The works of Knight Zhang

Unofficial+fan+art+by+Knight+Zhang

Unofficial fan art by Knight Zhang

Joanna Yu

Hello again! Joanna here, and welcome back to my little corner of Bearing News! This week, I will be focusing on the work of one of my all-time favorite artists, Knight Zhang. Knight, also known by their online handle as Arucelli, is a young artist residing in the United States. Knight’s galleries on their multiple social media sites are vibrant, eye-catching and utterly gorgeous, showcasing their command of both digital and traditional materials. (check out their Instagram here and their ArtStation here!)  Each one of Knight’s work seems to pop out from the screen and into reality while maintaining a fantasy edge with the lively colors and tones used.
There are a lot of things that I admire about Knight; I love their clean and effortless looking sketches, their vast knowledge of anatomy and proportion and their oh-so-gorgeous coloring style. I have also looked to Knight’s art for over three years now and see their work as one of my biggest inspirations in developing my own style as well as the skills I want to refine in anatomy and rendering. Knight’s age is another source of inspiration to me. Regardless of being eighteen — just over a year older than me — Knight’s art is on par with that of professionals in my eyes, showcasing the hard work they’ve put in their fifteen years of drawing experience and truly embodying the importance of practice and determination in an artist’s progression.
For an example of their outstanding work, here is a piece Knight did of Spark from Pokémon GO!

Unofficial fan art by Knight Zhang
Unofficial fan art by Knight Zhang

First off, this piece looks absolutely amazing; the lighting, spark effects, and Spark himself all come together to give off an intense energy that’s simply electrifying. I am enthralled by the details that Knight threw in that really tie the piece together. For one thing, the rendering of the clothing makes me want to cry — it’s just that beautiful. The reflections and structure in the jacket suggest the texture of a stiff leather while the shades and form-fitting nature of the hoodie indicate a cotton or something softer than that of the leather. Another part of the piece that draws me in are the colors used on Spark’s skin. The flesh tones are so smooth and well blended, but the definition of his jawline, collarbone, eyelids, and other areas of depth make his features pop — a characteristic in Knight’s style that I absolutely adore. The addition of highlights along Spark’s jaw, nose bridge, and cheek also reflect the energetic lighting that the character is set in and gives all the crazy electricity a realistic edge.
Knight’s hair-shading technique is another aspect that I admire. If you look closely at Spark’s fabulous locks, you can see Knight’s application of their understanding of hair: strands are grouped together into different “clumps” that flow outward from a common point on the scalp and are defined by dark shadows and eye-catching highlights that bring the hair out from the general blond tones. You can even check out Knight’s progress on this piece in the speed paint they did on their YouTube channel! 
I’ve attempted numerous colored portraits like the ones Knight seems to whip out effortlessly, but I still have a lot of work to do. After digging through my endless folder of old work, I found a few examples to analyze.  
Unofficial fan art by Joanna Yu
Unofficial fan art by Joanna Yu

This is a portrait I did of Yukine from the show Noragami back in December of 2015. I remember referencing Knight’s style when I painted this over a year ago, aiming for the same level of definition in shading hair as well as their impeccable rendering of skin and fabric. However, I obviously fell short. I look back at this piece and immediately see flaws, from the proportions in the face and especially in the rendering of the skin and clothing: the texture in the jacket doesn’t appear fluffy like the fur it was supposed to replicate and the tones of the skin make the portrait appear flat and lifeless. It also seems like I attempted a background, but obviously didn’t succeed in making it look unified (or good-looking). As another example, take a look at this unfinished piece of Sakura from Fire Emblem: Fates that I was tried to complete that same month. 
Art by Joanna Yu
Unofficial fan art by Joanna Yu

The anatomy is alright, but could use work around the neck and head area. If you ignore the very unfinished  and anatomically-incorrect hands, the shading in the clothing is very uniform and doesn’t give any character to the fabric. Nonetheless, progress comes with time and commitment, so I was eager to see what strides I’ve made in about a year.
Inspired by a conversation I had with one of my best friends and fellow Bearing News member, Kristine Cho, I decided to use Rose from Tales of Zestiria (one of my favorite video games) as my subject matter for the piece. Her color palette seemed perfect for practicing shading since it incorporates a lot of vibrant red tones in her hair while balancing out this liveliness with the dark greens of her jacket and neutrals in her complexion. I was excited to paint her since she was one of my favorite characters from the game, but I was even more ecstatic to see how I could apply Knight’s painting style to a sketch of mine. After settling into my usual spot at my favorite coffee shop, downing an espresso and turning on some good tunes (this week I listened to the Tales of Zestiria soundtrack — particularly disc three) I started to paint! 
Unofficial fan art by Joanna Yu
Unofficial fan art by Joanna Yu

This study was difficult because my proportion and anatomy knowledge is still developing; I spent over an hour trying to figure out what was wrong with the portrait and correcting different features until it finally looked somewhat proportionally accurate. This practice piece also reinforced my admiration for Knight’s working speed, as they finished their entire Spark piece in the span of seven hours while it took me around four to five hours to complete mine. However, I regard this as yet another source of inspiration; it really is amazing how quickly Knight is able to work while maintaining such a level of quality! The hair was probably my favorite thing to paint, and I went back and referenced some of Knight’s pieces to define and enhance the strands. While the skin in my piece isn’t as vibrant or as life-like as some as theirs, I did experiment a lot with how to shade and blend different tones to replicate a dewy texture. There is still much work for me to do to improve my rendering skills with clothing and fabric, but, overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time experimenting this week, and I’m excited to see where my progress will lead me in the future.
Once again, I have to thank Knight and their beautiful creations for always giving me endless inspiration to better my art and reinforcing the importance of determination and practice in order to grow. To anyone who made it this far in reading this week’s post, please please please go and send your support to Knight by subscribing to their YouTube channel and following any of their social media sites! Until next time, have a gradient day and keep drawing!
All photos were used with the permission of Knight Zhang