An official internal interview with Michael Kutsche, the artist behind Empire: Total War, has been released. It discusses various art topics and we'll get to know whose real face lies behind Empire: Total War musketeers.
Mark O’Connell from TotalWar.com recently had the chance to speak to Michael Kutsche about his Empire: Total War artwork which has graced the covers of GameStar and PC Gameplay magazines in Europe.
TotalWar.com: Did you work from any in-game references from Empire: Total War when drawing the grenadier?
MK: There were some historical book illustrations of grenadiers for costume reference in the beginning, but no in-game references.
TotalWar.com: How did you decide upon the pose that the character is in?
MK: On a magazine cover there’s only some space where the image is fully visible, you have to find a composition that fits perfectly between the text and headline. In most of the cases the briefing demands eye contact of the character to the viewer. The challenge is to meet these requirements without losing the natural, loose feel. I wanted to catch the mood of a movie-like shot but still keep everything stylised somehow.
TotalWar.com: Did you come up with any other concepts before going ahead with what became the final design?
MK: The first sketch had the muzzle of the rifle reaching out of the page.I started again and turned the pose a little. It’s often that the first sketch is the best approach; from there I do little changes and proceed to finalization.
TotalWar.com: Is the face based on / inspired by a real-life person?
MK: As you can see in the pic above, I took the chance to expose myself on the cover? :)Usually I paint without taking reference photos; since I can think, that’s the way I paint, but in this case it was a good solution.
TotalWar.com: What techniques and programs were used to create the artwork?
MK: Sketches with pencils on paper. Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Corel Painter X with a Wacom Cintiq 21UX.
TotalWar.com: Can you talk us through each of the following work-in-progresses, and how they got to each stage?
1. The first thing I did was a line drawing to become aware of the silhouette, proportions, posing etc.
2. Going over to colorizing in Photoshop and painter.
3. Working on details and changing mood of colour.
4. As I said before, I restarted again on the character, ‘cause the muzzle had to be in focus.
TotalWar.com: Were any artistic styles from the time period of influence?
MK: Yes, I had some old master paintings of battle scenarios in mind, but I didn’t want to just copy that style. I’m a big admirer of all periods of art, but mostly contemporary art.
TotalWar.com: Do you have a background in working with traditional media?
MK: When I find some time between projects, I often shut down the computerand enjoy playing around with oil paint. It’s always good to hold something in your hands that exists only once in this universe.
TotalWar.com: How long did the Empire artwork ultimately take, from concept to completion?
MK: 5 days.
TotalWar.com: Finally, what is it like to see your artwork published on the front cover of a magazine?
MK: Of course it fills me with pride! I remember myself drawing a world of knights, skeletons, robots and cowboys when I was 5, so it’s cool to finally make a living with it.
TotalWar.com: Thanks for your time!
MK: You’re welcome!
Empire: Total War artist interview
18 January 2008 | By Jurgen