Artist Feature: Sav Scatola

An Interview With An ArtRage Artist

Sav Scatola, known around the web as ‘Boxy’, is a longtime user of ArtRage who works as a professional illustrator. He provided our homepage image last year, helped beta test the upcoming 4.5 edition, and has published a children’s book using ArtRage.

'They Are Coming' by Sav Scatola
‘They Are Coming’

Who are you? What do you want the internet to know about you? (Give us a quick bio!)

ArtRage Editions: ArtRage 4.5, ArtRage for iPad
Platforms: Mac OS Mavericks, Windows 7, iOS 7
Background: Traditional Art
Website: www.boxy.co.uk
Book: The Ballad of Piggotty Wood

I am Sav Scatola, a freelance artist and illustrator of 17 years. I started out in fine art, but a year long course on creative computing really opened my eyes to the potential of digital art.

While on the course I was lucky enough to be offered some 3D visualisation work for an in store marketing company, which led to an ongoing partnership with the Apple Illustration Agency some years later.

What kind of artist are you? How would you describe your style and niche?

Not easy to answer because I employ a few different styles depending on how to best meet the terms of a brief. It is generally recommended that illustrators focus on a single style, but the arrangement with my agent simply evolved beyond that and the approach suits us both.

'The Ballad of Piggotty Wood' by Sav Scatola
‘The Ballad of Piggotty Wood’

With regard to ArtRage though, for personal project The Ballad of Piggotty Wood, the driving force was very clear. As a child I loved the classic 606D Ladybird book series, illustrated by the likes of Eric Winter and Robert Lumley. These weren’t the kind of bright simplistic images that treated kids like kids, I was never really interested in that stuff. They were beautifully rendered, richly detailed and very realistic, but still illustrative – and that is what really brought the folklore alive for me. Although I didn’t want to slavishly copy the 606D style, I did want to get a sense of that detailed Ladybird universe.

'First Light on Ben Lomond' by Sav Scatola
‘First Light on Ben Lomond’

Artrage’s tools also allow me to indulge in my fine art roots, and lately I’ve been working on some very loose alla prima oil sketches which are a huge pleasure to create. They often start life (in Artrage) on the iPad while out and about, but thanks to your universal script system can be played back on the desktop at much bigger print sizes without loss of quality. You can see a quick movie sample of the process here for First Light on Ben Lomond’ [Download of 50MB .mov file].

What topics interest you in general?

Stories. Legend and folklore are not just entertaining tales, they’re often a record of the evolution of human thought and that is both fascinating and inspiring.

Art, science, nature, history. An endless reservoir of creative reference in those 4 words.

Autumn and Winter. It’s weird I know, but I always found dying leaves and wild weather a lot more interesting than sweating on a deck chair.


Walking in nature.

'Autumn Sea Warbler' by Sav Scatola
‘Autumn Sea Warbler’

What edition(s) of ArtRage do you use?

I use ArtRage 4.5 and ArtRage for iPad.

'Magic'by Sav Scatola

How long have you been using ArtRage?

Since version 2 I think. I loved it from the very first stroke!

Why do you use ArtRage?

Because it is simple, elegant and powerful. As if that wasn’t enough, 64bit introduces viable large scale painting. So far my tests have reached 20,000 pixels which is something well over a 1.5 metre print size. Marvellous.

Do you come from a digital or traditional art background?

Traditional art (see first question, bio).

Do you use other programs or traditional media?

Yes, as much as I can.

The traditional media I use include oils paints, oil pastels, acrylics, coloured crayons, rotring pens and of course, lovely pencils. Never could use watercolours though!

Digitally I also use Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, occasionally Painter and interesting newcomer, Mischief. My 3D apps of choice are Cinema 4D and ZBrush.

'Folly' by Sav Scatola

'Facing North Version 2' by Sav Scatola
‘Facing North Version 2’

Where does ArtRage fit into your workflow? (e.g. do you use it for entire paintings or for specific points in the painting process?)

For 2D work I usually use Artrage from start to finish increasingly on a single layer because I like the traditional workflow. I often take the finished piece into Photoshop to play with final levels.

What are your favourite ArtRage features?

The lovely Oil Brush, the Sticker Spray brush and the script record/playback system.

Least favourite?

Not ArtRage specific, but all bitmap based apps suffer brush lag on large canvases with large brush sizes, though 64bit does improve this substantially for ArtRage.

What ArtRage works or projects are you most proud of? Are they the ones everyone else likes? Tell us about them!

I like pretty much every piece made in AR, but that is probably because I simply enjoy using AR. I couldn’t say all my work is universally liked though!

I really enjoyed creating the mosaic, ‘iCONography’ used as a promotion image on the release of ArtRage 4.

'iCONography'by Sav Scatola

Perhaps my very favourite though, are the series of paintings reworked for the previously mentioned The Ballad of Piggotty Wood picture book iPad version.

At the time of the original concept, my 3D work had been all consuming for many years and although I love the process of 3D work, it is by definition always more demanding. Even a stick man takes more steps to create in 3D. I missed the directness of drawing, so the story was specifically written to illustrate in my spare time using ArtRage. Such ideas often trail off so I kept motivation by regularly posting progresses in the Artrage Forums. My drawing was very rusty begin with, but the community were amazingly supportive and the project’s completion was in no small way brought about by their encouragement.

'The Ballad of Piggotty Wood Scroll' by Sav Scatola
‘The Ballad of Piggotty Wood Scroll’

Piggotty Wood is also my vehicle for experimenting and learning new things, so when I decided to do an iPad (iBooks) version, the paintings needed reworking for a different format. Because of the iBook’s finger slide navigation system, I realised there was an opportunity to join some pages together into these long continuous scrolling images which for me, made the iPad project more immersive than the hard copy (see ‘The Ballad of Piggotty Wood Scroll’ above, which represents 5 pages of the iBook.)

Do you have any tips for other artists who might want to do the same thing as you?

If we’re talking about making a living, keep an open mind and be flexible. In bountiful times the generally accepted advice to ‘find your creative voice and stick to it’ is sound, but that falls apart in a financial crisis. Creative agencies tighten their belts and the bottom line in that scenario is that any kind of creative work is better than the alternative.

If we’re talking artistically I’d also say keep an open mind and be flexible. I will never be too old to learn or too afraid to try new things.

'Promenade' by Sav Scatola

Any ArtRage specific tips?

ArtRage is so simple and open I can’t imagine there are any hidden gems, but if anything I would say take the time to learn how to create custom brushes for the Sticker Spray. It can make certain scenarios easier when you’re up against a deadline like quick grass, fur or mosaics.

'A Is For Alice' by Sav Scatola
‘A Is For Alice’

The Ballad of Piggotty Wood is available on iTunes and Blurb

You can view more of Sav Scatola’s work on his website: www.boxy.co.uk

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