By Jama Jurabaev |

My son, who lives in Tajikistan, tells his friends that his father drew Aladdin, the new film; but then he complains no one believes him.

 Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Walt Disney Pictures, Lin Pictures, Rideback, and Marc Platt Productions

Aladdin – A concept painting Jama created for Aladdin in collaboration with talented folks from ILM Andrew Domachowski and Julien Gauthier. (Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Walt Disney Pictures, Lin Pictures, Rideback, and Marc Platt Productions )

Having worked in the film industry for over 10 years, Jama’s life itself is like a Hollywood scenario: born during the civil war in Tajikistan, he suffered from poverty in Turkey, and is now a professional concept artist, illustrator in the film and game industry.

A Wartime Childhood

Jama was born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 1980. His childhood was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Young Jama was not only interested in drawing but also in computer games. At the age of 14, Jama left for Ankara, Turkey to study. He extended his passion for computer games and nurtured his talents in design at university. After graduating from university, he started his career as a 2D designer in Tajikistan, and continued to try concept design. “This became my hobby. I remember that while my colleagues left office for drinks, I stayed in the studio and drew on the tablet until late,” says Jama.

Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Warner Bros., and Legendary Entertainment

Kong: Skull Island – Keyframes Jama created for Kong: Skull Island at Framestore (Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Warner Bros., and Legendary Entertainment)

Unexpected Surprise

Jama unexpectedly obtained an offer for the position of concept artist for a new game from Microsoft in 2011. This was an extraordinary surprise for him and it seemed that his hard work had paid off and had been recognized. Before he came on board with the job, Jama and his colleagues entered a design competition held by They created a short film and won the Best Video Production Prize. Another opportunity came along to Jama - a job offer from the London-based MPC (Moving Picture Company).

Delve Deeper into the Industry

After Jama joined MPC, he began to meet all kinds of parties in the film industry, and job offers poured in. He has helped as concept artist in Hollywood movies and animations, such us, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, “Kong: Skull Island”, “Jurassic World”, “Ready Player One”, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, “Aladdin”, Disney Television series, “Star Wars: The Mandalorian” and many more.

Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment, and Perfect World Pictures

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – Keyframes Jama created for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. “It was an absolutely amazing experience to have a chance to visualize some of the most iconic scenes in the movie,” – says Jama. (Credit: Jama Jurabaev, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment, and Perfect World Pictures)

Suggestions to Beginners in Concept Art

Jama suggests beginners to do a daily drawing exercise, and do it at least twice a week, such as live drawing. “Live drawing is important for artist. Live drawing is like the purest and the most original source of human structure; it’s different from studying photos. We need to study original sources as much as possible,” says Jama.

Apart from live drawing, Jama also suggests to study the artworks from traditional art masters. “Digital painters have the freedom to change things, but if you are a traditional painter, every stroke must be meaningful; you can’t go back,” says Jama. Jama believes it helps to get much more information from the original source. He suggests beginners to select a few traditional art masters and think about who inspired them, and then go directly to that source. Try to analyze how they did it, how they used the brushes, copy them, and it helps you find your own style. “Everyone copies someone at some point; you’ll find your own style, especially if you are doing character design,” says Jama.

"WS65 Mobile Workstation is so much lighter than my previous laptop. I can move around, do workshops, or use it on my design projects while traveling."

The WS65 has a powerful CPU and GPU, and Jama noticed a big performance jump when using it for design works. Jama’s previous laptops were with P5000/P4000 graphics cards, which were slower than the WS65. “While doing my workshops, many of my students asked me about this beast laptop. They were all impressed with how powerful it is,” says Jama.

Jama at the 2019 MSI Mobile Workstation Launch Event

Jama at the 2019 MSI Mobile Workstation Launch Event

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