Could you introduce yourself for those who are unfamiliar with your works?
Hello! I am Sally Slade, an XR Technical Designer for and co-founder of Voltaku, a real-time animation studio in Los Angeles.
Technical Design is a mix of both Engineering and Design– it’s our job to come up with visually compelling, frictionless solutions to the needs of a project, and then to implement it! For example, my last project was to create Vodcasto (http://vodcasto.info), a VTubing application which would allow users to animate cartoons using facial motion capture.
The XR element of my job simply refers to “Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and the spectrum in between”. I prefer to stick to the XR space, as I find the creators there to be very inspiring.
What inspired you to start your career as technical designer for XR content?
I was inspired to start this career when I tried Google’s Tilt Brush application on the HTC Vive in 2015. Until that time, I had dismissed VR as “for gamers”, but the ability to draw in 3D space at any scale paired with the dynamic nature of the brushes struck me as the pinnacle of Art x Technology. It really opened my eyes to the possibility of XR as a soulful place for creative exploration.
What is your artistic background?
I have no formal art training, but I have been drawing since childhood. For as long as I can remember, I have admired comic book artists and mangaka, and their unparalleled methods of worldbuilding through illustration.
I love to draw fashionistas, rockstars, and magical girls, but lately I cannot seem to stop drawing flowers!
When did you first start using Copic markers and why did you choose Copics in particular?
I started using Copic markers when I was in highschool. There was a wonderful book series called “How to Draw Manga” which had a special volume featuring Copic markers. I admired the rich and seamless look of the artwork in the book, and I loved how the markers could produce either a hard, cel-shaded look or a soft, watercolor look depending on technique.
I ordered a small set online and was thrilled to learn the quality lived up to the expectations. I could never return to drugstore markers after that!
This wonderful experience coupled with the community of Copic users online easily turned me into a brand loyalist.
What are your favorite Copic colors (or any Copic products) and why?
Oh, this is tough! I love so many of them, but I think my all time favorite would be BV00. When I really started to pay attention, I noticed all of the lavender tones that were used to shade white materials in anime and manga. I found it to be so cheerful and feminine!
And given the very light nature of BV00, it’s easy to layer the strokes if a darker look is required– it’s almost like three markers in one! If I could carry only one marker at a time, it’s this one.
Would you tell us how Copic is used at your works?
I love to use Copic markers and pens when I am doing character design. Though I am a big fan of digital art, I was never able to become fully comfortable doing freehand work on a tablet. To that end, I tend to use analogue tools at the beginning of my process.
I start by sketching, sometimes several designs on top of eachother in pencil. As I close in on the best possible option, I will ink it with Copic Multiliner pens. After taking a step back, if the design is satisfactory, I will proceed to color.
At this point, I will pull about a dozen Copic Sketch markers and make a palette, carefully labeling each swatch by color name. From there, I color in the piece as an initial jumping off point for what the final colors might be once we go digital.
What’s most important to me at this stage is the luminance of the colors (light vs dark), so I will sometimes even work in black and white.
Though perhaps a bit redundant to today’s machine assisted workflows, this process leaves me feeling relaxed and inspired, and it’s fun to keep that very early production art to look back at the evolution of a character over time.
Could you tell us about your dreams and artistic goals?
I have always dreamed of being part of a project that sends an empowering message to its community. When I watched “Spirited Away”, I left with a feeling of “Don’t be lazy! You can weather anything”. When I read “Fruits Basket”, I took away a powerful lesson in the value of an open heart and forgiveness.
I would love to be able to create compelling storyworlds which express some of my own values, including a call to action which might one day inspire a generation of readers, watchers, or players.
Would you tell us about your new project?
I am thrilled to have teamed up with fellow passionate storytellers to create Voltaku Studios Inc (http://www.voltaku.com), a real-time animation studio creating content for comic book, anime, and video game fans.
I will be running our Metaverse/Web3 strategy and execution– which means I get to keep my Technical Designer hat on and begin creating products and tools revolving around one of my favorite topics– avatars in social spaces! Whether you want to vlog on the go, become a VTuber, or just unwind in a virtual space with fellow fans, it will be my job to enable that journey.
Any last messages or advice you'd like to share with Copic community?
Thank you so much, Copic, for the opportunity to share my story with our wonderful community!