His rough, only-pencil-sketched, bare illustration will make a great poster on anyone’s wall. His characters’ unreal physical proportions are his uniqueness and a trend that has an undeniable and dominating presence in the world of game art today. Even before Blade & Soul kicked off, Hyung-tae Kim had many fans of his own, but now, he has become a legend who is an inseparable entity from Blade & Soul!
The community managers over at Blade & Soul's official Korean website put together a list of the best questions asked by the game's fanbase for Hyung-tae Kim, Blade & Soul's art director. Hyung-tae Kim set aside his CBT2 work to answer the communities questions, which can be found below.
The most frequently asked question for you is how and why you chose to pursue a career in art, ultimately achieving a position of AD (Art Director).
I started drawing very young, but not extensively until my middle school years. When I was in grade 8, I met “Jung JoonHo” who was an illustrator for “Lineage 2” by coincidence and improved my skills by viewing his works. I think that was the turning point in my life where I decided that I will pursue drawing as my career. When I was working under a game company as a concept artist, I found that my illustrations tended to lose their “taste” in the process of getting turned into actual in-game graphics. I wanted to do my best to prevent that from happening in the future and I naturally became an AD as I studied 3D animations and game development.
Many people who follow your work think that your design pattern is at a very stable and perfect state. Are you willing to keep your style for the future?
It is true that my style of drawing is quite reserved to how I usually draw. I do think, however, that I have made a significant change to myself through Blade & Soul, and that is going from 2D to 3D. I do think that changing my idiom at some point through considering different themes and symbols might be a good chance, but I think the style of developing my skills is through a very slow or a very fast pace.
Many believe there is a significant history to how you came about your unique design. Could you tell us?
I want to differentiate between Blade & Soul and other games out there as “Haute Couture” and “Prêt-Porter”. A lot of clothes in other games are very similar to what we see in our lives (shirt, pants), and follow the code of “Ready to Wear”. They are fit to a very comfortable system, very user-friendly with common details and materials (A bit of triteness). I wanted to challenge the design system of ordinary games with “Haute Couture” in mind, and I am designing to the best of my abilities to find a new meaning of art within an expression-free world.
It indeed would be funny to say “I did it with instinct...” about how I draw physical body lines, but it’s true. If I were a woman, I think I might have been able to draw men a little better. To elaborate further, my unique style took its current form because I wanted to break the flatness of 2D through emphasizing lines and shapes in a way to give it more of a live feel.
The Jin, whose race was initially named “Li”
This question was the most asked from people who have uploaded fan arts on our site. They are curious to what kind of programs and what kind of brush you use while drawing. Could you also please tell us where you place the greatest importance during your drawing?
When I am organizing the lines of my initial sketch or choosing colors I use “Adobe Photoshop”, and for coloring I use “Corel Painter”. Then I go back to using “Adobe Photoshop” for finishing up and adding the last few touches. I sometimes use “3D Studio MAX” as well when I want to incorporate a background with my illustration.
I can’t really pick out the most important matter in my drawing process since there are so many, but if I had to pick one, it would be the “Art’s purpose”. To put it easily, I make sure to have a solid definition of what I want to show people through my works.
When the plan for your interview was released to the public, the fans went crazy over it. What do you think about your current standing and your skills?
I think my current standing is somewhere I feel like I’m a rookie artist about to debut on my first stage. The reason is that we’ve got so much attention from all over the world and it’s the first time I’ve worked as an AD, not an illustrator. I’m trying my best not to lose my passionate rookie mindset. I’ve always been serious about drawing, but I don’t get to experiment a lot these days from working directly with the game’s degree of completion. Just those two jobs keep me real busy. The development of my art style is something I am trying to show my fans even after the release of Blade & Soul.
I can sense that you are being very critical of yourself to pursue perfection. Who are some of the illustrators that have affected you in the past? Are there any illustrators that you are keeping an eye on?
From our country (South Korea), I’d pick Jung JoonHo (Lineage 2), Lee SeulGi (Zera, Brawl Buster), Lee KyungJin (Magna Carta 2), Lee GeunWoo (Tales Weaver, Vindictus), Lee SangBun (Dragon Nest), Park JungSik (Huxley, Dragon Nest).
From overseas, I’d pick Murata Renji (Blue Submarine No.6), Shirou Masamune (Ghost in the Shell), Kuroboshi Kouhaku (Kino’s Journey), Ugetsu Hakua (Burst Angel), Yukito Kishiro (GUNNM) .. Are the few of many illustrators that I consider as rivals and worth keeping an eye on.
Early illustrations of Lyn
The fact that you told us how this is your first time being an AD might bring more expectations from you. Recently, a lot of people have dreams of becoming and AD, so could you give us a brief general description of the job? Also, people are curious about if you only partake in the art section of Blade & Soul.
AD’s work is primarily focused on constructing the game’s vision and QC (Quality Control), rather than actual drawing work. ADs set the direction of artwork, and the process of how it gets completed. In such process, Ads eventually look over illustrators’ works to stabilize the quality of artworks and game graphics. ADs check over various components such as characters, backgrounds, animations, effects, GUI, and etc, and so ADs need to have a very thorough understanding of the game itself and game production in general. As for me who was originally an illustrator, I actively partake in the design of monsters, costumes and also draw illustrations when I can fit it into my schedule (It’s sad how I have to sacrifice my own free time to do this…) Oh, and one more. I also make videos. All the trailers of Blade & Soul that have been released so far have been made by me.
Even though all 4 races of Blade & Soul have equally distinct characteristics, which race did you come to like the most? And which race gave you the hardest time?
Well, I have invested tremendous amount of time into designing all 4 races, but the races that gave me problems till the end were the “Kun” and the “Lyn”. The presence of the race “Kun” practically disappears if players have a hard time catching their theme “Beauty”, and so I went through 3D remodelling over and over again with the team, revising the direction of their art. We tried to the best of our abilities to give a non-repulsive, non-maniac, and universally cute image to the “Lyn”.
When you are designing for Blade & Soul, do you find motives from around you at all?
Every structural object that exists around me can be a motive for a design. I follow the design, except changing it and applying it to a completely different place. For example, applying a mountain shoe’s shoelace ornament onto a character’s neck would be it. I ended up with a habit of observing every object with a hawk’s eye. Also I find great ideas from the writings of our fans from our website. Recently, I’ve read and was impressed with the idea of incorporating Korean Natural Monuments (Protected Animals, Structures, Wonders) into the game. I am doing everything I can to make that happen.
The Gon, who were initially designed to have horns.
Admitting that you actually consider ideas from the fans might make them come up with more and much better ideas for you! Have you checked out any fan arts at all? How did you feel after looking at some of them?
Often times, I am very impressed. If I was to take on drawing as a career in an age like today, I might have given up! In order to appreciate and motivate artists for more and better drawings, I am in the process of planning something sneaky with the Blade & Soul Business team ^^
There are a lot of fans who are curious about the production of figures or illustration books. I guess their wish is to meet your colorful design in real-life form. Are there any plans for this yet?
I really want to make an illustration book, but I am pressed for time just with game production. A personal illustration book would be nice, but my goal is to have a Blade & Soul illustration book composed of our staffs’ hard works before my own sometime around the release of the game itself. There are over a thousand of impressive illustrations and will be a successful project since all our art staffs are talented. I’m sure you will be able to see figures and what not after the release of the game.
The subtitle to the 1st CBT was “The Signature Eastern Fantasy MMORPG”. How will you develop the world of Blade & Soul which is “Moohyup, but not Moohyup at the same time”?
The team is trying to express “Moohyup” through actual game “experience”, rather than independently special features of the game. To follow that up with artwork, we tried to show fused modern visuals, rather than expressing “Moohyup” through its strong characteristics. When you play the game, I am sure that you will feel that such “experience” will be a “Moohyup better than classical Moohyup”, so I won’t worry too much.
Thank you so much for giving us your time and for answering all these questions. Lastly, do you have anything to say to your fans?
There were a lot of things released in the 1st CBT, but we still have so much to show you throughout the whole game. Our staff is doing their best in designing everything from vast deserts, a nail mark in a corner, every single stitch marks, and to every breath of your characters. Do expect a lot for the 2nd CBT, and please keep cheering us on. Please go all the way through the CBT to the grand desert and meet the Blade & Soul’s world, people, and your fate! Thank you.
An illustration being prepared for CBT2
This article was translated by BlkNoiz, give him some tasty e-cookies! The original article can be found on the official Blade & Soul website, here.
Aug 25, 2011 - 4:06 PM Posted By 29 Comments