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COMBINED TRADITIONAL and DIGITAL TOOLS page 57
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KEN WONG
“There are many budding artists who have all the enthusiasm
and imagination to make it big, but they are getting wrapped
up in ne details, and color, and Photoshop brushes without
having put enough work into studying drawing, anatomy,
and storytelling.”
Ken Wong is an artist, an illustrator, and a designer
whose work is frequently haunted by paradoxical aquatic
and undersea symbolism and references. Fish oat in
midair, tortoises bear unusual passengers, and even
an occasional octopus gets into the act. He combines
lo- and hi-tech tools freely, depending upon his
artistic goals.
Wong works as an art director at Spicy Horse Games
in Shanghai, China. Born and raised in Adelaide,
South Australia, he studied multimedia at the University
of South Australia. During this time he says that he began
teaching himself digital art, “largely by hanging out
at a seedy digital art forum called Eatpoo.” At the same
time he also started freelancing for a range of clients
over the Internet.
Wong was art director on the games Bad Day LA
and Grimm. Currently, he’s art-directing American
McGee’s Alice 2, based on the Lewis Carroll classic,
Alice in Wonderland.
Mistaken Identity. Photoshop.
Adelaide, Australia/Shanghai, China
Fly by Night. Photoshop.
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Apart from serving as concept artist and art director
on computer games, his work pops up on book covers
and in magazines. He has been a featured speaker at the
Animex Festival of Animation and Computer Games
in the United Kingdom and the Red Stick Animation
Festival in Baton Rouge. His work has appeared in the
Spectrum and Exposé art annuals.
Whimsy and mystery attract Wong in equal measure.
“I love the art of Gustav Klimt, Mike Mignola, Shaun
Tan, Moebius, Zdzislaw Beksinski, and James Jean,” he
says. But the inuences don’t stop at his eyes. “I listen
to the Smashing Pumpkins (which has a huge inuence
on my work), Sparklehorse, and various movie scores.
Films I like include The Life Aquatic, The Thin Red Line,
Blade Runner, Children of Men, Leon, Porco Rosso, Lost
in Translation, and the original Star Wars trilogy.
“I also like retro game culture—playing video games on
vintage computers or vintage game consoles—as well as
traveling, urban decay, pasta, and avoiding my inbox.”
Despite his computer-savvy art skills, Wong admits that
he loathes checking his email. He employs a combination
of traditional and digital techniques, but at the end of the
day, he utilizes digital to nish his work. “ Photoshop was
designed for photoediting, but can be used for graphic
design and painting, too. It really becomes interesting
when you take advantage of all these techniques and put
them together to make something unique.”
Wong relies heavily on the layer mask tools in Photoshop.
“They are very powerful for applying an effect, a color,
or a modication to only part of an image. For example,
I might create a mask for only the light part of an image,
then blur it. Using this technique I can experiment,
nding lots of variations as I’m working,” he notes.
Dabbling in digital art, as it turned out, led to a career
path. “While I was studying multimedia at university
I did some fan art for a computer game and the game
designer saw it on the Web. He emailed me and asked
if I’d like to do some paid work. I’ve been working
with him ever since.”
Mistaken Identity. Photoshop.
The Mock Turtle’s Story. Photoshop.
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