• The Art of Craig Mullins, EXPOSÉ 1 Grand Master
    Words by: Leonard Teo, 25 August 2003

    While I sit here trying to write about Craig Mullins, I just keep staring at his artwork, awestruck. Every single time I gaze at his images, I find something new and profoundly interesting. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If this is so, Mullins' work holds a few million, maybe more.

    When the EXPOSÉ 1 jury set out to select a Grand Master for the premiere edition of the CG art book in June 2003, it was unanimously voted that Craig Mullins should be the recipient of this first award. While we could fill an entire monograph with Mullins' astounding imagery, Craig chose a few of his favorite pieces to share with CGNetworks readers.

    A few years ago, Craig realized that the digital era freed him from all geographical constraints, so he moved to Hawaii with his wife Jennifer where he continues to work as a concept artist and illustrator for many feature films and high profile projects.

    It is with great pleasure that we celebrate the talent that is Craig Mullins and the contribution that he has made to the digital art world by honoring him with the inaugural EXPOSÉ Grand Master Award. You can also see more of his work at www.goodbrush.com.

    Images: Concept art of Manhattan for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (above). Craig Mullins at his home in Hawaii with daughter Molly and cat Kat (right).

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  • About Craig Mullins
    The 39 year old Californian native attended Pitzer College in Claremont for two years before studying product design at the Art Center College of Design. Mullins soon found that he was better at drawing cars, which led to 6 months at Ford in Detroit. He also discovered that his design sense was a little too weird to be of value to the car design industry and returned to Art Center to study illustration, where he finally finished his degree in 1990.

    Craig Mullins: "I had first used Photoshop to touch up some physical mattes for a British Petroleum commercial, and remarking what a cool program Photoshop was. John Knoll (the co-creator of Photoshop) suggested that I try to do the whole thing in Photoshop. Just having started with it, I had no idea of how to paint with it, or even if you could. It was an experiment for all concerned. It was pretty much kluged photos, but it worked OK.

    I bought a 33MHz Apple Quadra 700 with 36 MB RAM back in 1993. My idea was to scan in color roughs (I did little paintings before committing to blocking in a huge final piece) and play with them in Photoshop. You can try so many variations so quickly. Eventually, the computer took over more and more of the task. At first it was very hard convincing clients to accept digital illustration work. I think they had visions of a contrasty mess of procedural textures, but I kept at them. I remember driving into town to set up a clients AOL account so I could send them works in progress.

    Now I am trying to stay in as many areas of illustration that I can. I think it is better for me as an illustrator and it makes good business sense as well. There is a lot of mutually supporting aspects to the different areas of work that I do."

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  • Style of Digital Illustration
    Craig Mullins: "My style is a sum of hundreds of influences, and a few (just a few) ideas that I came up with. I think that in a way way, my everyday life contributes a little. I'm a bit of a dinosaur, and I don’t want to think too carefully about the wisdom of using these great new digital tools to produce work that was cutting edge 150 years ago. The idea of 'originality of concept' being the highest value in art is a legitimate one, but there are other ways to look at things. The master apprentice model is as good a way as any. But being labeled a 'revolutionary' is sexy. I guess I am just not."

    Craig Mullins: "I like learning new things -- not just about art, but the world in general. The more I know, the better. Except composition, the more I know about composition, the less able I am to compose well!"

    About "Down Knight" (right)
    Craig Mullins: "This one is typical for me. I started on it, it looked hideous, and I saved it to a massive directory called “unfinished” where pictures that I am not happy with go to either die or maybe come out again when I have an idea of how to fix them. It went through that process several times, and then one day it finally worked. No idea why, or any big revelation. Setting them aside for periods of time to let my subconscious work on the them can help. Just forget about it for a while; might figure it out, might not."

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    The Pirate Fight (above)
    Craig Mullins: "The pirate images that I do could be one part vicarious living, one part figure study, one part tongue in cheek. I try not to take illustration too seriously, and these are just me having fun. I love the Brandywine tradition of storytelling, and I believe these fit into that genre. But to keep the viewer interested, I think there has to be some ambiguity involved. When I can load up an image with things that support a variety of storylines it draws the viewer into the image. It is also a lot more challenging than spelling out everything explicitly."

    The "Hovership Walk" (left)
    Craig Mullins: "This is from a series that grew out of nothing, and there is no story behind it. The common thread is a lady in a black Victorian dress wearing Mickey Mouse ears with a young boy traveling around some kind of air/spaceport. I have done about 5, don’t know if I will do anymore. I have been trying to use Painter and Photoshop together, or really switching back and forth, using both at their strengths. For this one I took my own advice and used a screen grab from a 3D program to get the basic convergence."

    EXPOSÉ 1
    Craig Mullins was recently honored with the Grand Master award for EXPOSÉ 1, the digital art industry's premiere book celebrating the work of digital artists worldwide. You can find Craig and many other artists' work published in EXPOSÉ 1, which is now on sale at the Ballistic Publishing website. Also visit Craig's website for his full range of artwork.

    Discuss this article on CGTalk.com >>

    Craig Mullins' website
    Ballistic Publishing - EXPOSÉ

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