Legend of King Arthur Challenge: Prop Art Winners Interview

The Legend of King Arthur Challenge’s Prop Art category tasked artists with creating 3 fully rendered props imagined within the medieval fantasy theme.

While participants always have the option of creating their own concept or choosing one from the first phase, all the Prop Art winners this time around were inspired by concepts. With so many great Arthurian concepts to choose from, the harder decision was choosing which one!

Browse all Prop Art entries from the Legend of King Arthur Challenge. 

In this interview, the top 3 challengers, Jasmin Habezai-Fekri, Marcus Johnston and Alessandra Astrino discuss their concepts, strategies and insightful advice you can use for the next challenge!

Tell us about the concept for your props.

Jasmin: I eagerly followed the first phase of the Challenge by checking out all the different entries and updates in the various categories. I was particularly excited about the Prop category since I’ve been considering taking part in the production phase for the first time. Once I stumbled across Julio Nicoletti’s concepts, I instantly knew that I wanted to bring his 2D concepts to life in 3D. The way his concepts were able to convey a whole story was really intriguing to me. What made his work stand out was all of the lore and detailed breakdowns of each prop. This helped me a lot when making the models.

Original concept by Julio Nicoletti

I personally pay a lot of attention to environmental storytelling in my works, and Julio’s work was doing exactly that with a single prop. I also wanted to pick something that is further outside of my usual comfort zone, since my main goal for the challenge was improving and expanding my skills in every aspect of the production pipeline. Usually, I have a soft spot for very whimsical and cute concepts, therefore my plan with this project was seeking concept art that has a more eerie and creepy vibe to it.

Marcus: There were plenty of fantastic concepts but a few really stood out to me that I thought I could work some magic with. Billy Machin’s concept for Mordred’s Helm instantly got my mind thinking about textures. It was a simple piece but the way he layered the concept really spoke to me. I worked on Leonard Haas’ design for Merlin’s Wand which had a beautifully different shape to it. Again, because I love textures, there was a lot of room for the imagination to work in the design. And lastly, I found Carson Lei’s concept of Tristan’s Banner to have a clear, solid design, with a pattern on the flag itself that I really wanted to attempt to make in Substance Designer. They were all fantastically helpful when I asked for feedback and it was great talking with them all.

Legend of King Arthur Challenge – Prop design by Billy Machin

Alessandra: Choosing the concept is the most important part, especially for this challenge. I needed a very cool concept because I knew that I’d work very hard on it! My initial idea was to find a connection between the concepts, even though they are from three different artists. I found a common steady element: light blue magic!

The choice of concept was also done in accordance with the texturing phase. The main materials are wood and crystal so I was able to use the same smart materials to save a lot of time.

(Alessandra’s entry was based on concepts by Bobby Rebholz, Lisa Barber & Jenny Brozek.)

Legend of King Arthur Challenge – Prop entry by Alessandra Astrino (Based on concepts by Bobby Rebholz, Lisa Barber &Jenny Brozek)

What was your strategy for the challenge?

Jasmin: I joined a couple of days after the production phase began, which I had to take into consideration while planning my remaining 3 weeks. Having roughly one week per asset seemed reasonable, therefore I set myself little deadlines in which I had to complete a specific stage of the prop and move onto the next without major delays.

However, I quickly realized that I work better if I keep my mind fresh. Therefore, I decided to swap between the different props and try to bring them all on similar stages simultaneously rather than trying to finish one completely before starting the next. This flexible workflow kept me motivated throughout the whole challenge.

Marcus: My strategy was kind of all or nothing, I really wanted to push what I could achieve, and I felt like I had the time to do so (debatable). I planned out what I’d need for each prop, what I think the challenges would be, and which would be the most difficult to produce.

I thought Merlin’s Wand had a lot of challenges I hadn’t tackled yet, and it would be able to set up the workflow for the other props after I’d completed it. So, I allowed myself to take a bit longer on that one, while the others I completed a fair bit quicker. I’d say always tackle the riskiest thing first so you have time to solve any roadblocks that you stumble upon.

Alessandra: The only strategy I used was to work every day. With a work schedule that I’d use a maximum of 10-11 days per asset, my goal was to save a week for the presentation and rendering because this phase is very tricky. I knew it would need a lot of time to get a good result.

What part of the challenge did you struggle with the most?

Jasmin: The biggest struggle for me was deciding when to stop polishing and move onto the presentation. In the last days before the deadline, I caught myself editing and fixing a lot of minor things that didn’t make a huge impact. However, to me, they seemed like they were very essential changes. This meant having less time to prepare the deliverables so I worked hard to make it in time. Luckily it all worked out in the end. But next time, I will definitely give myself a couple of extra days to have a less stressful path to the finishing line.

Marcus:  I think I honestly struggled most with the work/life balance. You can get so absorbed in your work that you kind of forget to take care of yourself. Everyone’s got to zen out, you know? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Other than that, getting over the initial doubts and fears is a big one that I think a lot of people struggle with. The only cure is to crack on!

Alessandra: The only struggle was the rendering phase. I was afraid of not being able to give the right value to each asset so I changed the lighting many times until I was satisfied with the result.

Legend of King Arthur Challenge – Prop entry by Marcus Johnston

What advice do you have for future challengers?

Jasmin: The Artstation Challenge is a great opportunity to engage in the community by offering feedback and support to each other, so don’t be afraid to ask for critique from your fellow artists. It’s important to get fresh eyes on your work, especially when working on it intensely over a longer time period.

Don’t be afraid of joining the challenge, even if it seems intimidating at the start! It was my first time taking part and I wish I would have done so sooner! You’ll learn so many new things in the process and it’s a great feeling to work on a project simultaneously with all the other challengers. Most importantly, be kind to your fellow challengers and uplift each other!

Marcus: My advice is to look after yourself. Work is not life. Your body is a temple so get a damn janitor in there. Give them some bleach too, and not the cheap kind.

Alessandra: It is very important to plan your work ahead while you are choosing the concept. This is a good method to make sure you are able to complete it in time. The most important advice I can give to anyone is to participate even if you might think you are not good enough. This challenge is a precious opportunity to grow both as an artist and as a person.

Legend of King Arthur Challenge – Prop entry by Alessandra Astrino

See more Prop Art entries from the Legend of King Arthur Challenge > 

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About the author

Sierra is the Editor of ArtStation Magazine.