Taking illustration to the outer limits of what is epic and grandiose – meet Evolvana, a gamer and visual artist from France who will woo you with grandiose views of Middle Earth or behind the Wall. Vana has spent a lot of time in New Zealand and Japan before returning to France during which time she also journeyed in games and books from the Thrawn trilogy and Final Fantasy to Game of Thrones and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Join us after the break as we talk about her travels, her own dark fantasy project and the do’s and don’ts of in game romance.
You told me you studied in Japan and traveled to New Zealand, were you introduced to games or stories you wouldn’t otherwise have encountered?
In a way, yes! in Japan I could not connect to internet in my room, so I bought some videogames to play during rainy days (there are tropical rains in Okinawa) and I discovered the fantastic games of KOTOR and Republic Commando (Star Wars) this way. I also discovered video games that are only released in Japan… I did not buy them but it was fun to see demos in shops. There are so many weird videogames in that country, Japanese people are very creative.
Do you think that has shaped your art or preferences?
Video games and fantasy, yes. I love to see concept artworks from various artists and I hope I will one day reach the level of these professionals. Lord of the Rings has a cult following in New Zealand, of course, and it was very inspiring to visit the wonderful places where the movies were shot.
What sort of games do you play?
My older brother had a “Sega Megadrive” when I was young, so I used to play with him. Then I got my first computer and could play other games, and I really started to discover RPGs, Final Fantasy, etc with the Playstation 1. I never had a Nintendo in fact, except a Gameboy and a DS!
A lot of games show up in your art. Which games do you think impacted you the most?
I really liked Final Fantasy, from 7 to 10. 12 was alright, but it was already feeling different than the rest. Now Final Fantasy is dead for me, I hate Final Fantasy 13, and all the games following that. Always the same uninteresting characters, the same kind of uninteresting story… instead of creating a new, completely different, Final Fantasy, they keep using the same one again and again. That’s sad. So now I prefer American video games like Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect… BioWare video games in fact (so Canadian video games actually. ed.). But yes, I guess that Japanese RPGs with fantasy and magic, like FF7, FF9, Valkyrie Profile, had an impact on me. As well as Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft. I’m not playing WoW anymore. I was not an addicted player at all, but I enjoyed it.
Oh? What class or classes did you enjoy playing in WoW?
The druid, because I love transforming myself into an animal, become invisible, or fly like a bird! I also love hunters, because I like tamings pets and naming them, and fight alone big enemies with a higher level than me!
Thinking back to the Final Fantasy games you did like, what was the biggest moment – Good or bad – for you?
Discovering FF7 was fantastic. It was my first RPG, and in 3D! I think it was a real revolution for all the gamers.
Being a fan of BioWare is something we have in common. If you had to pick one thing to criticize the company for – big or small – what would it be?
I think that in Mass Effect 3 or Dragon Age 2, they try to make all the characters available for a romance with everyone. It is pretty annoying, because I like that a character has a definite temper, and is officially gay or officially straight, but having almost all characters bisexual is not credible at all.
I’d say that hits one of the biggest issues with the romances, particularly in DA2 squarely on the head. Dragon Age Lead writer David Gaider agrees with you on this and has a lot to say on the topic as well. I have referenced his post “On Romances in Games” before, but I think you would enjoy reading his musings on this.
I do like romances in BioWare games though, but most of the time the choices for female players are very poor. They think a bit too much about the male gamers, and not really about the female ones, a good example of that problem is Star Wars The Old Republic.
Mostly because males usually have sometimes 2 females to romance, while females have only 1 (so no choice at all), and some of them are really awful, like “Doc” for the Jedi Knight… it looks like they chose the worst character ever for the romance, while there are very cool male characters you cannot romance. Vector was also strange and the only real option of the agent (well I did like him, but he is really, really weird). And most of all, while male players can romance cute Twi’leks or other sexy aliens, female players cannot romance aliens at all (except Aric, but he is not very interesting). We want Twi’leks too (Zenith looks cool!), Chagrians (Rusk!!), etc. Except for one or two romances (Malavi Quinn especially) it seems that the creators of the game thought that it was not worth spending time on female romances because only a few girls would be playing to the game…
Oh boy, that is one of my hot buttons. Get me tipsy one day and I’ll rant on about Corso or Mr Can’t-have-sex-it-makes-me-too-happy-Fenris for an hour. And hey, I’ve been waxing misty-eyed (or misty-something anyways) over the Sith Warrior romance with sweet Vette on these very pages. It’s a pretty subjective matter though. For example I despise Quinn and I adored the romance with Aric because the story shifted my view of him completely. Oh but to have spun a tale of romance with Zenith or Lord Scourge…
– cough –
Given your love for Thrawn and Knights of the Old Republic though, I’m guessing you played a Chiss in SWTOR?
Oh yes I did play a Chiss Agent! but I stopped playing because my story arc was finished and I didn’t have much time to play anyway. I like the little romance we can get as a female agent with the Chiss (Saganu) on Hoth. He looks a lot like Thrawn.
Note to self: Don’t miss out on Saganu!
What games do you have on your radar for the immediate future?
I have to finish the Assassin’s Creed series, and I would like to try the new BioShock.
It’s not only games that tug at your heartstrings though. I’m guessing books and movies have that effect on you too?
Yes I especially like the works of Tolkien, the fantasy universe he created, it is so rich and full of details! so I also love Peter Jackson’s movies. I also love G.R.R. Martin’s books “A Song of Ice and Fire” (Game of Thrones). Star Wars too. Especially the old trilogy in fact and some of the Star Wars books, particularly Timothy Zahn’s books about Thrawn. Grand Admiral Thrawn is my favorite character of all times.
What world are you next looking forward to diving into?
I can’t wait for the new trailer of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and for the movie itself at the end of the year, as well as the season 3 of Game of Thrones! I also wonder how the new Star Wars movie made by Disney will look like…
Oh you are not alone on either of those!
You say you like writing and I’ve spied some references to something titled “Les Mondes Opposés”. Can you share a little about this project?
I have had that project for a long time! I think the story archetype is “Dark Fantasy”. The main hero of that story is a skeleton, a very kind one, with a good heart! even if he doesn’t physically have a heart anymore, haha. The undead people have a kingdom but are persecuted by the living, who fear them for no reason, or just because they are scared by them. He also saves and adopts a young human girl, and you see with her eyes what these strange undead people are like!
Very cool! Are you working on any other original IPs?
I was working on a little comic about elves, but just for training my art skills. Unfortunately I do not have time to draw comics anymore these days…
That’s a real pity but it’s hardly any wonder. You’ve been a busy, busy artist. I spotted an awesome cosplay photo in your gallery. Do you still cosplay?
Well, yes, but I just did 2 or 3 cosplays in my life, in fact. My newest one is a Jedi!
“Amazon and her Dragon beast” is available as a print or as a gift item.
You were awarded a Daily Deviation (front page feature at deviantART) for “Leviathan and Ariel” can you tell us a little bit more about this piece than we can read in it’s description?
I always liked to draw giant creatures facing very small ones, like humans or in this case a siren. At the beginning it was not supposed to be Ariel but I wanted some red for the contrast, and as we were talking about the little Mermaid with a friend, I got the idea of Ariel!
How would you describe your art style, as it is today?
Digital painting, mostly, and more and more looking like concept art. It looks also more realistic than what I was doing before. I want to train on speedpaintings now!
This sepia/ink style in: “Thorin Oakenshield Portrait” (see below, ed.) is that a new direction you are going?
For traditional drawings, yes, I think. I never liked coloring my linearts, I think they look flat when I add colors! when I color something I usually do directly the digital painting (without any lineart).
So that sepia style is a new way to add a bit of color to my traditional drawings, and I like it.
Oh me too!
Thank you, Vana it has been a pleasure to get to know you and your art better. I hope I’m not alone in adding you to my Watch list after this. Please feel free to leave a shout out in the comments below and you can see more of Evolvana’s art on her Tumblr: Evolvana and of course in her deviantART galleries: evolvana.deviantart.com.