Lois van Baarle

Thu 22nd Nov 2012, by Paul Hellard | Peoplestudios

CGSociety :: Artist Profile

15 November 2012


CGSociety revisits Lois van Baarle's collaboration on Ballistic Publishing’s d’artiste: Fashion Design.


Lois van Baarle is still drawing as she has her entire life. Complimented since at a very young age, this motivated her to continue drawing and pursue that line of work. A family friend was also quite talented and became an architect, and gave van Baarle some guidance as well. “There was this solid belief at the time that one couldn’t make a living as an artist, and there had to be a ‘back-up’ plan in order to get by,” she said.


Born in Holland, Lois has lived all over the world, including the United States, Indonesia, France and Belgium. “It was only in my last half year of high school, after a year of thinking I would study history or anthropology, that I suddenly decided that I had to study something arts-related in college,” van Baarle explains. “At this time in my life, I was studying really hard to get some good grades but had a strong desire to draw constantly.” She managed to fit both into her crazy schedule, but feared a life of constantly having to choose between the two, which Lois imagined to be quite exhausting. This was the moment where she knew she had to choose art as a career, in order to find some order and have a clear and focused goal in life.

Lois van Baarle moved back to her home country to study animation at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU) in Hilversum. She felt she’d found a vocation that covered as many bases as possible.  “Animation was a field covering storytelling, character design, environments, working with movement and dynamics, storyboarding and a huge range of other things,” she says. “I felt like a background in animation would broaden my skills as much as possible, increasing my chances of success in my later career.”


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d’artiste: Fashion Design

Lois was invited to take part in the creation of the Fashion Design Master Class because she brought a related field into view. As an animator, and a creator of some very lush female forms, what better way to show how to design characters that could move with fashion items in mind. Through a series of in-depth tutorials, each artist shows how they design costumes and clothing for not only the fashion industry but also games, TV, animation, collectables and comic book characters. Each tutorial takes the reader from character sketch to final clothing design, and covers: Figure Proportion and Fabric Rendering; Full Figure: Body and Background Design; Male and Female; Collaborating with Another Artist; Full-body Portrait: Shape, Movement and Silhouette; Exotic Portrait: Makeup and Accessories; and Simple Backgrounds: Finishing with Style.


An inspirational personal gallery of the Master Artists’ finest work follows. An invited artist gallery is also included, which features character work from some of the most talented character and fashion artists in the world.

The Master Class book provides a series of very detailed tutorials that explain in the simplest way possible the main characteristics on which to focus when creating a fashion drawing. This is in terms of how to prepare the sketch of the base figure, how to give it a fluid and harmonious movement, and portraying the right proportions used in the fashion industry.




Being an animator has helped van Baarle’s approach to digital art in so many ways. "Shape, movement and stylization are crucial aspects in creating a character design," she says. “A character should make sense immediately to the viewer. Each character must be easy to animate, consisting of basic shapes and forms that can be manipulated easily during rough animation work.”




Lois van Baarle has always been a self-taught artist. This has influenced her speed in learning new ways of painting digitally. She just needed a large range of influences and a goal to work towards. Her use of textures at the outset of the images changed their appearance and depth instantly, and van Baarle felt that she had her own style, creating a realistically painted look that she could call her own. Her use of one layer was also giving her more freedom. “It was very liberating and enjoyable way of working, which leads to a more organic result,” she says.



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Influences from artists like Aurora blackcat, Rose Besch, Jana Schirmer and Alfonse Mucha brought her to the style she has today, The ultimately feminine, cute, colorful decorative style with a clear nod to Disney. “I’m a very nostalgic person, so things like that play a huge part in my art. Work that impresses me now is more varied. I’m a huge fan now of moody, low-brow art such as the work of Eric Fortune. Also, the eccentric painted look of Andrew Hem,” she says. Being a rather nostalgic person, Lois is inspired by older fashion styles, with their retro patterns, colors and thrifty layered looks,“ says Lois.


“I find that characters with a bit of an ‘edge’ ––brightly colored hair, dreadlocks, tattoos–– have the most personality and feminine appeal,” adds Lois. Her artwork is hugely influenced by the pinup genre as a whole. Particular pinup artists took her fancy, particularly Gil Elvgren, have also influenced her work directly. “But, doing a lot of poster commissions and having a focus on the female figure has made the pinup an ideal genre to work in. In this format, the clothing style and fashion sense of the figure portrayed is really important in conveying personality and overall appeal."



"I think I started to establish my own personal style around 2004, when I was cramming out anywhere between three and four drawings a day. Being prolific is crucial to developing your own style because you find methods of working that are specific to your own aims and approaches," Lois describes. "By working a lot, you fall back on this unique approach more and more. However, it was after a few years of drawing in Photoshop that I truly developed my own digital painting style which is very characteristic to the work that I make."


Lois tries to challenge herself and to push herself a little further each day in terms of getting detail into an image, striving for an improvement in her technical skill. She's not after realism, feeling that stylised and surreal imagery work better with what she finds she can achieve. "I try to create a stronger emotional core behind my work and to tell more of a story by adding surreal elements," says van Baarle. "Compared to my earlier works, my current images have a stronger thematic core, which helps keep the prices interesting and refreshing."


Fashion Design

Having skills in animation and character design brings a skillset to fashion design. At the same time, having a sense of how cloth falls and characters walk, will bring a better performance to your animations. Lois is in a great position to collaborate with other character designers and bring her skills to the table in a selection of tutorials in the Ballistic Publishing’s new book ‘d’artiste: Fashion Design’. “Design and embellishment can be a huge part of a fashion design, but overall form and shape is the basis on which they are built,” says van Baarle. “The pose of the model and the composition of the image draw the viewer to see exactly what the designer wants them to see.



"My goals for the future are to continue doing commercial work as well as accentuating more time to do more personal work as well. I want to make more of my animations, and fuse some of these with my digital images as well. I am sure a balance between the two can be found, which I hope to discover in the future."



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