Pokedstudio is a Cardiff based creative industry founded by Jonathan Ball, who has a unique portfolio of work, to say the least. The minute we set eyes on Jonathan's intricate, colorful creations, we had to know more about is pipeline and what inspires the surreal worlds he brings to life. Check out what he had to say:

Tell our users a little bit about PokedStudio - what is it that you do?

I primarily create illustrations, mostly featuring characters and fantasy worlds. A lot of my work is created for companies orientated at the youth market. This can include games, apps, tv shows and even theme parks.

I have had work in a number of exhibitions across the globe and have even been invited to teach workshops to help others learn my techniques.


We imagine many are curious to learn your ways! We couldn't wait to interview you based on your unique portfolio and eye-catching style. Can you walk us through your path towards reaching this aesthetic? Where did it all begin?

It been a long process, over 20 years.. starting with doodles and sketches of simple characters on my old school folders. In the late 80’s my friends and I used to draw smiley acid guy faces over our school books. Just a round yellow circle, two black eyes and a smiley mouth. I remember we then started to add legs and other items, and then we developed our own characters. These simple characters gradually evolved over the years as I adapted to using digital software to create much of my work. Though I do like to keep to creating characters out of general geometric shapes.


Fascinating. Let's talk about your colors, which are vibrant to say the least. When did you get into exploring this vivid palette, and what sort of experience did you have learning and developing it? Did it come pretty naturally?

I think its just a natural inclination. I tend to like the aesthetic of bright colors mixed with muted background tones. I suppose this color scheme comes from comic book influences where sometimes along with the black and white they would mix in a strong color as a contrast.

What inspires your designs like Snap Attack or Robots? Where do you seek out reference or find inspiration?

These kind of images come from the background clutter in my head, vague references and influences, maybe from films, cartoons or just something I saw that day. I have an obsession with sci-fi and cartoons as well as retro video gaming, these all get mixed together.

Snap Attack
Robots

Can you walk us through your texturing pipeline and the tools you use? We're particularly interested in your fur creation for "Furry Land" but would love to get a comprehensive look at your process as well.

For this piece, as with much of my work, I used Blender. I wanted a soft furry look to my background characters to contrast with the “game boy” character at the front. I created a few different types of fur using Blender's particle system. I find short fur hard to create in Blender, so had to fiddle a lot with the settings. One thing to remember is that you need a lot of fur to look convincing. The material settings are also important as you want to get your hair to soften at the ends.


How much does your workflow vary from piece to piece? Do you find you are met with new challenges each time and/or having to carve a new pipeline?

Much of my work follows a similar workflow: rough sketches, refinements and then rough 3D and finals with textures. I then render a few passes such as ambient occlusion, rim lights, z-depth and glossy passes. I take these into Photoshop and make various adjustments to make the image “pop."

Whether it be modeling, texturing, animating etc, do you have a "favorite" part of the process? What area are you still looking to grow more in?

Animation would be my main area to work on. There is just so much to learn there, so many disciplines and skills within animation. Complex rigging is something I’ve yet to get to grips with.


What is your software of choice? And can you call out a specific hotkey or technique that has been crucial for you in your designs that our readers may not be aware of?

Well I probably use Blender more than any other piece of software. I started using it around 10 years ago and am still learning. The key to my look is that I use a lot render passes that I then comp in Photoshop. I never use HDRI Skies or lighting and I often set up an army of reflective objects to help light the scene.

And finally, what kind of advice can you offer our users who are in the beginning stages of trying to find their own unique style?

Keep experimenting and pushing things. Don’t do what you think other people will like do what you like. Then refine , refine , refine.



We'd like to thank Jonathan for his time and thoughtful responses. We hope this inspires you to create!