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Mentor of the Day: Leighton Hickman

We’re happy present our final mentor of the day, Leighton Hickman!

Currently at Dreamworks Animation, Leighton’s main contributions to the development of animated feature films have been creating visual development paintings, lighting keys, visual effects paintings as well as set and prop designs. And he has experience working directly with other departments within animation to develop a scene such as story, modeling, surfacing and lighting.

Leighton returns to Motivarti because he feels “Teaching and helping others is a great way for me to give back to the artistic community and to inspire and be inspired. I have developed friendships with past mentees and have had the joy of watching them grow as artists and start their careers. I hope to continue this rewarding process with my future mentees.”

“It’s my goal to provide what my mentee requires most from mentorship and in the past this has been accomplished through weekly meetings wherein we discuss goals, both career and artistic, and portfolio reviews to determine how to attain those goals and track progress. I provide advice on projects and homework, help to develop new work and provide a realistic view into the world of visual development and the working artist.”

Last round, Leighton took on many mentees and they all loved working with him!   Here’s some stuff they have to say:

Casey Crowe entered the program hoping to define his digital painting process & learning more about the methods employed by Leighton.  “Leighton had a ton of great advice both in regards to painting techniques to things more on the business side of things. Leighton was extremely generous with his time and a pleasure to work with. He’s just a really great guy and a very good teacher who thoroughly understands his craft and is very adept at explaining it. Count yourself lucky if he chooses you.”

Jack Yu was another one of Leighton’s mentees and was interested in pursuing visual development.  Jack was most interested in learning Leighton’s thinking of attacking a new piece.  Jack felt that “the communication was good, we gave some great ideas… I feel Leighton is best when there’s something you show him and he can give you ideas…[just] gotta keep working hard every week to have something to show.”  The most important thing he learned was to “keep doing art, you will improve.”

Nikolas Ilic accomplished some really impressive work with Leighton! (see below) He entered the program wanting to learn about painting,composition and color. “It was a great experience and was taught very casual and professionally. We accomplished an updated portfolio and 4-6 new portfolio pieces…[we] just talked about art in general, learned from one another and ultimately just connected. Learnt some cool techniques along the way as well. Just all round a good experience.”  He strongly recommends anyone who is self motivated and willing to dedicate their time to do some extra work to apply to Leighton.  His final advice to people thinking about applying to the Motivarti Mentorship Program?  “DO IT!”

Fun Fact: I love going on food adventures to try new and unusual dishes. So far my two favorite dishes, and subsequently the weirdest, have been live octopus and seared calf brains.

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