My Journey as a Digital Artist

I got into digital art by some accident. I wanted to improve my skills in visual effects, since I mostly create science fiction films (oh, you could support my films on patreon, or by buying me coffee) and I was struggling to convince people that I’m good at it. I tried practical effects, and sometimes it worked, but most times it was too off the mark that it didn’t even end up in the film. Then, around 2017 after making Her Broken Shadow, I took time to learn Blender since CGI had become achievable, and when I did, I realized I could add ‘digital art’ to the list of media I work in.

Since then, I’ve made a few projects. In 2018, I made a series of artworks for KlaArt, a festival of visual arts in Kampala. I called it ‘Robots of the Pearl’, and at first I imagined it to be a virtual reality artwork. Or maybe a mixed reality piece. The idea was to have installations in the street, and people could use their smartphones to reveal the digital parts of the pieces. Technology failed me. I couldn’t do it as VR or XR, and so I settled for artworks, like this one below.

Digital Art, mixing CGI with photography of a pregnant woman lying on a bed, her belly exposed, and a robot doctor stands over her, holding an IV drip. A CRT type monitor is on the left of the screen, displaying error messages.

It’s one of my favorite artworks, and it’s titled ‘Mucuba.’ At that time, Ugandan doctors were striking over poor pay and terrible working conditions, and the response of the government was to threaten to import Cuban doctors to replace them. Apparently Cuba has marketed itself as a major exporter of doctors, in a program tinged with controversy as some people say the doctors who work in it are like slaves. So I made this piece, and you can interpret it based on this note.

Thereafter, I tried making graphic novels, something I’d wanted to do for a long time but never got round to convincing an artist to work with me. Now that I could use Blender comfortably, I thought I could give it a go. I made a five page excerpt to try and market the idea, but I never went beyond that. It was a lot of hard work.

Then came 2020 and the pandemic hit, and I found myself imprisoned at home, like everyone else. Suddenly, everything was online. Physical festivals were canceled in favor of online versions, and I saw a call, from the National Arts Festival of South Africa, for artwork that can be exhibited online. I pitched the idea of an ‘interactive graphic novel’ though I had no idea what I was pitching. I just said it’s a graphic novel that people can click-click through the non-linear story lines. I was surprised when they bought my idea, and then I panicked, because what the heck is an interactive graphic novel? I threw myself into finding out, and it helped me survive the first lock down. The artwork I created is a whole website, (send me an email if you want the password) and I saw it could grow into a bigger thing, a choose-your-own-adventure kind of game, but with an infinity of story lines that users can contribute to. Well, lets say its still a work in progress. Once I get the time, I’ll come back to it.

And now this year, I’ve made a series of illustrations for stories I wrote to inspire a card game themed on climate change. You can read about the game here. Below is an image I really like, and totally enjoyed making it, and it was to accompany this story, about a boy who discovers a strange creature in a swamp.

I’ve progressed fairly well in visual effects, and even made a whole animated film which you can see in my patreon. I also made this short film called Kifaro using blender for visual effects, and I think its one of my best works. I had a lot of fun making it. And I’m making more films soon. You can support my journey by becoming a patron, or buy me coffee.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.