Sunday, February 19, 2012

It's not just a game ...

... it's the tragically-young death of Adam Adamowicz, a brilliant artist who found his niche creating concept art for role playing games.

Mr. Adamowicz worked with a fellow concept artist, Ray Lederer, on Skyrim, but came up with the look and feel of the game’s marquee monster, fearsome dragons that would intimidate Smaug, the venerable wyrm from “The Hobbit.” Skyrim is the first of the Elder Scrolls series to let players battle them.
In a video interview at, Adamowicz and some of his colleagues talk about what it is that a concept artist does for a video game:

“I love Lord of the Rings,” said Adamowicz. “It’s gorgeous. And so how do you beat that? That’s kind of what it came down to. How do you do something really cool in this genre, and have it be original and not ape all of these things?”

In order to find outside inspiration, Adamowicz and Lederer looked to works by Joseph Campbell, and ancient Japanese tradition among others and found a way to put their “own spin on it.”


In order to get things moving, Todd Howard provided the team with a general vision of how Skyrim should appear, with its Viking overtones, and once the team had created enough concept art, everyone would sit down and sort through it.

“It was completely blue sky,” said Adamowicz. “Todd said, ‘Sit down and draw a bunch of cool, weird [stuff], and we’ll look at it and decide what’s worthwhile and what’s really stupid.’ We want bad-ass Vikings versus Conan, classic Frank Frazetta, and it’s going to be set in Skyrim, and this is a place that’s going to be a lot more brutal and gritty: draw a bunch of stuff."

In another interview, Adamowicz described the role that he played in the early work on Fallout 3:

Establishing the big picture for the Fallout universe as a pictorial diary, was my first task. Myself and the rest of the team poured over the lore, related our experiences playing the original, and researched everything 50’s we felt enhanced the drama, black comedy, and rich vintage sci fi that make this a truly unique game. At the end of these jams, as I liked to think of our discussions and debates, I did my best to put on paper what we had reached as a consensus.
This wonderful eulogy over on the Awesome Robo! site has some great examples of his art.

And there's more of his Skyrim art in this great article on the Bethesda site, focusing specifically on his critical contributions to the dragons of Skyrim:

The early task of conceptualizing dragons fell to Adamowicz, who was faced with sketching a new take on a classic fantasy beast that could also function as a believable creature in the world of Tamriel. “It was mostly in the treatment of the face and the scales,” he explained. “I based it more on a heron, the chest-plates [being] kind of like a ship’s prow, so that it looked like it was aerodynamic, and kind of like a fighter jet – a little more dangerous.”
A heron, a ship's prow, and a fighter jet! Combine all that in the artist's imagination, and what results is spectacular.

If you want to see how the finished product turned out, have a look!.

Thank you Adam, for all that beautiful and creative work.

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