From Paper to Pixels – An Interview With Infrared5 Art Director Aaron Artessa

July 17th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

Aaron Artessa is our Art Director here at Infrared5 and has taken on the task of working with one of the artists participating in the From Paper to Pixels showcase happening in Jamaica Plain this Fall (see past blog post with more about the event here). Aaron has been paired with traditional Artist Aaron North to bring his characters to life. I recently sat down with our Art Director to learn a little more about the project.

1. As a graphic artist, do you often think of two-dimensional images as having three-dimensional counterparts?

Yes and no. Before working on games I never would have considered it, since then definitely yes. Games are a unique medium where all bets are off; 2D, 3D you’re only limited by your imagination and legibility. Interface art for games like Rockband 2 and Dead Space are where I started seeing what you could do utilizing 3D techniques to create a truly immersive experience for the user.

2. How did you first approach the challenge of making static images mobile?

Well I had done it before. I worked on a game called Go Home Dinosaurs and there was a shopkeeper in that game that I built out of several images that was inspired from the character of Crazy Dave in Plants vs Zombies. If you look at him, he is a bunch of parts that are 2D cutups that sort of flow on top of each other. It gives the allusion that they are all connected but they’re really not. I’ve employed this technique on a few projects here, although this project is definitely the most ambitious one.

3. I know that one of the biggest hurdles was rigging up the characters.  Can you speak to the different approaches that you took?

Yes, this has been a bit of a difficult process. These characters in Aaron North’ artwork are seen from a side view, but the guests at the show will be facing the Microsoft Kinect from a frontal view. So we have it set up for when you move your arm it will be reflected in the character as much as feasible. It may not move as much in the character as the person moves, but the character will be influenced by how much the person actually moves.

4. Do you have a favorite Aaron North character?

Well we are going to keep it to four characters although there will be additional images in the background. There is still more development to do in order to be implemented into the Kinect. But so far from what is done, I do kind of have a soft spot for the “Moose guy”, I think the abilities of that character will be pretty cool and interesting if everything works out good. I am looking forward to see how that final product works out in the end.

5. How does this project differ from the work you normally perform at Infrared5?

I feel like I am piecing this work together rather than changing the artwork. It’s his art and I don’t want to change it, so instead I am working with his material to do what I am able to do. So in a way it is similar to doing work for our regular clients, but the characters are definitely something different.

6. As an artist yourself, how do you feel about working on another artist’s work?

Well it’s not the first time. I used to hire illustrators when I worked on books, but  that was more in a Art Director role. I think it’s fine for this situation because as I said, I am piecing together this work rather than changing anything. I have worked with other people’s work here at Infrared5 when working on games and it is more mimicking with their work to make sure their style matches in the application to the world the characters are in the original artwork.

7. What do you think the most exciting aspect of this project is for you?

The final result is going to be interesting. The technology behind using the Kinect is pretty fun. Getting the characters to work on the Kinect is interesting. It is also great that we are able to use these type of projects to help make the art team better.  Similarly when we did the Intel Ultimate Coder Challenge, this type of project really helped push and showcase what we are capable of.

The event will be launched during the Jamaica Plain Open Studios weekend of September 21 & 22. If you would like to learn more information on the event, please email rosie@infrared5.com.

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