We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Epic Games Art Director Chris Perna about the just-released key art for Gears of War: Judgment. Do you have any questions for Chris about the Gears of War art direction? Post them in the comments and we’ll follow up with Chris in a future interview.
Raczilla: Could you describe the collaborative process of creating key art?
Chris Perna: Well we usually sit down with some internal marketing folks, ad agency folks and some Microsoft folks to chat about what we’d like to see. Initially we discuss the feel of the game and what we’d like to portray. Do we want to play up the action, the story, heavy mood? Once we decide on an initial direction then the ad agency does some rough comps visualizing the various directions we discussed. Then we get together and discuss again, this time trying to narrow the focus and zero in on one key idea.
Sometimes I’ll do my own comps and send over to illustrate a certain point, this can help narrow the focus faster. We’ll repeat this process as often as necessary until we’re all happy with what we have and then we’ll enter a polish phase. This is where we’ll get nit-picky and really fine tune the image and idea. In the end we’ll have a piece of key art we can all be excited about.
R: How many artists worked on it?
C: We had a few guys work on it internal. Chris Wells, Alex Whitney and Kevin Lanning did some posing during the comp phase. The final image is actually a composite from images I created in Unreal Engine. I posed and lit the characters and rendered them out of Unreal Engine at high enough resolution so that we were able to use them as final art. Every piece in the final image was worked on by multiple artists so it’s almost impossible to say how many. The weapons were modeled by an artist, then textured by another one, the characters and enemies were all modeled, textured and posed by artists. The architecture and background objects were all modeled and textured by artists. Also the ad agency used their own internal artists to create elements like the flag, composition, lighting, post process, etc. Twenty or more artists probably touched different assets at different times as we pulled this together.
R: How is it different creating art for an established series as opposed to when Gears was a new IP that wasn’t familiar to fans?
C: In an established franchise such as gears we’re not concepting new things as much as we would when establishing a new IP. There is more fiction to pull from and models, characters and artwork that have already been established. In a way it’s easier, but that’s a blessing and a curse. It’s easier, yes, but you still have to make it fresh and exciting for people playing the games. As the IP grows and ages it gets harder and harder to do that.