Lead Artist Cenildon Muradi has played a pivotal role in defining the visual style and art across a number of different titles at PlayRaven, including the recently announced Project Aurora, an original title set in the EVE universe in collaboration with CCP, which is currently in development.
Why did you join PlayRaven?
Back in 2014, after working in the Brazilian game industry for around 10 years, I was feeling that it was time to try living abroad. After looking at some companies and options in different countries, I came across PlayRaven. Our first contact was an interview via Skype and after that I was invited to visit Helsinki in order to visit the company and meet the team.
I was amazed by the city. Helsinki had all the advantages of a capital but was also full with open spaces, parks and lots of green areas. It looked like a good place to live. But what helped me make my final decision was the PlayRaven people, and the company posture and goals. During my visit it became clear to me they were the kind of people I would like to work with it, the projects and goals were pretty much aligned with my personal goals and the kind of games I would like to do, and the transparency within the company was the cherry on top of the cake.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
I believe that it is a must for an artist to be open to as many sources of inspiration as possible. Movies, photography, graphic design, illustration, games… Everything goes, as long as the artist keeps a critical eye to identify good design and art. Of course it’s essential to study the work of renowned artists, like Saul Bass, Miyazaki, as well as Nintendo’s Kenichiro Ashida and Pixar’s Mark Cordell, just to name a few. Searching for sources of inspiration should be a constant effort in an artist’s routine. What I like to do is to collect and organise all kinds of material that I find interesting. It’s like a visual catalogue of ideas and interesting stuff that I like to go through every now and then.
Could you describe your work process when creating art for a game? Does it differ depending on the project?
What’s the game about? It is an adventure, a RPG, a combat game? What kind of player will be playing it? Every game needs to have its own identity and all those questions need to answered when the art style for that game is being chosen. Color palette, UI style, type of animation and FX… All those and many other elements need to be taken into account during development. At PlayRaven, after we decide what the game is about, the first thing I do is to put together some visual mockups to show how a final screen of that game would look like. The goal is to define high level visual concepts (like color palette, art style, characters, user interface style) that will help the whole team have a better vision of the world we are creating.
After the concept phase is done and we enter production, we implement the game screens following the decisions we took during the concept phase, using those visual concepts to deliver the player an enjoyable and unique experience with all mechanics and dynamics created by the design team.
What are your most important tools?
I probably spend the biggest part of my day working on Photoshop with a Wacom tablet, either creating UI interfaces or doing some concept art for the project. I also build all the game visual screens inside Unity 3D. I also like to create interface flows with the screens I made in Photoshop, which are basically a big map that we can navigate in order to visualize and test the game navigation flow and the screens sequences that we will have. For that I use an app called Marvel Design, which allows testing those flow mockups directly on a mobile device.
Maybe the most important tool that I use is the old and reliable sketchbook and pencil. It’s part of my day to get involved in long design discussions with the design team, and sometimes a quick drawing on a piece of paper is the best way to share an idea or to visualize and find a solution for an issue. Or maybe it’s just like Tiago (Game Lead & Co-Founder at PlayRaven) says, “Cenildon can’t speak without drawing”. Drawing on paper is also much faster than doing something in Photoshop. It’s the best way to register your thoughts and ideas as fast as possible, and it’s how I start every piece of art and UI that will be in the final version of the game.
Do you find time for creating personal pieces of art? Do they differ from what you create at work?
Yes, I do. I think that an artist will simply make time to do his personal work, it’s only natural. I’m always working on some personal pieces at home but sometimes, at least for me, after a whole day in front of a computer at work I don’t want to continue doing the same at home. What I like to do is to go back to traditional painting and just draw on paper using pencil, markers and watercolour. So at work it’s digital and at home it’s more traditional art (but sometimes digital too). With personal pieces I experiment and try more styles than it sometimes would be possible with the work projects. Creating personal pieces it’s a nice way to relax while improving my craft. It can also create a different sense of accomplishment, where you can express an idea or a concept that is of your own creation.