FAN ART – Mass Effect, Witcher, Dragon Age by Shamiana

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Shamiana is 17 and lives in Germany where she attends school. While that doesn’t leave as much time for her art as she’d wish, she does plan to make a living out of it eventually. She’s also an avid gamer who is especially into games with character and narrative focus such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, The Witcher and so on. In the meeting of those passions, she produces spellbinding art with a shimmering almost trembling quality of that indrawn breath before movement.

 

Dragonborn by Shamiana (Click the image to visit the original)

Dragonborn by Shamiana
(Click the image to visit the original)

I asked what sort of games Shamiana likes to play:

When it comes to gaming, I’m a really big RPG fan. BioWare’s games are obviously among my favourites but if I had to pick one franchise I’d probably go with The Witcher. Simply because I read the books and very much enjoyed what CD Projekt Red did with the story.
But I also picked up Rise of the Tomb Raider recently and as far as I can tell, it’s really good!

 

What does it take for a game to fire you up to start painting?

I guess the one thing it actually takes for a game to make me paint some fanart are good character designs! If a character looks boring or the design just isn’t balanced I won’t want to draw her/him. But, of course, it also needs a good story and fleshed out characters – because otherwise I wouldn’t be invested in the whole thing at all.

 

The Warden by Shamiana (click the image to visit the original)

The Warden by Shamiana
(click the image to visit the original)

 

Can you give some examples of what rounds out a character for you?

Something that’s really important, in my opinion, is that a design does not only look good but is also able to fulfill its purpose. If you’re going to draw a knight, for example, his armor should look like it is actually able to protect him from any harm. So you have to research how armor works, how it looks like and how it functions.

But, at the same time, you can’t just copy what you research because then you’ll end up with something very unoriginal. And if you’re designing the main protagonist of a game, e.g., then that’s not very good, since the protagonist has to look memorable, hence you have to be more innovative.

For a simple illustration, on the other hand, that’s already good enough.
So this is something I always consider when I’m designing characters myself and something I also look for in video game characters.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many artworks that depict the whole character, but one of the few I do have is my fanart of Evie Frye.

 

The Piece of Eden by Shamiana (click image to visit original)

The Piece of Eden by Shamiana (click image to visit original)

 

Character design is something that Ubisoft generally does really well in Assassin’s Creed. Almost all of their main characters (that are supposed to fight) look like they are actually able to handle themselves well in a brawl and, at the same time, most of their outfits look very innovative and memorable.

Another character whose design I absolutely adore is the design of Yennefer in The Witcher 3.

 

Yennefer by Shamiana (Click image to visit original)

Yennefer by Shamiana
(Click image to visit original)

 

What I love about her design is that it just represents her personality perfectly. CD Projekt Red designed her exactly the way Andrzej Sapkowski described her in the books and they ended up with a very unique design (or at least I haven’t seen anything similar yet) that also made a lot of sense in the world The Witcher is set in.

 

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Is there an example of a character you were very disappointed in? Or have you found yourself painting a character to improve on what it sounded or looked like?

I don’t think I’ve actually encountered any characters that I was genuinely disappointed in, at least not in the games I’ve played. 

There are, however, a few characters whose design I always change just a little bit. For example, I absolutely can’t stand drawing Ciri’s high heels (From The Witcher 3) in any paintings I do of her and I always end up changing her boots to flat ones, because it looks less ridiculous. Apart from that though, I really like her design as well. It’s just this one little detail that always bugs me about her design.

 

Cirilla by Shamiana (click the image to visit the original)

Cirilla by Shamiana
(click the image to visit the original)

 

So boob armor? Does it annoy you?

It depends!
If a game is very story- and character-driven, boob armor really does annoy me a lot. Because it just doesn’t make any sense. 
But if it isn’t, I actually don’t care too much about it. Though I still think it’d be hilarious if the male characters got to wear something similar, just to balance things out.
I also don’t mind revealing outfits – I loved Morrigan’s design, for example. It’s just the bikini-armors that I don’t get.

 

Mass Effect Andromeda is less than three months away and there’s that gorgeous Cora you drew in your gallery. Is that the next big thing on your gaming horizon?

Oh no, that’s not Cora, that’s supposed to be my Ryder, haha.  But I must admit, they do look very similar. I designed her a few months ago, back when I had no idea how Cora was going to look. Seems like I unintentionally made them look alike.

 

 

Not Cora! ME Andromeda by Shamiana (click image to visit original)

Not Cora!
ME Andromeda by Shamiana
(click image to visit original)

 

That’s too funny! But then Peebee sure caught your eye, yes? Given how little we know about the crew so far, what is it about her that intrigued you?

I found it interesting about Peebee that she seems so different from a lot of the other Asari we already know from the original trilogy. While they were cold and graceful, her personality is described as bubbly and impulsive – she’s basically the opposite of them – and I like that a lot. 

 

 

Andromeda II by Shamiana

Andromeda II by Shamiana

 

And what are you hoping for Andromeda? Something different than Mass Effect 3, something similar?

I’m hoping that Andromeda is going to be very different from ME3, or any Mass Effect game for that matter. We’ve got a new protagonist, a new squad, even a new galaxy. If it isn’t different at all I’m going to be disappointed!
But I’m also hoping that they included fewer fetch quests than in DAI. Preferably, no fetch quests at all. That was a nightmare.

 

We can hope and in fairness Mike Laidlaw, Creative Director of Dragon Age: Inquisition has indicated on behalf of BioWare that they’ve learned from the Hinterlands experience. \ o /

A big thank you to Shamiana for agreeing to this interview and letting me show off her art. Please visit her galleries at deviantArt and throw her some likes and comments!

I like comments too, those go down below!

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Meet The Artist – CoupleofKooks

Meet the Artist is back. This time interviewing an artist and gamer whose Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls fan art will alternately haunt and charm you and may possibly make you want to boot up Morrowind or DA:O tonight.
Consider yourself warned!

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There is a lot more to this artist than his haunting sepia toned fan art. He’s a 31 yo Wing Chun martial artist and competitive tea brewer* from Poland as well as a gamer and board gamer and he’d actually rank Bridge and Backgammon as his favourite games. On top of that he found time to do a lengthy bit of correspondence with me so I could, in good conscience, introduce you guys to his art.

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What else do you do with your time? Are you an architect and paint fan art for fun? Are you a student somewhere or a full-time artist?

For the last couple of years I’ve been working in the film industry as an animator in 2D movies and as a designer in stop motion movies. I also build sets, props and models for puppet films. Painting fan art and fantasy related pictures is fun for me, a method of relaxation and a way of improving my skills with something not work related.

TES: Neloth of House Telvanni

TES: Neloth of House Telvanni

What mediums do you use? Have you always used the same?

I feel best with digital painting, though I’ve discovered this technique just two years ago. Before I was painting with oil pastels, inks and acrylics. I switched to digital because it was much faster and much more comfortable to work with as a designer (making changes is so much easier now…). At the moment I use Photoshop (my favorite version is version 7, yes, the ten-year old one) and a kick-ass Wacom Cintiq tablet.

DA2 First Enchanter by coupleofkooks

DA2 First Enchanter by coupleofkooks

Why is version 7 of Photoshop specifically your favourite?

When I was studying I couldn’t afford a new computer or a new software and it was the only version that I could use back then. I got very comfortable with it over the years and later, when I finally switched to more advanced machine and could try out more recent versions, I learned to appreciate it’s simplicity. To be honest the only tools in Photoshop I use for painting are brush or selection tool and those and the painting engine didn’t change in years, so I’m completely alright with small, light, retro Seven :]

TES: Ancestor's Wrath by coupleofkooks

TES: Ancestor’s Wrath by coupleofkooks

CoupleofKooks is an interesting pseudonym. Do you run your deviantART account with somebody else?

By myself, though you can say there is one more person behind part of the things I publish on this profile. It’s my very good friend, BucklesInTheSun, with whom I write and create the Shades of Red universe. She is responsible for a gigantic part of the story behind almost every picture related to this project.
As for the pseudonym itself – it comes from David Bowie’s song “Kooks”, which I was listening to while creating an account on Deviant Art :]

DA2 Of Love and Other Demons by coupleofkooks

DA2 Of Love and Other Demons by coupleofkooks

(Orsino and Maidievh Hawke – Original Character story by ChristineFury. Read her fan fiction about Orsino and femme Hawke here: “Blood and Faith“)

What made you decide to practice Wing Chun?

I needed discipline and order in my life for various personal reasons, and because of some health issues I had to add regular exercises to my daily schedule. I was never good at training by myself so I needed something more social. I gave Wing Chun a try because a friend of mine started practicing it and I thought it will be easier for me if I had some company. At first I was all scared and bruised, then intrigued, now it simply raises the quality of my life. Very much. I am aware how cliché it will sound, but training martial arts is indeed training your own character. Now I added Tai Chi to that to balance this energetic style with something more gentle.

Shades of Red: Fallout by coupleofkooks

Shades of Red: Fallout by coupleofkooks

What video games have caught your interest this past year?

I’m constantly in love with Skyrim, so the most important thing that I’ve played during last year was a Dragonborn add-on. Also I keep playing Morrowind from time to time and the last two of Fallout games, which is my all time favorite series. Looks like Bethesda knows how to keep my interest. For years. And years… :] Aside from those masterpieces I tried out Far Cry 3 which I enjoyed, Hitman: Absolution which was fun and oh so pretty and Assassin’s Creed 3 which bored me to death.

TES Dunmer of Skyrim by Coupleofkooks

Often when The Elder Scrolls games are discussed it seems the art style has fans, haters and few on the fence. What attracts you to it?

I haven’t participate in any serious discussion of that sort, but I myself have mixed opinion about Elder Scrolls art style. Morrowind was, and still is a perfection for me, even though it has obviously aged. But the unique mood and superb visual ideas were what dragged me into Vvardenfell in a first place. The awkward animation and ugly characters is something that quickly disappears and stops bothering in a wonderful world of this game, even if one starts to play it now, in the era of flawless graphics. On the other hand the next part, Oblivion, is a game I’ve had very hard time with. Eventually I learned to like it and I kept it on my HD for few years, but it took me months to get used to awful faces and strange colors. I find this game ugly, simple as that, but it has strong moments that even with the unattractive visuals manage to be quite a show for the eye – Shivering Isles for examples, the best expansion ever published. Skyrim, especially modded, heavily modded, is a game I really like to look at. Lights, weather, auroras – I simply like to spend time in this world.
That’s when it comes to visual side of the Elder Scrolls game series. In general what attracts me most to those games (same goes for the Fallout series) is the open world and the possibility to mod the hell out of it. I love this feeling when You finish the intro / tutorial part and find yourself completely free to do whatever you want and go wherever you want. Even though you’re playing the same game again You can tell a completely different story. Fantastic thing.

TES: Sheogorath by coupleofkooks

TES: Sheogorath by coupleofkooks

How do you feel about the character art changes being planned for The Elder Scrolls Online? And are you going to play when it comes out next Spring?

I don’t like those changes too much. They feel like very general fantasy kind of style, pretty, shiny, generally super-cool, not something specific to the series. Elves for example. I really like the idea for these races in TES series. A little bit ugly, with strong features and facial hair – in ESO they change into I’ve-seen-them-in-all-other-games kind of elves. But yes, I’m going to give it a try.

TES: The Old One by coupleofkooks

TES: The Old One by coupleofkooks

“The Old One” in particular, of your TES pieces, seems to ooze Skyrim; not just because of the dragon silhouette but for that tell-tale white-out from the typical Skyrim weather. What were your thoughts (if you remember) on how to compose this piece and include the snow fall?

Actually the thought was very simple – I wanted to paint a dragon (and Paarthurnax was my favorite) and I wanted to try myself in painting this particular kind of weather. Since I was deeply into painting TES fan art this seemed like an obvious choice.

DAO Archdemon by coupleofkooks

DAO Archdemon by coupleofkooks

It seems you once had a love affair with Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2. Given the E3 announcement this year of the third installment, Dragon Age Inquisition, do you think you will be interested in playing? How do you feel in hindsight about the first two games and where BioWare may be taking that story?

As for a Dragon Age series I was more attracted to the fandom than to the game itself. I like how everything is so alive among Dragon Age players. Pictures, fanfics, role playing games – fantastic and very inspiring fandom to be in. As for the games – I don’t really like them that much, though I find some character really intriguing and a lot of costumes and places really, really well designed. The story and the world is interesting enough for me to look forward third part of the series though, I think I would be most happy if BioWare would take us to Tevinter. It’s the place in DA universe I like the most. But from what I’ve heard – no chances for that.


(Video uploaded by IGN)

And while we’re on Dragon Age, like The Elder Scrolls, that’s a unique art style; mature, dark and a little gritty and used. Is it safe to say that’s your kind of style?

Yes, it’s very much safe to say so.

DA2 No Compromise by coupleofkooks

DA2 No Compromise by coupleofkooks

Which game releases are you keeping an eye on for the future?

Fallout 4. Really. I know no announcements have been made yet, and it’s not really certain the game will be in production, but I really, really look forward for even the smallest info about this particular title. Also S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. No idea if this one is even planned but I would really like to visit Zone again. As for non-postapocalyptic games? Another TES title – always.

DA2 Have Confidence by coupleofkooks

DA2 Have Confidence by coupleofkooks

A huge thank you goes to CoupleofKooks for answering all my never-ending questions of the past few months! This post may have been a long time coming, CoupleofKooks, but I’m proud to have your art displayed on my site!

If you want to immerse yourself in more of CoupleofKooks mellow parchments and shocking reds, visit his (on occasion quite steamy!) galleries at: coupleofkooks.deviantart.com.

Tag the comment box below – we’d love to hear your thoughts on CoupleofKooks’ art and opinions!

* (Actually he tells me he already brews the perfect tea so no competition really. I just wanted to be dramatic  ~Aggie)