Faustine Merle gives us a preview of her experiences and learnings as an art student in Paris.
Faustine Merle is currently a Fourth-year student at animation school, Gobelins, in France. During this time, she’s honed a love for illustration as part of Visual Development, Character Design, and Concept Art.
Please elaborate on your exposure, education, and experience gained in relation to art since the initial days when you first recognized your love for it.
Faustine Merle: I have always had a passion for drawing, which is why I started Art studies in High School. Graduated in Applied Arts, wherein I gained a taste for working on projects. I then naturally chose animation because of my love for movement and dynamism in drawing and also because I like teamwork.
I started a DMA (Arts Trades Diploma) and, after one year, was accepted at the Gobelins Animation School in 2018. There I learned to master the use of many software–2D, traditional and 3D animation–and mostly Character Design and Visual Development. I did two different internships in French animation studios. The first one was specialized in advertising while the second was in a TV series studio.
What kind of characters do you enjoy illustrating and how do you conceptualize and execute them?
Faustine Merle: I really enjoy drawing joyful characters with a lot of energy. I always begin a character’s work by doing a lot of random sketches in a sketchbook. Then, when I find one I like, I scan it and begin to color on Procreate or Photoshop. Most of the time, I refine it on the software. I try to find the best pose, the most dynamic one. I love the contrasting ambiance as also the light and shiny effects.
Faustine Merle: I think the most significant illustration works I did in terms of Concept Art are the ones for my adaptation project of the “Enchanted Flute” and the “Night Queen”. That’s because they’re a mix of Character Design research, colorful colors, a poetic mood, and emotions.
How would you describe your style in terms of subjects or themes you choose and techniques and skills you apply?
Faustine Merle: I always like to approach a poetic story with a bit of magic inside it. I like to make people feel emotional with happiness. That’s why I like stories that happen at night, with lights which look like magic. Using digital software like Photoshop and Procreate help me create those kinds of ambiances because they allow me to try out many lighting effects.
I also like a lot of funny stories with many colorful and dynamic characters. Most of my works are sketches on paper, with sometimes watercolors or other techniques, in order to try out many characters and ideas.
What kind of work are you looking forward to doing after graduating and what kind of an illustrator do you want to grow into?
Faustine Merle: After graduating, I would like to do Visual Development work in feature film studios, trying out Character Designs alongside Concept Art and research for the creation of a new virtual universe.
Which artists from the past and present do you look up to and why?
Faustine Merle: I really look up to Aurelien Predal and Salamispots (Tumblr) in terms of color and Concept Art because I really like their sense of colors. As for Character Design, I really like the works of Sylvain Marc, Deanna Marsigliese, and Nicolas Marlet for their energy and the prolific sketches they do.
How have your skills grown through your four years of education? What have been your major learnings?
Faustine Merle: Firstly, through the course of this year, I learned to master software I didn’t know earlier but use today (Photoshop, Tvpaint, etc.) I also learned to create a short film–”The Pipeline”–and the organization it takes.
The school allows us to have skills in almost all the animation jobs, so I learned 2D animation, Background Design, 3D, Story Board, and so on. Thanks to these past years, I have realized that what excites me the most is Visual Development and Character Design.
Please tell us more about your experience at Gobelins, as a student of art.
Faustine Merle: I really learned a lot at Gobelins. It is such a growing experience. Mostly, working with my classmates has been inspiring because people are really good. So you naturally want to be better and do better. There is a lot of mutual aid between people and the atmosphere of our class is great. I like the way we do all the different exercises with a lot of freedom. Yet we learn so much each time.
I’ve had the opportunity to try out many different skills and develop my own style. We’ve had really great teachers like Yohann Hervo and Daniel Cacouault. Sometimes, though, the organization of the school is unsatisfactory and the staff is not always attentive to the students.
Are there any particular clients or other artists you’d like to work or collaborate with?
Faustine Merle: I would like to collaborate with the artists I mentioned earlier because I really love them. Also musical artists. Indeed, I would love to do a project really linked with music because I am a huge fan of musicals.
What are 3 things you wish or intend to achieve in your work?
Faustine Merle: I think I would like to work in the US (or just travel all over the world for work); move kids and people with characters or moments, like those who moved me when I was a kid and still do.
And, finally, to develop my skills in many more techniques–may be more traditional ones like gouache painting.