Meet the Artist: David Levy

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  06 June 2006
Meet the Artist: David Levy

David Levy [aka Vyle]
Senior Concept Artist, Ubisoft
Co-Founder, STEAMBOT Studios

David attended the Academy of Fine Arts Maastricht (NL) where he graduated with honors with a B.S. degree in Industrial Design and Interior Architecture including a nomination to the Hoxtinjpreis. Upon graduation, David was invited to become part of a large video game company Cryo, in Paris, as a concept artist. With an experience of a little over 11 years in the game industry in more than 4 different countries, David has built a strong reputation as a Lead Artist, and was invited to various events and workshops such as guest speaker at the Game Developer Conference in 2003. David now works at Ubisoft as a senior concept artist and has participated to the development of Prince of Persia the Two Thrones, and Assasin's Creed. With his friend Barontieri they recently created Steambot Studios, a collective of artists dedicated to create, inspire and push the boundaries of concept art.

Related Links:

For more of David's work, visit:

A more detailed BIO and credits:

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  06 June 2006
wow let me be the first to say, dude you are cool, I really am flattered with your work especially that second last dude

What would you advice new comers who are interested in taking your footsteps and become as successful artist as you are?

As the whole art department, what are the main things to be aware of, for new commers.

If you don't mind, what's the spec on your personal workstations>

Finally, what's your favourite comic book/novel?

thanks in advance
This message DOES reflect the opinions of the extraterrestrials
  06 June 2006
WOW. Your stuff is just two cool. I just want to thank you for taking part in this and taking the time in listening to our questions.

1. First, what do you think is the hardest part in developing your own company and what do you think is the easiest/best part?

2. Where do you get your inspiration from? Does it just pop out of your head or do you take alot of reference from other resources and combine it with your ideas? Or do you just take an idea and add to it bit by bit until your piece unfolds?

All Wars are Cival Wars Because All Men Are Brothers

  06 June 2006
i'm palying the two thrones just now! love it!
nothing really to ask, except:
1. what were your influences when you created the dark prince in the two thrones? really like that character!
2. if there had been a movie about you, which actor would play you? [I like this kind of questions...]

Last edited by Miezis : 06 June 2006 at 05:00 PM.
  06 June 2006
Man, that stuff is inspiring to me! That being said, what is it that inspires your art? I love the mood and especially the lighting you capture in these works.

  06 June 2006
Hey man , your art is very inspiring.

I was just wondering what are some tricks to getting into a concept art position? (besides have a great portfolio)


Last edited by Matellis : 06 June 2006 at 04:54 PM.
  06 June 2006
Thumbs up Wow

Very inspiring stuff...
  06 June 2006
Hey Dave, big fan of your work so here goes.

1) When your initial concepts are ready to be painted do you choose a colour pallette of your liking before you start or do you just figure that out on the fly?

2) Any tips for understanding perspectives, I notice that your skills in this area are superb, is there any references or tips in particuplar that help you achieve your results?

3) Character concepts or environment concepts which do you prefer to do and why? And what do you find more challenging?

"Back off Warchild he's with me"- Broady
  06 June 2006
iv seen your work on concept art, clean work flow. what artist do you admire and find your self influenced by?
  06 June 2006
Hi david,

I am surprised that you have studied in the netherlands, as I thought that CG/conceptart is quite unknown in the netherlands. Since I am a architecture student as well, my question is: how was your education at maastricht. did you have a technical study or a rather artistical study? and how much is your archtecture/i.d-background involved in your work?

I love your stuff.

Enter my anatomy thread
  06 June 2006
Hiya! I love your style!

My question:

.You have quite a few character designs. I was wondering, did you study anatomy?

Thanks it's great of you to take time out for this
  06 June 2006
- The best advice I can give to newcomers, is to make sure you have strong basics, either by learning them yourself, or even better, by going to an art school. Classical basics are a must (anatomy, perspective, proportions, composition....), and a necessity that helps you jump in the digital world. When I was a young artist, I tried many different tools (watercolor, 3D, acryl, markers, inks...) and I noticed that mixing tools allows you to understand what art is really about: communicating an idea to a production pipeline, whatever your tool is.
- I bought my workstation few years ago now, at a nice place called laboratory computers when I used to live in Austin TX, and I customized it a little but not much. If I remember I have a 3.4 hyperthreading, 2gig ram, two 21 inches old monitors (a Silicon graphics one and a crappier one), ATI 3800 pro or something. Basically a good PC but nothing mindblowing. I will give you more details once I am home.
-Choosing my favorite comic book, is killing me. On a deserted Island I'd probably take Ghost in the Shell by Shirow if that's the only comic book I could take. But I would cry to get all the hellboys by Mignola, and probably the whole Akira collection by Otomo, and probably Batman VS Judge Dredd by Simon Bisley.

There are no magic tricks, I would say it involves a lot of practice, and the other important thing is probably to be able to work in a team environment, be flexible, and understand the whole production process. If you are knowledgeable about how games are made, the company you interview for will notice it, and that would be a huge plus: if you know what people need, it will be much easier to know what type of concept they need. Concept-art is the missing link between production and the people who will buy the games: so it is about creativity and fresh new ideas. If you can sell good creative ideas using images, then people will need you as a concept artist. Oh, and having a good portfolio, like you said, is at the top of the list, alongside with having a good attitude.
If you can show online that you portfolio is worth the look, companies will knock at your door in a heartbeat.

- Well, right now steambot is not a company, it is a label. One day maybe...
The most difficult part is to find the right people, that have the same desire and motivation about the project.
The easiest and best part in developing a team, is the feeling that you are not alone anymore in tough times.
- Inspiration mostly comes from life, and also other artists. Inspiration is very mysterious, and it is impossible to really know how to capture it. I noticed that I need to be in a very good mood and relaxed in order to create. Movies, books, national geographics channel, good tv shows, and long vacations are on the top of my list to motivate me to create
Mozart once said: "without travel, an artist is nothing". The more you see, the more your brain is filled with images that can inspire you. When I work for myself, I tend to do the opposite to what I do at work: I love to paint huge wide open spaces in daylight (like mountain views, airborne images, or seascapes...), which is the opposite of the usual closed oppresive spaces usually asked in videogames.
Oh, a good coffee helps a lot too.
When it comes to creation itself, there are many ways to process. There are a lot of known mechanism, that seems to imbricate themselves while creating: a huge mix of unconscious, technical knowledge (like light and perspective) and the desire to express an emotion (whether it is vertigo, fear, or beauty). Sometimes I do use image references (probably 50% of the time), as a thumbnail to get the proper light, or shapewise if I find a cool pic of a bug, or an animal that is inspiring.
-At work, it depends on the subject, for Prince of Persia or Assassin's creed for example, it is much more about historical references and textures. So I could start with a designer's "rough 3D" and turn it into a realistic arabic building, and make sure that the shapes are exciting enough to please the player in a level.

-I did not create the dark prince in the two thrones, I just did many illustrations, and redesigned details on his outfit when he is evolving as the prince during the story. The darkprince was designed by a very discreet and amazingly talented artist here in Montreal called Patrick Lambert.
- For the movie thing... Ahem... Tough choice... I will pass this one and think about it

Classical painters are a huge inspiration especially when it comes to color, my favorite painter is probably Klimt. I also love Sargent, Turner, Poussin, and in the still alive section Craig Mullins, Jon Foster, Sparth and many more... I also love to know about movies DP's like Darius Khondji, and movie making in general and directors (James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Jean Pierre Jeunet...) that I also consider like modern days amazing painters.
  06 June 2006
Hi David Levy,I just wanted to say that your work is amazing and I really admire them,especially this one:
It's one of the best CG art I've ever seen.Nice to see a Dutchman who is so succesfull.Keep on rocking dude,greetings from Holland

Last edited by GoranNF : 06 June 2006 at 06:54 PM.
  06 June 2006
Hey! It's great to see that you guys have formed your own operation. Do you need another member?

When you work on concepts, do you stop at rough stages first and show those to clients for approval, or do you just go straight into detail work, for the sake of wanting to make a good impression on the clients with the polished look?
  06 June 2006
GoranNF>> I am not Dutch (I hope I did not disappoint you!) but I owe a lot to your country, and especially their teachers, and the amazing friendliness of the people I met. I was born in France, but have not lived there for the last 10 years.

Thx for the kind words by the way! I did not expect that many questions that fast!

- It depends on the project. At work, very often, the art Director himself, or both of us together, decide on a mood for a level, that will follow the script/scenario written earlier. Then, once the general mood for a level is choosen, we will very oftern work with the complementaries, and lighting, to make sure the main character is never too "hidden" in the backdrop, but still feels like it belongs to it.
So the short answer is: at work we definitely plan on a decided mood for a level. But at home, it can be much more accidental.

- When it comes to perspective, it is one of the only thing, that can be mastered by practice! The best example is probably Scott Robertson, he IS the master in that domain to me. I guess I got my basics in industrial design and architecture, but I never stopped practicing it. And to be honest, I find a lot of errors in my perspectives, I just hide them very well

-I love both characters and environments, and the best is probably a mix of a little bit of both. Sadly, very few companies offer me the possibility to do both.

- There are so many artists I admire that influence me, that a list would be very long. I mentioned some of them in the previous post. On Concept art, I could name a few like A Jones, noxizmad, Dan Milligan, Marko Djurdjevic, HPX....

- Hey a dutch artist! Although concept art is still quite unknown in Europe, Holland is a very open minded country compared to France where I am originally from. When I was a student, France always had a policy of keeping the artist on some kind of "rails" that would guide you your whole life. I Studied in an amazing school the first 3 years in France, but I understood that I had to travel to find what I was looking for: a place where I could learn photography, architecture, sculpture, anatomy... Which is what I found in Holland. Let's say that the school in Maastricht gave me the possibility to try more mediums, than if I had been in another school. I could create my own schedule, which was more what I needed.

- My architectural/industrial background is still VERY helpfull every day in what I do. Whether it is for believability in material and scale, eventhough I work in games, it still helps a lot in nowadays always more realistic games.
But it also helps in fantasy stuff too: the most fantastic things are based on the most realistic backgrounds.

I did a lot of model drawing sessions (and still do from time to time) and have a bunch of good references when I work. I guess that's the kind of stuff that comes with time, and that you will never stop learning. I have to note, that compared to an artist like Marko Djurdjevic, my anatomy is kinda wobbly at best!! But thanks anyway :P

Last edited by vyle-art : 06 June 2006 at 07:18 PM.
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