Apart from my traditional artistic background that has spanned approximately ten years, there are two key periods in my creative life where I feel my skills took big leaps forward. The first was around 2002 when, with my friends Benjamin Carre and Bengal, we created a lot of work for Darkworks Studio, a game studio based in Paris. The second
important period was in 2005, when I learned and improved a lot of my Photoshop skills through my friends from the Ubisoft team in Montreal. To be more precise, we discovered techniques to improve our creations by using specific template brushes that would speed up the creative process and give a stronger feel to the illustrations. A great deal of the techniques you pick up along the way come from friends and colleagues.
I started working for the video game industry around the end of 1996 in Paris. When I look back on that period compared to today’s industry standards a lot of things have drastically changed. The concept design industry was just emerging in 1996. We all looked to famous artists like Syd Mead and Ralph McQuarrie for inspiration. There was also a great talent pool working in the comic book industry. But digital art was still an abstract concept to most, even though Craig Mullins had released many revolutionary images for the game ‘Marathon’ in 1995. In a way, these images flagged what changes were going to take place in the coming years. Concept design was already a mature discipline, but it was done in a very traditional way with pencils and drawing tables. Color pieces were rare, as it was difficult to include acrylic color concepts within the time limitations of a production. The time factor was not the only drawback. Once the image was done there was no way of modifying it—there was no “version 2” for acrylic paintings. It took ages for me to acquire the digital techniques to create good artwork—especially if you consider that I started messing around with my first Wacom tablet in 1995.
I worked on minor French projects and demos before really taking care of the art for a high-profile project with ‘Alone in the Dark 4’ in 1998. This was a long project, with little material to start with. The most satisfying project I worked on was definitely ‘Prince of Persia: Warrior Within’ in 2004. The project lasted a year, and the heads of the production had a clear idea of the direction they wanted to take the project. It is a pleasure working
under these conditions, where you know that 90% of the pieces you’ve been doing will end up in the game in one way or another. Productions vary a lot between companies. There are a huge number of parameters that can alter or improve a project: the amount of people; professionalism; the schedule; internal organization; and not least that every company has a different cultural approach to making games. The different approaches can feel a little chaotic, but they also make the adventure more interesting.