Sharing my knowledge has been an enormous step in my career,
and I’ve benefited
from it a lot […]
Florian Coudray is a 32-year-old freelance concept artist living in Paris, France. In the past, he’s had the opportunity to work on several successful projects in the games industry, creating concept paintings and helping with the visual development while also delivering various courses online. Some of his most recent projects include: Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Florian is a lot like us in a way, he grew up enjoying the old PlayStation games and it eventually led him here. When we asked him about his time with Crash, he said that,
This was actually one of my favourite games on PlayStation. I grew up with the series as a kid!
It’s always a joy to see how some people in this industry get a chance to draw and paint things for the series that they originally grew up with.
Florian is an educator in his own right, in fact, he talks about how he plans to continue creating more online courses to help our community grow. Take this opportunity to learn from him as he teaches us more about colour and introduces some of his techniques. He’s definitely got a way with fun and inviting environments that will live on in the next generation’s memories. A lot like the original Crash levels that probably continue to live in yours to this day.
With that said, we hope that you can enjoy this new interview where we talk talk to Florian about his life and work.
What sparked your interest in concept art?
I grew up with a SNES and a PlayStation. My father is really into video games, and he was really fond of playing with me when I was younger. We spent hours playing Warcraft II on PlayStation back then. It took a lot of time to find the game because it was actually a pretty rare find on consoles. I vividly remember how overjoyed I was when he came home with it one day. Warcraft left a mark on my family, and my parents know the lines of all the different units now. It’s a lot of fun!
Anyway, it’s mostly down to the art, sounds, and the general feel of the Warcraft universe that sparked this interest in games art for me.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
What are some of the main inspirations behind the personal pieces that you paint?
I’m inspired by Hayao Miyazaki. Like many artists, I fell in love with Ghibli’s lush environments and beautiful music. I know it’s not very original, but I’m definitely a fan of this universe. As for more modern inspirations, I’m a big fan of Cory Loftis for his incredible shapes and versatility in visual language.
Kena: Bridge of spirits
Can you tell us a little bit about your work on Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time? Our readers love that series, so we’d love to learn more about your experience with it.
Working on Crash Bandicoot 4 was an incredible opportunity for me. This was actually one of my favourite games on PlayStation. I grew up with the series as a kid! When my former Art Director invited me and my friend, Didier Nguyen, to work on this game, we couldn’t believe it. Didier and I have been following each other on many projects, and now we had another one lined up.
I learned a lot from this production, thanks to the incredible team there. There was a ton of emphasis on shapes because when we designed the game, we wanted to have that old school Looney Tunes feel, but with a modern take on depth and lighting. We took inspiration from Uncharted to imagine what it would be like if Naughty Dog continued working on Crash Bandicoot. This was very fun to do, and there are a handful of fun Easter eggs for them to discover.
Crash 4: Crash Landed Collection
Your colour palettes are brilliant! Do you have any advice for beginners who want to improve in this department?
Colours are such an exciting topic, and I love to share different concepts and theories about them. I think you should start by understanding the seven contrasts of colours to get a good grasp of it all. Then practice a lot with it, start with simple contrasts that make sense right off the bat like complementaries. I always start with a base colour and expand on it very progressively until I find a pleasing harmony. At some point, I settle on saturation and keep adding accents to enrich the painting.
Even though colour is an important topic, I believe that values are where you should focus your attention, and colours will automatically follow. I’m quite messy as an artist. I love to paint traditionally, even when I use Photoshop. There’s usually only a few layers with real adjustments or layer styles. Oh, and please stay away from grayscale to colour tricks unless you want washed-out colours.
Could you walk us through the processes you used to create your favourite portfolio artwork?
The Watermelon Market is one of my favourite personal pieces in my portfolio. This was done as a demo for my students during a workshop. The process is quite simple. I decided on a theme very early on (fruit-themed places). I did a blockout in Maya with simple shapes. A 3D blockout is a tremendous help if you want to quicken the process of construction, perspective, and proportions. I can experiment very briefly with camera angles and lighting.
In a couple of hours in Maya, I can get a pretty good base for my painting. Once I’m done with this part, I make a very simple render, no special passes (I’m not patient enough for that). I then paint directly on top of the screenshot. I focus my attention on the atmosphere and mood. Then I focus on a small part of the environment, and I try to resolve this area to get a good start on the overall piece. I let it rest, come back to it when I’m fresh and keep painting until there’s a finished result!
We are currently experimenting with Radio Vox Groovy—our very own Internet radio. The RVG programmes include: Art Relax, Liminal Spaces and VoxStream as of March 2021, but we will be introducing new ones in the foreseeable future.
Our new programme—Art Relax— (EN) will be launching soon. You’ll know that this is the go-to place for every art enthusiast as soon as you tune in!
Crash 4: It’s about time – Concept art
Please tell us about your work on the vegetation for Kena: Bridge of Spirits. You were using traditional watercolours and Photoshop for that, right?
When I was offered the opportunity to work on Kena, it was summer, I was at my parents in the garden, and I wanted to provide some extra value in my concepts by working traditionally. This is not necessary or recommended. I just felt that the project deserved some extra care, and I wanted to experiment with a mix of digital painting and watercolours for it. The whole thing actually turned out much better than I expected. Genuinely a ton of fun to do!
Illustration demo for students
How could a digital artist benefit from delving into traditional art more?
Confidence. It’s so crucial! If I leave traditional media for a long time and then return to it, I’m not confident anymore. I begin to doubt myself, suddenly feeling unsure all of a sudden. It’s all because digital media gives us so many ways to make everything perfect. We’ve got piles upon piles of layers, easy adjustments, layer styles, etc. It provides a safety net that’s actually far too comfortable. If you struggle with painting quickly, or if you think you lack spontaneity and confidence in your work, go back to traditional media for a while. This will be very beneficial for your digital creations.
What’s next for Florian Coudray?
At the moment, I’m enjoying the opportunity to work for a legendary licence that I loved since I was a kid (see question 1), and I couldn’t be happier! I want to create more online courses, too. Sharing my knowledge has been an enormous step in my career, and I’ve benefited from it a lot, so I want to keep doing this as much as possible.
Visit Florian Coudray’s ArtStation
Do you like the sound of Vox Groovy? If the answer is yes, don’t hesitate to engage in sonic adventures.
Mixing & Mastering is provided by Groovy Services.
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist
© Florian Coudray or respective copyright holders