Freelance Illustrator - Toren Atkinson (MacBin)

Freelance Illustrator - Toren Atkinson (MacBin) - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Dec 27, 2006
( Rating: 1 Star Rating)

Do you spend hours doodling sketches on your notebooks when you should be listening in class? If you're into drawing, an illustrator may be the perfect job for you! Get the scoop on becoming an illustrator/artist.

Do you spend endless hours doodling sketches on your notebooks when you should be listening in class? If your teacher caught you, would they think it was any good? If you're a talented artist, becoming an illustrator may be the perfect job for you!


The Artist

A lot of people would love to be in Toren "MacBin" Atkinson's shoes. Toren is a 31 year-old freelance illustrator for role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu. He's been working professionally as an illustrator for about six years. Wow! Imagine getting paid for something you're passionate about?

How'd he go from drawing at home to getting his sketches published in books? "I've always been drawing so it only made sense that eventually I'd be good enough for publication," says Toren. "When I thought I was 'there,' I just started sending my portfolio out to publishers I'd like to work for."


The Job

Toren will get an assignment, do up some sketches and often take pics of his friends in costume or browse through magazines for various poses. He prefers drawing from photos cuz he can get a more realistic looking sketch. Once he's done sketching by hand, he scans it into the computer, makes any necessary touch-ups in Photoshop, and emails it to the publisher.

Some of his credits include work for Dungeon Magazine and the Call of Cthulhu Rulebook. He's also done artwork for Web sites, CDs, as well as, cover art for board games and books. He's in the process of doing art for a game called Spaceship Zero, which he co-wrote and should be released in November of 2002 by Green Ronin Publishing.


The Good & The Bad

Toren is a freelance illustrator, which means he works for himself and companies pay him for his services. One of the best things is being his own boss. But it can also be one of the worst things too. Working for yourself can also be bad at times too. What happens if there aren't a lot of people looking for your services? You don't get paid.


How Do I Become an Illustrator?

Like any job, going to college or university is a definite plus. Taking art courses to benefit your artistic hand is a great idea. Being an illustrator is a job that requires talent - something that can't be taught. Toren does have some tips though. Grab a copy of Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market. "If you have your own unique art 'style' that can help a lot - though it always helps to be flexible in this industry," says Toren. Practice, practice, practice. You also need to be able to make your deadlines to get repeat business from a client.


The Dosh

A yearly salary is tough to estimate cuz it varies and depends on the artist but companies usually pay at least $100 to $150 US per page of black and white artwork. So the amount of money you make depends on how good you are and how many pictures you have published in a year. "I still go to garage sales (partly because I love scavenger hunts)," Toren says. "But I can afford to eat out and go to the dentist!"


Fun Stuff

Toren's been invited to conventions and events as a special guest where he gets to meet other artists, writers, and celebrities. He once met, Peter Mayhew, the guy who played Chewbacca. Toren says, "Most of the people in this industry are great folks and wonderful to work with." Another awesome part of being in the role-playing game industry is that you can get a lot of gaming books and swag for free!

Toren's fave thing to draw is definitely monsters! "I love to be creative and you don't have to adhere to many rules when you're drawing something that nobody has drawn before," Toren says of sketching. If he wasn't drawing he'd love to do production artwork for sci-fi action movies or video games. That'd be pretty cool but I think a lot of peeps would love to do what Toren's doing now!

  • For Spaceship Zero and Wrath of Rage, check out

    Related Stories:

  • Video Game Tester - What a Rad Job!
  • Maker of Fantasy Worlds
  • Sculptor - Bruce Gray
  • More Cool Job Profiles!

    latest videos


    What Do You Like to Draw?

    • Monsters, dragons and ghouls (oh my!).
    • I like drawing people.
    • Animals are the most fun.
    • Doodles, like stick figures.

    related stories

    Dear Dish-It in the forums

    NovaHex posted in Style:
    Meh... I never actually see much of a difference with makeup.
    reply about 1 hour
    "Minecraftlover03" wrote:I'm 12 years old, and for some reason I'm always sad. I got a gold medal in my gym, and I just started crying, but I wasn't crying because I was happy. I just don't enjoy anything I used to. My mum does know but she says it's a phase. It isn't. I just started high school, but I don't have any new friends yet and all the popular girls pick on me and call me a loner :-( I hate school. I like the actual lessons but I don't like the social side of it. There are lots of clubs on at lunch that I want to go to but I'm too scared to go to any. I have been to one , science club but everyone was staring at me the whole time (I don't know why, and frankly I don't care, I just want them not to). Any advice would be appreciated. It really does help to talk to someone (teacher, parent, counselor, or another trusted adult) about it. If you tell someone what you've written here I'm sure someone will help you.  As for the clubs, you really just gotta go for it. Things are always going to be scary at first but it will get better the more you get into it. And obviously being in a club should help make friends. I hope what I've said is even a little bit helpful! :)
    reply about 7 hours
    swirly-girly posted in Style:
    I like buying my clothes at 3 places: at the mall, from stores or online. I dont care where I buy from I just like shopping until I find wut I really really like. Joe Fresh is on my must check list tho
    reply about 8 hours
    swirly-girly posted in Style:
    mid-length tousled an totally awesome cuz I dont think I can use the word I want to use on KW ;)
    reply about 8 hours
    swirly-girly posted in Style:
    YESSSSSS ! ! ! I love make up but I dont wear as much as ppl think I do. doing full make up takes too long but I wear concealer if I have a pimple or something to cover. I usually have my nails done but u dont have to do those every day, just touch em up unless u want to change the color. when I feel like more than that I do my lashes, lips an maybe eyeliner if I have time. having fun is more important than make up.
    reply about 9 hours

    play online games