It took me a long time to get into the 3D world. But before that I had already been learning and working with different 2D techniques for a few years. First as a fine arts student at the university and later as a designer and art director in advertising agencies in Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Next I leave you with some handmade drawings and illustrations, from that period when I was studying in Barcelona, from 1985 to 1990. Just before I started working in the world of desktop publishing, digital illustration and advertising (with Illustrator, Photoshop and QuarkXPress / InDesign) and of course, long before I launched a single 3D app.

Well, this first drawing is from before I went to study fine arts. Specifically, it is a drawing practice, copying from a plaster cast, in the studio & school of the great master Alejandro Cañada, in Zaragoza. At that time I had abandoned my studies of industrial engineering and had taken the decision to change my career. For that reason I was preparing for the entrance exam in the University of Barcelona, in 1985.

Plaster Cast, 1985 – Charcoal on paper – 70 x 99 cm

The following images are quick drawings, copying from a living model, made in the school of fine arts. We made a lot of these. And it’s a kind of exercise that I really liked. The best thing you can do to make progress with drawing skills, IMHO.

I also tried to create a self-portrait, looking at myself in a mirror, and damn it, I can confirm it’s quite difficult. Much easier to do it from a photograph… Yes, this is not a fake: at that time I had hair on my head.

Self-portrait, 1987 – Charcoal on paper – 28 x 42 cm

Next one is a sketch for a large-size illustration that I wanted to create with a theme of fantasy / science fiction. I never finished it. At this time I was already in art school, but this exercise, like many others I did at the time, had nothing to do with what we did in college. Those years I was dreaming of becoming an illustrator or a matte painting artist and working from home. At least the latter I have achieved…

Energy Sketch, 1986 – Pencil and ball-point pen on paper – 64 x 45 cm

At that time I was always drawing with my pencils on a cheap paper block. Lot of quick and dirty concepts… Here are a few sketches:

One of my favourite pictorial mediums was watercolour. And at that time I was deeply impressed by two illustrators: Alan Lee and Brian Froud, thanks to a book with their illustrations that always inspired me: “Fairies”. This illustration below is a copy of one of those wonderful pages:

Little Island, 1986 (copy from “Fairies”) – Watercolour on paper – 28 x 48 cm

With several classmates, who over time have become great friends, we thought of creating a kind of “field notebook” with illustrations of fantastic and imaginary beings. A bit like those wonderful field books that Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente (a great naturalist and broadcaster in the TVE, our particular “David Attenborough”) taught us in his television programs, but with fictitious animals. The following three pages was a sample of this. But of course, we didn’t go through with it…

The next is a drawing made at home (not for school) and copied from a fashion magazine:

Chica que mira 1, 1988 – Pencil & graphite on paper – 60 x 40 cm

Next one is from the same days. I have both them hanging on the walls of my living room for many years :-)

Chica que mira 2, 1988 – Pencil & graphite on paper – 27 x 58 cm

Those years I liked to try different media, and to make illustrations I also experimented with the use of the airbrush, which was very fashionable in the 80s. The following is another illustration done at home (for pleasure and practice, not for school), with acrylics and inks, using airbrush and fine brushes.

Colgada, 1988 – Airbrush, acrylic & ink on paper – 45 x 59 cm

At university we had a very interesting subject, “Pictorial Procedures”, in which they taught us different painting techniques and how to make our own painting materials, using pure pigments and binders such as linseed oil, gum arabic, wax, egg yolk, and so on.

The following illustration is made using homemade watercolours, which is very easy: it simply contain pigments, gum arabic and water:

Garajonay, 1988 – Handmade watercolour on paper – 29 x 54 cm

Of course we also painted a lot in oil. The following is an unfinished painting (made in my spare time, in summer) copying a photo of Matt Dillon from a magazine.

Matt Dillon, 1988 (unfinished) – Oil on canvas – 73 x 60 cm

There was an illustrator I really liked a lot: H. R. Giger, famous for creating the monster of Alien (one of my favourite films of all time). Giger usually painted with an airbrush in a very large format and with hardly any masks. The following image is a paper copy that I made, also in my spare time, not as an exercise for any class subject. It also hangs from the walls of my living room for years :-)

Alien, 1991 – Copy from Giger artwork – Airbrush, acrilic & ink on paper – 71 x 98 cm

There was a time when I was passionate about comics. And if there’s one author I love, it’s Jean Giraud, alias Moebius. There hasn’t been a bigger one for me. So, of course, I also tried to understand his style by copying some of his vignettes, as is the case of the following image:

Moebius, 1992 – Copy from a illustration by Moebius – Synthetic watercolour & ink on paper – 28 x 16 cm

When I finished college, and when I was working as a designer in agencies, I kept drawing by hand for a while. Next pic is one of those later examples. Unfortunately I abandoned that good habit, and it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a pencil and a sheet of paper… :-(

Chica con sombrero, 1993 – Pencil on kraft paper – 36 x 54 cm

I’ve always thought that if someday I get tired of computers I will go back to pencil drawing and watercolours: the simplest things.

Cristóbal Vila, September 2019, Zaragoza, Spain