EQII's art team is amazing! We have gorgeous environments, amazing effects, and some really nifty animations. A very important part of the game is the characters. Chris Atkins is one of our talented character artists and he took some time to talk to us as well as share some examples of the work he's done in EverQuest II.
What do you draw from for inspiration for your art in EQII?
My inspiration can come from all types of things. Most of my co-workers and designers really fuel and enhance my ideas. I often talk to our own Dok Whitson when I need direction or input, or stronger color palette decisions. I’ll be honest; like most game artists...Google. It’s at least a start to get images related to what I might be working on, animal and human reference pictures. Google-ing a Victoria’s Secret model isn’t so bad for a days work. Its reference I swear!
What’s your favourite part of EQII?
Since moving onto the EQII team, I like the enthusiasm and the ability to be flexible and try to push what we’ve done in the past. I really love some of the environments in this game. Recently my favorite area has to be the Vasty Deep; I love the cavernous area as well as the laboratory. I also like the particle systems in EQII. The colors are really rich and the effects add so much to the environments; from the snow blowing in Everfrost, to the sandstorms in Sinking Sands. These subtle details really bring environments to life for me.
What's your favourite thing that you've done for EQII?
Since I joined the EQII character team I’ve had fun doing armor sets and different creatures. There’s always a back log of cool stuff to pull from a request queue set up by design if we have “spare time”. I really liked doing the Sea Dragon that resides in Vasty Deep. I liked the process of how he came about and all the cool deep sea reference I had to gather for it. He was fun to model and had some cool glowing effects as well as a pearlescent chest which kept the texture work interesting. Other than that I had a good time doing the Sea Nayad women, as well as the book minions for Erudin. I think we had a regular book pet that was sort of leather bound and fairly simple in design. When they asked me to make some funky ones I was more than happy to make a few variants with a lot going on in the color map. The stuff I’m working on now is really cool and hopefully players will see some of it in the next GU.
How did you get started in the industry?
I went to college in Georgia at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I got a BFA in Computer Art and moved back to my hometown outside of Boston. I looked for some work on the east coast but there wasn’t much happening. I went back to building houses during the day for a year and sent out my 3-D stuff in the evening. I did some small freelance work in Bean town, and was sending model tests to companies out on the west coast. I flew out multiple times on my own dime and interviewed at DreamWorks, Nickelodeon twice and almost worked as a texture artist. After about a year of back and forth with Sigil Games Online doing test models and random things, they made me an offer and I moved out to San Diego. Yada yada yada and here I am at SOE!
What are some of the other projects you've worked on?
I’ve worked on Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Legends of Norrath TCG and recently EQII: Sentinels Fate.
Do you have any special (or just super fun) projects you're working on now for EQII?
Yeah I am working on the next expansion as well as some live content for the next GU. I’m not sure what I can reveal so I don’t have a group of angry designer’s in my cube, I can say that there will be some very cool encounters for players just getting into the game with the release of Halas. Most of my “super fun” characters will be released with that update, so look for lots of blue guys of all types covered in fur!
Do you have any advice for aspiring game artists?
Yeah I have some advice, don’t listen to anyone that tells you it’s a small industry and your chances are minimal. Sleep in your computer lab a few times; put in a few extra hours, it builds character! Everything else I could give for advice would be cliché. So all I’ll say is seriously follow what your passion is, don’t become too specialized, and never listen to the naysayers. “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, become critics.” I dunno that could be from some other great philosopher in history but I’m gonna go ahead and quote Alan Crosby on that one.
If there’s anything you’d like to share that was not covered by one of the questions, please feel free to share!
Yeah I’d like to say that so far my experience with the EQII team, the players and community have all been overwhelmingly positive. I am very excited to continue working on this game and hopefully we can bring you guys some great art and experiences in the year to come.