Grand Space Opera: Light Age Game Character Art (Real-Time) Winners Interview
Submissions for the Grand Space Opera: Light Age Game Character Art (real-time) challenge category were judged on creative details, personality, and execution of the original concept. The game characters needed to embody the space setting they came from and tell a compelling story that produced an emotional response. Strong composition, modeling, texturing, and lighting were also crucial components. Juan Novelletto, Yumi Batgerel, and Oleksandr Zapisochnyi shared with us how they achieved these qualities in their winning Game Character Art (real-time) artworks.
Please tell us about the backstory behind your submission
Juan: Well, to be honest, when ArtStation announced the challenge, I had decided not to participate because in our hemisphere it was summer and we had vacations; I only had 50 out of 60 days to do the challenge. But when I saw Félix Donadio‘s concept for the first time, I loved it and decided to try participating. Also, I chose Félix’s concept because I wanted a character in which I could make hard surfaces, clothes, and organic things.
Yumi: The Creedsower by Roland Richartz was one of my favorite character concepts. I felt inspired by the description and I immediately started imagining how incredible it would be to watch these wandering creatures, playing spellbinding music through their great flute-horns, and sharing the enlightenment of an interconnected universe. The tiny followers around him reminded me of shamanic folk tales about the underworld where the astral creatures are wandering in a group. These followers may be lost and lonely souls that find a new reason to exist.
Oleksandr: Challenges are a good way to test your skills and learn something new. When I saw the start of a new challenge, I decided to test myself. There were a lot of cool works among the concepts and it was difficult to choose one for submission. But since I had less experience working on female characters, I decided to challenge myself and take the awesome concept of Alessandro Pizzi.
What was your strategy for working on your submission during the challenge?
Juan: My strategy was to plan a schedule and divide it into different stages: high-res, low-res, textures, and presentation. And it was very important not to change it, because the character was very complex, with tons of details.
Yumi: Every concept can go in so many directions. This challenge, I was lucky to get direct feedback from Roland on what could be done better and what needed a correction. I really wanted to experiment as much as possible. My main goal was to try to translate a feeling of an old and wise creature that is wandering around with his tiny helpers. These intelligent beings have some kind of an incomprehensible purpose.
Oleksandr: The basis of my strategy was to have more freedom in interpreting the concept. I took a cool idea from the author of the concept and focused on the things I liked: aggression, savagery, beauty. In technical terms, everything as usual. Blockout of sculpture, search for the right character and silhouette. Detailization of sculpture and poly paint, emphasizing shapes, giving style, adding accents. For retopology, an important point was to preserve the shape and accuracy of the silhouette. UV-mapping and baking. With texturing, I tried to maintain a balance between real and cartoon to get the right style. Fortunately, I had enough time, so I decided to spend a few days making a simple rigging and add animation.
What was the hardest part of the challenge for you?
Juan: The hardest part for me was the texturing stage. The number of details made me think a lot about how to combine them and have a good reading of the materials. I mean, everything should be balanced so it doesn’t seem so noisy. Also, the first time I textured the fish, I chose a fantasy color palette. In the end, I changed it for a more realistic one, so I used river fish as references.
Yumi: The hardest part for me was to achieve believability. Everything always looks so much better in my head, but in reality, there is always something missing. The reason for that might be some missing technical skills/knowledge to translate things better. It’s also easy to get a completely wrong interpretation. Or maybe there is a debate in my head when creating a character.
Oleksandr: Retopology has become the hardest part of the work. This is mostly mechanical work, but it requires a lot of time and attention. It seems like the workflow has stuck in one place. But it’s a good reason to watch your favorite movie in parallel or listen to an audiobook.
What advice do you have for future challengers?
Juan: I always say that the challenge is a good way to learn new things, make friends, and have a good portfolio piece. It is also important to have exposure to your art and maybe catch the attention of a studio.
Yumi: I would say, try to enjoy the process. Be open to any feedback and see the opportunity to experiment.
Oleksandr: Do what you love and enjoy it.
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