3DTotal: Hi, thanks for talking to us, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Kosta: My name is Kosta Atanasov, but most of my friends call me Jovi because of my addiction to a certain hard rock band. I’m 28, and I live and work in Bulgaria - a beautiful country in Eastern Europe.
My initial education wasn’t in art, but in electronics. Luckily, my teachers soon realised that the scientific path was clearly not for me, and just let me dream away whilst drawing doodles in class - a smart move, which helped greatly improve the world’s overall electronics’ reliability, I believe. The result was that, after graduating, I couldn’t even replace a light bulb from the first attempt, though I could easily draw a photo-realistic one with a ball pen. I attended lots of art classes and after my marine military service was accepted in the New Bulgarian University, in Animation Direction, from which I most recently graduated.
It took me a while - longer than intended (7 years, to be exact) - because I was involved in various game-development projects that kept eating into my time. Nevertheless, it was worth it, because I think that the most important part of my education was working with my friends in the different game-development teams that I’ve been in. I hope I was as much help to them as they were to me. In my personal life I’m a very social person, I love motorcycles and adventures (pretty often they mix well), old school hard/heavy/progressive music, fiction books and movies, and above all painting and writing.
3DTotal: You are what I would describe as a CG ‘all rounder’ in 2D, 3D & animation. What made you learn all of these disciplines? Kosta: I wasn’t really aiming to learn them all at once, it just happened that way. In the early days of game development in Bulgaria we had to learn what we did on the fly – we had no Internet available - no forums, help or tutorials - so we had to improvise. We were like “Wow, what does this button do? CLICK”. Luckily, nothing except Windows exploded (blue screen had a somewhat different meaning to me back then), and after enough clicks you just tended to memorise the function. Being a traditional artist, 2D just came naturally to me; it’s nothing more than a different kind of brush or pencil.
3DTotal: You also practice your traditional art skills regularly (donkeys in particular). How important do you think it is for CG artists to keep in touch with traditional art forms? Kosta: Well, I do not think it’s that essential, it really depends on the individual. You improve your skills with practice, and it makes no difference whether you use the tablet pen or the pencil. For me, traditional art is no more than a hobby now, but I believe we should all keep in touch with the real world as much as we can. People tend lately to get a little too involved with the digital world, and unlike the virtually nonexistent pixels, the smell of fresh paint all over the place, the stained clothes, walls, and enraged housekeeping mums are something tangible and real. Real life is fun - traditional art is fun - and it’s where we digital artists should get our inspiration from.
3DTotal: You have worked on a few game-related projects; ‘Knights of Honor’, ‘Games Workshop’ etc. Is this an area of interest for you? Kosta: Absolutely. I started my career in the field of advertising, and was very happy when I moved into game development. I realised how much more creative freedom I was given. Making games is fascinating, and so much better than playing them, which is why I hardly have the time to play lately. Nevertheless, I have been playing in the past (heavy sigh), and my favourite games are the “Thief” series, “Knights of the Old Republic” and “Gothic”. If I find a couple of (rainy) days off, I’ve already scheduled “Fahrenheit” next.
3DTotal: What has been your favourite project to date? Kosta: Definitely the one I’m working on right now, which is epic. I’ve always dreamt of working on a fantasy game. Fiction gives you much more freedom to interpret it, and thus it is a bigger challenge than real historic topics. Speaking of which, another favourite project I was involved in was the game “Knights Of Honor”. At some point the tiny units had more than 15 different animations, each facing 18 directions, and the buildings had 5-6 states of destruction, most of which are nearly impossible to see in-game. We’ve spent an enormous amount of time on every little detail of the artwork, and despite all the
problems we have encountered developing it, I really think it was all worth it - it made a great game after all. Another project I’m working on currently is a short 3D movie – the working title is “Bad to the Bone”, which is about a biker, who, underneath the black leather, spikes and sculls, is a really nice guy. I really love working on it and very much regret not having much free time for it lately.