3DTotal: What do you see as the most crucial aspects that run through all of your work and make the difference between a successful piece or a failure? Mikko: This is a difficult question. Sometimes I feel that I get very blind to my own mistakes. I may
like something that no one else will. Sometimes people seem to respond better to something that I
didn’t see as a particularly strong piece. I’m still learning this stuff, and to me, the trick is to see success in some aspect of the image, even if the end result wasn’t as good as I was hoping for. In the
commercial world on the other hand, the success of a piece depends solely on the client’s
response - it’s not about feeding the ego of the artist.
3DTotal: In relation to the commercial world can you tell us a little about what your job requires of you and the type of day to day routines you follow? Mikko: The most important lesson I’ve learned in the past four years I’ve worked in games is that you have to be flexible. I’d sure like to paint all day, but sometimes you have to deal with less interesting things like scheduling, managing the asset lists and such. I was not very interested in 3d work in the past, but I've grown accustomed to it. I enjoy doing texture work, so the 3d aspect has just made my skill set more diverse. There’s constant balancing between doing one thing really well, and being able to work on all areas of graphical content creation.
3DTotal:Can you tell us about the types of brushes you use? Mikko: I have scanned some strokes of acrylic paint and used those in Photoshop, but it’s nothing too fancy really. Ninety five percent of my work is done using the basic brushes including square chalks and some soft brushes for blending. I use a lot of overlaid textures too; those can provide interesting surface details far more quickly than any brush ever will.
3DTotal:Before starting a piece do you gather any relevant photos that may be useful as overlays or indeed take photos yourself? Mikko: I do look around for good reference images on both the subject matter and the colour scheme. So when I try to paint a sunset, I will actually find a bunch of beautiful sunset photos and try to capture some of the things that I feel are working in them. The problem with using reference photos as overlays is one of copyright. I may use some very obscure parts of photo texture that is out of context with what I’m painting. Like a brick photo in a castle wall or something, just to get some basic surface to work from. It’s more about trying to come up with
interesting surface variations, rather than using parts of a photo to depict a major element in the piece. If the photo textures (or custom brushes) start to dictate the artistic decisions too much, I usually just scrap them and paint over with a broad brush. I do take photos myself, but these days, I’m mostly using the resources at the company, instead of travelling around to shoot texture/reference photos.
3DTotal:Which games do you feel have some of the best art content and why? Mikko: Right now I'm all about Gears of War and Halo 3. They look very different to each other but both have a very strong artistic direction and a personal look that makes them stand out. I'm also looking forward to Infamous, the PS3 title from Sucker Punch. I was honored to do some concept art to that game last year, and the recent trailer looked very promising indeed!
3DTotal: Which artist’s inspire you and have had a bearing on your own artistic development? Mikko: There's so many of them. My influences tend to change from time to time. Right now I'm digging stuff that's very different from what I do myself. Ashley Wood, Andrew Jones, The Black Frog.. strong graphic works mostly. Music is also a big source of inspiration. The Finnish rock band HIM is one of my
favourites. You need something to go with those dark paintings, aside a few beers!