During a lecture at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Final Fantasy XV and Type-0 Art Director Yusuke Naora talked about his career since Final Fantasy VI, up to Type-0, and Final Fantasy XV, culminating with a detailed explanation on how the art team works for the current generation of Final Fantasy games.
Below you can find a summary of the points he shared.
- The Final Fantasy series has sold over 110 million units worldwide.
- Being able to draw well wasn’t necessarily a requirement back at the time of Final Fantasy VI.
- Being able to draw well became a requirement when the series switched to PlayStation platforms, as new technology required more detailed artwork.
- With Final Fantasy VII a dedicated art structure was established within Square Enix.
- A lot of weight was put on sharing the vision of design from early on during a project.
- The ability to control timing and camera angle finally enabled cinematics, and that was a big step ahead.
- Explosions in Final Fantasy VII were hand-drawn frame by frame over a pre-rendered base.
- Near the end of the design of a game, the art department starts working on promotional artwork. Artists think about the universe, the characters and the image they want to convey. They draw it and then work with CG artists to create the final product. Logo design is also part of their work.
- With the current standard of game development just being able to draw is now longer enough. That was strongly felt during the production of Final Fantasy Type-0 and XV.
- With the new hardware everything from clothes, to the flags, to accommodating for physically based rendering are things artists had to get used to when moving to the PS4.
- Imagination was no longer enough, so artists had to go out and find inspiration by doing on-site research.
- In order to get used to HDR artists actually had to learn how cameras work.
- With Final Fantasy XV they brought what they learned with Type-0 HD to the next level, and they placed higher targets for themselves.
- With Final Fantasy XV the artists had to deal with physically based rendering, in addition to workong on “setting the boundaries of reality.”
- The Imperial palace in the old E3 2013 trailer (in the city of Insomnia) was based on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku, but it was of course elaborated to give the right image.
- Since it’s an imperial palace they created roundabouts for the cars near the entrance. Given that there would be ceremonies, a red carpet was added.
- Expressiveness has increased tenfold with the current generation of platforms, so for creating this “HDR world” they also collaborated with CG artists to set the right lighting.
- In the gallery below you can see the artwork that inspired the imperial palace, and also some real life photos painted over to set the mood.
- The art team also worked on team building, traveling together and trekking on mountains. One of the artists even ventured where beginners really shouldn’t be going. Islands, rivers, caves and safari parks were also visited.
- Work shifted from based on sections to based on specific tasks.
- Final Fantasy XV has three different art directors.
- Tomohiro Hasegawa is the art director for enemies. He created the sculpt of the Behemoth in order to convey its image. The staff gave feedback on various elements, like how the beast moves, in order to help desiging it.
- In order to create Leviathan, the team went to the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, purchased fishes and dissected them. They researched how the scales reflect light, how the eyes are composed and other factors.
- The team includes a wide range of artists, including Isamu Kamikokuryo, who worked on Final Fantasy XIII and previous Final Fantasy titles..
And here’s a gallery of the illustrations and artwork that were shown during the presentation, including some fantastic pieces showing the city of Insomnia. Be careful because a couple actually include spoilers for those that did not play Type-0 yet. I put them at the end of the gallery, so if you don’t want spoilers, close the gallery when you reach the picture of the art team.
You can also enjoy the whole lecture at the bottom of the post.