How did you become an artist?
My journey started when I was really little I’d say, about when I could hold a crayon! I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but up until the last years of Art School I was still figuring out what kind of artist I wanted to be. My sister was a huge creative influence on me growing up, she had a mind that could really write these cool stories and I wanted to visualize them all. We spent tons of time together in the basement dreaming up our own characters and the places they lived. I drew paper-dolls of them, attempted to paint them, and even drew little comics about them all!
When it came time to think about college, I applied for the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA for their Animation program (Thinking I was going to be a CG animator) HA! That changed my mind as I took some animation classes there and realized I missed my roots in illustration and painting. So I kept with the animation degree and took vis dev classes on the side so that I could not only learn and hone my painting/drawing skills, I could also pick up some important 3D skills (Maya/Zbrush) along the way to improve my vis dev workflow.
It was about my senior year at SCAD (2019), that I was really working hard on my visual development portfolio and thinking about steps after school. I applied for the Visual Development Trainee position at Dreamworks TV, and was accepted! Two weeks after graduation I moved my butt out to California where I was instantly immersed in this incredible pool of talent at the studio and was more motivated than ever to learn and grow there. The summer Trainee program was career changing, it consisted of 12 weeks of working with a professional artist mentor, taking classes, being on a real production as an artist, all while creating a portfolio project that you present at the end of the program. It was a little stressful, but I have never truly seen my art grow as much as it did in that short period of time. It was about Week eight of the program I was offered to stay on my show full time after, (I was on the super cute pre-school show called Doug Unplugs now streaming on Apple TV!). Now I am still at Dreamworks on another unannounced TV production which I am super excited for the world to get to see. So far these years at Dreamworks have been completely invaluable to me and I am so grateful to be surrounded by such encouraging and talented people who all believed in me and mentored me up until this point.
Where do you get inspiration?
I watched a ton of Disney films growing up and would pause them at certain times, admiring the light, colors, and backgrounds. My Dad is really a huge movie buff too and I was introduced to many cool films through watching them with him growing up as well. I’m really inspired by the classic Star Wars films, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Pixar films like the first Incredibles especially. I love art that uses not only color and light, but beautiful design to tell a story. Some of the artists I really look up to who do that so well are Mingue Helen Chen, Nathan Fowkes, Ryan Lang, and Leighton Hickman. Please go follow them if you haven’t already!
What’s your hardware setup?
Right now my current work setup is a HP laptop, a 22HD Wacom Cintiq and a third monitor. I like having a lot of screens to move windows around to keep my cintiq solely art focused.
What do you like best about Clip Studio Paint?
I love how much it reminds me of Photoshop but is streamlined down to just the parts I really want up in the User Interface. It’s very catered to people who just want to draw and paint, where sometimes those tools you’re really looking for can get lost in Photoshop.
How long does it take you to make a single illustration?
That always depend on the complexity of the piece, but for the recent studies I’ve been doing I like to keep those to no more than an hour and a half if I can, sometimes 30 mins! If it is a bigger painting with lots of props/characters and background elements involved that could be up to 2-3 days to complete.
In the fast paced world of animation, having a good amount of speed to your workflow can really help you, but don’t worry about it too much. At the end of the day you should really create work that makes you happy and if it takes a long time to do it, don’t sweat it. The more you do the easier it gets and the quicker you get naturally over time.
Would you consider Clip Studio Paint an industry tool?
I believe it is a great tool that can absolutely be used in many cases in this industry. Photoshop is the standard in many cases, but by having Clip Studio Paint experience can be a great way to start out. It is also much more affordable than Photoshop, so I think that is a huge thing for a lot of artists.
Would you like to promote some recent project?
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably been seeing my daily #pleinapril studies, that is a current project that I can talk about now! The others I can’t haha. #Pleinapril is a challenge started by the Warrior Painters group on Instagram where artists challenge themselves to complete one painting a day for the entire month of April. Whether it’s from life or from a photo or a virtual map, it’s a great challenge to grow, learn and be inspired by all these amazing artists on Instagram.
Where can we follow your work?
You can find me most active on my Instagram: @the_blue_leviathan I’m also on Twitter: @shnoobindraws
My website is www.shannonhallstein.com
Feel free to DM me on Insta if you have any questions! I’ll do my best to respond there.
*** Shannon is doing a #Giveaway with us! Reach her post on Instagram, follow her, follow @graphixly and leave a comment. Winners of Clip Studio Paint Pro will be announced on April 26, good luck! ***