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FFXIV Backstage Investigators (No. 5): Character Concept Artist Hiroyuki Nagamine

Hello everyone, this is Hama from the Promotional team!

FFXIV Backstage Investigators is a blog series that share behind-the-scenes stories from the team members who work on all aspects of FFXIV.

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This time, I had a chance to interview an artist from the team, but before I jump in let me share some of his artwork. Lemme just sift through the company files...

(* Click the images to view them at a larger size!)

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There are many amazing pieces to feature and it pains me that I can't showcase more of the illustrations he's created over the years!

So, let's jump right in. Today, we're going to chat with the character concept artist who has designed many characters! Introducing...

Character Concept Artist Hiroyuki Nagamine!

JP2020430_he_00.png ▲ This is Nagamine's profile icon for company emails!

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Hama: First I'd like to ask, when did you begin working on illustrations for FFXIV?

Nagamine: Looking back, I've been on the FFXIV team since around 2008. I think it was around the latter half of FFXIV 1.0. I was also working on monsters for FFXI at the time.

Hama: So you've been working with online games for a long time! Please tell us about an illustration you did that you found the most memorable.

Nagamine: The first thing that comes to mind is the Koropokkur. I remember struggling to come up with a design that I was satisfied with. Since a botanical garden was going to be added to the game, the request I received was for "a monster that looks like a moss ball with arms and legs." The Koropokkur's facial expression and the leaf on its head were my ideas, but it was really difficult to come up with a distinct expression.

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▲ Here is Nagamine's concept art for the Koropokkur. The dewdrop on its head is quite the nice touch. It's amazing that he came up with this design based on "a moss ball with arms and legs!"

Hama: The Koropokkur originally appeared as enemies in Saint Mocianne's Arboretum and weren't particularly remarkable. But now they've become quite popular after being turned into a plush and a mount!

Nagamine: At first, they were only used in Saint Mocianne's Arboretum, so personally I was hoping they'd be used more often. Around the office, I went out of my way to suggest things like "Why don't we make it a mount?" (Laughs)

Aside from Koropokkur, the Four Lords from Stormblood also left quite an impression. The whole Art team came together to share ideas when designing them, and I have a lot of memories of that process.

Hama: So the Four Lords were your work. Now that you mention it, when I see them together side-by-side, I feel like they share some vague commonalities! Were they designed based on their battle mechanics?

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▲ In addition to their humanoid appearances, Nagamine also worked on their beast forms as well.

Nagamine: No, that information wasn't ready yet during the designing phase. The Event team provided each character's story, gender, and color schemes, which the Art team used for the basis of their ideas.

Hama: I see, so there's the possibility that the illustrations provide ideas for battle mechanics instead. Do you have a favorite character among the Four Lords?

Nagamine: I was happy that Suzaku was particularly well-received.

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Hama: Please tell us about what your work life is like.

Nagamine: When designing a typical monster, the Event team holds a meeting to explain the kind of content or battle they want to implement and the monsters that will be necessary, then we enter the illustration part of the process. We also discuss and suggest our designs with the staff members in charge of the project.

Hama: You do 2D illustrations, but do you also oversee the process of recreating the characters in 3D?

Nagamine: We usually don't, but in the case of creating humanoid monsters, we often work alongside the 3D modelers since it can be quite difficult. Notable examples are Omega-M and Omega-F, which appeared in the Omega raids. We wanted them to be exquisite while also trying to faithfully recreate Yoshitaka Amano's art style, which was incredibly arduous.

Hama: Omega-M and Omega-F's breathtaking appearances, along with the encounter against them, left quite an impression.

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Hama: Moving right along, you were in charge of illustrating the Namazu picture book. I believe that was the first time you had illustrated a picture book, but was it any different from game development?

Nagamine: It was certainly different! Oda had already finished most of the story, so it was up to me to decide what sort of illustrations would be needed. When it comes to game development, I didn't have any other instances where I drew the same character from multiple angles with varying expressions. You're usually done after you draw something once, but with the picture book, the illustrations change as the story unfolds.

Additionally, minion-type characters like the Namazu and Odder Otter usually only have a few facial expressions, as well as short arms and legs, so it can be hard to convey emotions through them. So while it was a refreshing new task, coming up with how to illustrate their expressions for the picture book was quite challenging.

Hama: You're right, minions themselves don't really have facial expressions! They're so lively in-game that I'd never really noticed that fact! (Laughs)

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Hama: And now for our usual question about your tools of the trade! Is there anything you simply can't work without, carry everywhere with you, or find useful?

Nagamine: Hmm... It's not really something I use for work, but sometimes I receive samples of our merchandise, which I like to have out so I can look at them for motivation. I especially like the Namazu coin bank. The details are replicated really well, and I like it a lot.

Hama: Ah, you mean the one where the head comes off! (Laughs) The texture was quite realistic too.

Finally, do you have any parting words for our readers?

Nagamine: Thank you for playing FFXIV. I'll continue to add more exciting monsters and minions to the game, so I hope you enjoy the various characters of FFXIV!


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Did you enjoy our interview with Character Concept Artist Hiroyuki Nagamine?

Before we sign off, I really wanted to include this artwork in the blog!

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These enemy character designs are also by Nagamine! I'm in awe no matter how many times I see them. I can't wait to see what new characters are introduced in the future!

Previous Editions of FFXIV Backstage Investigators
(No. 1): Main Scenario Writer Banri Oda
(No. 2): Lead Level Designer Arata Takahashi
(No. 3): Web Director Hiroyuki Takachi
(No. 4): Lead UI Artist Yoichi Seki

Hama
- Promotional Team