The 39 year old Californian native attended Pitzer College in Claremont for two years before studying product design at the Art Center College of Design. Mullins soon found that he was better at drawing cars, which led to 6 months at Ford in Detroit. He also discovered that his design sense was a little too weird to be of value to the car design industry and returned to Art Center to study illustration, where he finally finished his degree in 1990.
The guy's anatomy was a little funky, since these pieces were made in 2002, but you can already see where this artist's future style is going. From this, to...
To this. Behold, Master Chief looks better than ever. The following concept art were made around 2006, so you can see how big a difference four years made in Mullin's style - the muted colors are fantastic, the strokes are bolder and more confident - there's a beautiful painterly feel to his work for Halo - and its really a great evolution in style. (This might sound like the simplification of a lot of factors, but I will focus on his works for these two properties for now)
Many of these pieces were for promotional purposes, but as you can see from these concept pieces, even the overall stylings of the original Halo have been vastly improved, with more depth and focus in the designs for the Covenant aliens, the Marines, the settings - Fantastic!
Straight from the Horse's Mouth
In an old interview from Ballistic Publishing (Folks behind the Expose Art Book Series), Craig answered some cool questions - the first being about how he developed his style:
Craig Mullins: "My style is a sum of hundreds of influences, and a few (just a few) ideas that I came up with. I think that in a way way, my everyday life contributes a little. I'm a bit of a dinosaur, and I don't want to think too carefully about the wisdom of using these great new digital tools to produce work that was cutting edge 150 years ago.
The idea of 'originality of concept' being the highest value in art is a legitimate one, but there are other ways to look at things. The master apprentice model is as good a way as any. But being labeled a 'revolutionary' is sexy. I guess I am just not."
And his influences in art..
Craig Mullins: "I like learning new things -- not just about art, but the world in general. The more I know, the better. Except composition, the more I know about composition, the less able I am to compose well!"
And then he rambles on how he got into Photoshop, and his later works and influences. He's quite an interesting fellow, and like the guy who interviewed him said, everytime you look at Mr. Mullin's art, you always "find something new and profoundly interesting"
Craig Mullins: "I had first used Photoshop to touch up some physical mattes for a British Petroleum commercial, and remarking what a cool program Photoshop was. John Knoll (the co-creator of Photoshop) suggested that I try to do the whole thing in Photoshop. Just having started with it, I had no idea of how to paint with it, or even if you could. It was an experiment for all concerned. It was pretty much kluged photos, but it worked OK.
I bought a 33MHz Apple Quadra 700 with 36 MB RAM back in 1993. My idea was to scan in color roughs (I did little paintings before committing to blocking in a huge final piece) and play with them in Photoshop. You can try so many variations so quickly.
Eventually, the computer took over more and more of the task. At first it was very hard convincing clients to accept digital illustration work. I think they had visions of a contrasty mess of procedural textures, but I kept at them. I remember driving into town to set up a clients AOL account so I could send them works in progress.
Now I am trying to stay in as many areas of illustration that I can. I think it is better for me as an illustrator and it makes good business sense as well. There is a lot of mutually supporting aspects to the different areas of work that I do."
While I admire this artist sooo much, it also helps that he was commissioned by Bandai to do this piece (Below). Man, this is one artist I aspire to be - and will probably never end up being.