An interview with Doron Ben-Ami


How does he do it? Achieve such incredible beauty and realism in such a short period of time?

Doron Ben-Ami, a WAY ART comp storyboard and animatic illustrator, will answer our questions and show how he does it using live models.

Can you tell us a little about your process of creating a storyboard or animatic using live models?

Doron Ben-Ami:
1. I shoot the model with as many of the necessary elements as possible .i.e. hair, clothing, etc.

2. I keep the lighting soft and neutral unless the frame specifically calls for dramatic light.
This is to minimize the complexity of the art.
Frames can be realistic, but need to maintain a strong graphic quality. Simplicity is key.

3. I import the image into photoshop, separate out the character into it’s own layer.

4. I separate head, shirt, pants, hands, shoes, and give them each their own layer.

5. I create a new layer for outlines.

6. I create selections for each of the component shapes, border them by one pixel, and fill those bordered selections with black, beginning the outline layer.

7. I draw in the rest of the outlines using a Wacom tablet and stylus set at 3 pixels wide, black, paintbrush, pressure-sensitive. This is where most of the “art” is actually done.

8. I go back to the object layers: shirt, head, etc., and apply heavy Median filter. This gets rid of details, but leaves color. All the detail now rests in the outline layer.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about using live models? What’s the worst thing?

DB: Best thing: real, natural, believable people. Worst thing: need to watch out for becoming a “slave” to the reference. It’s easy to get too influenced by it, and forget to create.

Can you tell us one of your secrets to using live models to create your artwork?

DB:Inspire the model by unabashedly assuming the pose you’re looking for. If you’re willing to look foolish, they’ll give you more of themselves.

What are some of the complications of using live models?

DB: There are none. Using live models makes my work easier.

What are some of the challenges in matching the model with the hero character for a board?
Finding available friends or family, or budgeting for a pro through an agency. Or… doing the extra drawing and thinking necessary to change the model’s appearance.

What are some of the characteristics you look for in a model?

A ham, a willingness to be outrageously expressive. The more acting they give me, the less work I have to do later.

What was one of your funniest moments using a model?
Often, I use myself. I had to do one frame of a man giving a woman Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. For this, I posed with my wife, on the floor and with my 15-year old son behind the camera. We all had the uncomfortable experience of my son shooting me Mouth-to-mouth, open mouthed, with my wife. (Hey! pipe down, Nothing wrong with that!) Anyway, it was awkward, and the three of us were laughing so hard, that it took about twenty minutes to get this otherwise very simple shot. I kept trying to get annoyed, but I was laughing too hard.