Art Fantastic: Interview with MJ Pajaron

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 20 - 2011

MJ Pajaron (janemini on deviantart) grew up in Caloocan with two brothers and a sister who all share her love for karaoke. An avid anime fan and a gamer who enjoys roleplaying games and first person shooters, MJ provided the art for Kate Aton-Osias’ story “100% of Me” in Usok #2. In this interview, MY talks about games, anime, and some differences between two dimensional and three dimensional art.

You’re the first artist I’ve met (virtually speaking) who is equally at home with two dimensional and three dimensional art work. Or at least, it seems that way–are you more naturally inclined toward one form?

I am an artist, a game developer and a gamer… For someone like me who loves games and has the passion to make games, it actually seems only natural that I’d be interested in both art forms. I would say that I didn’t have the slightest idea about 3D models back in college, but when I found out that one of my units in 2nd year college would be 3D modeling, I got excited. I was amazed when I first saw how 3D models were done (from modeling to animation), but then… I was disappointed to learn that there were the professors were not as knowledgeable nor as capable as I’d expected them to be. Fortunately, in my second job I met the people who taught me all I know in 3D modeling, my officemates and friends who shared tips and techniques Ranging from the most basic to the most advanced. I truly thank them for all they’ve shared with me! Great games also inspire me to do more 3d models :-D

Which games have had art design that truly impressed you?

The Prince of Persia game released in 2008. I just love it, from the concept to the in-game art! (Although I do have mixed feelings about Elika always being there to pick you up whenever you fall…) Another would be Call of Duty Modern Warfare. I really like the lighting in the game, which was very realistic!

What are the advantages of 3D art as compared to 2D, and vice versa?

In 3D- Effects, lighting and shadow are processed in real-time, and that is awesome! On the other hand, in 2D, lighting and shadows are fixed. SFX is complicated.

2D games doesn’t require powerful computers unlike 3D.

Animation is easier to do in 3d rather than in 2D, especially considering the latest technologies that make the 3d animator’s work easier and faster.

In 2D, however, you don’t need plug-ins–instead, you sit for an hours, do some trial and error for the lighting and special effects, and from that you can create a really nice looking piece.

You’re currently working for an outsourcing game company. Can you tell us a bit about your work there?

We create art assets for our clients, which could be either for casual games or next-gen games. Published games that used some of our assets include Uncharted2, Mean Girls, Clueless, CSI: NY, Sherlock Holmes and a lot more.

I know you plan on making your own games someday. What would your ideal game be like?

A traditional fantasy role playing game.

Aside from your own game, do you have any other dream projects, whether you’re already working on them or plan to in the future?

I’ve always wanted to make my own manga (and profit from it!)–but then, I don’t have much time for that. Still, I hope that someday… somehow… I’ll be able to proudly say that I’ve published one of my stories.

When did you start creating works through digital painting? You used to do work using pens and colored pencils – was it difficult to make the transition?

It was when I got my first job… that was the first time that I used pen and tablet. Yes, it was difficult at first, since I didn’t even have the slightest idea that such a thing could be used to paint digitally!  Fortunately., I already new how to use Adobe Photoshop at the time.

How many hours in a day do you spend drawing/painting?

Almost every hour, every day, and every week! (Hey, it’s my profession!):-) But seriously, I spend almost 8 hours a day on art during the weekends, but on weekdays I only get two hours to paint. Actually, that was when I was in my “career mode”, but there are times when a week can go by where I don’t even touch my pen. There are simply some activities that are important enough that I wouldn’t regret skipping painting for a few days. Sometimes, we all have to focus on things that are not related with our work and career, in order to enjoy life to the fullest!

You’re also an anime fan–any series or movies that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Clannad: It’s wholesome, yet can make you laugh and cry, a really heartwarming series; Ghost Fighter: I could care less about what people may say about it, Ghost Fighter remains to be one of the best anime that I’ve ever watched; Kaitou Saint Tail; Mojacko; Howl’s Moving Castle; Princess Mononoke; D.N.Angel; Card Captor Sakura; Gundam Wing (maybe?)…

How did you go about creating the art for “100% of Me“? You definitely gave it an anime feel

I actually wanted it to be more realistic… But I guess it was a failed attempt… (More practice is needed!). I did some research for the background, looked at some character references and some formulas of probabilities (Thanks to Wikipedia). Han Hyo Joo, a Korean actress, was my character model for the woman. I used some textures from my library that allowed me to finish the piece by the deadline.

What’s the most important piece of art advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t let envy be the fuel of your motivation. Inspire and be inspired. Don’t fall in love with your artwork–be the meanest critic of your own work.

We’d like to thank MJ for taking the time to answer our questions. You can see more of her artwork at her deviantart gallery here.

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