Star Wars Artist Spotlight: Darren Tan

Battle Of Tingel by Darren Tan
There are so many talented Star Wars fans out there that create beautiful pieces of Star Wars art. However, there is a smaller number of these Star Wars artists that create consistently awesome art. One of these artists is Darren Tan. You may have seen some of his art over the years in various official things such as Fantasy Flight Games…

Darren TanIn what part of our galaxy do you reside in? are you a full-time artist?

I was originally from Malaysia but now I’m a full-time freelance digital artist living in Singapore.

How long have you been a Star Wars fan? Can you recall your first Star Wars memory?

I’ve been a fan ever since I was a little kid. I can’t recall exactly at what age Star Wars hooked me but I must’ve been pretty young. My first memory of Star Wars was of the scene where a Rebel snowspeeder tie up the legs of an AT-AT walker in the Battle of Hoth. I don’t think I entirely understood what I was watching at that age but I remembered being so mesmerized by the incredible imagery that it had been burned into my memory ever since.

What did you think of The Force Awakens? Where do you hope Episode VIII will go?

I loved TFA and still do. I know some fans think it’s just a rehash of ANH and I agree to a degree but I felt that it also brought some new things to the table. Without going into specifics I think it did a good job at setting the stage for the rest of the sequel trilogy, which leads me to the question of what I hope to see in Epsiode VIII. I want to see the next episode go in totally new directions expanding on the lore of the Star Wars universe, especially regarding the Force. With the introduction of Snoke, the Knights of Ren and Luke’s search for the secrets of the first Jedi temple, I’m inclined to believe that there will some major revelations that will change our understanding of the Force, its history and how our characters, new and old, relate to it. I also hope to see more in-depth look at the state of galaxy, its political landscape and some space battles in Ep VIII.

Who is your favorite Star Wars character? And which is your favorite character to create art of?

That’s a really tough choice; it’s almost easier to pick what I don’t like but if I have to choose I would go for a classic choice, Luke Skywalker. There’s just so much mystery surrounding him after TFA that I’m really intrigued to know more about him than ever before; what he did after the Battle of Endor, what secrets he learned in his journeys and how he ended up on Ahch-to. Favorite character to paint and draw would be the popular Legends character, Mara Jade.

Mara Jade by Darren Tan

When did you first start creating Star Wars art?

I’ve been drawing Star Wars since I was a kid, drawing X-wings, Tie fighters and all the other starships from the movies and tie-in games. My first commercial work for Star Wars was when I was working at Imaginary Friends Studios where I got the chance to do card art for the Star Wars Galaxies Card Game.

Do you have any favorite artists or influences in your work? How did you arrive at your style?

I’ve been inspired by many artists throughout the years but back when I was still learning the ropes of digital painting a few of my biggest influences were Jason Chan, Nox, Jamie Jones and Craig Mullins. I also learned a lot from my time at Imaginary Friends Studio; it was when I really started to hone my skills and develop my style. IFS art directors Kai ‘Ukitakumuki’ Lim and Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau were my biggest influences while I was there. I’m also inspired by traditional artists like Norman Rockwell, Jame Gurney, Graham Turner and the late Angus McBride.

Which are your favorite Star Wars art pieces that you have made?

I’ve done ALOT of Star Wars artwork so this is not gonna be a short list. I’ll start by saying that I have a fondness for most my Mara Jade art as she’s one of my favorite Star Wars characters to paint. I also really like the one with Admiral Daala gassing a room full of Imperial warlords and another, a big space battle from the view of a Tie Fighter cockpit; those were a tonne of fun to paint. Other Star Wars artwork which I did, that I like are the numerous pieces I worked on for Fantasy Flight Games(FFG) Star Wars games like Star Wars RPG, Star Wars LCG, Star Wars Destiny, X-Wing Miniatures and Star Wars Armada. Finally I shan’t forget to mention the Ahsoka and Rogue One fan art I did just recently:)

"She's Had Enough" by Darren Tan

How do you usually go about making your art? What’s your process/timeline from start to finish?

It depends on the project I’m working on but I always start by collecting reference material, if they haven’t already been provided by the client. Then I usually I try to spend a day for sketching; bigger or more complex pieces may require 2 or more days of sketching. That is followed by color blocking, which may take 1-2 days, and again, the more complex the piece the more days it will take. Finally detailing and adding finishing touches usually take the longest; around 3 days, at the least.

Ahsoka "I'm No Jedi" by Darern Tan

What have been some of your favorite experiences as a Star Wars artist?

I’ve had a few good ones and the first that comes to mind is getting to contribute artwork to the Star Wars Expanded Universe(now Legends) through Star Wars Essential Guide books. Next is working on new canon material, in which I get access to some classified information from future movies. I always get really excited when I’m given such a project. The other, which is specific to my FFG works, is playing and simply being a fan of the Star Wars games I’ve worked on(X-wing & Armada). Speaking of being a fan, probably the most rewarding experience for me as a Star Wars artist is interacting and geeking out with other Star Wars fans who enjoy my work.

Are you working on any more Star Wars art? Or have any planned for the future?

As far a personal fan art goes I have a certain blue-skinned alien in mind; assuming I can find time away from my busy work schedule, that will probably be my next piece. Other than that I’m always doing Star Wars stuff for FFG so you can look forward to future works there.

Battle Of Tingel by Darren Tan

How excited are you for Rogue One? What are some of your favorite characters from the film so far?

Extremely excited! Being a fan of the old X-wing novels and Rogue Squadron comics, it’s the kind Star Wars movie I’ve always wanted to see on the big screen. The kind where the focus is more on the ‘War’ and the regular people who fight in it. In this rich universe there are the ‘Legendary’ heroes(Luke, Han, Leia) and then there are the regular heroes; one can’t succeed without the other. Rogue One is about the latter, the guys who make that heroic sacrifice so that another can make the killing blow that topples an Empire.

Brothers Of The Rebellion by Darren Tan

As for who are my favorite characters so far, I have to say I’m intrigued by Chirrut and Baze, not only because they’re Asian (like me) but because of the close relationship they have with each other despite one being a believer and the other a skeptic. Looking forward to see how that pans out in the film. I’m also pretty stoked at the myriad of new alien characters we’re gonna see in the film, especially those who are part of the Rogue One crew….Bistan the Space Monkey:) Finally I really hope we’ll get to see Darth Vader in action again; it would be mind blowing to witness!

If you want to see more of his awesome art, be sure to follow him and check him out on ArtstationDeviantart, and Facebook.

You can check out the five previous Star Wars Artist Spotlights I’ve done here

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