In Praise of the Background Artist
Often overlooked, background art is the unsung beauty of anime, and this artist can give a master class on it.
JERALD UY // 5 MIN READ
Published May 7, 2017
Grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, Slam Dunk or One Piece?
Chances are, you have seen the impressive background art by Roberto Lolong, a Taguigeño whose digital paintings have appeared in several well-known animé produced by TOEI Animation, the pioneer in Japanese animation.
“Originally, I wanted to become an IB or an ‘inbetweener’— the ones who make the characters move,” shared Lolong, who had previously worked as a farmer and baker. “Once the animator finishes with the key poses, they go to the IB’s who produce the drawings that create the illusion of movement. I wasn’t accepted in that position — they hired me as a background artist instead.”
Lolong has been working for TOEI Animation for 20 years now. Some of the works he has done can also be seen in Dr. Slump, Crying Kingdom, and Doremi.
“An animation character without a background is unappealing. What will you see behind them? Just plain white,” said Lolong. “That’s why having a background is very important in animation. You can’t do without it. Where will the character run? Where will the character sit? A character won’t be able to do anything without his surroundings.”
One of his most memorable experiences working for TOEI Animation is when they sent him to Japan for training, and leisure as well. He shared that the Japanese love Filipino artists because of their versatility.
“Filipinos are very good. It’s different in Japan. If you’re an IB, you hone your craft until you master it. Filipinos are not like that. We like to have a variety of skills. You can be an IB, an animator, a background artist. In the Philippines, you have to be versatile in order to survive,” he said.
His favorite anime character is Goku from Dragon Ball Z. “As a parent, you have to love your family, especially your children. You need to protect them like what Goku does.”
Outside animation, Lolong is slowly making a name for himself as a painter. He has been featured in the city-sponsored “Tatak Likhang Kamay ng Taguigeño” art exhibit in February 2017. Recently, he taught kids about watercolor background painting during ManilArt 2017 in October.
“My advice to young people who want to go into animation, especially in background, is you have to be a painter. You have to know how to paint interiors, landscapes, and seascapes,” he shared.
But Lolong admits it is a lifelong learning process. “Look at me, I’m 48 years old, and yet I’m still studying and improving my education. According to the Japanese, once you stop learning, your career is over,” he said.
He also warns against self-doubt. “If you give up, you won’t get anywhere. Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
One of the country’s most popular art fairs weaves together various artistic influences that showcase Filipino ingenuity.
Synergy Sessions celebrates the merging of mind, body, and spirit through art.
More than affordable and flexible space, they offer community support for creatives and professionals.
The growth of progressive schools in the country is a reflection of our shifting ideas on ways of learning.
The City of Taguig is committed to enhancing the learning experience and improving access to quality education.
Save yourself from the usual, pan-fried burgers. Give these grilled burgers a try.
Looks can be deceiving, so don’t be fooled by the unassuming facade and explore the treasure trove inside Taguig’s newest food hotspot.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a traditional barbershop renaissance. Gone are the days when men and women shared the same hairstylist.
Whether you’re looking for a quick stay or an extended vacation, Taguig has something for you. Take a look at our helpful guide on where to stay in this exciting city.
If you’re a stressed-out employee looking for some place to unwind after a long week, or a tourist who’d like to explore what Manila has to offer at night, you will surely find some of the coolest spots around Taguig.
Wake up and smell the coffee, folks. Taguig is home to a plethora of cafes, from international chains to independent coffeehouses.
All these years you might be sporting (and owning!) that signature look of yours. Your style may be fab and fresh, but do you feel like you’re being too predictable and boring with that?