Lara: Since the end of November, so it's been about... 9 months! (gosh, time really does fly!)
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAILY BASIS IN THE STUDIO?
Lara: I'm usually knee deep in 3d modeling something-- a planet's surface, or a mountain on a planet, or a little Hearthian on a mountain on a planet... And so on. Right now I'm working on characters! They'll be scattered across the solar system someday soon.
Whether it's an environment thing or a character thing, there's lots of alt-tabbing between maya, zbrush, and photoshop.
Lara: Oh, I've always wanted to do some sort of art for games! They've been my two major interests since time immemorial. In high school I was making pixel art and editing texture files... Then I went to college I found that 3d modeling was a fun blend of art and technical stuff and fell in love with it.
Making game art is different from other art because... Well, there's all sorts of different factors involved! Does it look visually consistent with the other game assets? Does it meet the design specifications it was supposed to have? Does it work with the cool material shader? Everything is like a piece of a larger puzzle, and everyone on the team contributes to that.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES AS AN ARTIST?
Lara: Oh, jeez... I never know where to start with this question. I played a lot of Wind Waker, Viewtiful Joe, and Okami growing up-- they were all these super stylized games emulating 2d concepts in a 3d space.
Theres also this artist, Shintaro Ohata, who makes these sculpture / painting combos where the sculpture seamlessly blends into the painting behind it. It's super cool! The whole idea of making 3d stuff look 2d is just plain rad and I dig it a lot.
Lara: The fun part is checking the art out in game! It can look totally different compared to how it looks in maya, especially when it's a really big object like a planet. Because everything is built on spheres, it's actually a lot of weird angles and tapering shapes. But when you're standing on it from the perspective of a player, it just looks flat. It's like an optical illusion!
The challenge is finding a balance between visual fidelity and... too much visual fidelity. Its not worth it for a skeleton model to be a jillion polygons, especially if there's twelve of them floating around in a room! You can get caught up looking at stuff super up close and at weird angles in the editor... but that's when you throw it ingame and take a look from the perspective of the player.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD THROUGH THE REST OF PRODUTION?
Lara: I think I'm looking forward... to looking back on what's changed, ironically enough! Nine months ago, we didn't have a cool hud! Ambient lighting was this like, new thing? And Timber Hearth was a completely different shade of green and brown. Because everything slowly gets replaced bit by bit, it's really easy to forget how far things have come along in the grand scheme of things.