• CGNetworks Artist Spotlight
    Artist Spotlight: Scott Robertson
    Leonard Teo, 8 April 2004

    A trip to Scott Robertson’s studio in Culver City is a surreal experience. Gargantuan printed artworks line the walls, each with excruciating amounts of detail, and all digitally painted in Photoshop. Most of the printed artworks are either Scott’s own personal work, or produced by his artist friends for the upcoming book Concept Design 2, which his publishing company Design Studio Press is currently working on. This first meeting with Scott was a result of CGNetworks’ ongoing partnership with The Gnomon Workshop, which now publishes Scott’s set of analog training DVD’s from such artists as Feng Zhu, Ryan Church, Carlos Huante, Harald Belker and more.

    Scott Robertson was born in Oregon and grew up in the country. Under the guidance of his father, who was also an artist and had attended Art Center College of Design, Scott was drawn to the world of design through his love of vehicles. This passion led him to Art Center in 1987, where he studied industrial design and graduated with a degree in Transportation Design in 1990. “I loved going to Art Center and everything about Industrial Design,” explains Robertson. “But during my final year of school, I had grown bored with cars and the pace of their development, so after graduating, I opened a design firm with Neville Page.”

    For the next five years, Scott was commissioned for a variety of design jobs with Kestrel, Giro Sport Design, Nissan, Volvo, Yamaha, Scott USA, Schwinn, and Medical Composite Technology. The collaboration with Neville Page continues to this day, where the two now share a studio in Culver City, California. Recent clients have included BMW subsidiary Design-works/USA, Bell Sports, Raleigh Bicycles, Mattel Toys, Patagonia, Scifi Lab, 3DO, Minority Report feature film, Nike, Universal Studios, OVO, Black Diamond, Rockstar Games, and Sony Entertainment, to name a few.

    Recently, Scott founded Design Studio Press, a publishing company dedicated to art and design. He also teaches at Art Center College of Design, where some of the best talents have recently emerged under his guidance, several such talents being Feng Zhu, Mike Yamada, Felix Yoon and Khang Le.

    Launch Crane
    (Above) This is a new piece I've been working on for Concept Design 2 and I think it is finished enough to give you a sneak peek. I will probably spend another half-day on it before we go to print. It is a bit overly complex, but it was fun and I hope it looks good large, as I became most interested in the small compositions that you see through the holes of the foreground elements. Printing it large will let the viewer explore these areas of the piece.

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    Visual Style and Inspiration
    When asked about his own personal, distinct visual style, Scott Robertson explains that he’s unsure if he has a recognizable style of his own, “As I consider myself a designer first, and a painter second, I spend a lot of time making sure the aesthetic satisfies the client’s brief. Therefore each time I work on a new job, it requires a new aesthetic. I really enjoy this because it constantly pushes my form development and styling skills in new directions.”

    “I enjoy very much the process of creating anything original that the world has never seen before,” continues Robertson. “Whether sculpting, drawing or painting, this process of visualizing an idea and exercising my imagination is what I enjoy most. I will add though, that I always seem to default back to vehicle design as my favorite topic, with environments now coming in a close second.”

    As a constant source of inspiration, Scott cites the connection that he has with the larger design and art community through teaching and the internet. “I also have a very strong group of amazingly talented friends who work in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles,” says Robertson. With a circle of friends containing such names as Feng Zhu, Ryan Church, (both of whom worked on Star Wars: Episode III), Carlos Huante, Harald Belker (the Batmobile, and the Lexus from Minority Report) and more, one has to wonder if he ever runs out of inspiration. “If one slows down enough to do some meaningful visual research, you will always be amazed by what nature has to provide.”

    The Move to Digital
    Although Scott continues to draw with traditional media, almost all of his color rendering work is now done digitally using Photoshop on the Macintosh. “I think that with the time constraints put on the professional designer and artist, color work nowadays just has to be digital,” he explains. “Even if the work starts with traditional media, it usually ends up being scanned and reworked digitally, or at the very least, resized and printed in many formats for inclusion in presentations.”

    “The move to digital is probably a good thing for the general quality of most peoples’ images. It has opened up another way, an easier way, for designers and artists to share their ideas with others. At this point, digitally created artwork does not seem to have the same finished visual appeal as traditionally created art. But in regards to production artwork this is not part of the discussion. Just getting it done fast seems to be the goal today.”


    Pit Stop
    (Above) I like air ships, as most designers seem too. This was another for Concept Design 1. With this piece I wanted to render a see-through skin on a ship, way above the city, and yes, again, water! The air ships in the book were very fish-inspired, and I had a lot fun doing them. When I look back at almost all the pieces in the first book, I want to go back in and spend more time on the designs. But in the end, you do what you can and hope for the best.

    (Above) In an attempt to explore a fun dynamic perspective with a lot of different elements, I came up with this one, also for Concept Design 1. This piece started life in Photoshop and then I printed it along the way and drew the bridge on tracing paper. After scanning it back in I continued to paint. Somehow I end up with water in a lot of my pieces; maybe the transportation designer in me is drawn to those shiny reflections! This was fun to paint with a ripple brush made for the water. Basically you just squash the height and shrink the size as you paint into the distance to create the illusion of the foreshortened plane. Note from Editor: This looks absolutely stunning when printed on a plotter!


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    Design Studio Press
    Scott Robertson’s publishing company Design Studio Press was born out of a desire to create his own products. Rather than pursue manufacturing or tooling intensive products that would have had astronomical production costs, he considered publishing his own instructional books on ‘how to draw vehicles’. Although other titles from Design Studio Press have already been released, his ‘how to draw vehicles’ books are still in the works.

    In the Spring of 2001, Scott lost his father to cancer. With the impact of his death, he felt a calling to strengthen past friendships and focus on personal works. The book Concept Design was a result of this. “I pitched the idea of the book to some friends, old and new, and we went from there. The book served a few purposes. One, most importantly, it was a reason for the seven of us to get together every other month, and to share our work with each other. Two, personally, it provided me with inspiration and focus for my personal concept art. Three, it became the first book published by Design Studio Press. And now I hope it inspires, and will continue to inspire, other designers and artists worldwide.”

    Design Studio Press has just released MONSTRUO, The Art of Carlos Huante, and it will soon print a sketchbook from Feng Zhu, and several art books from Stephan Martiniere, Christian Schellewald, Mike Yamada, Khang Le and Felix Yoon.

    Partnership with The Gnomon Workshop
    From the inception of Design Studio Press, Scott had planned on producing educational DVD’s. Thanks to a partnership with The Gnomon Workshop and its expertise in producing high quality, educational DVD’s, this is now a reality. Current DVD’s offered by The Gnomon Workshop/Design Studio Press partnership include instructional tutorials taught by Harald Belker, Carlos Huante, James Clyne, Feng Zhu, Ryan Church and Scott Robertson. “Our goal is to touch on all of the entertainment and industrial design skills employed by the professionals of today and tomorrow,” Scott says. “The DVD’s are for both beginners and professionals, and we will continue to add to the advanced ‘Designer Series’ as well as the ‘Foundation Series’ to round out our educational library.”


    Criss-Cross Bike
    (Above) I did this for Concept Design 1. I love bicycles and have designed a lot of them over the years. This time it was fun to do a wacky movie-type bike, versus the stuff I have done in the past for production. This Photoshop rendering is much more like a portrait piece than a typical production bike rendering. When doing a production rendering, I will just render them in side view with very little perspective. Doing this piece for the book gave me a chance to try to add a bit more artistic value to what are usually very straightforward draft-view renderings. I enjoy the technical rendering of materials and it is fun to do something that looks real without the use of any reference.

    Related Links
    Drawthrough.com (Scott Robertson and Neville Page)
    Design Studio Press
    The Gnomon Workshop

    Words: Leonard Teo & Scott Robertson
    Images: Scott Robertson



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