Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of monster under the bed

GUEST ARTIST: “Inside The Art World Of Danny Beck”

Hello everyone! My name is Danny Beck and I’m very honored to be joining the talented artists here on Doodlewash. I love seeing everyone’s work and connecting with other artists from around the world.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of silver knight in shining armor

So yeah… about me, eh? Well let’s see… I was born and raised in sunny Arizona (Glendale and Tempe to be more precise) where I lived until I was 30. Drawing was just something I always did from a very early age. I would while away many summer days with my roll of butcher paper spread across the floor and Crayola Markers drawing Star Wars, knights and dragons. I was always captivated with the world of fantasy and science fiction.

I loved movies like Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal and Tron. It was in high school that I discovered my career path lay in the world of drawing and painting. There, I began exploring different media with which to express my ideas and found watercolor to be my favorite. I did a lot of watercolor painting during that time but as I started doing work for hire, I would begin to stray from the need for color as my paying work was solely in black and white ink.

My first paid gig was while I was in high school was doing illustration for an artistic rubber stamp company that was operated by my social studies teacher. Shortly after that, I got a contract gig doing illustration for a children’s educational company in Scottsdale, Arizona and did that for about 9 years.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of woman portrait

During that time, I pursued a career as an animator and began to build a portfolio geared for animation. I studied anatomy, figure drawing and cartooning. After being accepted to California Institute of the Arts, but not being able to go for financial reasons, I worked on pursuing my studies independently.

Sadly, by the time I was ready in the mid 90’s, the traditional animation industry was beginning to implode and I was forced to pursue another avenue. I knew that I just wanted to draw and paint for a living and I wasn’t going to give up. That was when I was presented with an opportunity to explore the digital world in video games as a concept artist for a video game company in North Carolina.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of Boushh armor Princess Leia Organa Star Wars

I had some knowledge of 3D and limited experience with Painter and Photoshop but, it was enough to get my foot in the door. I learned the most working on-the-job and that would eventually take me to such game studios as Terminal Reality, Ensemble Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, and currently Riot Games. I worked primarily as a concept artist the entire time. While that industry helped me to expand my skills and learn the software and new techniques, I always kept one foot firmly planted in my traditional media roots. I was also taking several painting classes, learning portraits in oils with Sean Cheetham, Jeffrey Watts and Lucas Graciano. I loved those classes. I used what I learned in those classes and applied them to my watercolor paintings.

I spent my time away from work always drawing in my sketchbooks – developing my own ideas. It’s important. These companies want to see what you can bring to the table… a new perspective, a different style and vision.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of aliens
Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of Armor Study

While I was at Blizzard, I started to notice that my sketchbooks were all black and white ink or pencil… they lacked the life that only color can bring. Since I was always most comfortable with watercolor, I decided to introduce color back into my sketchbooks. It was a revelation. Initially I was using traditional multi-media sketchbooks… you know, white paper. But when I discovered toned, recycled paper my approach would be forever altered. I went back to my roots of drawing monsters and doing studies of armor, portraits and working on improving my understanding of color.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars

It was when I combined monsters and hamsters that something clicked (for me anyway). Wanting to try something new, I bought a set of Derwent watercolor pencils and again my life was transformed. I started developing ideas in my sketchbook and, from there, would enlarge, transfer and realize – in full color – my sketchbook drawings. That was it, I was hooked. I loved the control and versatility the watercolor pencils offered and would eventually graduate to a full set of Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils.

At this point, I decided it was time for me to put something out into the world that was mine and mine alone. I landed on doing a children’s book. It would challenge me in more ways than one. So with the support of my incredibly loving wife, I quit my job at Blizzard Entertainment. In March 2013, I left behind a wonderful job as a character artist on World Of Warcraft (exactly 4 years later) to write and illustrate my own book!

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of monster and Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton

I spent 2 years doing freelance work (still gotta eat, ya know) and creating illustrations for my book. I wanted the illustrations to do most of the story telling so I made them as big, detailed and colorful as I could. I learned so much during that time. I pushed my understanding of color and lighting and would incorporate it into my paintings in an effort to make them more immersive and engaging.

I created the paintings with traditional tube watercolors (Winsor & Newton) and my Caran D’Ache watercolor pencils. All of the paintings for my book (titled Monsters ‘n Hamsters – a picture book) were painted on 16″ x 20″ Arches textured watercolor board. I love the texture and stability the watercolor board provides – I can lay down a lot of water with no buckling or warping, which is important since they all have to be scanned into digital format. The less buckling the quicker and easier it was to prepare them for print, less time cleaning up the images in Photoshop, that is.

Doodlewash and Watercolor Sketch by Danny Beck of monster and hamsters on bicycle

After those 2 years, I had a fair amount of work done on the book, and with an amazing offer from Riot Games, I decided to go back to work in the video game industry. I still work on developing my own ideas and I take painting classes when my schedule allows but, as I get older, I find contentment and happiness spending time with my adoring wife and our two dogs. I will always be drawing and painting, that’s a given, but my priorities are more clear to me now than ever before. I love illustration and working traditionally. Creatively, that’s where I am happiest – it combines so many important aspects of art: composition, emotion, mood, expression, color, lighting and creativity in general.

I have been extremely fortunate in throughout my career. I had amazing guidance, received invaluable critiques and insight and with a bit of luck was able to carve out my own little place in the art world.

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Danny Beck
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19 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Inside The Art World Of Danny Beck”

  1. Your work is ASTOUNDING! Combining monsters and hamsters really clicks for me too. 🙂 I notice you seem to use watercolor pencils pretty extensively. Can you tell me a bit about your technique? I haven’t experimented much with pencils in my watercolors because they seem kind of futzy — but your work has me rethinking that! Thank you for sharing it so generously.

  2. Those drawings are stunning and classic at the same time. The character of a sketch is the fourth dimension not easily achieved. You have put the personalities of some of those right on their faces.

  3. OMGoodness, Danny, your work is absolutely magical. There is a monstrous talent inside the creative little kid that is you. What a pleasure to see your work. Your art reminds me of Bill Peet whom I met years ago, though your work is identifiably your own. The same fun and love in all you do, monsters who are friends though maybe a bit misunderstood.
    Thank you, Charlie, for inviting Danny to Doodlewash.

  4. I am such a huge fan! Your art is so fun! And I’m really jealous of the whole watercolor thing… frankly, it scares me. 😉 But you make it look so breathtaking that it makes me want to try it some more!

  5. I absolutely love these illustrations. I love how detailed they are and how much they make me smile. As a movie nerd, I was particularly drawn towards those illustrations. I think my favourite is the Predator and Xenomorph.

  6. Stunning and gorgeous art! Love that you were contracted by your Social Studies teacher to draw designs for rubber stamps…brilliant. But even more brilliant is the story of your art journey, “deep sigh/wishful thinking/daydreaming/drool with envy” all rolled into one word…”awesome!” Thank you for sharing a great feature post full of inspiration that dreams can come true for the love of art and watercolors. Will keep an eye out for monsters and hamsters…sounds delightful! (P.S. Adore the portrait of Peter Cushing and wonder if you did any concept art of Night Elves…more sighs.)

  7. I laughed out loud at “it was when I combined hamsters and monsters…” Fantastic! Wonderful illustrations and such a great adventure to get where you are. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Love your sense of whimsy with your gentle monsters and those fun-loving hamsters (working the power wheels of that tricycle). Wonderful work. May you live long and prosper. <3

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