A Journey of a Graphic Designer: an Interview with Mateusz Pietrek

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When you play a game, you’re in contact with its graphics the whole time. Everything you see was created by graphic artists, whether it’s the characters, their environment or the buttons you tap. Do you want to know how it all comes to life? Read our interview with Mateusz, a 2D artist and one of the graphic designers behind Smashing Four.

Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when designing a game?

“When I pick the palette, I always have to think about the game’s identity, its consistency.”

When I get a task, it all starts with analysis. Let’s take a hero for example, when I am asked to create the design, I first need to fully understand what it’s about; what is its nature, abilities, character, etc. Then i start to gather some references – usually some images or photos that helps me to “glue” the concept, for instance find what is essential for a given type of character. Then I start to sketch on a paper. When I’m happy with the sketches I scan them and start to redraw digitally. The final part of a design is colouring. When I pick the palette, I always have to think about the game’s identity, its consistency – things like the game’s genre or mood influences the colours set. For a game like Smashing Four, which has a fantasy theme, a lot is allowed, but when I worked on a design for a sports game, there was a limited colour palette to work with, so it would still fit the genre.

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You’re the author of the awesome new loading screen – where did this idea originate? It’s very different from the original one.

When designing this loading screen, I knew it had to come from the game’s name, Smashing Four. So, naturally it came to having four characters in the image and a very dynamic atmosphere. I wanted it to be very dynamic, the game’s about battling, so I wanted to bring that out. It was also important for me to show how diverse the game is when it comes to the characters, I wanted to show the whole palette – there is a man, a woman, a creature, strength, magic, etc. As for the style, I am a big manga and comic art fan, I think you can see that :)

Where do you find your inspiration?

“I also have to be in touch with the current trends in gaming graphics.”

I follow my favourite artists’ work, watch movies, look through comic books, manga art, I could say art in general. Since I am a game artist, I also have to be in touch with the current trends in gaming graphics. I gather all the visual candies I find on my Pinterest. It’s a great ideas storage as well as a source of all kinds of visual inspiration.

Do you also draw outside work? Or, you just can’t even look at a pencil once you step out of the office?

I like to draw in my free time. But unlike at my job, where I work with Photoshop the whole time, I enjoy drawing the old school way – just pencil and paper!

In your opinion, what is the hardest part of your job? Or, the most annoying?

It’s the graphics optimisation, definitely. After certain graphics are ready then it has to be adjusted for different screen sizes or formats. Making sure that we have the images for all social sites, advertisement or different devices’ resolutions means a lot of work, however it’s not such fun and creative as preparing concepts and painting.

What do you do to relax? To clear your head and stay fresh?

I love music and sports in general, but I truly became passionate about squash in the last three years. And pool, I really like playing pool! It combines a sport activity with social aspects of spending time with friends and having fun.