tough at the top

Art direc­tor Chris­tian Diaz ex­plains what hap­pened when Ubisoft HQ sent him back to the draw­ing board

ImagineFX - - The Art Of For Honor -

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.

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