This week at E3 2011, Into The Pixel is exhibiting all of the winners for the Into The Pixel 2011 exhibition. Ivan Simoncini is one of the artists who worked on Alien Swarm, published by Valve. Check out his piece entitled "Incident at the Workshop" above (you can see a high resolution version by clicking on the artwork), and then head on beyond the break for our full interview with Ivan.
"Into the Pixel showcases the incredible creativity, skill and artistic talent that pervades in the video game industry. You really see that there are great artists working across every genre of video games, and at every stage of the production process.” according to Glenn Phillips, Senior Project Specialist & Consulting Curator, Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art, at the Getty Research Institute.
The entire 2011 Into the Pixel collection will be unveiled and presented at the annual E3 Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 7-9, or you can visit our Into the Pixel 2011 gallery and check out all of the art for yourself, and see all of the winners right here.
Tell us about your background. Where did you study? What have you worked on before?
I have a musical background. I studied music, sound design and composing in Switzerland, so I focused on that at first. I always had this affinity for visual art and game design, though and spent a lot of time practicing my sculpting, painting, and level design skills before I joined my first mod team.
We released a few games. The most successful one was Alien Swarm. After winning a few awards and some money we thought we should give it a shot and go pro. We founded our own company and built Alien Swarm (using Valve's Source Engine) with an almost non-existing budget. Valve played the game and loved it. They offered us a job. Needless to say we were more than thrilled! It still feels a little like a Cinderella story to have ended up where I am now – working on exciting projects at a company that truly extends the frontiers of video game art and science.
What tools do you use to create your art?
I use a 3d program called 'modo' to create all the models. Color adjustments and paintovers (the cigarette smoke, for instance) were done in Photoshop.
What inspired this particular piece?
It was actually inspired by the camera position of the game. Games that use the top-down camera view tend to look like toys in a sandbox. I tried to fight this by trying to make everything look as realistic as possible, despite how difficult that is to achieve. Doing concept art allows you to do crazy things and push boundaries. So at one point I decided to embrace this problem by actually turning one of the scenes I was working on into something that looks like a modeling kit that's being assembled while you're playing the game.
What advice would you give to students who want to become video game artists?
Get your work out there and be open to feedback. Iterate and finish your level, model, concept art etc. This gives the reviewer a chance to look at your work and the progress you made. I would highly recommend joining a mod team and shipping a game before you apply for a job. Having a finished game in your portfolio means you know what it's like to work under pressure and being exposed to criticism.