Interview with Kevin Lapeña

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 17 - 2009

Kevin Lapeña is the artist behind the awesome cover for Usok # 1 and he took some time to answer some of our questions, and shed some light on the process behind his art, both in general and with regard to the cover of Usok’s maiden issue.

So, tell me, when you were a little kid, were you the type who’d take a bunch of crayons and draw on the walls and floors?

Never! I was taught early on that drawings belong on paper (or whatever is the proper canvas), and not on walls, floors or furniture! (I was given tons of scratch paper to work with.)

When did you decide that you wanted to become an artist?

I’ve been drawing my entire life, but I got serious about refining my drawing skills in high school, and after a few years, when I was in college, I decided that I’d prefer to keep drawing after finishing school.

Who were the artists that inspired you to take up the pen?

Greg Capullo & Todd McFarlane – their work on the ‘Spawn’ comics series really got me kick-started on drawing and inking, and I was further inspired by artwork from the card game ‘Magic the Gathering’. Some of my favorite artists were Ron Spencer and Quinton Hoover. Later on, Salvador Dali, Hans Giger, Luis Royo, Manara, Al Rio, Takashi Murakami, Oh! Great, and others influenced and inspired me.

Walk me through your process a bit: How do you get from an idea to a finished product?

Sometimes the concept comes to me quickly, like I just visualize it and I can get to work immediately, other times I lay down several rough sketches (believe me, my sketches can be really rough) and keep tweaking them until I ‘hit the spot’. I scan the pencil works and adjust the lay-out in the computer. I plot the basic shadows/highlights and the base colors. From then on, It’s just a matter of adding more color, adding detail, and smoothening (or roughening) the overall feel using painting software like painter, sai and/or photoshop.

How long does it usually take you to finish a fully colored work? How long did it take you to do the Usok cover?

Some pieces take an hour or two, while others can take up to 30 hours. Sometimes I work for 8-15 hours non-stop, at other times I have to do it with many short sessions spanning several days. If I remember correctly my working time for Usok 1 was somewhere between 4-6 hours.

It’s amazing you finished it so quickly! Speaking of the Usok cover, what creatures did you end up drawing? Were there any you considered putting in who did not end up in the final draft?

First on the list was the Tikbalang, then the Mananaggal (she had to be hanging on – how could she sit inside with no lower body, not to mention those huge wings?), the sad white lady, the robot, the alien and the short old guy in the back who could be some sort of witch doctor. He is accompanied by a dog–I know there’s this ghost/hellish dog that appears in our legends/myths, although if there’s a specific name for it, it escapes me. On the roof there are two little figures – the dwende who has a cane and is wearing a hoodie (I think he must look like a lawn gnome), and the dark, naked tiyanak. In front there’s a chimp who looks intelligent and seems to know something we don’t know – maybe he’s one of those primates NASA sends off into outer space. I was seriously thinking of how I could incorporate a kapre somewhere in the pic, as well as impaktos (imps/demons), and a UFO (although the UFO would be pointless since the jeep can already reach more places than any regular spacecraft–why else would the alien choose the jeep over a UFO?) I was also planning to put in a tentacled monster like an octopus-alien of sorts.

What are you working on now? Where can people find your work?

Right now I’m doing a few pieces of in-game artwork for a computer game. I’m still doing other commissions too. I’m finishing up a couple of designs for some websites and print materiala. Most of my work can be found at my online galleries/portfolios (,, You may also find some of my pieces on magazines/books on magazine stands or at the grocery with designs which I made or to which I contributed.

We’d like to thank Kevin for agreeing to do the interview, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of his work in the future, especially adorning Rocket Kapre books ^_^

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About Me

Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.