Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fantasy Art Magazine

Back in August I was contacted by the nice folks at Fantasy Art Magazine in China to do an 8 page interview for the September issue! I didn't have a whole lot of new art to send them but I was very excited and flattered to be in their awesome publication. Here's the interview in English:

FAM: Please first introduce yourself

My name is Chris Moffitt and I’m a character artist at Robot Entertainment in Plano, Texas. I’ve worked on several games and one feature film since the beginning of my career in November of 2000.

FAM: How did you find your way to becoming an artist?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved to draw. I grew up watching a lot of Disney films and Looney Tunes and that fueled my passion for art. My parents would encourage me to get better by buying me art supplies and “how to draw” books and I remember having a small light table that I would use to trace over my favorite cartoon characters. After a while, I could draw them from memory and I started experimenting with creating my own characters. I later got into reading comic books and that really pushed me to draw things that were more serious in tone.

FAM: How did you get your first art job? What is the story of that?

I got my first art job while still in school at the Art Institute of Dallas. A fellow student pointed me to a graphic artist position for a small company creating designs for mouse pads. I used mostly Adobe Illustrator making designs that incorporated team logos for the NBA, NFL and MLB teams. It wasn’t much of a creative outlet and I really wanted to be working in the entertainment industry. After graduating, I was fortunate enough to be hired at Paradigm Entertainment working on my first game title, The Terminator: Dawn of Fate for PS2 and XBOX.

FAM: How did you find your artistic style?

I’m not really sure what my style is or if there’s anything I consciously try to do when creating an image or sculpt. I guess I just try to make things look appealing and give my work as much personality as possible.

FAM: Which artist has influenced you the most?

There’s so many that I admire and that have influenced me over the years. It’s really hard to narrow it down to just one.

FAM: How long does a new image generally take you to create?

Some images can take 8 or 9 hours, others can take over a month. It just depends on the complexity and how many elements are needed to make an interesting composition.

FAM: How do you train your skill in the usually?

My job really challenges me but I also try to find time outside of work to create new things. With each new sculpt or image, I try to learn a new technique that will make me more efficient. A lot can be learned from art forums, youtube or even emailing a friend in the industry and asking him how he might go about it.

FAM: When starting a new work, what is the first thing you think about? Can you describe your work flow and process?

The first thing I usually think about is the subject matter. Then I try to visualize the subject in the final image. How will he/she be posed? What other elements do I need in the scene? Then I will do some quick thumbs and start thinking about a composition. I try to re purpose work that I’ve already done to help speed up the process. If I’m creating images to show a model only, I will do render passes and composite them together and not do any touch ups in photoshop but if I’m creating an image that is more of an illustration, I will still use render passes but I will also paint on top of the renders to add effects, fur and little things that would take much more time to do in 3D.

FAM: Do you listen to music while working? What kind of music is your favorite? How does the music affect your artwork?

Yes, I find that instrumental or electronic music is great because it just keeps my momentum going on projects. Nothing too loud, it’s more to just have something in the background and help me to loosen up and relax. If it’s too quiet, I just get sleepy.

FAM: How do you usually find inspiration?

I have a lot of reference from other artists that I usually scroll through and then I gather specific photo reference to pull ideas from.

FAM: What is your most difficult challenge when making art? How do you overcome it?

My most difficult challenge with any image is creating a good composition and that everything reads well. To overcome this, I will usually step away from it for a day and come back to it later. The problem areas become more noticeable. Sometimes I might get some fresh eyes on it and have friends or coworkers take a look and see what their initial reactions are, then adjust accordingly. This helps me break old habits and plan differently with each new piece.

FAM: How many companies have you worked for? What the peculiarity of each company your feel? Please simple introduce.

I have worked for 4 different companies in the entertainment industry: Paradigm Entertainment, DNA Productions, Ensemble Studios and now, Robot Entertainment. At each of these studios I have worked with many different amazing, talented people and have learned so much along the way. The projects between these studios were all very different and unique and that has been great for me as an artist. I think out of everything I’ve worked on in my career, Robot Entertainment’s soon-to-be-released project, Orcs Must Die! is what I’m most proud of and I can’t wait for the world to get their hands on it.

FAM: Please tell me, What your position at the Robot Entertainment?

         I am a character artist but I consider myself a generalist. I’m most passionate about creating character concepts and models but I also create hard surface models like props, weapons, or vehicles.

FAM: Do you want to talk about your new project the Orcs Must Die? As we know, it is a new type Tower Defend game. Have some new elements in this genre. Could you tell us how do you feeling when you work this game?

     Yes, I’m very excited about Orcs Must Die! along with everyone else at Robot Entertainment. It’s a great blend of 3rd person action and tower defense and I’ve had such a blast working on it. I feel so much pride for our studio and the work we’ve all done to create this special game.

FAM: As we know, like all the Defend Game, we must kill all the Orcs who intrude the intrude. And we got many different type of them. So we want to know is you designed/made them? Is they are different with other Orcs who appeared in the other games, like WoW?

Yes, I did get to create the orcs for the game but I get a lot of feedback from the art director and other concept artists, so it's very collaborative. One of the many challenges was designing them in such a way that allowed us to have 9 different variations using a mix of gear and face types. They needed to have segmented parts but still look ok when bending at the joints so they all have leather straps around the wrists, elbows, knees and ankles to hide the intersections. We wanted the orcs to be low poly enough and use only one texture set so that we could have many on screen at the same time. I really loved the orcs in WOW but for this game we wanted them to look a bit more comical and so we injected some humor into the designs.

FAM: What the feature of the Orcs Must Die in the vision? What the different feeling of vision it have when the player play it?

I think the main thing that was discussed for the vision was to have a 3rd person action game, with elements of a tower defense game so that the player cannot solely rely on his fighting abilities alone. He has to use his traps effectively and get in there and fight with his crossbow, sword or magic in order to win. When you play the game, you will find that there are so many ways to play each level that it makes replaying each level fun every time because it’s so open-ended.

FAM: What titles of game you had made? And which one you think is the best you had done?

I’ve worked on Terminator: Dawn of Fate, Mission Impossible: Operation Surma, Terminator 3: The Redemption, The Ant Bully feature film, Halo Wars, Age of Empires Online and Orcs Must Die!. Out of all those, I would say Orcs Must Die! is the best. It is the most addictive, appealing game I have ever worked on and it has tons of replay value that will keep people coming back for more.

FAM: We know you did the 2d works and the 3d works. So we want to know which works you like more? why?

I think I really enjoy 3D more. There is something about being able to create from all angles and really feel like it’s there in front of you like a piece of clay. I enjoy 2D but sometimes I struggle with perspective and 3D takes out the guesswork. If I have a camera angle that isn’t working, I can just move my camera and render again. With 2D, I would have to rework everything or even start over. I feel like there are so many great tools for making digital art that at the end of the day, I’ll use whatever I can to get to the final image.

FAM: What kind of 3d games work is the best work? I mean you did some many titles of the video game, and you also made so many 3D work for them. It's mean you have experience and feeling about what kind of the work is accord with criterion. Do you want to share with us?

I think it just depends on what people are into. Some people grew up loving cars and so to them maybe that’s the best thing to work on. For me, I grew up loving characters. That’s all I ever wanted to draw when I was young and so working in games, that to me is the best thing to work on because I can put personality into them and give them history and make them feel alive. Then the talented animators I work with really bring them to life and I get to see them move around in game. That is very satisfying.

FAM: I saw you had many different subject works, the Sci-fi, the fantasy, the super hero. And i think the confronting between the human and the machine is your favour, is right? Do you want to tell us way you like this subject?

I think since working at Robot I’ve been inspired to create some robot – themed models. It’s just fun to make all those moving parts, fitting them together, trying to imagine how it might operate and since ZBrush added the shadowbox feature, it is so easy to do very quickly.

FAM: Which super hero is your favour? Did you made some image of he/she?

I think the Hulk is my favorite. I was obsessed with the Hulk as a kid and even today, I am always more interested in how the Hulk is portrayed in films than any other super hero. One of my favorite Hulk stories was from the Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk comics illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu. There’s a 2 page spread that shows the Hulk ripping Wolverine in half that just made my jaw drop. I couldn’t believe that happened! So in 2008, I decided I would do a zbrush sculpt of this scene. Well, it’s 3 years later and I’m still trying to finish it. Hopefully it will get finished before 2012.

FAM: What the most important point that the artist must have? I mean, except the talent, what thing make the artist as artist?

Create what you love to create. It doesn’t matter what other people think. Do it for you.

FAM: What your plan for the future?

To continue making great games at Robot and working on various sculpting projects. I also hope to someday finish a children’s book and graphic novel that my wife and I have in the works.

FAM: Thanks for your answer!

It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me in your publication!

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