Kekai Kotaki :: Meet the Artist


Hey there,

It gives us great pleasure to welcome one of the most prolific artists in the field character design and concept art. Kekai Kotaki’s story is featured on CGSociety and the latest d’artiste Master Class publication, now available for PreOrder on Ballistic Publishing. Here, you are given a rare chance to ask Kekai about his career, his art and his views on various styles.

Please make welcome to CGSociety Meet the Artist, Kekai Kotaki.


Such a good artist…one of my favorites.


Standard article but nevertheless an interesting one.

I have a suggestion – Let the artist to pick one of their images to discuss and analyze what/how they were thinking, what the initial idea was and how it transformed during the process etc.

Thanks !:slight_smile:


OMG! Incredible artist.


He got me into games design/art/3d from the amazing work posted on Guildwars.


I met Kekai at Evolve CG 2010 and he gave me great insight into the industry and advice on how to carry on with my art. He is so laid back and approachable, and oh yea and he’s an amazing artist lol.


Nice to see someone from AIS making a legitimate name for himself.

But even then, Kekai was talented beyond belief.


Great stuff! Love the art and inspiration its work like yours that gets me itching to pick up a pencil or open up zbrush and start sketching around. Inspiration as you said really dose come from the things we see are minds do the rest in filling in the gaps :wink: Please keep up the great work!


Hey there,

Please some questions out there guys. Kekai is ready and waiting to meet you too.


Hello Kekai!

I really like your artworks! Especially: Riven Earth, Desert Rocks, The Druid, Tyrant, Knight Errant. Could you tell more about some of these artworks.
What inspired you to create concepts for artworks Riven Earth, The Druid, Tyrant? They have very interesting natural forms.

How long time do you usually create the concept? I mean not only the process of drawing, but also work of your imagination.

What kind of tablet do you use? It seems to me that I can see the Cintiq on your photo. I use Intuos 4 and I would like to know how big is the difference between these instruments. Does the Cintiq accelerate artist’s work?

Best regards,


What size canvas do you usually work on, for the GW2 work?


Mazurkin -
Riven Earth, Desert Rocks, The Druid, Tyrant, Knight Errant were all concepts done for Guild Wars 2. Riven Earth and The Druid are actually GW1 subjects that we are bringing back in GW2. I slightly re-designed the original vision for the next project. I look at photos of nature to get inspiration for textural treatments. Overall shapes and forms are usually from my head.

It takes me anywhere from a day to a week to do one. Depending if the idea is good or not, or if I have to make more corrections.

The difference varies from artist to artist, but for me it was hard to get use to my hand being in front of my face. And really I still just as fast as I was with the intuos. Also the weird thing too is my posture was way better with the intuos. But mark making is a lot more natural with the cintig.

Around 5700x4000 pixels, though this is not a fixed number.


Thank you very much for your answers! Good luck to you! You make the incredible artworks!


Congratulations Kekai! It’s been a while since I last saw you and your work here in the Seattle circles…you always impress me and your work continues to surpass my wildest imaginations.



I’m mostly a 3d artist,but want to get into 2d for concepting etc,

I’ve looked at a few of your tutorials online ,do you always start in grayscale for the beginning,without having a sketch of the idea beforehand? Also which is a good method for learning in 2d, like painting photographs and images before making entire pieces from imagination?

thanks for your time.


Thanks Dave!

Setha - Yes I usually start with a grey scale drawing, and it serves as my sketch too. Yes it’s a good idea to practice form life but remember at the same time being able to still use your imagination to use all that knowledge to bring a fantasical image to life.


Hi Kekai, nice to see you do this! Lol, it looks like you’re everywhere I look lately!

I have a question about something I read on your blog. You mentioned how you’ve been using custom shapes more lately. I wonder in what manner. Do you make interesting shapes and save these or make ‘shape templates’ of shapes you use often or something completely different?


I know I’m a bit late, but I’d like to know if the late(God, I hate saying this!) Frank Frazetta had any influence, or anything from Brom to Bisley had any influence as well?

Heh, All you need is to take a look at my gallery to answer that question about myself!

Thanks again, for showing up and taking time out to answer our questions!


Hi Kekai…I want to ask…in your experience, what are 3 of the most important things to put the energy and time for a person that is trying to learn and develop skills in the concept art.



I don’t really have any questions. More of a comment. I’ve been here six years and have never clicked on “meet the Artist” The artists actually respond! Very cool!

Kekai, nice work!