Interview with Lazur

by 3D Addict

    3D Addict


    [ read the Polish version of the interview ]

    Please tell me a little bit about yourself. (How old you are, where you live, your real name, your job/school, etc... )

    Hi to all, my name is Tomasz Pietek and I live in Swiebodzice which is a small industrial town in the south western part of Poland. I also attend a school in Walbrzych and of course make graphics for the scene and various games. I also like to bike a lot in the nearby mountains called Sudety. I was born on the 5'th of September 1977, which by the way is related with my new slideshow 5977.

    Let's start from the beginning. What was your first computer and do you miss the days of A500?

    My first computer was Atari 800XL bought for the hard gathered money of my parents. The year was1990. There was just enough money to buy the computer and a ... joystick :). The tapedrive and a monitor was something I could only dream about, so I used my old stereo as the tapedrive and black and white TV as a monitor (Russian technology). Because the stereo could not save any data to a tape, the only thing I could do was to play games, furthermore the picture of the TV set was very unclear, just like the future of the ZSRR back then :) In 1992 I became a happy owner of Amiga 500, this time with a monitor. After 2 months with the Amiga I started making some of my first graphics. I still got some of them to this day.

    How and when did you become interested in the demoscene?

    Actually, before I bought my first Amiga, I started buying games!!! and programs for the Amiga. Because back then there was no software copyright laws in Poland I could buy every pirated game and program completely legal in every computer store. When I bought the Amiga I had about 100 disks with all kind of programs. Among these programs were some scene disk mags. In 1993 I found some articles in a Polish computer magazine (Commodore & Amiga) about the scene. Some of the articles featured scene charts, from both the Polish scene and from Eurocharts. I memorised all these charts, no kidding. There were also some drawings done by Peachy and Facet. These people become my real idols. Ever since that time, my biggest dream was to become almost as good as they were. During the next years I was consequently getting closer to my dream.

    Your dream did become true :) What kind of equipment are you using these days and what kind of software?

    I use a PC computer running Photoshop and DeluxePaint. Perhaps some people may find it odd that I use so few programs. In the past I used programs like Painter, however all these programs have very similar possibilities, one could almost say that they are equal. Furthermore, I believe that a good graphician only needs the most basic tools to draw.

    I agree. Tell me, how many hours a day do you spend in front of your computer, and how many of those hours are used on making gfx?

    It depends. In the 1994-95, during the summer vacation I was sitting about 12 hrs a day in front of a computer. During the school time I would spend about 8 hours a day. I was hungry and sleepy, as all my spare time was used on drawing. The external world was none existent to me. All that counted was the thought of drawing. In a sense I was addicted. Currently, I use about 2 hours a day on drawing. Both now and then, 99% of the time spent in front of the computer is/was spent on drawing. For me the computer is simply a tool, which enables me to create. Just like a painter uses canvas and painting, I use a computer and graphic software.

    Yes, I guess this goes for all of us. When drawing, do you have a perfect vision in your mind or do you draw more freely, by letting your image evolve in whatever direction you may feel like.

    The work always starts from an idea. Sometimes I only have a very general vision and sometimes I see the entire image in my imagination with all colors and details. However, while drawing on an image my vision usually changes so the original idea faints away. While working on a given image it often occurs that I'm unable to realise a certain idea and have to either drop a certain fragment of it or simply replace it with something else. All this affects the original idea.

    Please describe in steps how you create an image. Do you start by making a sketch on paper, or is everything done on the computer.

    The creation of a new image starts by a sketch in DeluxePaint. In the beginning the sketch shows only the basic shapes, later I add more details and at the end I improve the whole sketch. This 2 color sketch is getting colored in Photoshop. I put a certain color to all big areas of a given shape. For example: the hair would be brown, face will be red and background blue. Later I will assign a mask to each shape. For example a hair mask, a face mask and a background mask. When this is done I will start do draw each mask starting with large brushes and ending with the smallest ones. All this reminds of spray-painting on a wall, at the same time being transparent and giving the possibility to predict how the final version will look like.

    I see. How long does it take you to draw an image like "Unreal - the pocket monster"?

    Although this is probably the question I get asked mostly, I'm unable to answer it unequivocally. An image drawn in 800x600 takes about 1-2 weeks. Also drawing in 8 bit takes a lot more time then in 24 bit.

    1-2 weeks, using 2 hours a day? Thats FAST :) What is the most difficult for you to draw and what do you like to draw most and why?

    I don't know. I think that the most difficult to draw for me are things which I have never drawn before or things that are complex and full of details. Also drawing human figures in action or in some strange perspective was always difficult for me. Another problem which I always encountered are the hands, on which I always spend a fair amount of time when drawing. My problem is the sketch itself of human figures or hands and not the later drawing.

    What do you think is the most important when drawing an image (colors, composition, atmosphere, other aspects)?

    Everything is important: colors, composition, the atmosphere and other things. The question is how to combine all this. From one point of view, everybody likes when an image is full of details, however it is important to remember that too many details will destroy the composition as the image won't have a "catch" which is the main object which should draw viewers attention. This matter is very similar with the colors. Too many bright colors can attract the eye, yet it can completely destroy the climate of an image. The same goes for contrast and carefully worked out drawing..

    Therefore it is important to think through what the image will consist of and what the purpose of the image will be, before starting drawing. A drawing for compo at party will be completely different from a personal drawing reflecting ones emotions. An image for a compo doesn't have to be detailed and don't have to be original, simply because most voters are newbies, and only they are not too lazy to vote. An image for a gfx-compo should preferably be a nude women, a monster, a dragon or simply a face. Additionally the image should be full of contrasts, have air or linear perspective and be in colors.

    Yes, compo pics should be "cheap" in a way to gather as many votes as possible. Do you use any special techniques when drawing? Please describe which tools you use mostly?

    I use the standard tools and the masks in Photoshop. The tools which I use mostly are: air brush for painting large areas and general shading, the pencil is used when drawing details, smudge for making clear crystal teeth, blur for blurring :0) and dodge/highlights, which is my favourite, is used for various kinds of highlights.

    Which of your own images do you consider the best one and why?

    Usually, I believe that my latest image is the best one, because my previous images are getting boring for me, furthermore I see more errors in them. However, if I should choose some of my best images at this moment I'll have to split them into two categories: the best "copy/redraws" and the best "no copy". In my opinion my redraws/copies are a lot better compared to my "no copy" images, thanks to their original authors. My "no copies" are of lesser quality, especially in terms of proportion and composition. In spite of all this, my satisfaction is much greater from these images.

    By getting back to your question, I think, that my best redraw is "Gimenez" as this image has a fabulous climate of expression and generally makes a very good impression. I also really like "Alione" which has fine colors (in the original drawing) and fine adjusted color pallette. Whereas in the "no copy" category my favourite is the "Forest", which has a funny bird and something around it. Actually, i don't even know what this something is, but it looks very fine.


    I like "Forest" a lot, however may favourite is "Unreal the pocket monster" and "Smok" - excellent creature design and tons of colors. Which also leads me to the next question: did you quit drawing in 8 bit, and if yes, why?

    I stopped drawing in 256 colors in the year 1997, because drawing in 8 bit became history, just like the 4channel modules for Amiga :). Further more, dithering and pallette adjusting is a pointless and time consuming process. 256 colors is quite limited when manipulating with colors. Drawing in 8bit reminds more about choosing the right cubes and moving them around, then real drawing. Whereas eversince I started drawing in 24bit, drawing reminds of airbrush painting and you don't have to worry about not having enough colors and trying to spare a bit of space on the palette for "just in case". However, In spite of all this, drawing in 256 colors had its beauty. It was like a certain kind of a game, where tactics and the possibility of inventing different kinds of tricks for beating the low amount of colors, made graphicians like Facet and Cougar simply the best in this field.

    What do you think about 3d (raytracing). Do you raytrace yourself?

    One thing is certain, 3d (raytracing) gives you enormous possibilities for creating fantastic visions and animations. I don't like, however, that these great possibilities are not given to those who have talent and willingness, but usually to them who have a lot of money. I have to admit that I have been playing with MAX and TrueSpace, but when everything on my monitor started to crawl as a turtle I went back to 2d.

    I can assure you that a fast computer is only half the solution, the other half is patience:) What do you think about redrawing other artists works?

    I don't see anything bad in doing redraws from other artists work, as by doing that you learn a lot. Despite, I think that by signing your name on such redraw and later presenting this as your own work is a real disgrace. You are probably very surprised when I, who have been redrawing my whole life, write such things. However, first of all, I don't do redraws anymore and haven't done a single redraw for almost a year, secondly my redrawing had only a commercial character, which means that redrawing was always very boring for me, but I wanted to get as popular as possible, so I did it all the time (addiction?).

    I would like to stress out that I never used a scanner, and my redrawing was based on simply looking at a picture and then drawing and coloring on the monitor. Many other graphicians use other, I think quite controversial redrawing techniques. For example, by first splitting the image in rectangles and then drawing rectangle after rectangle. Others do redraws by first putting a very thin and half transparent piece of paper (carbon paper) on the image itself, then redraw the image using a pencil by looking through the paper and drawing over the image. When this is done they will put the carbon paper on the monitor and redraw the image (as you can see the monitor through the carbon paper).

    By doing all this, they make minimal improvements and usually keep on redrawing until the end of their scene-careers. There are some graphicians who never do redraws, unfortunately most of their works represent very low quality which doesn't affect their own high selfesteem. There was a group in Poland once, which consisted of few graphicians who regularly fought a war with me :). They didn't like the fact that I did redraws (most probably it was about the fact that I was more popular then they were). They wrote for example that my images contain too many details and are too precise and realistic. I really don't see anything wrong with that.

    I'm glad that you made the right decision not to redraw anymore. Obviously you are capable of producing stunning work based on your own ideas (Unreal the pocket monster, Forest, Smok, to name a few). Lets hope that more graphicians will follow your example. You have been on the scene for quite some time. Who are your favourite graphicians and why?

    In the beginning my favourite scene graphicians were Facet and Peachy. Why? Simply because their graphics were absolutely amazing. When I saw in the Interferance demo Cougars drawing, I stated that this guy is unbelievable and decided, by any means, to rip his image from this demo. When I had accomplished that, I would stare and analyse every single detail. The same went for Facet's graphics. Currently, as with my own drawings, I split graphicians in those who do redraws and the once who don't or do it very rarely. As one may come to think of it, there are a lot more of those who do redraws and therefore they represent better quality. The top redrawing graphicians are Made and Danny, who both are skilled technically. It is a pity though, that they both waste their technical skills on drawing the same and same things time and time over again. Made is constantly drawing woman faces and Danny will probably keep on drawing nude girls for the rest of his life. I would even risk and state that, thematically, their drawings represent the level of some shitty magazines as "Pani Domu", "Tina" or "Bravo". Those who are left, do not redraw (or do it rarely) and they don't represent such level as Made or Danny does. Those who are worth mentioning are, Animal, Antony and Deckard. Animal is a Polish graphician who has a very interesting technique. On the negative side, he is little productive and lacks good ideas. Antony represent excellent ideas with a variety of techniques, in other words he experiments. You can't predict his movements.

    I agree with you regarding Dannys and Mades pics. Just to notify you, Danny stopped making redraws and also quit the scene. Do you have any favourite real artists and why?

    Before I bought the computer I was, among other things, collecting comic books. I even tried to draw my own comic books. In Poland during the 80's it was really difficult to get hold of comic books. Whenever I got the following issue of Thorgal or Kajko i Kokosz (a comic book similar to Asterix & Obelix, though the main characters live in the land of Slowian and talk about Mirmilowo [I have no idea how these things are in English - can anybody help?]) I always read it a couple of times and admired every drawing. Therefore I still like a lot works of such artists as, Rosinski, Wroblewski, Polch, Christa, Baranowski and Papcio Chmiel. However, it was Thorgal that had the biggest influence on me, which is also seen in my drawings. Alione for example. Of course I like works of other artists who don't do comics, artists like Dali or Yokohama.

    Ah, I remember Kajko i Kokosz myself, very funny comics. I also really liked the Romek Tomek i Atomek and Kleks :)I should get hold of some of these comics. So fun to read. Anyway, what does the scene mean to you?

    Until recently the scene was, if you can say that, a place where I could get tested and first become the best Polish graphician and later the best in the world. However currently the scene is getting... boring for me. The scene is a phenomena without end or beginning. The scene is constantly changing, and still represents the same.. low level. All this is because of the constant flow of new people in the age of 14-15 years who leave the scene in the age of 19-20 as they begin to represent something.

    Besides making graphics what are your main interests and hobbies?

    Graphics of course interest me and besides that I spent a lot of my time on my mountain bike, which will probably fall apart soon, if I will continue on biking the way I do. One week ago, I had an accident on my bike. While biking on a path in the woods with the speed of 48km/h (at least that's what the speed-counter was showing) I hooked with the steer of my bike a bypassing girl, who jumped when she saw me, unfortunately in the wrong direction :). I lost my vision for over an hour, not to mention the fact that I forgot my name and where I live. My vision is ok now :), but I guess it's about time to get myself a helmet :) Besides that, I would like to do a lot of other things, but don't have the time for it.

    So your vision is ok, but do you remember where you live ;) I guess a helmet would be a good idea for everybody who bikes a lot. Ok, one of the last questions, how did you come up with your handle?

    When I was getting into the scene and started to understand that if you want to be as good as Facet or Cougar, you must have a cool handle, as they had:). I started by looking through the dictionary, first the Polish-English and later foreign dictionary, in which I found the word Lazur. Lazur means color, lazurowy - coloured. This word is originally from the arabic language and in the Polish language it became archaism. I have chosen this word because it is related with color tones and beautiful bluish seashore.

    Ok, so now we know the secret :) Would you like to say hello to anyone?

    Yes, I would like to say hello to Bruce Willis, as he was in the cosmos and I wasn't.

    He might be reading this, who knows :) Thanks a lot for the interview.

    The pleasure was all mine.

    check out Lazur gallery

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