Trent B – Intro Arts Project

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Amano History: Final Fantasy 2000

Once 2000 hit, Amano returned as the main artist of a Final Fantasy game, when Final Fantasy IX hit the stage. This game was to be a “retro” type game and be a big montage to everything the series had stood for up to that point. Below is artwork for Zidane Tribal, the main protagonist of the game.

This is similar to the artwork of Cloud Strife from VII that Amano made, symbolizing the game’s symbolism of being a mixture of recent and classic Final Fantasy at the time. He had curvy hair and had a combination of light and dark colors.

Another character from the series’ Amano art is below, whom is named Garland, one of the main antagonists who also is speculated to be the same Garland antagonist from the original game.

This was also shown as a mix of light and dark. Unlike Zidane, though, Garland is dominated mostly by his black armor and cape, with the only bright colors coming from his wavy hair and the red jewel on his chest plate.

After Final Fantasy IX was through, Nomura switched back as head designer and Amano went back to promotions and logo art.

I’ll be back with another post soon!
Trent – L2K


January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amano History: Final Fantasy 1997-1999

After 1997 hit, Tetsuya Nomura took over as the main artist for the Final Fantasy series.  Despite the part of “Main Artist” being taken by Nomura, Amano suck with Square and began a habit of doing promotional artwork and logo artwork.

The first Final Fantasy that Amano did promotional artwork was Final Fantasy VII, said to be the most popular of the franchise.  Amano did artwork for three characters from this game.  The following is one of Amano’s sketches of Cloud Strife and Aeris Gainsborough.

From this artwork, you can tell Amano really did some nice work with that curvy method of drawing he has. There is almost nothing in this entire piece of artwork that doesn’t have curvy lines of some sort. This, actually, is not terribly similar to the appearance of the two characters because of how different Nomura’s sketches were than Amano’s.

This difference is not that bad, though.  It can give the viewer a different kind of perspective of these two characters.  This piece of art is actually very sad, as it pertains to a particularly sad cutscene from the game.

Next in line was Final Fantasy VIII, which debuted in 1999.  Below is a very colorful concept art from Amano for the main characters of the game.

This game’s artwork is mostly dominated with Amano’s “colorful” style as opposed to the wavy style. This was filled with a lot of bright colors, which Amano used to stray from the “serious’ tone of the game’s storyline. This is an interesting way to portray the characters, as most people who have played the game wouldn’t expect to see these characters in a more “cartoony” artwork that Amano presented.

After this game, however, Amano made a big comeback, which is to come in my next post.

I’ll be back with another post soon!
Trent – L2K

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amano History: Final Fantasy 1990-1994

After a two year break, Square teamed up with Amano to produce some more Final Fantasy games.  This next game, Final Fantasy III, proved to be an interesting turn for Square and Amano.  The changes was in the style of the characters in the game.  As opposed to young adult characters, as it were in I and II, III focused on more of a “kiddy” tone with it’s character design.  That can be seen below with this artwork of the character “Cid” from the game.

Whenever I see this artwork, I think that this character, more or less, belongs in a children’s cartoon. The thinking is semi-correct, since this series stayed rated E (Everyone) up to 1997, so it really was a family/children oriented franchise. The colorful and wavy designs still flow through this artwork.

The next game was in 1991, dubbed Final Fantasy IV, which is arguably the most important game in the RPG genre. For this game, however, Amano was given a challenge. This game had the main character go through a “Dark to Light” transformation throughout the game as he uncovered the mystery of his own mind. With this in mind, Amano had to make many sketches of this character, both as a dark, evil character and as a lighter, good character, as seen below in this artwork of the character Cecil Harvey.

Amano’s style of wavy lines was not as apparent in Cecil’s “Dark Knight” (bottom) form as much as his Paladin (Top) form. To make this character come to life, Amano had to take both evil and good, and make it come out in one character. The bottom form is very dark and dreading as the character did misdeeds through life, and the top was very bright and colorful after his transformation into a Paladin.

One year after FFIV came out, Square decided to do a more fantasy-ish approach with Final Fantasy V. The game was centered around a happy-go-lucky teenager named Bartz, the first time a not-so-serious protagonist was tested in the series. As such, they added some over-the-top comedic villains as well, much like you’d find in cartoons and anime of today. Below is Amano’s artwork for Gilgamesh, one of the main villains.

Note one major Amano signature that isn’t in this? Wavy lines. Gilgamesh’s hair does not show under his heavy garments, so it was difficult for Amano to implement his wavy design into this character. There are some wavy lines, but they are small parts of the garment stripe designs.

This, however, was very colorful. Amano depicted this character’s personality through the color of his clothing. The garments are dark red. Red is more of a bright color, depicting a good person, but the dark half of this is showing that he is a villain. Gilgamesh as a character was a villain who loved to have fun with what he did. Almost everything out of his mouth was comedic. This was a good color to represent who he is.

The last game we’re covering in this post is Final Fantasy VI, which debuted in 1994.  This is the final one for this post because 1) the post is getting way too long, and 2) FFVI was the last Final Fantasy Amano was the full head designer for.  Everything else was concept art, promotional artwork, and logo designs.

FFVI was unique that it didn’t follow the cliche’d “Medieval Fantasy” tone the series had taken up until this point.  They combined it with a “steam punk” type tone, with bits and pieces of technology here and there.  Below is artwork for the main protagonist, Terra Branford.

Terra has a very curvy figure, which made it easy for Amano to over-emphasize his wavy design of making art.  Not only was her hair wavy, but in the artwork, you could say her entire figure is wavy, from the shape of her legs to the cape hanging from her back.  Her clothes were made to be very bright red, signifying that she was to be the hero character of Final Fantasy VI.

After Final Fantasy VI, Tetsuya Nomura took over as the head developer for the franchise (with the exception of Final Fantasy IX in 2000), so Amano stuck with promotional artwork, concept art, and logo design after Final Fantasy VI hit shelves.

This is a story for the next time, so I’ll be back with the new direction the style of the series took.

Trent – L2K

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amano History: Final Fantasy from the 1980’s

Yoshitaka Amano is, by far, most recognizable from his artwork for the Final Fantasy series of Role-Playing games developed by Squaresoft (Now Square Enix). With these games came a great challenge to Amano. Not only did he make artwork for these games, but since none of these games were quite like any other in the series, he had to accommodate for a lot of different themes and settings as the franchise grew. As of today, he has contributed artwork to 22 games from the franchise, with at least four of them still in development.

The franchise started in 1987, when Square was on the brink of bankruptcy. As a last wish before abandoning the RPG world of game development, they made a game to see the genre off, called “Final Fantasy”. Ironically, it started a revolution in the gaming world and led to being one of the most popular franchises in existence.

In the early days of this series, Amano had a lot of work to do. RPGs are long games and require artwork for nearly every major character experienced throughout the game. The artwork from the first game is shown below, depicting the “Warrior of Light”, whom serves as the main character of the game.

One year later, he worked on the follow-up game, dubbed Final Fantasy II. While the series medieval fantasy setting was kept, the character design changed considerably. Rather than designing the game around a Knight-like character that was more of a “gift from the gods to save the world”, the game’s main characters were low-poverty young people who led a rebellion. Below is promotional artwork done for the game by Amano, which depicts the four main heroes in the front with the main villain behind.

Judging by these two artworks, we can see two things that Amano is doing. Note how he made good use of bright colors to help the heroes stand out. In the first art, the Light Warrior is given bright red armor, as if to make sure he stands out to all he passes. In the second artwork, the same thing is done. Three of the heroes have very bright colors, with the villain in a deep, almost back purple color. This could show that Amano wanted bright and positive colors for the heroes with a dark, gloomy color to represent who the bad guy was.

You can also see the wavy sketches that Amano is known for in these artworks. The lady in the background of image one has very curvy and wavy hair, as does the Light Warrior coming out of his helmet. His cape is also shown with a wavy design. The second artwork has this wavy style as well. The villain’s hair flows outward at his shoulders, as does that of the female protagonist, though hers is not as apparent.

Below, I will throw in a few more artworks for the first two games, as done by Amano. These will be links, though. They are too big to fit into this article window.

Final Fantasy I – Chaos (The main villain)
Final Fantasy II – Hiryuu

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amano History: Vampire Hunter D

We’re going to go through Amano-san’s history in chronological order over the next couple weeks, as sort of a “Find the boundaries” sequence to researching the Japanese artist. While it would be sufficient to focus solely on his work with Square Enix’s Final Fantasy video game franchise, it is better to look at everything he has done, rather than just one main area. The first area is a set of visual novels that date back to the early 1980’s, called Vampire Hunter D.

Vampire Hunter D is a very important part of this history. Not only is it important to Amano, but visual novels in general. The first novel of Vampire Hunter D was released in Japan in 1983, which soon adopted an anime, and was exported to the United States soon after that. Now, you can look at the anime/visual novel culture easily now, because there are huge amounts of Manga and Visual novel franchises that are exported to the states, including the likes of Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Pokemon, and many more. In the mid-1980’s, however, this type of media was fairly new. The fact that Amano’s artwork was among the first of the genre that went to the West (North America) is important because early examples of a media are what makes people remember that media.

Vampire Hunter D, in Amano’s words, was inspired by Christopher Lee’s interpretation of Count Dracula. From this inspiration, the character “D” was supposed to have unearthly beauty, so as to land female fans for the franchise. Amano had drawn the illustration for D to be more based on beauty, than looking like a rough character. Amano didn’t have the privilege of designing D from square one, however. In an interview, Amano stated that he would read through a novel, and then do the illustration based on how D is portrayed in that particular novel.

Amano has stuck with Vampire Hunter D and has seen over 20 years of the franchise expanding through many different forms, including anime, video games, as well as anime movies. This has been the beginning of his legacy. From Visual Novels and onward!

I hope to update the blog soon with his next adventure into his artistic history.
L2K – Trent

Source 1
Source 2

January 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Idea: Yoshitaka Amano

Here’s my first blog post with my first idea for the project. Upon hearing about the project, my mind started wandering, but I think I have decided my first choice for the project. That decision is the Japanese Artist, Yoshitaka Amano.

Amano was born in 1952 and has been most notably recognized for his colorful, wavy art designs for the game company Square’s (now Square Enix) Final Fantasy franchise. While he hasn’t been the head designer for the entire franchise, he has offered artwork for all of the games from 1987 to today, even if it’s promotional artwork or logo design.

An example of his art is this article’s picture, which depicts Yuna from Final Fantasy X, drawn in the early 2000s. More examples of his art can be found at the following link, which leads to artwork from the entire franchise, while specifying between Amano art, and Tetsuya Nomura Art (the “main” artist for the series’ current status)

Squaresoft Art
I chose this because I have a fair knowledge of this franchise, and Amano has gotten a fair amount of recognition for his unique artstyle for the games.

That’s all until I can research further.
Trent Berlinger.

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment