Who is Jad?
Jad Saber is an artist whose work captures the imagination right off the bat. The strong environment pieces always tell a story, and it’s hard not to start imagining what it would be like to wander through these worlds he has created. Whether it’s a grand Science Fiction panorama, a stunning mountainscape, or a gloomy, desolate city: atmosphere and mood are definite strong suits in Jad’s paintings. No wonder then, that he’s on the forefront of the concept art and environment design industry for movies and games – art forms that allow the audience to do just that and dive into the most fantastical scenarios.
Originally from Lebanon, Jad got his art education studying online at The Art Department, the now defunct online school that was one of the first to teach various classes on both traditional and digital art on the internet rather than only in person, from classical oil painting to graphic novels to the principles of animation.While the school shut down in 2014 due to financing issues, Jad’s career was only getting started after he graduated in 2013.
His first professional experiences were working as a freelancer for the entertainment industry, providing concept art, illustration and storyboarding for a range of clients. Things really took off a little later though, when he became part of legendary concept artist Shaddy Safadi’s art outsourcing studio One Pixel Brush, based in Santa Monica, California. As part of that team Jad worked – side by side with many other well-known artists like Florent Lebrun, Danar Worya, Balazs Agoston, and many more – on major properties of the gaming industry. Most notably Last of Us Part 2 and Uncharted: Lost Legacy for Naughty Dog, as well as a number of titles in the Call of Duty franchise by Infinity Ward.
As a concept artist who mainly specialises in environments, versatility is key for Jad. He frequently switches between painting, using 3D, and photobashing to create realistic sets and sceneries in as little time as possible. In an industry whose clients are known to demand realistic results in a very short amount of time and frequent changes to designs are the norm, this broad set of tools is what makes Jad such an effective and in-demand artist.
To get going on a new piece, Jad tends to start things off in one of three ways, depending on which suits the respective image best: using photo plates and a collection of reference and inspiration images to photobash right off the bat, create a 3D base model, or the classic approach of sketching out small thumbnails to find a working composition. Each of these provide a great starting point from which to explore further, with final paint overs to bring everything together in the later stages. One of the most important aspects to working quickly is to keep in mind to fix any issues in the painting as soon as possible, rather than leaving them until later – it’s much less painful to solve a compositional problem during the thumbnailing than when tons of detail have already been painted in.
Like many other great artists Jad also teaches, giving a masterclass on environment design for Adobe France, a live workshop for the NonStop Visual Development Seminar in Barcelona, as well as classes on using Blender to create stunning environment art for video games – a program that is rapidly gaining popularity among 3D and concept art industry veterans.