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creative

The Journey of A Talented and Promising Artist: Felipe Ramos

Artist. If you look it up, you’ll find literally thousands of different definitions: a person dedicated to the expression of beauty, technique master, creator of emotions. In reality, there are as many definitions as people practicing Art, with a capital A, in the largest possible sense of the word. At Ludia, we’re lucky enough to count close to 100 of these amazing people. Inspiring, passionate, hard working, talented and curious experts, everyone’s source of inspiration is unique. To define this wonderful team, which amazes us daily with their creations, in one word would be: richness. 

Today we embark on a journey with Felipe Ramos, Concept Artist here at Ludia on our game Dragons: Titan Uprising. 

Felipe

Concept Artist: What’s That?

Concept Artists are key people in the pipeline of a video game production. Their objective is to illustrate, in images, a concept that was solely living in the designers mind prior to that. The project is brought to life thanks to their creations. All their work allows the entire team to visualise which direction everyone should take and how to move forward together on the project. 

One of the most important key characteristics for an artist? According to Serge Mongeau, our Art Expert at Ludia, “It’s the will to always push forward while improving your work methods, being curious and exploring new techniques.” And this is the aspect of Felipe’s profile that makes him more than just talented, but an artist with a promising future. “Felipe is deeply curious and does not hesitate to embrace new technologies, to improve its productivity and define a new coherent universe throughout multiple characters.”

Passion and Hard Work 

Being a great artist is not only about having good predispositions and “natural talent”,. To succeed in an artistic career often means facing of obstacles,. It requires a strong will and hard work. Especially for a concept artist, as it is quite similar from one studio or project to another, and so it turns competition into an even more intense game on a worldwide scale. , You need to be  deeply passionate and dedicated to your art, to get the chance to turn it into a professional career. But if curiosity, hard work, sacrifice, and commitment are your daily mantras, success could be at your fingertips. 

To reach his goal, Felipe worked ruthlessly until developing the necessary skills to be able to get into an art school here in Montreal. But once he reached this goal, an even harder goal was set. Leaving his family and friends behind in Brazil and facing the reality of the competition and how good and hard working some of his friends were at school, was, at the time, a tough period, but nevertheless forged his work ethic. 

Today, he still puts a huge emphasis on self educating. Internet tutorials, sharing sessions with coworkers and managers, new software learnings, online classes from the artists he is most inspired by: he takes every chance he can get to learn something new. Through time, as a Concept Artist, he came to the conclusion that he “can’t just specialize in a specific form of art”. That eagerness for learning was nourished by his professors’ who guided him, not only in mastering the existing techniques, but in continuously seeking knowledge, innovation, novelty. It is also, in part, motivated by a small fear of being outdated quickly in an environment constantly changing and marked by fast evolution. 

Albert Einstein once said “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”. This might also be very true for art.

Why use a quote from a scientist? Well, it’s a natural correlation! 

Science and Technology: The Heart of Felipe’s Inspiration

When asked if he always wanted to take an artistic path Felipe answers: Yes, I always wanted to be either an artist or a scientist, since I first saw a Leonardo Da Vinci exposition in Sao Paulo when I was a kid, it changed my life. So setting myself towards a career that would allow me a similar creative freedom was my main goal”.

After studying biology back in Rio, and realizing science was a hard reality in Brazil, he deeply dedicated himself to his art to reach this ultimate goal. 
But never truly forgot about the scientific universe. He still nowadays, besides taking inspiration from personal experiences, what’s surrounding him, events, films or environments he wanders in, science and technology remain in a special place amongst his inspirations. 

His current obsession? The artificial intelligence movement in art. More and more technologies allow us to make art and will surely change the creation process, artists’ work and way of thinking. It’s that part Felipe is exploring, and his thinking is nourished by his own research as much as sharing ideas with some of his peers, which are equally captivated by this subject as well. 

The idea behind it? Always keeping an eye on the potential future evolution of his job.

The Video Game Industry and The Creation Process 

Even if he thought he’d work for the movie industry at first, Felipe “always knew video games were the next step.” “It was just a matter of time until the graphics I was seeing turned into full immersion, like an obvious progression. Right now it has the potential to be the ultimate form of art and immersion.”

What he loves most in his job is world-building. “So things have to make sense when I’m creating them. Character and creature designs are my favorite thing to do for fun and at work.” He balances his time between his artistic practice at work and his personal projects in his free time. He does not limit his creative mind to express itself during work hours only. As a technology lover, he likes having access to a wide range of tools. “It forces me to learn new ways to make things every once in a while.” His managers are more than open for him to explore further to allow him to develop his full potential. 

How does the creation process for a Concept Artist work at Ludia?

Of course, every artist has a specific vision and way of doing. For Felipe, “it varies a lot, depends on what the asset is, or for what it is for.” In every case, some elements stay part of a routine in the creation process, as the research part for references and to form moodboards. Then, for a piece of concept he usually does it on a 2D media, render a base model of the asset then painting on top of everything on Photoshop. For those assets, his favorite technique is to approach things manually and painting stuff out as it is the fastest way to get a realistic looking finished piece. For a piece of illustration, like a splash screen, his first step is usually 2D sketches, then pass on a 3D process. It might take longer at first, but allow him to make interesting iterations and changes of camera angle. For in-game assets, he starts by creating many 2D concepts then moves on to make 3D models (in 3D coat) based on the best ones approved, so he can interchange/kitbash pieces and produce more variations. Then, the final assets being 2D, the final steps are assigning basic materials, rendering it and painting on top to deliver the best pieces. 

Covid-19 and Creativity

Along with the entire studio, our artists work from home. Some elements remain the same, no matter the job position occupied. Thus, the necessity of being adaptive, finding the best ways to communicate remotely, and focusing on the positive aspects such as: being less interrupted and being able to enjoy more free time as commuting is no longer part of our schedule is the same for everyone. 

For the most part, Felipe’s daily work, as for several of our artists, did not drastically change since the implementation of work-from-home. Same material, same meetings adapted virtually, projects still going on. But the quarantine has had a deeper impact on his creativity.  Inspired by the tiny daily details of life, his social experiences, being in contact with different personalities, being able to encapsulate moments of his life outside are elements that usually nourish his work. “For inspiration it can be tough sometimes, it can be blocking. For example, when you need to develop images reflecting summer and all the characteristics that encapsulate this season… it is very complicated when you can’t go outside, or are not living this usual summer vibe when going out.” So, he is a little more “forced” lately to solely find inspiration on the internet. 

Finally, of course, whether you are a parent or someone living alone, one of the main things is being organized. Not that Felipe lacked this before, but remote work still requires optimal organization. Feedback he received from his peers was key to improve even more his organisational skills. He also disciplined himself, still respecting the schedule he was doing in the office, even if he was tempted to move around his hours to meet the ones during which he thinks he would be the most inspired. That way he keeps the right rhythm and a good balance.

Some Advice During This Pandemic Situation

Felipe says that even if it feels very complicated sometimes, it is important to try to keep yourself up to date and well informed about the situation while protecting yourself from the media chaos. It will be good for your mental health. He also notes, not to forget about the importance of disconnecting from work, especially when being locked down alone. “The first 2 weeks were a bit more complicated as I use the same sound system for both my personal and professional computers. So it’s happened that while working on personal projects after my working day, I would hear my Slack notifications. I was tempted a couple of times to go check the messages and go back to work. But since then, I am more careful to draw a clearer line between work and personal life, and strive to get the best balance.”

Marketing in Video Games: Discovering Creative Services at Ludia

“Oh! You work in the Marketing department? What do you do exactly? Where do you fit in the production cycle?”

We hear that a lot. If you ask the people around you what marketing does in a video game studio you’d get answers like: they create tools and strategies to promote games and help with internal and external communications for the studio. Indeed, the big picture may look a lot like that. But we also often hear that marketing “only creates nice, pretty images” or that “everything is done last minute”. Believe me, I’ve done the exercise!

That being said, we’re not just about creating “nice images”. To show you what we do on the daily, let’s begin by introducing ourselves.

Creative Services: Who are they exactly?

First, who are we? We are the Creative Services team here at Ludia! In a few words, we’re a pretty cool team managing the creation of promotional videos and images of our games, ensuring that both our studio and our games get a great visibility externally, making them shine and last through time. 

Let’s get back to basics, shall we? What are our daily goals and who is part of the team? 

Our department is composed of a multidisciplinary team of graphic designers, web designers, motions designers, video editors, and sound designers. 

We study vigorously the market, our competitors, and the different updates and events occuring in our games. This information allows us to create assets that are perfectly aligned to our players’ reality and our studio’s image. Every image or video created has gone through a well reflected process of research and development. 

In order to keep up with what’s relevant in terms of our games, we also have a close relationship with the production team. We try to avoid, as much as possible, last minute requests, in order to deliver only thoughtful work. We constantly check Confluence pages dedicated to projects, and also maintain a close relationship with Producers and Artists. Staying up to date and having close communication are key. 

Promotional images but so much more…

One of our main responsibilities is creating promotional images. But we don’t stop there. We create visuals and animated content for our communities, web sites, newsletters, audio content, and video trailers. The tasks we handle are so diversified that even internally, people in other departments, still get amazed at all the things being produced by our marketing team. From time to time, when sitting in on interviews with our recruitment team, even they get surprised by all the current projects going on. 

This continuous variety in our missions and the multi-talented people on the team allows us to interact with various departments in the company: executives, producers, leads, animators, artists – most would be surprised to find out that we are connected to all of them at one point during a project. 

How can we build such close links with all those different departments? We developed, little by little, the right knowledge and capacities to help. Today, we know by heart what each department needs, we gather as much data and information as possible, exchange ideas based on our experience and on what’s going on in the market. Thanks to that, we are able to suggest possibilities and solutions whenever necessary. 

Daily, we discuss ideas, study references, search for what’s new and trendy, and transform the information received and collected into relevant images and videos that deliver results. 

By continuously engaging our players, we are able to help games stay relevant and players coming back even after years of their first release. A good example of this is our game “Dragons: Rise of Berk” which was released in 2014 and which still has a LiveOps Team to promote sales, new dragons, and new events. 

Our work is the result of deep reflexion and rigorous analysis

To create engaging and relevant material, we base our work on research conducted by other departments and the license at hand. In our promotional material we always try to put a spotlight on player favorites or what makes the players more reactive to an ad. This explains why in our Dragons games, Toothless and Light Fury are featured in most of the promotional material, and in Jurassic World: Alive you might see, sometimes quite funny AR situations, seeing as this feature enables us to display a dinosaur in the real world.

Our research can also lead us to creating new assets we would never have thought of on our own. For example, by checking in with our Community Department, we noticed that fans were screen grabbing splash screens because they really liked them, so we decided to offer phone background wallpapers based on them (and more!) in the Jurassic World: Alive landing page. We now see a good amount of wallpaper downloads after every update.  

To stay up to date and relevant with a game, we also analyse competitor strategies and what they might do differently regarding User Acquisition Ads, Promotionals Videos, Community Pages, Newsletters, and so on.

Remember when we mentioned that we are a multidisciplinary team? As you can see, it is more than necessary to be multifaceted when we look at the list of all the tools and different channels used in promoting a game

Working for our games, but also for our beloved Ludians!

Not only do we work for the games, but we also take part in our studio’s internal and external communications! For our parties or assemblies, the Communication’s team comes to us for the creation of all the assets required for the events: posters, cards, pins and videos, we always love to lend a helping hand.

We also take part in more big scale external events such as MIGS for example, by supporting the Communications and Human Resources teams. We can create posters, cards, one pagers, graphic elements for goodies or social media publications, but also corporate videos illustrating our daily life at Ludia and our amazing games. 

Being a point of contact for almost every department, we discuss with producers, communications and HR teams about their needs and expectations so we can participate in the creation of those assets and improve the visibility of our studio, who we are and what we do at Ludia. These elements combined help in attracting new talent, and in creating a positive impact on employees in the studio. 

Our ambition: to make a positive impact

It is so important for us to see the results of our work, internally as externally. We hope to make a positive impact, and that what we create can last through time for both our player base and our coworkers. We are so proud to support the development of clear communications internally and even prouder if we can contribute to the attraction of new talent. Externally and for our games, it is always a huge satisfaction to know that we contribute to the players’ engagement. We study new ways of attracting players, help in the preparation of new game launches, and collaborate with all departments to help our studio grow. If a game still appears fresh and exciting after 5 years, and we, at marketing, have a little input on it, we are more than happy!

In a nutshell and a few hundred words, that’s what we do, this is who we are as part of Ludia. Maybe sometimes we do things that look shiny and cool – and sometimes just plain and to the point, but there’s always a purpose behind it. We love being part of this dynamic and ever changing environment. We take pride in delivering great assets, that are relevant and creative, and that deliver good results. Each day, we do our best to be up to this challenge!  

So next time you see an ad, a poster, a video, a promotional offer, a landing page, a pin,  please think about all the amazing people behind the work and everything involved that made it possible!

Love, Creative Services at Ludia.