Interview with our Pixel Artist- Bryan
We seem to get a lot of compliments regarding our pixel art styles in Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades (that’s a good thing right?) sooo I thought you all might be dying to know more about the mystery man behind the scenes: Bryan! I asked him a few questions and of course- like all artists- there isn’t really one answer but 100 million iterations of the answers. So let’s get to it!
Me: Did you start off in games? How long have you been doing art for?
Bryan: Welll, my first Art Job was teaching art to Children followed very closely by a contract position at Little Guy Games, where I worked on Stick Wars 1,2,3 for IOS, as well as Super Snack Time and Little Bandits. In regards to how long I’ve been doing art, the answer is always. I remember trying to quit art once, but was always drawn back to it. Professionally I’ve been working as an Artist for 7 years now. Pretty much since I came back from getting married in New Zealand.
Me: What’s your biggest influence in the game art genre?
Bryan: Oh hm…that’s a hard question as I don’t think there is a single influence and instead I had different influences at different points. I remember drawing Mario and Link when I was really little, then taking my Dragon Quest, Super Metroid, Breath of Fire, Breath of Fire 2, Final Fantasy VI strategy guides to school and drawing the images in them over and over again.. And later, games like Metroid Prime, Windwaker, Okami, and Viewtiful Joe, Zone of the Enders, Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter, Metal Gear Solid, Valkyria Chronicles, Fire Emblem and Mass Effect were big influences. Now, games like Nier Automata, Hyper Light Drifter, and Owlboy have been big influences.
Me: Sooo I gotta ask, what is your favourite game ever?
Bryan: [chuckles] I can’t say I have a favourite game. I have favourite games for different genres, but Metroid Prime, Metroid Zero Mission, Nier Automata, Parasite Eve, Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem Awakening, Advance Wars Days of Ruin, Final Fantasy VI, Virtues Last Reward, Shadow of the Collossus, Mario 64, Megaman 2,3,8,X, Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow, Super Mario Galaxy, Smash Bros Melee, and Xenogears immediately spring to mind, but I could easily list a top 10 of any genre.
Me: Can you show me your favourite piece of art you’ve ever drawn?
Bryan: Usually the more funny an image is the more it lasts with me. I really enjoyed doing Smash Date series of images as well as pixel art Nintendo images. Also a couple of illustrations I did for books have a warm feel that I’ve attached myself to.
Me: What were your biggest inspirations for drawing Halcyon 6 and Star Renegades?
Bryan: When it comes to art style for Star Renegades and Halcyon 6, Halcyon 6 was already in motion when I came to work at Massive Damage and I had to match what was already there. There is a point where I feel like I stopped copying what was there and I made it my own, and that would be in the diplomat animations, and the final Boss animation and all of the higher tier ships. I think I took the essence and added as much personality to it as I could, I wanted something that both felt fun and alive. Star Renegades was mine from day 1, the team had taken a lot to games like Dead Cells and Hyperlight Drifter Visually, which led to artwork without outlines, so I used them as a basis of what next level pixel art looks like and then I started trying to make each asset I did better and more interesting than the last. I really wanted animation to speak to what the game is which is why we went for such a high frame rate for 2d art. In color pallet I wanted a lot of backgrounds with analogous colors with gradients overlaying them. I really wanted something that had a lot of personality but also looked very cohesive. I went with permanent wind because I wanted everything to be majestic and epic. I was getting really tired of post-apocalyptic settings and wanted this to be a group of planets there is actually a point in saving. That is why I’ve tried to keep a lot of colour in the game, as well as grass and other fauna.
Me: How’s your work process in creating art?
Bryan: My process when it comes to making art is rather methodical. I think of what I want something to look like, then I simplify the hell out of it, and think about it’s essence. often I end up with a really bland start and am ashamed of loose work that I do, but I”m always surprised how I can save assets by cleaning them up and thinking a new way to polish them.
Me: Any advice for developing artists?
Bryan: I think my advice for developing artists would be build up a strong technical base and try matching every style. Also have fun images that show what you can do rather than what everyone else is already doing. All of my art jobs have started because the team had an artist they liked but the didn’t have art being made fast enough and I got the job because I could match the style. I think I’ve very analytical in how I approach art. Also be as versatile as humanly possible. The more tasks I can do specifically the more useful I am and I really think that’s the best way to break in.
Aaaand those were most of the answers I could get from Bryan before he had to resume his progress on Star Renegades! All the backgrounds, characters, and animations are hand drawn by him- and Bryan is our only game artist here at Massive Damage! If you want to check out more of his awesome art (pixel or not) head on over to his site bryanheemskerk.com