This was incredibly helpful because prior to the mentorship, I had always run headlong into my illustrations with no clear message in mind.
Lois Bai is a talented Illustrator who lives in California who is always pushing the edge of what is possible in her abilities.
1,784 Words written by Lois
~8 Minutes to read
Hi! I’m Lois, a 2D illustrator from sunny California. Just last year, I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, but decided to make the 180-degree shift to digital art.
I grew up in a family passionate about the power of medicine. My parents have always encouraged learning about the sciences, so I eventually cultivated an interest in chemistry. But on the side, I took great happiness in reading fantasy book series, playing games on my Nintendo DS, and keeping up-to-date on the latest Batman/Justice League Rebirth comics. I loved imagining my own original character immersed in the rich storylines of these books and games. Eventually I began sketching these characters everywhere, even on Post-it notes and the backs of my homework assignments.
Coming into college, I ditched the doodles to focus on my education in engineering. But my sister gifted me a tablet, and my love for art resurfaced. I bought Procreate, taught myself how to use it, and began sketching during lectures instead of taking notes. I dedicated almost all my free time towards portrait photo studies and began posting daily art on Instagram. It was a constant and exhausting struggle to balance studying with art.
The turning point came when I was introduced to Riot games (Valorant and League), whose game art instantly magnified my desire to draw tenfold. It introduced me to the world of digital art under the gaming industry, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
I decided to complete my college education because I had invested so much time and effort into it already. But I graduated with a degree that felt empty and a collection of digital art that meant the world to me. So I finally decided to pursue art seriously.
When I started pursuing art seriously, one of the biggest issues I had was staying within my comfort zone. I knew I had a passion for drawing, but because I had initially considered art a hobby rather than a career, I had built a flimsy foundation of redrawing the same things over and over. I started my art journey by drawing only my favorite characters and didn’t branch out. As a result, I did not grow proportionally as an artist; I had much more experience in drawing female characters and little to no experience in complex backgrounds or other organic forms.
Another issue I had was not knowing what level of education I needed. I couldn’t gauge what level of experience I was at because I had been teaching myself how to draw. I felt as though I had a very basic knowledge of the fundamentals such as anatomy and perspective, but it was unrefined and I didn’t necessarily know how to apply what I knew. I definitely wanted to take classes, but not enroll in a 2- or 4-year school due to financial reasons. So for a while, I didn’t know where to look and where to start.
I also had a major issue with my technique. My illustration process developed more as a trial-and-error method, where I would just continually paint over my drawings until they somewhat matched what I visualized in my head. I realized much later down the line that this was an ineffective way to make art, and I had to consciously reconstruct a more organized way of painting.
My first splash art illustration of Pentakill Seraphine from League of Legends using my own character design concept.
I signed up for a mentorship at CGVerse for two main reasons. I already knew I wanted to break into the 2D illustration field in the gaming industry. Since this goal was clear to me, I felt as if an art school with a broad range of art classes to explore various art directions may not be the most useful education. I was looking for an organized way of learning that was catered to the field I wanted to work in. Since I was most interested in splash art illustrations, I felt like the CGVerse mentorship from a League of Legends artist was directly in-line with what I wanted to learn and thus best suited for me. Getting to learn from an artist working for the company that inspired me to pursue art seriously was just an amazing opportunity I could not pass up.
The second reason I chose CGVerse was that I explored their community through the public discord server, and it was such an encouraging and supportive group. Prior to joining the server, I didn’t know of any artists who shared similar experiences or art journeys. But I found that CGVerse cultivated a massive online community for artists of all different levels and backgrounds, who were so kind and shared the same kind of aspirations. Through sharing my art and seeing theirs, I was already learning from the people in that community. I also knew that if the community was that welcoming and helpful, the school itself and the provided mentorships would definitely share the same sincere intent of helping any new or growing artists.
I took the illustration mentorship with Augusto Quirino, where I was able to complete 3 splash art illustrations based on League of Legends characters. It was an amazing learning process from start to end because Augusto helped split the long and daunting illustration process into smaller, more manageable stages. He explained the theory behind composition and thumbnailing, including his creative process on brainstorming rich, story-telling ideas. He also went into depth on the technical aspects of his process, including how to use adjustment layers and tools in Photoshop to help experiment with mood/color. Finally, I really appreciated how he shared his optimized method of detailed rendering using methods such as photobashing because it really helped make the polishing stage easier.
One of the most helpful things I learned from Augusto was his solutions for combating the burnout that can occur with working on a splash art illustration. He was always giving the most helpful suggestions to help troubleshoot my mental obstacles. For instance, I often wasted time doing multiple paintovers when something in my illustration appeared unrealistic. Augusto reminded me to separate myself from my art when frustrated and return to photos for reference rather than try to fix everything on my own.
In between each illustration completion, I was also given smaller assignments to practice the areas that I struggled with the most. For me, it was material rendering, so Augusto recommended I practice rendering various materials on a character and really focus on following a structured method (such as blocking out shadows first and moving onto highlight) rather than just painting everything from left to right. This assignment was so insightful because it revealed how unorganized and inefficient my rendering had been prior, and I was able to render much faster in my final splash art illustration.
Magma Surfer Taliyah
Splash art for the character of Irelia in the League of Legends universe.
This has been one of the most valuable experiences in my art journey so far! I am definitely very grateful to have gotten this opportunity because I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much in a concentrated amount of time. Augusto was so knowledgeable, provided insightful feedback, and always encouraged questions. In both a technical and creative aspect, he guided me not by giving me the answers all the time, but by asking me questions to nurture my thinking process.
It was remarkable to see Augusto’s creative process, particularly with the way he brainstormed compositions for thumbnails. He emphasized choosing something specific to communicate, such as the mood, storytelling, or other kinds of overlying messages. This was incredibly helpful because prior to the mentorship, I had always run headlong into my illustrations with no clear message in mind. This often led to me getting lost halfway through the rendering process, and sometimes even losing the motivation to finish the illustration altogether. But keeping my intent present throughout the entire process was such a good motivator for me, because I fell in love with the idea of telling a story through my art.
There were definitely a good amount of challenges I ran into, with troubleshooting my painting process and maintaining stamina to polish off each splash art illustration. Augusto helped keep me grounded and reminded me of the important goals and vision I had in mind at the start of the illustrations.
To the aspiring artist who is feeling lost, this school can definitely put you on the right track. Time is such a valuable resource in an artist’s journey and taking a CGVerse mentorship felt like it streamlined my art education significantly, especially because it is feedback-centric and well-structured. I doubt that I would be able to find the same type of individualized treatment at another online school, as well as one that prioritizes your portfolio and prepping for industry. I believe this school boosts you from being merely a student to being an aspiring art professional. I am beyond pleased with what I accomplished under my mentor’s direction and support, and I definitely would never have gotten to this level without his guidance.
Additionally, the mentors at CGVerse are remarkably experienced and genuinely care about the learning artists. It is much more personal than a traditional classroom-style setting, and their genuine intention speaks volumes through the amount of help/advice the mentors provide. It is also critical to receive the mentors’ insights on what the hiring professionals are currently looking for. For me, enrolling in CGVerse was definitely a worthwhile investment for this reason alone. The mentorship left me with so many genuine connections to my fellow mentees, my amazing mentor, and a lot of artists from the community!
Pool Party Riven
Splash art for the character of Irelia in the League of Legends universe.
I am so grateful to have received a strong foundation under CGVerse, and I’m excited to move forward with the indispensable advice I received! However, I am still very much learning how to improve my art. I will likely be taking another illustration mentorship under CGVerse in the next year or two to help solidify my skills and continue expanding my knowledge about illustration in the gaming industry.
For now, I plan to improve my online presence by updating my portfolio, creating a personal website, and making a LinkedIn profile. I also hope to expand on more social media platforms (beyond Instagram) to extend my connections to other artists across the art community and industry.
Additionally, I want to revisit my fundamentals because I had self-taught most of them years ago. I want to concentrate on improving my perspective and anatomy through practice and shorter online classes. I will also be starting a new illustration project that tackles areas outside of my comfort zone, such as male characters, metal materials, and urban/city-like settings. I am definitely looking forward to applying what I’ve learned about splash art illustrations to a game outside of League of Legends and push myself further before!
(Before the mentorship)