Six Tails and a Whole Lot of Tools: Behind the Scenes of Shin-Ryeong D.Va
“We had to develop a few new tools to actually get this to work properly,” Albert Vital, one of the Overwatch team’s technical artists who worked on Shin-Ryeong D.Va, says. In the end, the work paid off: concept artist David Kang’s dream of an untamed fox-girl caught mid-transformation was fully realized by the Overwatch art team in 3D, complete with tails that trail behind her mech-less form while she scampers around the boundaries of teamfights.
Shin-Ryeong D.Va’s pilot form isn’t the only star of this Halloween Terror show. She rides in spooky style, her temple-mech accented by tiny details like guttering candles on her fusion cannons, stone lanterns for boosters, and long strips of fabric that flutter ominously behind her as she hunts for her next kill.
Read on as Vital and Kang share more about the creation of D.Va’s fiercest skin yet.
How did you get started in the industry? What’s your day-to-day like?
Albert Vital: I got started in the industry by jumping into an intense 2-year school for computer animation. I didn’t know anything about art or computers and just needed to go from zero to 100 quickly, and college helped get me there. My day-to-day is largely skinning and simulating characters; I come in, look at amazing character models, and try and figure out how to best bring them to life.
David Kang: Growing up I always had a dream of either working for Disney/Pixar or Blizzard. I loved watching Disney films and StarCraft was my first PC game growing up. My usual tasks include coming up with skin ideations and sketches, taking the successful sketches to their final stages, and managing concept art outsourcing.
How does your artistic approach differ from skin to skin?
Vital: It really depends on the skin and its animation set. I have to consider the life this character is living and how the skins will coexist with this already animated character.
Kang: Every skin is definitely tackled differently. I try to figure out what makes the skin stand out compared to previous skins. I also try to take the theme of the skin to the extreme within gameplay limits.
What were your roles in the creation of this skin? Can you walk us through what you do during the skin creation process, from the beginning to when you hand it off to the next artist involved?
Kang: I was responsible for creating the loose ideation sketch for the pitch. Once the sketch for each skin is approved, I take the sketch and render it further into a finished state by designing and drawing the front and back views of both D.Va and her mech. Then, I handle the same process for all of D.Va's weapons. Once the design is finished, I pass it on to our team’s 3D artists to model.
Vital: I was a technical artist for the skin. From when I saw the character initially and was briefed on what we needed to do to get this skin to work, I knew a lot of hands were going to go into this. I spoke to the concept, modeling, animation, and tools teams to set expectations and start to work on our goals.