Today we celebrate concept artist and production designer Doug Chiang. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you’ve probably seen his work. Chiang has worked at Industrial Light and Magic, and has been the concept artist or visual effects art director for movies you may have seen: Terminator 2, Jumanji, Forrest Gump, Ghost, and many Star Wars films including The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Phantom Menace, and Attack of the Clones.
“The best advice I can give is to start with a very good education, like at CCS for instance,” said Chiang. “It’s essential to learn the core foundation skills of good drawing, composition, and design and not to be lost in the glamour of new tools and techniques that can sometimes disguise poor work with lots of flash over substance.”
Finding inspiration in the most unusual places, Chiang often browses through reference books for fresh ideas. Often, the new connections and patterns inspire him. For example, Darth Maul’s facial tattoos resemble those of indigenous tribes living in the rainforests of Brazil. Queen Amidala’s robes reflect the clothing worn in Asian cultures. The look of the robots deployed during the Trade Federation assault on Naboo were inspired by the elongated facial features common in African tribal art. Even the Federation’s mobile troop transports were designed to look like charging elephants to heighten the audience’s emotional response to them.
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