It’s my great pleasure to welcome digital creator and artist EC Henry to Fantha Tracks. E.C. Henry, thanks for joining us here on Fantha Tracks to talk Star Wars and digital art.

FT: Could you share your earliest Star Wars memories with us?

ECH: Star Wars has always been a part of my life so I literally can’t remember a time without it.

FT: What’s your favourite Star Wars film?

ECH: I don’t think I could say which is my favorite, but I do think A New Hope is a really interesting film. It’s sort of between the original very improvised flavor of Star Wars and the later, slightly more polished look.

FT: Following Disney’s Investors Day in December last year, were there any Star Wars projects which piqued your interest?

ECH: It’s really hard to tell at this stage. Just based on the titles and the names of the creators it’s impossible to say how things are going to end up.

FT: Do you collect anything Star Wars?

ECH: I collect reference images, behind the scenes photos, and blue prints. I’m content to have these as digital assets. I don’t need to have physical things.

FT: Have you played any Star Wars video games and have any inspired your own artwork?

ECH: I enjoyed playing Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire for their own unique thematic approaches and original soundtracks, but I wouldn’t say they inspire my artwork per se.

FT: What sparked your interest in digital artwork?

ECH: Digital art is another one of those things that has always been a part of my life. I can’t actually remember what my first digital project was or when I undertook it.

FT: Has your interest in digital artwork drawn you towards academic studies, fueled self-learning or a blend of both?

ECH: All my work is self-taught. I learned by doing over many years. I did take art classes in colleges that focused on basic artistic elements like composition and design.

FT: In the time you have been creating digital content, how does hardware or software compare today with your early days.

ECH: When I first started creating, the computers I was using were unable to run professional level software so I had to use more basic programs like Anim8or. Even so, I was getting a lot of great experience so when I was finally able to get a computer that could run 3DSMAX, I hit the ground running.

FT: With development of equipment, software and your experience, how does your creation processing time compare with your first experiences?

ECH: My turnaround times now are much faster, but I’d say that’s mostly due to experience.

FT: What tools do you currently employ when creating digital content?

ECH: I use 3DSMAX for 3D work. Everything else I can do in the Adobe suite.

FT: What computer hardware specifications support your digital processing?

ECH: I have pretty high-end hardware, but don’t be fooled into thinking you need hardware like mine to do great work. You can make amazing work with whatever hardware you have access to and with free programs like Blender.

FT: What’s key in digital creation, software, hardware or is this an equilibrium of both?

ECH: I’d say the key to great digital work, as with any medium, is understanding the fundamentals of design. You can make technically excellent work that doesn’t really look balanced if you don’t have the basics down.

FT: Your digital portfolio is home to a variety of complexities. What is the average time investment when modelling a single static image?

ECH: When you see a 2D render, you’re looking at the process of designing, modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering. So I’m not just making an image. Think of a photograph of the Pyramids of Giza. It takes engineers, architects, stone carvers etc. to make the structure, and only then can you get a static image of it.

FT: How does this compare with animated models in terms of time commitment?

ECH:  Modeling, rendering, and animating are all different. So the work that goes into a “single static image” involves all three. With animation, you just add animation to that list. So it is definitely more work.

FT: Unlike a 2D image creation, once you have created a fully 3D rendered model, does this provide full flexibility for animation such as movement, panning, angles, lighting and shading?

ECH: Yes, because a 2D image is flat, it doesn’t allow for the same possibilities of a 3D model. A benefit of 3D work is the fact that you can easily change elements like lighting and angles.

FT: With a 3D model initially taking longer to compose than a 2D image, does this time investment pay off when moving to animation processing compared with 2D animation sequencing?

ECH: Yes, definitely. 2D animation is becoming much less common because 3D animation does offer so much more flexibility. But ultimately, they are completely different skillsets.

FT: You composed the amazingly detailed digital Battle of the Dreadnoughts for EckhartsLadder.  What considerations go into projects like this in terms of modelling, storyline, audio and editing?

ECH: The most important thing there was coming up with good choreography for the ships so there was a good flow and a clear beginning, middle, and end. It’s not just spaceships shooting at each other; a lot of planning goes into those movements.

FT: Your digital creations encompass familiar ship models, but also extends far beyond these and into the realms of conceptual art. These unique models rendering beauty is only matched by the ingenuity behind them. What energizes you most, re-creation or conception?

ECH: There’s a really thrilling sense of discovery when researching existing models that I’m reinterpreting. But it’s also very satisfying to create something out of nothing. The rewards of both are unique and it’s impossible to choose one over the other.

FT: Do you have a favourite from your concept models?

ECH: I am really happy with how my New Republic Y-Wing turned out. It’s fun to imagine the sorts of stories you could tell with it. It’s the sort of design that sparks the imagination beyond just looking cool.

FT: In addition to many of the wonderful images and entertaining animations you have created, you have also produced informative material.  One example was the animation of warp/hyper drive for various ship classes which referencing their individual speed capabilities before demonstrating the relative visual momentum on the model.  Drawing from your modelling, animation, production skills and referencing of specifications, how much time did this project take and how much fun was it to make?

ECH: The biggest time investment that goes into making a video like that is the research and calculations that it requires. You have to consider exceptions and double check your numbers before you start visualizing it. By that time, the digital work is the easy part.

FT: What has been your most satisfying project?

ECH: I’d say Pacific 201. I was able to work with a talented team. It was also great to see how I grew as an artist and person through the 5 years it took to produce the movie. I learned many skills and created something that a lot of people like.

FT: Do you provide your digital artwork skills towards commercial ventures?

ECH: I have used my skills to do commercial work in the past, but I’m becoming more and more busy with my own personal projects, so my time there is very limited.

FT: Do you have any exciting projects in the production pipeline?

ECH: I have some very exciting projects that I can’t tell you about right now, but I can tell you I am working on more mystery ships, so stay tuned for those.

FT: Disconnecting from the digital matrix, what pastimes do you enjoy when away from the screen?

ECH: I enjoy researching history and I love to travel. I’ve been to Japan several times and I’ve also visited South Korea, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. I went to school briefly in Japan so it’s great to go back and visit friends. I always bring my camera with me and try and capture the cultural life of Japan.

FT: Do you have any tips for anyone considering taking their first steps into creating digital artwork?

ECH: Learn the fundamentals of design. The one basic and most important element of 3D art, painting, pottery, sculpture, etc. is the same: the universal principles of design.

FT: Where can we explore and enjoy your creations online?

ECH: Go to echenry.com and you can find a link to my YouTube channel and Instagram page.

FT: E.C Henry, it’s been a pleasure to ‘meet’ you and talk digital artwork, many thanks for sharing your experiences with us here on Fantha Tracks.  We wish you the best in your future artistic adventures and look forward to experiencing them.

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Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith: Dark Side Knowledge from the Skywalker Saga, The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and More (Children's Book, Star Wars Gift) (Star Wars Secrets)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sumerak, Marc (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Insight Kids (Publisher)
Mark's collecting focuses are vintage and modern Star Wars 3 ¾ inch figures, and readily shares his Star Wars, collecting and customising knowledge, Mark has appeared on Castle FM Radio shows, featured in the Guardian newspaper and many episodes of fellow Fantha Tracker Adam P O’Brien’s Ausfans Radio Network podcasts. He is also a member of the Custom Coalition.