Making Monsters with Justin Gerard

 ArtStation Learning provides a way for artists around the world to have access to affordable learning from professional art instructors who have industry experience.

In this article, we chat with ArtStation Learning instructor Justin Gerard on everything you need to know about his 2 part Making Monsters course and more.

Making Monsters

In this course, Justin Gerard shares his process for designing and drawing one of his “Monster of the Month” Illustrations.

Part 1: Pencil Drawing

Covered in this first part of a two-part series will be how he creates thumbnails and rough sketches, how to use references, and how Justin uses a variety of pencil techniques to execute a tight drawing.

Part 2: Digital Painting

See how Justin uses digital brushes to achieve specific details and effects, how to use both transparent and opaque layers to establish a painting, and finally, how to use a variety of painting techniques to achieve a detailed and professional looking illustration.

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About the Instructor

Justin Gerard is an independent artist who has worked within the publishing and film industries providing illustrations for clients such as Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Harper Collins, Penguin Books, and Random House. He has also worked in the game industry for Sony, Riot, Blizzard, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Kabaam, Cryptozoic and Riotminds. Justin’s work has been regularly featured in art competitions such as Spectrum Fantastic Art, the Society of Illustrators Annuals and Expose. He also contributes articles and tutorials for ImagineFX and Muddycolors.

“I would have killed for access to what Artstation Learning is offering when I was in school! (I can’t believe I have access to it now!) It’s an amazing program and it would have saved me years of fumbling around if I could have had the chance to learn directly from professionals on how they create their work. “

Most memorable learning experience:

I think the most memorable and fun experience from my art career was probably working on the Lord of the Rings material for Warner Brothers.  It was a dream come true. But the one that I learned the most from was a nightmare. 10 years ago I finished a $5,000 project, and then the client just disappeared. I never got paid, and because the contract I had with them was an informal one, I had no way to recover the money. This taught me a lot about professionalism, contracts, and how to pick good clients and avoid bad ones. It was one of the worst experiences of my career and I’m glad I had it because the lessons it taught me have saved me from much worse nightmares throughout my career.

Behind the course:

I’ve always loved drawing and painting monsters. When I paint them, I am often mashing up several normal creatures into one crazy looking one to create something impossible, but that still feels real. I find monsters to be an interesting challenge to paint since you still have to get the textures and surfaces and musculature “right” even when there is no real reference for it. They are a great way to hone your skills and practice imaginative design.

1 sentence of advice:

No matter how badly a project ends, if you learned something from it, and you feel that you are a better artist than you were when you started it, you should see it as a success.

What you’ll need to prepare:

To prepare, it will be helpful to have a solid grasp of drawing from life. It’s not mandatory, but you will get more out of this if you have gone through a course or 2 on life drawing.  A basic working knowledge of Photoshop (or Painter or Procreate) would be very helpful as well. With these 2 things, you will be able to do everything I’m covering here!

Start watching Making Monsters: Part 1 >

ArtStation Learning courses are included in all ArtStation premium subscriptions. For a limited time offer until September 30, lock in ArtStation Pro at just $6.99/mo before the price increase on October 1.

See more of Justin’s work here.

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About the author

Sierra is the Editor of ArtStation Magazine.