Kabam has announced their new game The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age! You can sign up for beta if you visit their site. The mobile version, The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, is already available from the app store for the iPhone and iPad.
I have been working on this game for the past couple of months now, so I’m really excited that some of my illustrations are already showing up on the web. It is actually pretty insane how talented the art staff is at Kabam, so it is an honor to work with them on this game.
So far from the screenshots I have seen, 8 of my illustrations have been released: Gollum, Gandalf, Legolas, Thorin, Elrond, Bilbo, Galadriel, and Kili. I also saw a few other character portraits I did, like Vastriel and the Dwarf and Elf faction portraits during the race selection screen. I’m sure there are more, but I am only posting paintings I know for a fact that are already out.
When I saw the announcement on the official Hobbit Facebook page, it was funny to read all of the comments. People kept arguing back and forth over whether or not this was Legolas or Thranduil. If you go to the game’s site, it says “Control the greatest Heroes of Middle-earth, including Gandalf, Legolas, and Thorin Oakenshield in fast-paced, tactical combat” yet people still insisted that this was Thranduil and not Legolas. Other people argued over whether or not Kili was Aragorn. Good times!
I remember back when I painted Form of the Dragon for Magic: The Gathering. People also argued over whether or not it was Sarkhan Vol. Some people said they knew for a fact it wasn’t Sarkhan Vol, I guess you can’t always trust the internet! The same thing happened when I was working on Warhammer.
You might be wondering why some of the paintings are only partially finished. The reason that some of the legs on certain characters aren’t rendered out is because my client didn’t need them to be. The asset would only ever been seen from the waist up, so there was no need for me to paint the legs. Each character also needed to be painted without a background so that they could be masked out and used on any background.
Like with my Warhammer covers and my Dungeon Command covers, some people might feel that this makes the painting look less aesthetically pleasing, but you have to remember you are working for a client and you have to meet their needs.
What I noticed while working on these paintings is that whenever I was painting a character, certain lines they said in the movies kept echoing in my head. For example, when I was working on Gandalf I kept hearing him say “Ooohhh really?” You know, the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo first meets Gandalf and Frodo says Gandalf has been labeled a “disturber of the peace.” I think I would actually say it out loud too…
Anyhoo, here is a detail shot of Gandalf’s mug. I painted these fairly large, I think the height was around 7.6k pixels at 300dpi.
For those with a keen eye, you might have noticed that a few of my paintings look different in the game than they do here. For example, in the game Gandalf’s arms are switched. His front arm is holding his staff while his back arm is resting on his sword. Legolas’ face is also a little different in the game (I think they made him look a lot better than my version).
People might not realize that having other artists change your painting is fairly common in the gaming industry. Most students or novices might balk at the idea of another artist touching their precious painting, but that is all part of the process.
You have to realize that your painting isn’t yours, but rather a contribution to a greater whole. Creating a game is a team process, not an individual process. The faster you realize this, the easier it will be for you to understand that it isn’t personal.
This seems to be especially true when game companies hire freelancers to create assets. It is far easier and cheaper to have an in-house artist make minor changes to your art instead of having the outside contractor make the change.
You might say “how are they allowed to do that?” Well, when you create assets for a video game, you don’t own the rights, the company that hired you does. Therefore they are allowed to do anything they please with your painting, which includes making any and all changes they deem necessary.
I think the artist did an excellent job with the changes, and at this point in my career I’m not really surprised anymore when I see changes made to my final illustration.
I hope you enjoyed my paintings! I’ll be sure to post more as they are released to the public. I haven’t played the game that much yet, so if you see more of my illustrations in the game that aren’t posted here, please let me know! Don’t forget to go sign up for the beta for Armies of the Third Age and download Kingdoms of Middle-earth!