Once again, we take you to the inner mind of one of the concept artists of the game of the moment: “The Last Of Us II” Find out where their creativity comes from and how they work with Wacom.
Thanks for having us. We love your work, tell us a little bit about your development and studies.
Hi, I am Danar Worya and I am a concept artist in the entertaintment industry. I have been doing digital art for 10 years now. I started working professionally in 2016 working on games such as Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Call of duty and my baby The last of us Part II. I also have a degree in Game Art at the Applied Sciences University of Art (HKU) in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
You seem to be pretty into post-apocalyptic worlds, how does your process work? Where do you start?
There are many approaches. However, the one element I always apply is to make and create the images based on real locations; when you have that the tweaks are minimal.
For instance, the Sniperstreet image is based on the Google Maps photos of the street. I looked at the photos and envisioned a layer of the Last Of Us destruction that would complete it. The challenge in layering specifically for this image was the fact that I had to show that someone was sniping there. However, the bridge was rather far away. For this reason, I could not show a character. This is where my inner gamer came alive and I recalled the Battlefield sniper zoom-in element, it always showed a small white reflection dot. This dot became the sniper and clarified the vision of the image. But then the question became ‘how do you build this? and how do you know where your audience will look at? and do they understand what you are trying to do?’
As you can imagine there is no one size fits all here. It all depends on the artist’s take. The visionaries of this project always gave hints on what was going on but they never used me for my drawing hand only. That’s why it becomes so essential to challenge yourself continuously. It is fully in your hands to honor the overall vision.
This process often happened with Shaddy Safadi, founder of One pixel brush. He would get me the brief, share his input, and say ‘If you can pitch a better idea than I have always do that but if its at the end not better than what we envisioned here you have to go back’. This would always trigger and challenge my creativity to bring on what I had to say to table, it was about going the extra mile. That extra mile included thorough desktop researches for the smallest details about all elements in the frame to be as realistic as possible.
How was it working with The Last of Us II?
It has been a rollercoaster but the kind you want to ride again. This has been one of the most challenging moments of my life. However, all seconds I spent on this project was exhilarating. The initiation, planning, and execution of these images changed my practice for the better forever. Discipline, time management, and internalizing the vision are key. Internalizing the vision of a great team of artists and visionaries changed how I look at the world of Last of Us.
What inspires you?
Everything that is human; every art form that is elavated by humans, from music to films to games to literature. Experiencing the different varieties of art fills me with joy as I see what we are capable of achieving. This has formed my way of thinking about life. Made me curious about subjects, people, places that I did not have any prior knowledge of before painting. It is very romantic because art always confronts me with the things, I am afraid of and I somehow come stronger out of it every time with deeper perspectives. Last of Us II was a great part of this.
How did you find your own style? Any recommendations to aspiring artists?
Loads of research and looking up to a handful artists in the same design lane whom inspire me. In the past, I looked at their creations, tried to copy their style. Soon after realized that copying is not enough so then I began to observe, absorb the techniques, understand various thoughts, and tie that together with my personal vision. That vision continues to evolve, and I am thankful for that.
Tell us about your favourite music. What do you listen to when drawing?
To everything, no joke. I am a seasonal person with my music. I shift from music genres every two to three months. For instance, two months ago my ears were absorbed in Ghibli music and Final fantasy. Currently, I am listening to African music, I am especially inspired by Nigerian artists lately. I just try to get inspired by everything and challenge myself to appreciate various forms of music. While doing so I am able to also learn about the history of these genres, artists, and various cultures.
Ok, TOP 5 movies. GO!
Oh gosh.. very hard but in no particular order, voila:
1 – Terminator 2
2 – Bladerunner 2049
3 – The Lord of the rings: Fellowship of the ring
4 – There will be blood
5 – Bloodsport
How do you manage your creative process? Any creative block suggestions?
Of course everyone has creative block. I have a least 1 day in the week where I’m not near my pc. I just relax. Decompress. Disconnect. This resets my system. Spending time in nature, taking walks and being present in that day helps. Once I took that break my brain is freshened up and all the neurotransmitters are like “let’s do this baby, rock & roll!” haha
Even then sometimes I feel it is not going well but I don’t overthink, I just take a break.
It’s like with hitting the gym. You try to train your arms so they become stronger. you don’t want to injure them by overtraining them, because guess what then you can’t use your arms at all. Try to balance everything out. Don’t lose touch.
Regarding software… what do you use and why?
I try to use any software which can provide me with the solution I am searching for. So for example If I need DAZ3D I will use DAZ, it all depends on what the image asks of me during the process. My most used software is Blender – Photoshop.
How has Wacom improved your workflow?
In every single way. Wacom was THE tablet that I bought when I started and ever since I have never left the brand. For me personally its perfect in every way. It also looks beautiful and slick.
If you could do a Collab with any living artist, with whom would it be and why?
With the greatest artist alive in my humble opinion, Mr Kanye West. The way he challenges himself in so many ventures is just so heartening. He does not see any obstacles. When he sees them he translates that into art. His music has been the soundtrack of my life for past ten years. I firmly believe that the inspiration his music provided me guided me on this journey. No matter what I believe in myself.
How do you keep yourself motivated each day?
This is very hard to answer because I can’t keep my self motivated every day. I always try to look at the bigger picture though. If I count on my motivation everyday I wouldn’t get as far as I am now. Commiting to a schedule is key. It helps you figure out what steps to take and stay focused.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
Creative block is something that people tend to have when they overwork themselves or work without a schedule. I have had this many times in the past but lately I have been trying to take breaks when I feel like I earned it or when I actually need them. I listen to my mind and body more closely. Also to quickly clarify, with earning I mean when I look at what my schedule and planning holds I plan on finishing on time so that my weekends are for me. I always keep the bigger picture in mind. You cannot lift your body weight at the gym every day, resting in the right moments makes the hustle durable and gratifying. I cannot sit at my desk that long; ying and yang my friends!
What do you recommend aspiring artist looking up to your art?
Narrow down what you actually want to do. To clarify further, it is not plausable to be able to be perfect at every aspect of concept art. Define your road and within that path learn the fundamentals. For instance, I learned how to think about composition, lighting, values, colors, and storytelling by doing environment art. This all happened in three to four years.
From this experience, I noticed that the fundamentals of every aspect in concept art has the same principles. For many of you this may sound very obvious. But I am pretty sure not a lot of people of thought about this because it is sometimes “too simple” well sure I didn’t when I started!