Celestial Painters Interview – Diego Esteban Perez

June 29, 2018 by brennon

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Diego Esteban Perez is one of the painters who took part in the awesome Celestial Painting Competition we are running alongside Diemension Games. Sam took some time to talk to him about his work and what he does...


Remember to hop on over to the Facebook Group to share your thoughts with the other artists and see some amazing WiP pieces too.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what work do you do?

My name is Diego Esteban Perez also known as "dieguete" and I was born in Madrid! I have always loved drawing and painting since I can remember. At the age of twenty-one, I started studying illustration and, step by step, what started as just a hobby became part of my job which I enjoy more and more each day. 

My first professional work was painting the box art of the Àrt of Gotia figure for Tale of War more than ten years ago. Since then, I have worked as a freelance painter for collectors and some of the most famous brands in the sector, MProyec, Andrea miniatures, Scale75, and Knight Models to name a few. Right now I'm the art director, sculptor and painter at Heramodels.

Diego painting #1

How did you get started painting miniatures?

I started painting miniatures by chance. At the time I was studying illustration and my friends and I were very fond of playing to D&D. One day I decided to paint my character and it all went from there. It has since then drawn my attention more and more.

I actually remember that before I started looking at painting characters I had actually bought a box of Archers and some of the Citadel paints and that might have been one of my introductions into this.

How have you found the painting competition so far?

The contest has been very interesting. I like the figures very much as they are very dynamic and all of the painters have done a great job.

I do miss that this is not a face-to-face competition. I prefer to see the figures in my hand and not photography. For example, in my case, it's a pity that in photography you cannot appreciate the different finishes of the materials; more polished or maybe the satin that contrasts with the inside of the skin that is completely matte.

Such effects are hardly appreciated in photography but it is part of the contest so I have rolled with it!

diego painting #2

X’hydral may be the most monstrous looking Celestial figure. Why did you choose to paint it?

I chose this model for several reasons. One is that I love monsters and it also allows me to play with all kinds of colours, environments and effects. As it is a larger figure and has more different elements, I can do more complex scenes using various colour and composition.

On the other hand, I like challenges and I think that this is the most complex figure to paint for the contest. The other figures have a humanoid anatomy that is easier to interpret. The anatomy of monsters is almost always more complicated because usually, we can't use references to something that is already painted.

I also like the character's story and my whole scene is based on that. Some friends said that I'm crazy to choose such a complex figure when I only have a month to paint it. But as I said before, I love challenges haha!

Did the model give you any ideas? What did you want to make when you began planning how to paint it?

I wanted to represent the history of the character. The Celestial figures are based on Chinese mythology, and I love that.

I like that my figures are not limited to just good painting as I like to tell stories with my works. Where are the characters? What do they do? What happened to them in these moments? One of the things I asked the organisers of the contest is that they send me the story of the character.

diego painting #3

The base is very striking, with the cool Japanese style roof acting as a frame. Did you build that from scratch?

In general, most painters take great care when it comes to the painting of the figures but neglect the surroundings or the setting. The opposite happens to me and I find it is impossible not to work to get the base to be at the same level as the miniature itself. I always try to recreate an environment that tells the story of the character.

I like working on the composition of the scene to enhance the figure which then gets people to look where I want, attracting the eye. And yes, I scratch built all the scenery to adapt it to the scale of the figure and composition he had designed!

Is there a story behind the way you based this?

I designed a structure reminiscent of the temples in China's mythology called Kunlun. The scene symbolizes the access stairs to the jade temple and I tried to recreate the temple from popular culture as well as I could. X'hydral is one of the guards who protect the temple from beings who want to destroy the Celestials!

The Taoist religion is based in these temples and stories from mythology and one of the most representative symbols of it is that of the Yin Yang. So, I sought to recreate that feeling with a part of the structure that showed no deterioration and the other completely destroyed.

For me, everything you put on the exhibition stand must make sense and it has to tell a story or help us to tell it. It is not simply a case of putting everything together and hoping it works. 

diego painting #4

One of the most impressive parts of your piece is the way light seems to be escaping from its body. How did you do that and what made you want to paint it that way?

I wanted to represent a magical being, a Celestial, so it occurred to me to use fluorescent paint to recreate that feeling.

The monsters or animals that scare us are usually dark colours, but those that are hidden or in places with little light are usually pale colours and create a sensation in us of repulsion.

I decided to mix both sensations with X'hydral as he is a guardian in the dark, a repulsive creature and that's really scary. This is why I decided to paint a dark shell that had an inorganic feeling to it and then organic and pale skin on the interior of the model's frame.

I had to put a lot of colours together to make it seem like a magical being but tried carefully to not make it seem like a toy. I think I managed to make it appear as if it is something real.

What challenges did this model present you with?

From the beginning of the process, it was a challenge as I had little time on my hands and the model was large with a LOT of parts. I invested a lot of time in preparing the figure and the terrain before I began to paint and then I then had loads more problems with my study including a flood and redecorating! It was difficult to maintain a steady pace of work.

I then had to paint X'hydral whilst I was also working on other figures for Heramodels. Don't worry though, I just didn't sleep for a few days so I could finish the model haha!

In summary, I think the entire process was a great challenge that I enjoyed very much!

What are your thoughts on the other painters’ work?

I think the rest of the participants had done a great job. Most of them are great friends and it was a pleasure to compete with them. In general, I liked all of their work and the choice for the jury will not be easy.

My favourites are the scene from Max as I like his personal style and how he always tries to do something more. I also really liked Antonio's work as he has used very interesting colours in his miniature and created a very elegant piece. Francesco's presentation is also superb!

It was such a shame that Ben injured his hand and wasn't at 100% for the competition. I also wish as I said before, that I could see their work in my hands!

Where can people go to see more of your work?

I usually post many of my work-in-progress pictures on Instagram or Facebook but I prefer people to see my finished figures in the flesh. However, I do of course post my finished work online since we are in the business of that!

You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook at Dieguetestudio.

Or, you can also follow my work on HeraModels or on my personal web page www.dieguetestudio.jimdo.com.

Thanks for chatting with us Diego and we can't wait to see more of your work!

"For me, everything you put on the exhibition stand must make sense and it has to tell a story or help us to tell it..."

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