david benzal and concept art
By Marina Antigualla
Many times we watch TV series and animation films, or play video games without thinking about how they could have been done. What hides behind every smile drawn or every look that, drawn with perfectly demarcated lines, overflows humanity, making us feel completely identified.
There are those who do think about how to be the creative hand. The hand that animates and gives breath to beings that populate the screens of cinema or television. That is when we see that the remoteness of such performance makes it difficult for us to undertake such work. But it’s not impossible, because there are many artists who work in studios such as Walt Disney Studios, 20 Century Fox, Universal or HBO.
Artists who chart a path in which the improvement of techniques and professionalization will lead their work. One of them is David Benzal. He is an illustrator whose creations we can see in different television productions, cinematographies, as well as video games and comics. His production is very interesting, since he designs and draws both the characters and the contexts in which they develop the timeline, giving them an identifying essence, which makes his work something with its own stamp.
But what were his beginnings? David Benzal studied at the Barcelona School of Art and Design. His introduction into the world of illustration would come at the end of his studies of mural painting and technical procedures, later being trained as an illustrator in studies of the city of Barcelona, perfecting at the same time techniques in the drawing of comics, as in the field of the pictorial. Thus blending both worlds, and resulting in a unique style.
His personal stamp is marked by the light projected by their characters, which gives them an aura with their own personality. Creations that tend almost to possess an anima. Not only that, the volumes and the overlap of a multitude of planes, with great mastery, makes us immerse ourselves in a sea of details to get lost in giving the whole a complex and attractive visual potential.
The quality of his creations has led him to work in productions by Walt Disney Studio, Ubisoft, HBO, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios Entertainment, Legendary Pictures or Netflix as concept artist but, what exactly is hiswork based on? In the creation of illustrations that reflect ideas and concepts, phase prior to the creation of the project itself and that decisively influences the final result. In this phase both the contexts, the characters, objects and the atrezzo are previewed, all involved in the work of the artistic direction of preproduction. And in this branch David Benzal is one of the most renowned Concept Artists internationally, working on projects of film directors such as Steven Spielberg and in productions such as World War Z, Prometheus, Mars or Alien Covenant.
And it’s that within David Benzal’s work it is very interesting his task as concept artist, a branch of art very little known but that we usually see in the extras of many films that are not of animation, for example. Films which, although not entirely based on the illustration, need a very complex preproduction basis on which special effects, which will develop later, are essential in scenes recorded with real actors and scenarios that require a fairly important drawing and preconception base. Special effects, whose projection in sequences and scenes are based on sketches and their design by means of illustrations, becoming authentic works of art by their uniqueness.
This artistic branch would be born in the beginnings of the animation film industry at Disney Studios. Today it has been professionalized and is indispensable in the Art Department of any audiovisual creation, because it’s necessary to preview the final product by means of illustrations that will serve different departments to carry out the final work, thanks to the concepts they represent. In these concepts, a team led by the Art Director, who together with the Director of the film, will decide which ideas will remain and which will be discarded. You may be confused if you think that what matters in such illustrations is their completion, because what matters is the process and its stages. Stages that will vary and lead to different paths, some discarded and others not by artistic direction. As you can see, a complex initial path and that in preproduction (and within it the illustration) is essential to start projects or to sell them.
Without a doubt, David Benzal’s work is one of the most interesting in the world because of its completions and the imagery it carries. It introduces us in a bastion not too explored; that of those cartoonists who dedicate themselves to preconcepting by means of the illustration the final result of different cinematographic productions and of the world of the video game. And not only that, we see how illustration is not only an end, but also a means by which to get that works, which have nothing to do with drawing, can be preconceived and brought to the big screen. Thus, the illustration and the illustrator becomes the basis of the current imagination, creating concepts and ideas that remain in our society for decades.