Tell us a little bit about yourself and what are you contributing to Mooncrest?
Simon: My name is Simon Kopp. I’m originally from and currently live in Germany. I am a freelance concept artist and illustrator. I mostly work for the games industry, but also do some advertising work from time to time. My main focus is clearly environment concept art and marketing illustration. I have done character concept art and the key art illustration for Mooncrest. It’s been very cool to work on an epic piece like the key art. I always love longer projects with a large painting rounding out the work.
Max: My name is Maximilian Degen. I am a concept artist and illustrator working 5 years professionally in the industry and I am lucky enough to have worked on a variety of different projects. I focus mainly on environment art and character creation. On Mooncrest I helped to flesh out the look of Pirotase.
What projects have you worked on previously?
Simon: I already worked on several other projects, mostly fantasy themed games. I painted the first marketing artwork for Albion Online back in 2012 for Sandbox Interactive from Berlin, Germany. Since then I worked on several smaller projects, mostly on environment concept artwork. In May 2014, I joined the art team at Moon Studios and we finished and released Ori and the Blind Forest in March this year. It has become a great success and players love both the gameplay and art. The artstyle was fundamentaly set up by Maximilian Degen, another artist working on Mooncrest. He has done an amazing job on this!
Max: My previous (and also biggest project) was Ori and the Blind Forest. I created a lot of the in-game art and also helped with the cinematics and countless in-game action sequences that you experience while playing the game. Before that I was happy enough to do some freelancing while I was still studying illustration. I worked a little bit for a special fx company in Berlin called Pixomondo doing pre-visualisation for a number of feature films. A bit earlier I created trading card illustrations for Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) and Fantasy Flight Games.
What made you interested in working on Mooncrest?
Simon: The Art Director working on Mooncrest came to both Maximilian and I wanting to work with us. I really liked the project and the theme, because I also loved playing the old Baldurs Gate and Neverwinter Nights games back when I was a kid. It’s a really back to the roots fantasy style and I liked the approach they wanted to go with Mooncrest. They asked me to deliver concept art for characters and a key art illustration. I do both of those types of works less then environment concept art which was also a big draw into the project. Variety in my work really keeps me going and motivated.
Max: Mainly my love for RPGs and fantasy worlds.
Can you explain your process when creating a piece of art?
Simon: I created both character concept art and a key art marketing illustration for Mooncrest, but the approach is generally the same. I always begin with a few sketches to show the client the rough direction I’ll be going in. I’ll ask the client to chose an image that is the most suitable for the project. After this I’ll go in and get more references and define the concept/base sketch more. After a certain point it’s working to render and detail everything to an equal level of quality.
Max: I have a variety of approaches to get to a final result. Most often I start out with a very rough linedrawing just to find the general idea of the painting. That helps a lot to get a feel for the pose of the character or image composition for an environment piece. From that point on I either start to paint with color directly or I keep refining the drawing. I try to always keep my eyes fresh and I’m not afraid of doing drastic changes even if I already spent a considerable amount of time on the painting. In the end the result is what really matters in my opinion.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your art?
Simon: I mostly draw inspiration from everything around me and my own fields of interest. When I get the job to design a character with specific characteristics I tend to gather a lot of references. I also don’t shy away from looking at other artists artwork which helps to get me inspired. You often just don’t think about certain things or the other artist has already seen stuff you haven’t.
Max: My biggest inspirations are movies, the artwork of amazing artists, and travelling. Since I am primarily doing environment art, it helps a lot to see all of the variety in nature around the globe.
What projects are you working on now?
Simon: I’m working on a few unannounced titles at the moment. That’s kind of the bad part of being concept artist. You can’t really ever talk about what you’re actually working on at the moment.
Max: Nothing I can talk about at the moment. Sorry.
Do you have any private projects you work on in your free time?
Simon: I have two big projects I tend to go back to when I have some spare time. First of all there is Airborn–Pino’s Journey. This was supposed to be a game, but it never really made it that far. A few friends of mine and I have been developing a world that has crumbled into bits and now only consists of a planet’s core surrounded by clouds and broken earth. Huge islands are floating around in the sky. I love to go back to it from time to time, because it’s just such a nice world. If you want to know more about Airborn, we have a little Facebook page you can check out.
My second project is also a worldbuilding project. It’s not supposed to be a game or anything, it’s just a world set around 1,000 years into the future. The human race is no longer the leading force on earth. We got replaced by a huge, planet spanning artificial intelligence. I started this years ago and then made 10 big illustrations for my bachelor thesis in 2014. I made a big presentational website where you can check out the illustrations and learn more about the world and its inhabitants. Feel free to visit the homepage.
Max: So far I haven’t started developing a project just for myself. I have a few ideas in the back of my head, but nothing I want to put out there yet. When I paint in my sparetime I am just trying to relax and go with the flow. Nonetheless, I do create finished personal illustrations or character concepts regularly, but they don’t serve a deeper purpose besides having fun and getting better.
Where can people go to see more of your art?
Simon: I have several portfolios online. My own homepage is sadly not very up to date, so you’ll find my most recent stuff either on DeviantArt, Tumblr or Artstation.
Max: I regularly post my art on Facebook (feel free to follow me) and on Artstation.
Big thanks to Simon and Max for their incredible work on Mooncrest and for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to us today. If you haven’t had a chance yet, pick your jaw back up off the floor and visit their Artstation websites for even more awesome art. With some luck, we’ll get to collaborate with Simon and Max on Mooncrest again in the future.