We're starting this week by publishing an interview with Shaun Brown, one of our concept artists whose works you're all familiar with. Shaun created art for divination cards, the Atlas of Worlds and other in-game content. In this interview Shaun not only told us about his work at GGG and the process behind creating concept art, but also has shared several pieces of his artwork. Enjoy!
Hi Shaun, thanks for participating in the interview! Please tell us a little about yourself and what you do at GGG?Well I'm a bit of a hermit and I spend most of my time doing art or art-related stuff. I also like learning new skills like juggling, archery and learning how to drive in VR. So I'm a very goal-oriented person.
Here's a list of what I do at GGG:
How did you get started as a concept artist?It had been my dream for many years to become a concept artist. I've always loved to draw monsters and come up with imaginative ideas since I was a kid so it felt like I was born for this job. It also took many years of practice, learning, failing and hard work! And I'll always be on that path of learning.
How did you come to work at Grinding Gear Games?I started working at GGG in 2014. A good friend of mine was working for GGG and told me there was a job opening that I should apply for. There was a test but I don't remember it being too hard! That was the first concept art I did for GGG.
The community is most familiar with your artwork that appears on Divination Cards. What is this process like?Once the game designers have confirmed the design with the client, I would read and look at the images in the description of the card and usually an image will pop up in my mind. Most of the time, I'll sketch the image exactly as I saw or I'll edit what I see to make it better. I guess it's like seeing the future and drawing it down (lol).
Then it's a matter of linework and colouring.
Which Divination Cards did you enjoy working on the most?Hard to say. There are so many of them now! I do enjoy the ones that have hidden messages or symbols in the illustrations, like in The Union where you can see the date of the wedding.
Behind the scenes, you've created a lot of concepts and illustrations for microtransactions, monsters and game areas. Which of these presents the most challenges or limitations?Well I can think of some that haven't come out yet, but the one that comes to mind is the stained-glass windows. There was quite a bit of information to simplify into a flat image so it can be readable in-game too.
A lot of thought went into them to help express what was happening with the characters - like the higher the character, the better off they were (and vice versa), and the use of contrasting shapes, colours etc.
You can see that when Sin's power grows, the symbol at the top is eclipsed except for panel 5 which is when the mother and son are planning to get rid of Sin, and he is not fully in power - that's why there are gold horn shapes pointing at him too.
How much of a personal spin do you get to put on your work for GGG?Depends on the task, sometimes it can be a lot when I intuitively generate ideas that will work in the game. But there are constraints when it comes to the mechanics of the game (things like the number of joints and how they move etc).
It's quite fun to problem solve and play around with ideas to get around these limitations.
Are there any cool concepts you created that didn't make it to the game?Sometimes that happens but they often end up in the game later on.
Is there an area of concept art that you find the most enjoyable or interesting?That would be portals! It's fun to try to reinvent how a doorway can open up. It pushes you to think outside the box.
Do you have any hobbies outside of art?Yeah I'm trying to get away from computer screens and get outside! I like mountain biking and kayak fishing when the weather is good, but it's been hard to do this year since the pandemic. I've been getting into reading psychology books about dream interpretation and just got into archery too.
Do you dabble in any other art mediums than digital?Just pens and pencils on paper. I would like to get into oil painting, water colours and clay sculpting but I don't really have the time. Maybe later down the track or when I retire.
Which artists have inspired you the most?There's too many of them and I keep finding more every month! Here's the Top 10 artists that inspired the most, that I can think of off the top of my head:
What kind of work did you do prior to working here?I was a struggling freelance artist doing concept art and illustrations for small businesses and got commissioned to do personal projects. Some of the things I did were illustrations for board games and card games, and a book cover.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to become professional concept artists get into the industry?Post your artwork on a site or a blog to show your growth and dedication. Learn from your mistakes because you're going to make a lot of them - and try not to repeat them! Keep at it if it's what you really want because you never know when an opportunity will arise out of the blue.
You've also done a lot of concept art work on Path of Exile bosses and monsters for the third act of Path of Exile 2. What are you most looking forward to the community seeing?There is a boss I worked on last year. All I can say is that he has a big flat ornament on his head, has no feet, there are snakes coming out of his back like wings and there's a man standing inside his stomach. Sometimes it's hard to know how good things will look when they're in the game, but I'm hoping it turns out well.
on May 3, 2020, 6:16:38 PM
Grinding Gear Games