Interview: Anya Elvidge on Game Art, Environment Artists, and Robin Hobb

12:00 pm


Time for something a little bit different. Game art is something I'm always amazed by; I feel like it's getting more and more gorgeous as the years pass and a lot more art-heavy games are released. Just look at that new Zelda game and tell me it's not pure art! I reached out to Anya knowing I wanted to interview someone in the field, and her work just blew me away. It's been wonderful to find out more about her background and her studies at De Montfort University (my old home!), and I hope you find it just as enjoyable.


Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Anya! First of all, for any readers who don't know your background, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Anya Elvidge:
I'm a trainee environment artist at The Creative Assembly and before that I studied a degree in Game Art in Leicester, UK. I have a pet bird called Bertie who is the love of my life, and I love for painting, drawing, and making pretty things. My favourite colours are blue and green. I have blue hair which is so long now I should probably go get a hair cut... catching your hair on door handles is only funny the first couple of times.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your art style in three words, what would they be?

Anya Elvidge:
I tend to dabble in a lot of different art styles, I suppose in an attempt to 'find myself', but mostly I find myself working back to the same kind of style; colourful, whimsical, and surreal. Though it very much depends on what I'm doing at the time!


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into game art? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? if you did study it formally, would you say this was a good or bad experience regarding allowing your creativity to flourish?

Anya Elvidge:
I studied Game Art at De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, but before that I had no artistic teaching apart from at A Level in school. I was looking to study fine art at first, as my background is traditional art, but I stumbled across DMU on my internet searches and I instantly fell in love with the idea of creating art in any form for games.

I think for me it was the right decision; I had no background in 3D modelling or digital painting, and university taught me the basics for everything from which I could then develop my own specialised skills. After the first two years of quite rigid university projects, 3rd year was a time where I could do whatever I wanted, however I wanted, and it was a great spring-board for me to develop my own artistic style in a safe environment. For people who already know what they're doing, or what they want, other schools or learning methods may be more suitable.

Magic & Musings:
Are there any games in particular that you would state as huge influences on your art style, or that made you want to work in game art design?

Anya Elvidge:
Honestly, I'm not much of a gamer. My go-to games were Halo, Star Wars: Battlefront, Call of Duty, Skyrim, and Red Dead Redemption as a kid. Very different to what I do now! Red Dead was the biggest influence for me in terms of making me want to work in games. I loved the changing skyscapes and the magic of being let loose in a foreign world (and the glitches, I lived for those!). For my art style, that came about from many influences... art I see online from other digital artists, and classical artists, snapshots of games or 3D work I could never name, and things in the real world too - particularly colours.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Anya Elvidge:
These are so many artist I draw from and often I can't remember their names or even what they do but I can come up with a few. Many of the female artists I follow are character artists, which is odd being an environment artist, but those guys are awesome; Blair Armitage and Yekaterina Nadezda, Beth Hobbs, Karla Ortiz, Jana Schirmer, Jennifer Velasco, and Wylie Beckert. They all do very different things, from oil painting, to mixed media to 3D digital art, concept art, and illustration.


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your creations, which are you the happiest with and why?

Anya Elvidge:
I'm always creating new things and I'm happy or unhappy with each of them for a different reason. Because all my work is so different, using different techniques and medias, I couldn't really choose one! The piece I've been keeping as my cover photo/front page for most of my social medias etc. online has been this university piece based Robin Hobb's writing, which was done using UE4 and has sound effects, animations, and music to create a full experience like a game. (Look at it here!)

I am happy with it because of the amount of love and time that went into it more than anything. It was the result of four months of constant hard work bringing together three years of university teaching, and it felt like a very proud end to my university career.


Magic & Musings:

This is a question I like to ask purely because of their variety of answers I get! I'm really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Anya Elvidge:

I'm very lucky to have recently moved into a new flat in Surrey with beautiful exposed brick walls, tall ceilings, massive windows, and lovely surroundings. I need lots of natural light and a generally pleasant environment to work or I feel sad. My desk setup is something I always work on - I like fiddling about with where everything goes on my desk- and now I have a setup with my PC for digital work, and a lightbox and easel to my left for oil painting. Cup of mango and lychee green tea in my favourite bird mug, music on, and bam, we're rolling.


Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively? 

Anya Elvidge:
I'm very bad at dealing with that so usually I just avoid art for a while, maybe go out sketching some woodlands or do some photostudies which is a nice easy and relaxing thing that can't go too wrong for me. I also like to work on a blanket I'm crocheting because it feels like I'm achieving something without much stress or effort. 

Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your art? 

Anya Elvidge:
Photoshop, and if I'm feeling energetic then working in Unreal Engine 4 to create 3D worlds is super satisfying. It's a free piece of software, I'd highly recommend it! I also love to work in biro and oil paints from still life or plein air setups. 

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium? 

Anya Elvidge:
I've had phases of exploring other mediums and I think I always will, but mostly I feel very happy with my digital mediums, biro, and oil painting. I'm settling into a happy place with those. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field? 

Anya Elvidge:
You don't have to settle for one art style, type or medium, but you'll always feel a little guilty when you're working on one of your art skills and 'neglecting' the others! And no matter how much you know it, or how much you're improving your other skills, you'll still feel bad.


Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Anya Elvidge:
I am a die hard Robin Hobb fan, so start with Assassin's Apprentice and fall forever into her amazing world. It's been 8 years since I first picked up her book and as mad as it sounds I've practically been unable to read anything else. 

I love Batman: The Dark Knight, and I don't really listen to full albums but a song I've been digging lately is Darkest Place (feat. Aloma Steel) by Rameses B. Anything electronic! 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s next on the horizon for you? 

Anya Elvidge:
Nothing much to say from me! Art is hard. I like birds. 

You can find my art on my site, Facebook, Artstation, Twitter, and Instagram.

Next on the horizon, who knows, but I love my job right now so all there really is for me is to keep practising my art in my spare time and getting better, and I'm happy with that. :)


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