Interview No. 131
Interview By: The-Great-One
Today's guest is a little unknown member of the Art Portal. You may have seen his piece Smash Time! on the front page. His other works include Meowth vs Gengar and Newgrounds Revolution just to name a few. It gives me great privilege to welcome, Pegosho.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: It was back in 2004-2005, a good friend of mine used to share with me links of funny stuff he found on the internet and most of them where from Newgrounds. One of the first things I saw was an animation called "Link's Quest for Ass", I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I never thought I'd be watching Link searching for a piece of ass instead of heart, it was so absurd and somehow I loved it. Then I started looking for more animations to see and I discovered the hot-shots like Mousekliks (Final Fantasy A+), Adam Phillips (Waterlollies), SamBakZa (There she is), O-Ovinnie (all his ++ stuff), etc. I couldn't believe what I was missing all this time, some of the humor and quality of these animations could rival anything on TV back in those days. This is the moment when I became a regular viewer of the site; however it wasn't till 2008 when I decided to finally make an account in order to participate in the “Winter Flash-Off”.
Q: At what age did you become interested in drawing?
A: Wow, for as long as I can remember. The most distant memory I have is of my brother challenging me to Draw-Off's, and I always ended up losing. My bro's skill was really evident. I remember seeing his drawings on school desks all the time; every classroom had at least one desk full of his sketches and no body messed with them. I even recall a specific drawing (a samurai on top of a mountain) that reached a whole semester completely untouched, that's how much people respected his talent (or maybe the janitors were really lazy). Anyway, I got really serious into drawing and I started practicing all the time; I even got famous at my school for making the high-school tournament t-shirts (volleyball, basketball, Field Day, etc) and other art related projects. By the end of my high-school years, I was able to surpass my brother. So yeah, competition actually helped me improve; just don't take it personally, losing is part of the fun.
Q: Did you study art in school? What did you learn from your teacher?
A: I didn't go to art school, but I used to have a good art teacher back in elementary school, so I guess that helped a bit. However most of my talent was innate and was probably improved by watching lots of cartoons like: Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry. Then it was anime like Dragon Ball, DBZ, Rurouni Kenshin and Ranma ½ that gave me a whole different view of how to draw. But even with all my art skills, I didn't have a clear understanding of what I was doing. It wasn't till a few years ago that I decided to actually learn more about certain subjects like: composition, perspective, color theory and anatomy, and it helped me immensely. It doesn't matter how talented you think you are, there's still lots of new things to learn.
Q: When did you become interested in animation?
A: I always had a slight curiosity for animation but was never able to fully satisfy it mainly because of my ignorance of the process. The closest I got to experience it was by doing flipbooks in school. It wasn't till 2008, when Tom announced the “2008 Winter Flash-Off” contest, giving away more than $6000 in prizes, that I felt motivation enough for me to learn animation once and for all. So I bought Flash (*wink*) and started looking for tutorials.
By the end of the week, I was able to understand the basics of Flash and was ready to start my Christmas animation. Unfortunately, after hard weeks of work, I still wasn't able to finish it. I remember spending my New Years Eve animating like a dog, looking at the clock, knowing I didn't have a chance at all. I felt horrible when I missed the deadline. However, after seeing the unfinished product and realizing that, for the first time in my life, I created something beyond a simple drawing made me feel pretty awesome. From that day on, I knew making animations was gonna play an important part in my life.
Q: At what age did you become interested in video games? What is it about video games that gives you inspiration? Also why are Grim Fandango and EarthBound two of your favorite games of all time?
A: I was 4 years old when I got an Atari 2600 as a gift from my cousins because they were getting the NES. Fortunately, I was young and didn't know any better so I had an awesome time playing games like Adventure, Human Cannonball, Combat and Missile Command, and thinking I was playing the most revolutionary thing ever. Then sadly I discovered I was actually living in the past all along, so I forced my parents to redeem themselves and they finally bought me the NES. And from there on everything was good.
In reality, my favorite games list is constantly changing, but one game that has never moved from its spot (#1) is Grim Fandango. I used to play lots of different genres of games, somehow but Point-and-click adventure games were definitely my favorite. There was something special about those kind of games that really captured my attention, maybe it was the fact that it revolved around an interesting story for once, full of funny dialogs and real world scenarios, instead of jumping from platform to platform, in a crazy mushroom world with turtles, till you reach the right-end of the screen.
My first experience with the genre was with Maniac Mansion (NES). It took me years to beat that game; I gotta tell you, sending that purple meteor to space was one of the happiest moments of my life. After that, I became a huge fan of LucasArts' point and click games. I even got familiar with its game developers, like Ron Gilbert (Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island) and Tim Schafer (Day of the Tentacles, Full Throttle). When I found out Tim Schafer was working on a brand new game I got super excited, that game was Grim Fandango.
What I love about Grim Fandango are many things like: the dark setting (The Land of the Dead), the awesome art style (art-deco), all the Mexican themes and music, the fact that no body has skin (everybody is naked!), and the dark humor among others. But what really makes this game shine are the characters. I always found myself clicking every line of conversation because I had so much fun listening to what they had to say. It never got boring. Who would have thought the Land of the Dead could be such a lively place. Ok, I don't wanna spoil anything more, let's say it's one of the best games ever made, it inspired me greatly and everyone should play it. Now go and buy it on Steam...oh, wait.
Earthbound was the last SNES game I ever bought and it rapidly became one of my favorite RPGs ever. For once, it's one of the few video games to take place in a normal looking world with towns, schools, cities, gangs, over zealous cops, cranky ladies, mad ducks, jazz bands, etc. But aside from that, there was a slight touch of the supernatural, for example: aliens, zombies, dinosaurs, hippies and other absurd stuff. It's this combination, along with its quirky humor, what makes playing Earthbound a unique experience that hasn't been match ever since. I loved it so much that I leveled up my character to the max (something I never do in RPGs) just to be able to play on this awesome little world a bit longer.
Q: One of your earliest posts on Newgrounds was in The MS-paint thread. You posted quite a few pictures there that are quite amazing to see made in MS Paint. How long did those take to make?
A: It took me around a day. When I got my first PC, I didn't have internet nor games to play in it, so the only fun thing to do was drawing in MS-paint. I liked it, it was like a better version of Mario Paint but without the cool chiptunes. I practiced till I became good at it, my mouse control was on another level; well, maybe not Luis' level. Then I got a small Wacom Graphire 3 and smashed my mouse to the floor; I was so impulsive back then, don't know what was wrong with me.
Q: What is the 24 Hour Challenge?
A: 24 Hour Challenge (aka 24 Hours of Sodom) is a collaboration organized by RedHarvest and RicePirate that consisted in having a bunch of talented artists animating 10 seconds shorts to go along with a specific music track, and we have to do all this in 24 hours. Pretty easy!
Even though it was stressful as hell, it was a great experience for me. It made me realize the torture some animators have to endure in order to finish their projects, I feel a deep respect for all of them.
Q: The first piece I have ever seen by you is entitled Smash Time!. Quite the literal interpretation of the Mario universe, I imagine the game would be quite different with Yoshi as a T-Rex. What was the process you went through this and how did you come about this idea?
A: Well, I always thought Yoshi was too dumb looking, even now he looks retarded, so I decided to fix him a little. But anyway, when I start an illustration I always do a simple sketch. Next I draw the outlines, and then add a new layer below where I'll put the main solid colors (Color Layer). Then I select those solid colors using the “magic wand tool” and then I'll make a new layer, you'll notice that, even though we changed to a new layer, the magic wand selection will still be intact. Now use the gradient tool (~30% opacity) and add shadows to it. The cool part of this technique is that the Color Layer will not get affected. After that, I go into crazy mode and I start changing the color balance, contrast, saturation, blending options, etc. It's quite messy and I can't explain it well. Someday I'd like to make a tutorial about it and go into more details, but for now that all you get.
Q: When we spoke with Sabtastic she talked about a bandwagon she jumped on started by artist arvalis who was drawing Pokemon in a realistic fashion. She would make the Pokemon Thunderdome Art Thread. You would share your piece entitled Meowth vs Gengar. Why did this take three hours to do and why did it hurt your hand?
A: The premise of the Pokemon Thunderdome was to illustrate a fight between two pokemon in three hours making one them look victorious; then another person calls dibs to draw another pokemon beating the hell out of the past winner. In other words, the Pokemon who won in one round will lose in the next round and so forth. But the fun part was that the fights could be as gruesome as you wanted it to be, so this gave people more freedom to creative. Oh, and I hurt my hand because I had to draw for three hours non-stop; Luckily, I haven't developed carpal tunnel...yet.
Q: Your first movie on Newgrounds is an interesting take on the grim reaper with El Fin. Could you share with us the process you took in making this? Also you share opinion with a man who says that animation is like running a marathon on your knees. Could you go into more detail about this?
A: El Fin (aka The End) was created for the Halloween Flash Contest 2009 and it was mainly inspired by the topic of "karma" (what goes around comes around). I learned a lot from my failed Christmas animation on 2008 and I wasn't gonna make the same mistakes as before. So I decided to make a simple story this time taking place in easy-to-draw places like a simple hallway and a simple elevator. Also, the first scene is full of frame-by-frame and it was taking me lots of time so I decided to implement more “tweening” instead. The “karma” topic wasn't that evident and most people assumed it was a random death; it was my fault for not giving them more clues, the only one I gave was the briefcase full of money beside the dead body in the end scene. So yeah, maybe he was into something illegal or maybe he killed someone in apartment room. Either way, people seem to like it and even though it didn't won anything, I feel really happy.
Oh, and about the quote. I used to watch a show about animations called “Splat!”. It had a bunch of animators talking about their inspirations and the meaning of their works. I recall a guy talking about the process of animation and he sounded pretty serious. By the end of the interview, he said that animation is like running a marathon on knees. It made sense back then but now it makes all the sense in the world. Spending hours and hours animating to make just 6 seconds of animation (or 10 secs if I'm lucky) is really frustrating. You really gotta love what you're doing to be able to endure this.
Q: Tom Fulp held a mini contest asking people to animate a clown dying. Your submission would be Die Clown Die. This gave me quite the nostalgia trip where animations like these were a regular occurrence on Newgrounds. What made you want to participate in this contest and why have children take him down with water pistols?
A: Every time I imagine an idea for animation, they always tend to be LONG and COMPLEX, I really can't help it. But with this mini contest, I felt the freedom to do something short and stupid because the premise was a clown dying, like, how more absurd can you go; I didn't have to add any complex scene for people to understand what was going on or give a justification for the clown to die, he'll just...die, simple as that.
The hardest part was to make it funny. In the first version of the animation (the one Tom judged for the mini contest) the clown drowns from the water shot by the kids (he didn't exploded at the end); I kinda felt it was too creepy, the way the clown was writhing in desperation was disturbing. Then I decided to change the ending by making the clown get inflated and exploding using the Wilhelm Scream. I kinda of regret relying on that meme, but it made it looks less disturbing and funnier, for me at least.
Q: What is in your opinion, the definition of art?
A: I think art is anything you can transport from your imagination into the physical world, However, the transport medium must involve the use of a skill. So in other words, it take time and effort.
I know there have been lot of debate with this art topic, especially when talking about video games. And it's understandable, they still haven't reached their full potential; you know, it's hard for people to suddenly accept as art something associated with wasting time and the cause of violence in the world. But once it gets a better reputation and people start seeing its benefits to the world, then they'll accept it.
Q: To artists looking to give animation a shot, what advice can you give to them?
A: The basics of animation are not that complicated, everyone can make the illusion of a walking cycle. Of course, it might not be super realistic; in fact, it might even look kinda crappy, but the audience will at least get the idea and that's the important part. However, it's once you wanna take your skills to the next level, when it gets really bumpy. And even at this level of complexity, you'll still have to fool the audience with illusions. So, if you wanna venture into this dangerous road full of suffering and carpal tunnel, then I'd recommend you to get the: Animator's Survival Kit! This books tells you EVERYTHING there is to animation. Btw, don't get discouraged if it gets hard, just practice and practice till you start getting it. Practice is the key.
Q: What can we expect from Pegosho in the future?
A: Right now I'm trying to make a little/simple game using Construct 2 and I'm having a blast with it. You don't need any programming knowledge, the program itself facilitates everything for you. It's a blessing! So yeah, I started with drawings, then moved to animations and now I'm making a game. However, I do most of these art related projects during my free time; the reality is that right now I'm studying for an admission test to apply to dental school. Yep, this little brain of mine is going mush. BTW, I wanna be clear that even though I'm taking this path, I'll never stop doing art. It's like a coffee stain that's impossible to remove; art is my coffee stain and it's right here in my heart.
This interview took much longer than it should have to been posted. There was a good bit going on in my life as well as stomach problems. Luckily though I have recovered. I can only hope that Pegosho will forgive me for this long wait. Pegosho though, is quite the talented artist here on Newgrounds and one that I am surprised that isn't more popular. His piece Smash Time! was what drew me to his works. His skills are amazing and I can only see greater things in his future.