- 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.