tough at the top
Art director Christian Diaz explains what happened when Ubisoft HQ sent him back to the drawing board
What was the toughest part of the production process?
We have these regular meetings – “stage gates” – to explain the progress of the project to the editorial team. We were finalising the design of all our heroes and at a stage gate in Paris we received feedback saying, ‘‘You guys have created beautiful characters, very nice illustrations, but there’s something missing. They’re a bit too complicated to read and we need to feel a stronger faction culture.” I realised the character style guide needed to be more micro. I needed to make stronger choices, isolating more elements for each faction, separating and reinforcing each faction’s identity, and simplifying some elements of the designs.
How did you relay that to the team?
When you go back to the artists with a plan to address the feedback, you need to explain not only what we have to do, but especially why we need to do it. It wasn’t easy telling them that we had to revisit some of the heroes, but they understood and agreed that the reason was right. I see each artist as a musician, who’s part of a symphony orchestra. The conductor maintains the tempo, and each artist can bring something unique, as long as we all stick to the style of the melody.
How do you and your team handle criticism?
When you work in an artistic discipline you need to handle criticism. You have to be ready to listen, receive and understand any type of comments. Art is driven by the emotional part of ourselves. It’s very subjective and so you need to put a lot of meaning in the choices you make so that you can explain why you made them. Being an artist requires a lot of dedication, humility and patience. And passion will help immensely.
What advice would you give to an artist who wants to break into the games industry?
Identify what you like to do the most or what you do best, and work hard to progress in that field. Only showcase your best work. Your portfolio is key: it enables us to see the potential of each candidate, and 10 good images will always be better than 30 average ones.
High-concept While For Honor is a high-concept game, the look is realistic, as is clear from Remko Troost’s art. Sa murai fortress Jeong Hwan Shin’s early concept art for the samurai faction is based on historic Japanese buildings. Fa ction identity Halfway through the production process, art director Christian Diaz realised he needed to strengthen each faction’s identity by simplifying some elements of their design. Ludovic helped Christian visualise his ideas.