Artists at the boutique German art studio discuss how they make their art so distinctive
sIXMOREVODKA, the boutique concept art studio, made Berlin its home in 2010. The company provides artwork, ideas and conceptual services for some of the entertainment industry’s biggest clients, including Riot Games, WB Games, Marvel, Ubisoft, Activision and Blizzard.
SIXMOREVODKA’s character designs, narrative illustrations and cover art have enhanced many awardwinning video games, magazines, movies and comic books. And the studio has also released some intriguing in-house projects of its own.
The best known are the fantasy world of Orken and the post-apocalyptic tabletop RPG Degenesis which, as we reported in issue 164, was relaunched for 2018 together with a campaigncum-art book, Black Atlantic.
“Degenesis and Orken were developed by our CEO and founder Marko Djurdjevic, so even though they’re very different from one another, they have a very distinct, ‘Marko’ style,” explains art director Jelena Kevic
Djurdjevic. “I’d describe this as bold, brave and uncompromising in both a visual and a narrative sense.”
But that’s not necessarily a style
When working with clients, we’re often required to change our style and experiment
it carries over to its commercial work – well, not always, anyway. “When we’re working with clients, we’re often required to change our style and experiment,” says Jelena, who previously worked as a freelancer for Marvel. “We’re known for our highend marketing style illustrations and concepts. But our visual range is much broader than that, and that’s the reason why clients like working with us.”
exit the comfort zone
Lead artist Gerald Parel, who’s also produced artwork for Marvel, says this can be a tough challenge, but it’s one he relishes. “It pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to analyse what I’m doing on a daily basis,” he says. “Painting a large number of pictures, and delivering them with our quality benchmark in time is what we pride ourselves on, no matter what problems we encounter. And that’s possible because each artist is able to both work as a solo player and a team member.”
Junior artist Alessandro Poli explains how they go about creating concept art on a typical client project. “We’ll start with thumbnails, which usually evolve into tight greyscale drawings,” he says. “Once these have been approved by Jelena, we’ll work on colour variations. Again, Jelena will pick one and that’s when we can start the rendering marathons. Of course, the process may vary from person to person. I, for example, have less precise, rougher drawings that blossom more in the painting part, whereas some of my peers prefer going for a really tight drawing from the get-go.”
Intermediate artist Claudiu-Antoniu
Magherusan, who came from Romania to work at SIXMOREVODKA, describes his own approach. “Regardless
of the subject matter, I start out with a couple of rough drafts so I can get a sense of what I’m aiming for,” he says. “Next, I usually do a pass where I tighten up the drawing for my main elements and leave tertiary reads as simple shapes. I then block in all my different materials, add their local values, and start lighting up my scene.
“At this point, if I feel that my piece is standing on its feet, I start applying colour and a bit of texture. From this point on, it’s just cleaning and rendering until it looks done. The level of polish might vary, based on what I want to achieve with it.”
every day’s a fun day
The work may be hard and the pace relentless, but studio life can also be fun, stresses Gerald. “There’s not one day when I’m not crying of laughter. These guys are incredibly funny. We’re a bunch of artists, which means potential ego-trips to cross – and yet we keep having a good time.”
Intermediate artist Monika Pałosz, who moved from Poland to work at SIXMOREVODKA, adds that it’s also a very nurturing environment. “I’ve been here for three years now and I’ve loved every single day,” she says. “What I’ve found different about this studio is how much time my seniors and colleagues spend on sharing their knowledge and expertise.
What I’ve found different about this studio is how much time my colleagues spend on sharing their knowledge
Demonstrations and feedbacks are a big part of our daily routine.”
It’s also a pleasant place to work, says Claudiu-Antoniu. “The space itself is amazing. We work in a neat and spacious studio, with all the amenities we need to be happy and productive. We also live in Berlin, so there’s no shortage of things to keep you sane (or insane) outside of work.”
And if you fancy moving to the German capital yourself, be aware that SIXMOREVODKA is hiring. “We’re always on the look-out for new artists to expand our team,” says Jelena. “What interests us the most are drawing and painting skills, anatomy, composition, a sense of design and functionality, and storytelling.
“Also, we want to work with people who feel at home in the team environment, who are easy to work with, who can deal with the pressure and deadlines. So it’s a mixture of talent, drive, determination, professionalism and teamwork.”
Falberg is one of the iconic characters from Degenesis, the role-playing game set in a ‘primal punk’ world.
Character concept art for a number of different tribes in the world of Orken. Marko Djurdjevic painted this imposing character from Orken, the studio’s latest intellectual property.
Concept artwork for Degenesis. Almost a decade old, the RPG was recently relaunched with a brand new look. Monika painted this tense encounter from the Black Atlantic campaign for Degenesis. The SIXMOREVODKA premises has everything the team needs to maintain its creative momentum.
One character from Orken gets their revenge in this action piece. Lead artist Gerald’s personal piece is different from the studio’s usual output, yet still features a strong sense of storytelling – a SIXMOREVODKA staple. Doctor Vega has the capacity to harm as well as heal in the Degenesis universe.