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Mentor of the Day: Leighton Hickman

LeightonHickman_DW_Teeter_TotterWe’re thrilled that Leighton Hickman will be joining us for another term as a mentor! Leighton is currently a visual development artist with DreamWorks Animation. He was one of the primary vis dev artists on Chris Sanders’ “The Croods”, and many of his paintings were featured in the ‘art of’ book, as well as posted on his blog. Leighton is an artist’s artist—he practices plein air landscape painting in oil in his spare time, and is an expert on light effects and storytelling in illustrations.

When it comes to mentees, Leighton looks for self-motivated and dedicated students. He’s happy to provide career advice, and loves to see mentees come away from the mentorship with fantastic new portfolios. He’s open to mentoring up to two mentees from anywhere in the world.

Chris Hohl, Leighton’s mentee last term, finished the mentorship with six new paintings, and an array of prop designs and explorations. (see work below) He said that “being able to see the problem solving process that goes on in a professional’s mind as they evaluate an image, and find different ways to make the story and environment clear” was particularly helpful.

He also said, “Leighton sets up a great mentoring environment, since it’s clear he likes teaching and helping people. He was very encouraging without overlooking criticism or being cloying, and always had incisive things to say about what was working or not working well in a given piece. He’s also just a nice and friendly person in general so that contributed to the open environment as well!”

In terms of advice for Leighton’s next mentee, Chris suggests, “Be willing to put in a lot of work! Leighton really likes to help but if you don’t have much to show then by extension there won’t be much to help with. Also don’t hold back from any questions you have!”

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