At 400 pages, it will redefine what we come to expect from an "art of" book. This is the art book every God of War fan will remember. Click here to buy on Amazon, or learn more at GodOfWar.com.
I sat down with Senior Concept Artist Eric Ryan to discuss his work on one of the Monsters of Ascension, and a bit left on the cutting room floor. All images featured here and hundreds more can be seen in the The Art of God of War: Ascension book.
Sony Santa Monica: Tell us a bit about your journey as a concept artist here at Sony Santa Monica and time with God of War.
Eric Ryan: Hey I'm Eric Ryan, Senior Concept Artist at Sony Santa Monica. I came to SCEA with a background in games, TV, and film before beginning on the God of War: Ascension endeavor. I have about 10 years experience in the entertainment industry, primarily in games.
SSM: The process of concept art here at Sony Santa Monica really defines the vision and characters of our games quite literally. Specifically with Tisiphone (the Mental Fury and one of the main protagonists in God of War: Ascension), explain the story how you were approached to design her, and the initial challenges.
ER: Our vision of the franchise has revolved around two words that have been beaten into our minds, "epic" and "brutality". Applying that to specific characters can be challenging. Tisiphone was designed with the idea that her illusions could become real life threats as well as being the ultimate mind-fck for Kratos.
She was difficult because she needed to create environmental illusions as well as act as a mini-boss that could physically harm Kratos in a major way.
The bridge we created to marry these two ideas was her Daemon illusion would accomplish both goals. Initially she was going to have bladed wings or possibly use sound to form attacks. There were tons of directions she was going to go, but we chose a route that was much easier to accomplish in the given time frame.
SSM: Is the shape of her helmet (headdress), guarding over her eyes, in any way related to her hallucination/illusion powers or is there a specific meaning behind this design?
ER: Her headdress was going to be more central to her forming illusions and her creature. Its shape is that of an eye and the center of it was going to light up every time she cast some kind of spell or summoned her creature. Now it's more of a way to make her stand out among the other Furies.
Did you know Tisiphone is older than the Earth itself?
ER: I did not know that she is older than the earth itself. Who is this voice from the heavens asking me Jeopardy questions? Wait was I supposed to answer that in the form of a question?
SSM: The Art of God of War: Ascension Book is massive, at over 400 pages, and you are responsible for quite a large chunk of the art behind the game. If not Tisiphone, what are you most proud of?
ER: Tisiphone was fun to work on especially early on when the "sky was the limit" (I love you Todd :P) but I think my favorite character was the Leviathan, the final fury boss creature originally cast as Charybdis. I think it turned out pretty cool especially with the ink whirlpool.
Believe it or not that whirlpool was going to be the size of an island and you were going to have to jump from wrecked ship to wrecked ship to descend into it and before all of this you were going to have to dodge the body and tentacles of a surfacing Charybdis to make it to what is now the Statue of Apollo. Pretty bad-ass, and yes, I shed a small tear when it was cut.
SSM: I'm an aspiring artist and want to work in video games. What are Eric's Ryans killer tips to ascend into a concept artist position?
Getting into concept art is no small feat... and neither is staying there. One hard lesson I learned long ago is that when you begin your path as an artist, you are always an artist. This comes with the great responsibility of always learning, always taking classes, and always busting your butt.
I told a student of mine recently that being good at something requires discipline, and your greatest source of discipline is your passion.
If you don't like what you are doing then you will not be as great at it. Concept art is no exception. That being said, it can be hugely gratifying when you know you have contributed to bringing life and creativity to such a great franchise!