Imagine the pressure of coming up with a character design for a game….The whole process begins with what you put on paper. Just ask Emmy Toyonaga, the artist that is responsible for the way the characters look in MySims. EA Underground published an interesting article in which they interview Emmy about her work with Maxis and EA. It is fascinating to see how a person can go from recoloring couches for The Sims 2 to become a Lead Character Artist for the whole Sims Label, but she managed to pull it off. Kudos to her, I love the way the MySims Characters turned out.
Tell me about that. When you created the MySims characters, where did you start?
Everything starts from design. The lead designer wanted characters that appealed to the Nintendo market and the game was to be more light hearted and approachable, so I tried to create something that would appeal to that market.
I referenced current Nintendo games and looked at urban vinyl toys as reference. The small characters resonated well with the team so we went with that. Also, in games and animation, I found that more cartoon-like, squat characters are used in light-hearted situations, and realistic and gritty characters work better for serious situations. Since the Sims characters have always been more realistic in style, I thought a lighter hearted version of the Sims should have characters that are small and cute, like toys coming alive.
What happens after you finish the concept art?
Concept art in gaming has multiple purposes. For characters, like on the Sims series, you draw the character and the clothing and get approval from design and management. It’s kind of like drafting out a building design before you build it. You make changes in the drawing so you don’t spend time fixing it while you’re building it.
The concept art then goes to the 3D Modeler, who makes the character out of the drawing. On MySims 1, in the beginning of the project, I was both the concept artist and the character modeler so I performed both tasks.