Meet a Painter Master: Borislav Mitkov
Borislav Mitkov’s got our attention. Freelance artist and Senior Concept Artist for Ubisoft Entertainment, Mitkov has experience working on such game design projects as “Star Wars Galaxies,” “Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X” for XBox, “Prince of Persia: Trilogy” and “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” for PS3.
Meet a Master
He’s also one of Corel’s featured Painter Masters for the month of June.
We had a chat with Borislav to talk about where he’s been, how he’s gotten here and where he’s headed.
Go Media: When did art and design become a part of your life? What brought you to where you are today in your career?
When I was kid I absolutely loved fairy tales – especially the Russian ones. The books I had at the time were illustrated with so much love. I loved how they could tell the story in pictures.
In the 1980’s, I lived behind the “Iron Curtain,” and one day a friend of mine brought a comic book to school that was illustrated by the famous Frank Frazetta. I consider this the first and most important milestone in my life, because this is when I decided what I wanted to do – tell stories with pictures. Thankfully my family supported me all the way.
This was just a hobby until around 2000, when for the first time I saw what people were doing digitally, while simultaneously getting paid. So I was like “Alright, I can do that too, now let’s learn some software.” I started doing some low paid freelance, while learning a lot from all of the artists on the web. I received my art education on the internet.
This was just another step to my dream job at the time, working in the game industry. I was offered a place in the Ubisoft Sofia few years later, where I spent a good chunk of my life.
Go Media: Can you name one of your favorite projects or clients to work with? Why was this so special for you or why did it push you out of your comfort zone?
Every project is unique in its own way. You can learn a lot from even the simplest of them. I can say, quite confidently, that the first few years in Ubisoft was groundbreaking and important for me. I had to learn very fast to throw away all the bad habits. I guess working on “Assassin’s Creed” series brought me most satisfaction of all the other projects at the time, especially our very own “Assassin’s Creed: Liberation” for PS Vita. We were given liberty to do it in our own style, it was fun and it came out great.
Go Media: What advice do you have for young designers working in the game industry?
I think every artist who works more or less for the game/movie/comic book industry, needs to have a good understanding of different styles – especially if you are a freelancer, and you work on a few projects at the same time. But that’s obvious, right? Here is some advice: do not run away from something unknown, just stick with it and learn. Just “fill your toolbox” with any knowledge you come across on your path and use it properly.
Go Media: What inspires you to create?
Movies, books, music, games and most of all – the work of other artists. I’m a film addict and I have a huge collection of movies I watch every now and then – mostly classics from the 70’s and 80’s. Those movies had some great and bold designs at the time – just a few names: Frank Frazetta, Ralph McQuarrie, Syd Mead, and Drew Struzan for his movies posters, as well as Jean Giraud. And recently my greatest inspiration are my two boys – Alex and Erik.
Go Media: Do you use Corel Painter to create a lot of your work? What do you like most about its functionality?
Yes, Corel Painter was and still is my favorite software for digital painting. I’ve been using it for more than 16 years now, and I guess I’m a bit “over-passionate” when talking about it, but – no other software has this traditional feeling to it. I love how Corel Painter evolves through the years, introduction of the 64bit support, new advanced brush creator, color blending, perspective guides, mirror painting – these are just few of my favorite features. But here is advice for the beginners: don’t limit yourself to only one technique or software, use what you like, combine them, find your “sweet spot” and inspire others.
Go Media: You have a very distinct style that we love! Are there any brushes or tools in Painter that help you achieve this effect?
Thank you! I wish I could say: “Yes, these and these brushes or tools will help you achieve that similar look in your paintings”, but that’s not how it works. A lot of fellow artists think that if they have all the tools of their favorite artists, they could paint like him/her. I often say: “Learn from other artists, don’t try to copy them.” I know, it’s very hard to develop your own style with all the influence nowadays, but there is one thing that can be the first step to achieving it – learn the basics, start from the ground. Take a piece of paper and a pencil, then start practicing every day.
But, regarding Corel Painter – my favorite brush category is “Pastels” and “Pencils”, simply because they include all the tools I use traditionally. I often tweak some of the brushes, trying to achieve some unique texture, like adding “rake” or watercolor effects – just experimenting with the brush creator.
Go Media: What exciting projects are you working on now?
I have a few exciting projects going on at the moment. I can’t say much, as they are under NDA – but two of them are games, one based on a cult movie from the 80’s and the other one is steampunk western shooter. Also I started working with the awesome guys from the Nuare studio – known for their work on many video-games, advertising, full art-style development and more.