. What tools do you prefer to use in your work and why?
A. Right now I love working digitally. Mainly in Photoshop and Corel painter. Digitally I’m able to mix mediums that I'm not able to mix traditionally to create awesome effects. But in the end I will always go back to my trusty drawing pencil. There’s something about the look of pencil work and sketches that I love.
Q. Are you working on any personal projects and, if so, what are they?
A. Yes. Character and environment designs for fantasy and futuristic worlds I’ve created from my imagination.
Q. Who would you love to work with one day and why?
A. I would love to work with Ian McCaig. There is so much I feel I can learn from him about visual storytelling and development. I can look at his drawings for hours. He gives so much life his character drawings.
Q. Where do you hope to see yourself professionally in five to ten years?
A. Working in house for a video game studio.
And here's a small sample of his work. Check out his blogs for more!