Ronan Le Fur, known by the pseudonym Dofresh, has been creating stunning CG art for the video game and film industries for nearly a decade. The beautiful colors and intricate details of Ronan’s work beckoned us to hire him to create custom illustrations for EVENPRIME – part of a longer-term sci-fi narrative we’re building out for the brand. Check out what he had to say about creating artwork for us, the importance of working collaboratively, and how to find success in the world of concept art.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Ronan! Can you give us a quick overview of your background?
My name is Ronan Le Fur, but my pseudonym is Dofresh. I’m a freelance concept artist and illustrator living in Brittany, on the western coast of France. After nearly a decade working as a CG artist for various studios, I decided to branch out and pursue a freelance career. Since then, I’ve been very busy creating artwork for movies, books, TV shows and video games.
What’s a typical day look like for you?
I wake up early and (after a cup of coffee) try to produce most of my creative work in the morning (which means brainstorming, finding the right composition, the right design and colors). After lunch, I do more "easy" stuff like cleaning up renders, fixing errors, playing with the color grading, adding details and textures. At the end of the day, I make notes on what has been produced, with a list of things to do and things to fix for the next day.
What prompted your focus in illustration and concept art?
I’m mainly interested in the storytelling. I love how illustration can communicate without words, through a universal visual language.
What most influences your artistic style?
Cinema has been my major source of inspiration since childhood. If I were to name my favorite directors, I would include: John Carpenter, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Mamoru Oshii. I used to read a lot (much less nowadays, sadly) – reading is a great way to beef up your imagination.
Tell us about giant robots – what’s your favorite robot franchise?
I would have to say "Patlabor" – not the TV show, but the first two movies directed by Mamoru Oshii (in the early 90’s). The mech designs and the film’s economic, military and sociological themes have profoundly influenced the way I envision realistic + believable robots (and settings). Patlabor 1 and 2 are very smart and beautifully crafted. I highly recommend the films if you haven’t seen them.
Speaking of robots, can you tell us a bit about the illustrations for EVENPRIME?
It was a fun process. The brief specified the art should feel old school, inspired by 80's anime like "Macross,” “The Five Star Stories” and "Gundam.” The mech designs of that era tended to be rather simple and elegant (due to the limitations of hand drawn animation). This allowed me to reference some very iconic designs. I loved the ode to purity, something you don’t see as much nowadays [in creative briefs]. Newer mech styles sometimes end up resembling a jumble of wires and bolts without a clear silhouette.
What are your thoughts on a skincare brand integrating sci-fi aesthetics?
At first, I was surprised and a little skeptical. But after some reflection, I had to admit that such a fresh, new approach was a good way for a brand to stand out. As humans, sometimes we tend to rely on old clichés (why should a skincare brand always need to stick to boring, clinical visuals?), so I appreciate the attempt to be different.
Can you walk us through your favorite process for tackling a piece of concept art?
I start by creating a few loose sketches, to create the general composition. Once I think I have something, I jump into my 3D software and begin to refine the design and the lighting. Once I have enough detail to play with, I send a rough 3D render to Photoshop in order to fine tune the overall image and apply a warm, painterly quality. This process usually takes a few days.
What’s the one thing you think is least understood about work as a concept artist?
I think in general clients must trust the artists they hire. As an artist, sometimes it feels like you’re only paid to produce a clean, professional render of someone else’s idea, nothing more. That can be frustrating and doesn’t always lead to the best result. It’s important to have honest, open dialogue between the artist and client (sharing ideas back and forth). I believe mutual collaboration ends up feeling rewarding for both parties.
What’s something you know now that you wish you could’ve told yourself when you first started out?
I would tell myself, “Never aim for perfection in your images, that's not what the clients are after.“ (laugh)
What game(s) are you playing these days?
Unfortunately, I don't have much time to play lately, but I recently enjoyed “Papers, Please" and "RiME.” Both are very good, albeit quite different games. “RiME” in particular had insanely beautiful graphics.
Other than games, where do you search for inspiration?
Aside from movies, I tend to read a lot of science fiction books. They’re a great way to discover new stories and universes to illustrate. Books really force you to use your imagination. You constantly have to remain active in the process of reading.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Do you have any parting advice for aspiring artists out there?
My advice would be the following: learn from the best, of course, and do not hesitate to get inspired by them. But when it comes to your own personal art, do what you like. Not what you think is trendy or successful, or what the others say you should do. Just do what you like and the rest will follow.