Interview: PCF Senior Concept Artist Maciej Wojtala

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While browsing through some of the entries in the Epic Gamers Group at deviantArt, I stumbled over a thumbnail of concept art and the design looked very familiar. As soon as I clicked on the image, I saw that it was from an artist from our Poland studio, People Can Fly. The image was beautifully illustrated by PCF Senior Concept Artist, Maciej Wojtala and depicts a courthouse location for Gears of War: Judgment. The image was also published in Game Informer in July of last year.

courthouse_by_m_wojtala-d5nqq9r

I just had to see more of Maciej’s work, and browsed through his deviantART gallery. From the dark and foreboding “Evil Fortress” to the beautiful and bright “Modern Villa,” Maciej’s work is stunning. I reached out to him for an interview and he humbly accepted. Of course, I reached out to him a week or so before Gears of War: Judgment went gold, so I had to wait awhile for the interview. It was worth the wait, and it is a must-read for artists looking to get into a career in concept art.

Flak: Where do you find inspiration?

Maciej WojtalaMaciej Wojtala: I feel there are a few ways to get inspired. One is purely visual, seeing something beautiful. Discovering new places, art, photography or maybe watching a good movie will help a lot! There are so many crazy and wonderful things in the world, you just have to find them and let them inspire you.

Strong inspiration can also come from a good story that needs visuals. Then you just have to gather visual reference and work with that. The story should guide you and keep you inspired through the process. On the other hand sometimes simply taking a break and looking at work of classical painters or online CG galleries and forums can give a great boost too.

F: How did you feel about having your art featured in Game Informer?

MW: It was awesome, it is such a terrific magazine! It surely feels great to be part of the the team developing the Gears of War universe. Ability to have input on that world is amazing. We often try different approaches, iterate. Seeing this process can be intriguing for anyone who wants to have better insight into the game. I am really glad some of the concepts were shown.

evil_fortress_by_m_wojtala-d5quro5

F:  How long have you been illustrating?

MW: It is hard to answer this one. I had been drawing a lot since I was a kid. I also had always been drawn to visual arts, tried different hobbies that were actually close to illustration. Eventually I had discovered demoscene, which lead me to digital art and it seemed a lot of fun. More or less 10 years ago I realized it can be a full time job. I trained and freelanced for a few years but eventually joined the People Can Fly team in 2005 and became a full time concept artist.

F: What made you decide to start creating concept art for video games?

speed_paintings_by_m_wojtala-d5q0yesMW: I have always loved games! For a few years I was a gamer and proud of it. Concept art seemed to be a great job, combining the world of video games, art and design. Seemed demanding but rewarding. I was amazed when I started and I still am.

F: Who are some of your favorite artists?

MW: I really love the classical painters – Hudson River School, the Impressionists, Romantic Era Art painters and many more. However my love with art started with digital artists and their work – Craig Mullins, Ryan Church, Nicolas Bouvier, Feng Zhu, Massive Black crew!  Thanks !

F: What are the biggest challenges you face as a Concept Artist?

MW: Deadlines can be crazy sometimes. Nailing the visuals fast is the ultimate challenge. It can be tough, but it is an interesting part of the job too.

Thank you Maciej! Looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Unboxing The Art of Gears of War 3: Folio Edition

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The Art of Gears of War 3Did you ever wonder what the Folio Edition of “The Art of Gears of War 3” looked like up-close and personal?

Well here’s your chance. One of our Facebook fans known as “Pastor” posted a great unboxing video on his youtube channel. He shows of the book using music from Gears of War 3 and has some excellent close-ups of the book and included materials.

 

 

“The Art of Gears of War 3” comes in three editions with a variety of price ranges. If you’re interested, you can visit the Ballistic Publishing website for purchasing options. Thank you to Pastor for the great video!

The Art of Gears of War 3: Characters

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CG Society recently chatted with Epic Games senior character and mechanical artists Kevin Lanning, Mike Buck, Chris Wells, Mike Kime, Mark Morgan and Pete Hayes about the characters in Gears of War 3.

They talked about character creation, inspiration and changes in the characters over the years.

You can check out their work in The Art of Gears of War™ 3. It is the latest book in Ballistic’s Art of the Game series. At a massive 320 pages, it is also the biggest!

Learn the techniques and secrets directly from those who created the game.

Featuring concept and production art for characters, environments, weapons, vehicles, and monsters, this hefty tome gives you behind-the-scenes access to Epic Studio’s creative genius.

It includes quotes, anecdotes, renders, early-stage art and works-in-progress, all leading-up to the completed package of the game.

You may choose either Soft Cover, Special Leather Edition or the very exclusive Folio Edition. You can also see a full preview of the book on the Ballistic Publishing website!

The Art of Gears of War 3 is the perfect book for any lover of Games and Art.

The Art of Gears of War 3 – Limited Folio Edition

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The Art of Gears of War 3  Limited Folio Edition is now available! This exclusive collectors leather Folio Edition is limited to only 300 books. It features a beautifully-presented cover, with embossed titles and a matching hand-crafted presentation case with a ribbon to easily remove or place the Folio Edition in its box. The Limited Folio Edition cover also includes a metal-carved cover ornament, exclusive to this edition only.

The Folio Edition also comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and an A3 print of Clayton Carmine.

The Art of Gears of War™ 3 is the latest book in Ballistic’s Art of the Game series. At a massive 320 pages, it is also the biggest!

Learn the techniques and secrets directly from those who created the game.

Featuring concept and production art for characters, environments, weapons, vehicles, and monsters, this hefty tome gives you behind-the-scenes access to Epic Studio’s creative genius. It includes quotes, anecdotes, renders, early-stage art and works-in-progress, all leading-up to the completed package of the game.

You may choose either Soft Cover, Special Leather Edition or the very exclusive Folio Edition. You can also see a full preview of the book on the Ballistic Publishing website!

The Art of Gears of War 3 is the perfect book for any lover of Games and Art.

Epic Gamer Artist: Locascio Designs

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Welcome to this week’s edition of “Epic Gamer Artists,” where Epic Games showcases amazing work from artists in the community. Tim from the Team Epic Gamers here, to introduce to you a very special feature this week.

I sat down with Michael Locascio from New Jersey, a sculptor who had been working professionally for almost 14 years. Many of his projects have included figures for McFarlane Toys, Blizzard, Gentle Giant, and NECA. You may recognize some of the figures; in fact, the work he’s done ultimately became final proofs early in the Gears of War line of NECA figures.

Say hello to Michael!

A: Tell us about yourself and what you do.

M: I studied classical sculpture at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the Newington Cropsey Foundation. Working with live models, skeletons, and annual cadaver dissections, I trained in anatomy and the bronze monument process there while studying at New York University. Since then I’ve worked as a fine artist in addition to building a prolific career sculpting action figures, toys, and collectible statues. I started with toys at the McFarlane Toys studio as an in house sculptor, and eventually went freelance working with other companies like NECA, DC Direct, Blizzard Entertainment, Diamond Select, Gentle Giant, and many others.

A: Are you a gamer? Do you play Gears of War?

M: I was a gamer for most of my life, growing up in the 80’s with arcades and the birth of console and computer games. Lately work and family has kept me from gaming, since it can really murder any free time I might have.

I played all the Warcraft incarnations since the early 90’s, but by the time I was sculpting action figures for them I had no time for playing. When I sculpted the Gears of War figures I played the game a bit to get the feel for the characters and the aesthetics of the game.

A: You’re a sculptor, and it’s pretty awesome to see what you come up with in your gallery. What materials do you usually work with?

M: Most of the toys I sculpt are in the 6″-12″ range, with a few smaller and some larger. I learned how to sculpt with castilene wax at McFarlane and I’ve stuck with that material for the most part. Sometimes harder or softer clays are used, such as hazbro wax or chavant respectively. Also, for fabrication of mechanical pieces I use plastics like styrene.

A: Do you work as a professional artist?

M: Yes, I’ve been a professional artist for about 14 years.

A: Now I’ve noticed that you have some Locust designs in your gallery. They also look familiar… were they prototypes for NECA? Feel free to tell us a little bit about your creations.

M: All the Gears of War pieces in my gallery were prototypes for NECA action figures. I sculpted them twice the scale of the toys and they were pantographed down in production. The game designers provided excellent reference and turn-around art for the characters, and I did my best to get every detail faithful.

A: Do you also work in 2D, like drawing, or illustrating on paper?

M: When I started getting serious about art, I spent most of my time drawing and painting. But once sculpting really became a profession for me I have neglected other forms of art. Occasionally I have to sketch something out for a design, and I go to life drawing classes when I can.

Oddly enough, if I am drawing something from my head, I find it easier to grab some clay and rough it out, then look at the clay sculpt for reference in drawing.

A: Anything to say to your fellow Epic Gamers?

M: Video game characters are some of the most fun and rewarding projects I have worked on, and it’s awesome to hear appreciation from the people who love the games.

You can also check out Michael’s amazing work on Etsy, where you’ll find his sculptures, jewelry and more.

The Art of Gears of War 3 Available for Pre-Order

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The Art of Gears of War 3The Art of Gears of War™ 3 is the latest book in Ballistic’s Art of the Game series. At a massive 320 pages, it is also the biggest!

Learn the techniques and secrets directly from those who created the game.

Featuring concept and production art for characters, environments, weapons, vehicles, and monsters, this hefty tome gives you behind-the-scenes access to Epic Studio’s creative genius. It includes quotes, anecdotes, renders, early-stage art and works-in-progress, all leading-up to the completed package of the game. You may choose either Soft Cover, Special Leather Edition or the very exclusive Folio Edition. You can also see a full preview of the book on the Ballistic Publishing website!

The Art of Gears of War 3 is the perfect book for any lover of Games and Art. The first 100 customers to buy “The Art of Gears of War 3” on the Ballistic Publishing website will receive and awesome A3 Print of Clayton Carmine!

The books will start shipping the last week of June.

 

A Gift for an Epic Games Concept Artist

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Jay-Hawkins-2Epic Games Senior Concept Artist, Jay Hawkins received a gift today from Team Epic Gamer artist, Tim Fangon. Tim, also known as Arukun14, sent us prints of his fantastic Savage Grenadier Elite. “JayHawk” was very excited to receive the print and was amazed and what a great job Tim did.

Tim Fangon Savage Grenadier EliteJay also couldn’t believe that Tim had it printed and sent it to us!

Jay Hawkins joined the art team at Epic Games in 2003 and has created  concept art for Unreal Championship 2, Unreal Tournament 3, and the Gears of War and Infinity Blade series. Jay creates the concept art for characters, weapons and vehicles.

You can see more of Jay’s artwork on his blog and in this post on the Polycount forum.

Thank you Tim!

Marcus_GOW3

Epic Gamers: Fan Fiction

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Hey everyone! I’m Waldo Kinne from Gearscon or better known by my gamertag WaldoRtk7. Back in early 2007, shortly after the release of Gears of War, many questions arose from the gaps in the Gears back-story. The story was enthralling, but left the community with hundreds of questions and not many answers. Many of those questions filled Epic’s Story & Character Forums. From those forums emerged a group of young writers, who to the best of their abilities began creating their own take on the world of Sera. The openness of the original storyline allowed for writers to construct their own take on events in the world and tie the Gears Universe together.

The original author attributed to starting the Fan Fiction on the forum was Travis Knight, “Black Asgard”, with his short story “War Path” about an exCOG soldier seeking to avenge the death of his daughter and the Stranded village they lived in. After this fan fiction, several other authors joined Travis to create a more in-depth world of Sera. Following Travis’ example I joined and began writing my own fan fiction and helping other do the same. Though we were a small group of twelve writers, we spent countless hours building the Gears of War Writing Community. Several threads were created to help other new writers create their own stories from scratch, such as The Official & Unofficial Nations of Sera and How to Make Your Fan Fiction Rock. Each writer also began editing and giving constructive criticism to other writers, which allowed everyone’s stories to gain more depth as time went on.

Gears of War 3 Character Art Dump at ZBrush Central

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Epic Games has an amazing art team, and many of them are members of the ZBrush Central forums where they occasionally post images of their work. ZBrush is a 3D modeling program and a favorite of the artists here. Epic is all about teamwork. Models get passed around and are tweaked and passed around again. The end results are the amazingly detailed characters and environments that you see in our games.

Back in October, Epic Games‘ Senior Character Artists Mike Kime and Chris Wells started an “art dump” thread, which has images of many of the Gears of War 3 characters as works in progress. The incredible hi-res images are a feast for the eyes and will delight Gears of War fans. Epic Games‘ Senior Environment Artist Kevin Johnstone also started an art dump thread for Gears of War 3 environment art. You can see it here: https://www.zbrushcentral.com/showthread.php?162646-Gears-of-War-3-Environment-Art. Kevin is great about answering fan and peer questions and does so throughout the thread. Kevin gives great insight into what it takes to create such amazing pieces.

If you would like to check out more character, concept and environment art from Epic Artists, click the following links:

Mike Kime:  https://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1449484#post1449484
Kevin Johnstone: https://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90110
Jay Hawkins: https://hawkprey.blogspot.com/p/unreal-tournament-iii.html
Jay Hawkins with Shane Pierce: https://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90087
Chris Wells: The Ladies of Gears of War 3: https://www.pixologic.com/blog/2011/10/gears-of-war-3-the-ladies/