Friday, March 6, 2009

Elmer Damaso

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you go to school, and what extra-curricular activities did you take up? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?

I studied Fine Arts at the University of Philippines, Diliman majoring in Visual Communications. I didn’t join any clubs back then, nor have I attended any workshops, but I had a lot of friends who more or less helped me by sharing their knowledge and skills on art and comics/anime/manga.

What inspired or convinced you to become an artist?

Maybe it started with my fascination for my dad’s work. He is not really a graphic artist, but he used to draw a lot of stuff for me. He also made me a poster of the then popular “Voltes V”. Next would be my uncle. He works in an advertising company, and I used to watch him work with all those tracing papers, poster colors and markers (and also the transfer lettering that was popular during that time).

Watching a lot of cartoons and reading comics as a kid also made me want to be an artist. I wanted to animate stuff. I wanted to draw stuff that people will appreciate.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?

A typical day for me would be waking up, having breakfast, go straight to work. Finish an acceptable amount of work. Come afternoon/evening, spend the rest of my time with my wife and kids. But sometimes, I work overtime.

Being a freelancer who works at home, I seldom interact with anyone in the same industry as I am, unless you count the chats or emails with fellow colleagues, and the occasional visit to the Digital Art Chefs office in Marikina.

What are some of the things that you have worked on?

I have been an artist for Culture Crash (One Day Isang Diwa and Cat’s Trail) for the duration of the company. I have also worked as a freelance artist for L.A.-based Seven Seas for the following: Unearthly, Ravenskull, Speed Racer, Ninja Diaries, and the still unpublished 10 Beautiful Assassins. I regularly contribute artwork to K-Zone Philippines (How To Draw and various articles), and also contribute artwork for K-Zone Australia’s “How To Draw“.

How do you go about an illustration, what goes through your mind, from start to end?

For the traditional method, I usually start off with a concept. Then I try to sketch the idea on paper. It may take a few tries until I get the exact layout or composition. Once I get the sketch right, I then ink it (and color it if needed).

Recently, I just go straight to a drawing or painting program on my PC and do everything there.

Could you talk about your process in coloring your art (if at all), as well as the types of tools or media that you use?

I ditch the traditional method and go straight to my favorite PC programs: OpenCanvas (for the actual painting) and Photoshop (for additional color/tonal corrections and effects). In OpenCanvas, I use only one layer if working with a single figure. But if I have to compose several subjects complete with background, I work on each item in a separate layer. After everything is colored separately, I make a copy of the whole composition in a new layer and make other adjustments and paint the smaller details. If I am satisfied with the results, I export it to Photoshop for tonal adjustments, cropping and final SFX.

What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?

I sometimes surf the net for inspirational art, or read my old comics, or watch anime. Otherwise, I play with toys (and with my 2 little boys).

What is your most favorite subject to draw, and why?

I prefer to draw emotive illustrations, so I usually draw people and anatomy. I also like fantasy characters and environments compared to realistic or modern backgrounds because I don’t like to research a lot. That way, I’ll just use my imagination.

Who are the top illustrators whose works excite you the most?

Haruhiko Mikimoto (Macross), Kousuke Fujishima (Ah! My Goddess!), Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell), Adam Hughes (X-Men and various), Derrick Wyatt (Transformers Animated), Sean Galloway (Spectacular Spider-man)
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?

I remember catching a demonstration of Mr. Rafael Pacheco in SM Megamall a long, long time ago. I just couldn’t believe that he’s only using his fingers/hands for painting! I swear I could’ve turned my head once, looked again, and his masterpiece was almost done. I also saw him use this piece of glass to create some textures. Wow! His works are amazing, and he does it so fast and almost effortless.

What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?,, transformers-related websites… haha!

What wisdom could you give us, about being an artist? Do you have any tips you could give?

You have to be very patient and practice a lot. Always have an open mind, search for different methods and styles, and listen to what others have to say. It is good to show fellow artists what you’ve done and have them critique your work. You may miss some details that the others may pick up.

If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?

They can reach me by email: iq40mail[at]gmail[dot]com or visit my blog at:

Do you have any of your art work for sale (comics, prints, or anything)? If so, for fans of your work can know where and when to buy it?

Most of my recent works are published in the US. I am not sure if they have copies of it available in local comic book shops and retailers.Maybe interested parties can ask the shopkeepers if they can make a special order? I’m not sure if that works. I sometimes show up at events and may be able to bring some of my stuff for sale.

Also, if they are interested in my other works outside manga and comics, the local K-Zone has some of my illustrations. For the year 2009, I will be supplying them with their How To Draw segment (Art Fart). If it becomes successful, it might run for a longer period. K-Zone is published monthly and sold at most bookstores and malls.

What would you do if the Cat's Trail gang and the Transformers (Autobots) dropped by your house in the middle of the night?

I’d probably ditch the Cat’s Trail folks and join the Autobots. Haha! Seriously? I and my family will have a group shot with both parties and I will be the envy of my neighborhood. Besides, my 2 boys will probably be very, very HAPPY and will probably be talking about it for the days to come.

Got an Artist?

Do you know a Filipino artist who makes exceptional Japanese manga style illustrations? If so, leave his/her name and any other info about him/her on this post.