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View Full Version : Q&A with Kam Yu - Senior Artist. Part Two



Keir
3rd Aug 2010, 18:50
Hello and welcome to part two of Senior Artist Kam's Q&A. Kam has been working on Lara since Legend, in this two part Q&A he answers as many questions from the community as he can. You can read the first part of the Q&A which focuses on Lara here (http://forums.eidosgames.com/showthread.php?t=111787).

And without further ado, let us begin the second part. A big thanks to Kam for answering so many questions, and a big thanks to you guys for taking part.



TOTEC


NightWish tombraiderforums.com
Totec's look is very elaborate. What sources of inspiration did you use to create his image? Was it a long process?

Kam: We wanted a character that looked formidable and a bit dangerous. We referenced a lot of ancient Mayan imagery and pulled out what we thought were the most interesting features. In the end, we went through a series of concepts and a couple of model variations. I’m quite satisfied with the end result.




A work in progress image of Totec



disapearing-boy tombraiderforums.com

How much research was required to create an accurate Mayan warrior? And at any point did you stray from historical accuracy to allow for a more stylised design or creative freedom?

I like to use the theme of a character, in this case a Mayan, as the framework from which to design the overall appearance. Foremost in my mind is whether the character achieves our desired goals. Is he strong? Is he commanding? I don’t mind taking certain liberties when it comes to the design if it improves the look.



Treeble Eidos Forums

At first, I thought Totec's visual as a whole as a bit unnerving, but I came to terms with it. I'd like to know through how many revisions his visual identity went through before the one we see, with lots of exposed skin, 'empty' eyes and the little awesome horns on his face. Is this how every good-will deity would look like? lol

We went through a few versions of Totec before settling on the one seen in the game. One of them sported a big, white/gold headpiece. He came to be known as, "The Chef"! LOL. I don't think he'll be making an appearance any time soon. Maybe if we had a cooking game.





OTHER CHARACTERS

aussie500 tombraiderforums.com

Is there some internal joke attached to the now infamous merc clones? Or are we just meant to think all mercs look alike.

Believe it or not we had three different character artists work on three different mercenaries and that is what they came up with! Just kidding.





CONCEPT AND PROCESS

aussie500 tombraiderforums.com

Do character artists do their own concepts for the characters or do you base your design on someone else's idea? Who thought up the way Xolotl would look?

For this project, I had the distinct pleasure of concepting all the characters as well as modeling and texturing them. Dan Neuberger, our Creative Director, was the one who came up with the idea of Xolotl. I went through several concept iterations before coming up with his final look.



just*raidin*tomb tombraiderforums.com
How does the character design process begin?

(See below)

just*raidin*tomb tombraiderforums.com
What is the the most exciting thing about being lead character artist?! It must be rewarding to see your designs come to life.

I definately feel that seeing my work come to life is the most rewarding thing about being a character artist. I always try to picture what the characters would be like in real life and how they would move about and behave. I feel the most successful characters are ones where the form follows function. Every character must look purposeful.

My ultimate goal for every character is to elicit some emotion in the player, be it fear, trust, loyalty or whatever. It’s those emotions that leave a lasting impression.



http://forums.eidosgames.com/LCGoLassets/Chompy_Initial_Concept3_s.jpg
Some early sketches of Chompy



Ward Dragon tombraiderforums.com

When designing an original character (or perhaps even redesigning Lara) do you listen to the voice actor and take the character's voice into consideration for the character's final appearance?

The best designed characters are the ones that work on every level from animation to voice. Because a character’s appearance should be an extension of their personality a lot of effort is put into matching the voice to the visuals.



Danielsun Eidos forums
How many stages or processes are there when designing or redesigning a character and how many people are involved?

Typically, the design of any character begins with a series of brainstorming sessions. These are pretty much "blue sky" sessions where any idea, no matter how crazy is taken into consideration. Those ideas are then pared down to a smaller, more reasonable list and taken to concept. The ideas will evolve a great deal at this stage and get further refined. Much of it is done in Photoshop but recently I've been relying more on 3D concepting with ZBrush (or some other sculpting package). Once that is approved, then construction of the high resolution model begins. A game resolution version is then generated with textures and materials coming last.

There are usually a couple of concept artists and character artists involved with each major project. However, for LC:GOL, I was the only one! It was a unique opportunity that put to use my background in illustration and character creation.




OTHER

Ivo tombraiderforums.com
Which previous Tomb Raider games did you make artwork for?

I'm responsible for 3 versions of Lara: Legend, Underworld and LC:GOL.




Altair tombraiderforums.com
This might be a quirky question, but I am curious as to what Mr. Yu's desk looks like? I am always pleasantly surprised how people express themselves via workspace in a seemingly 'corporate' world.
(I’ll be getting a photo of this if you don’t mind :) - Keir )

I'm a minimalist!! LOL. Most people are surprised by how bare I keep my desk but I like simplicity. I do have a large Frankenstein toy, though. .. and a lot of food. I’m famous for my lunches.


http://forums.eidosgames.com/images/misc/LCGoLGoodness/Kam.jpg
Kam at his desk!


**LARA LOVER** tombraiderforums.com
What are your thoughts on XNALara? How do you feel about the fans being able to play around with and pose your characters?

I love seeing what others have done with Lara’s model! People can be so creative (and resourceful)! :P What it really says to me is that there still exists a lot of love for her. Go forth and create!




trXD tombraiderforums.com
Did you play any of the previouse tomb raiders that you didnt work on? If so, which is your favourite?
&
Helion555 Eidos Forums
So which Tomb Raider model is your favorite. You have the classic Lara's (TR 1-5), AoD, Legend, Ann. or Underworld. Which one was your favorite and why?

TR1 is still my favorite. There was an amazing sense of discovery in that game that is still hard to rival.




Max 28 Eidos Forums

Not including Lara, who is your favourite character from the Tomb Raider games series?

It’s hard to say but if I had to commit to one I’d have to say Zip. Yeah, he talks a lot and interrupts the game but, hey, I can relate to the tech guy.




Evan C. tombraiderforums.com
I know that we (the fans) are really annoying when it comes about Lara's look. Did you take any idea from the crowd or you just did it without having in count to what they (we) say?

Believe it or not I really do read the forums and take everything that is said into consideration. At first, I must admit, it was really disconcerting! I felt like there were a million eyes scrutinizing everything I did! But after a while, I began to feel that everyone on the forum was just doing their part to contribute. Even the ones that flame have an opinion. I try to put it all into perspective. I know it’s hard to please everyone. However, I feel very strongly about creating characters that are compelling and hopefully satisfying to not only the fans but to newcomers to the series.




Billy959 tombraiderforums.com
what software do you use to create lara CGI renders?

It depends on what the image would be used for. If marketing material is required, more often than not, we'll use Maya and mental ray. Otherwise, many shots you see are done in-game with our proprietary engine. One-off renders are often created in ZBrush as well, especially when we want to show work in progress or high resolution detail.





DETAIL

Ward Dragon tombraiderforums.com
In general, how do you come up with color schemes for the characters' outfits? For example, do you look at the colors of the level and try to make the character blend in, stand out, or is it decided independently from the level's visual appearance?

Lara’s outfits follow a certain color scheme that was developed by Toby while working on Legend. Of course, what we ultimately use in game has to take into account the surrounding environments. For practical purposes, Lara has to remain visible in every circumstance – even in darkened corners. Thankfully, we have a host of other options that we can use, especially lighting tricks.



The End!


And there you have it! Once again a big thanks to Kam for taking time out of his busy working days to answer your questions, and thanks to everyone that took part. There will be more chance to get to know the guys behind the game soon. Watch this space.

_Love2Raid_
3rd Aug 2010, 18:53
First!

(Lame, I know. :p)

Thanks a lot Keir and Kam, gonna read it right now! :D:D:thumb:

Keir
3rd Aug 2010, 18:57
First!

(Lame, I know. :p)


:lol:

_Love2Raid_
3rd Aug 2010, 19:44
In the end, we went through a series of concepts and a couple of model variations. I’m quite satisfied with the end result.



A work in progress image of Totec
I love it too! :D:naughty:


Believe it or not we had three different character artists work on three different mercenaries and that is what they came up with! Just kidding.
:lol:

So why the clones then? :confused::scratch:



http://forums.eidosgames.com/LCGoLassets/Chompy_Initial_Concept3_s.jpg
Awesome! He changed a lot, I love how he turned out. :D



There are usually a couple of concept artists and character artists involved with each major project. However, for LC:GOL, I was the only one! It was a unique opportunity that put to use my background in illustration and character creation.
WOW! That's really impressive, they are all so different! On one hand you have Lara for example and on the other a creature like Chompy! Lara alone would give me a headache. :o:thumb:



I'm a minimalist!! LOL. Most people are surprised by how bare I keep my desk but I like simplicity. I do have a large Frankenstein toy, though. .. and a lot of food. I’m famous for my lunches.


http://forums.eidosgames.com/images/misc/LCGoLGoodness/Kam.jpg
Kam at his desk!
Turn that screen on Frankie! I know you want to!! :whistle::whistle:


I love seeing what others have done with Lara’s model! People can be so creative (and resourceful)! :P What it really says to me is that there still exists a lot of love for her. Go forth and create!
My favourite part of this Q&A! We will Kam!! :D:D:cool:


TR1 is still my favorite. There was an amazing sense of discovery in that game that is still hard to rival.
Great choice. :cool:


Believe it or not I really do read the forums and take everything that is said into consideration. At first, I must admit, it was really disconcerting! I felt like there were a million eyes scrutinizing everything I did! But after a while, I began to feel that everyone on the forum was just doing their part to contribute. Even the ones that flame have an opinion. I try to put it all into perspective. I know it’s hard to please everyone. However, I feel very strongly about creating characters that are compelling and hopefully satisfying to not only the fans but to newcomers to the series.
That must be sooo hard. :eek::o
All the people talking about Lara from hair to toenails and they all want it different...:nut::nut::hmm:

Thanks again, it was a great read! :thumb::)

chriss_99
3rd Aug 2010, 20:06
Made it! Really interesting read! :thumb:
Totec looks fit! :D How old is he again? ;)

Thank you Kam and Keir.

Danielsun_
3rd Aug 2010, 20:35
excellent thank you Kam and Keir or Keir and Kam :D

@chriss isn't he 2000 years old? if he speaks in back words english i think we got our very own yoda ;)

Jurre
3rd Aug 2010, 20:55
NightWish tombraiderforums.com
Totec's look is very elaborate. What sources of inspiration did you use to create his image? Was it a long process?

Kam: We wanted a character that looked formidable and a bit dangerous. We referenced a lot of ancient Mayan imagery and pulled out what we thought were the most interesting features. In the end, we went through a series of concepts and a couple of model variations. I’m quite satisfied with the end result.





He looks very Apocalypto-ish to me: I bet they have watched that movie :D

http://www.filmaware.fr/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/apocalypto.jpg

Treeble
3rd Aug 2010, 21:10
Very interesting read indeed - thanks a lot Keir!

Also, thanks a lot for the amazing Totec render. Much appreciated! :D

Raider126
3rd Aug 2010, 22:24
Cool interview
Thanks Keir and Kam :wave:

TrickyVein
4th Aug 2010, 12:55
This guy must have a serious work ethic - creating the model, textures and materials for all of the characters? *respect*

I thought only noble women in Mayan culture wore such large beads around their neck(s).

Danielsun_
4th Aug 2010, 18:46
This guy must have a serious work ethic - creating the model, textures and materials for all of the characters? *respect*

I thought only noble women in Mayan culture wore such large beads around their neck(s).

They may well do but hollywood isn't exactly known for its historical accuracy (if any) and if he based the mayan off of a hollywood one then the problem continues,

but he also said he has a bit of creativity for when designing the characters so he could have added it for the awesome looks ;)