Before Sunset: Art Director Jacinda Chew
As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Art Director Jacinda Chew.
How did you come to be an Art Director at Insomniac Games?
I started here as an environment modeler back in 2003 and worked my way to art director.
What were the major influences for the art style of Sunset Overdrive?
I looked at a ton of reference when we were researching the game. I looked at Havana and Shinjuku when we were building the environment. I looked at Phil Hale, Jamie Hewlett, and Jean Paul Gaultier when we were designing the characters and fashion. The Scott Pilgrim movie is a huge influence for our FX. There is an irreverence or attitude that I liked about each of these artists and architectural styles.
How long did it take to find the “style?”
I think it took almost two years to get some solid target renders. If you’re wondering why it took so long, it’s because it was a game that started as a huge pile of disparate ideas that I spent two years distilling into an art style. One of our biggest challenges was figuring out the building style. Since the buildings are closely tied to the game traversal, we had to work hand-in-hand with Design to make buildings that were traversal-friendly so it was an organic process. We probably rebuilt the original prototype city eleven times as we re-adjusted our metrics and building designs to meet the needs of gameplay. The character style went through some iteration as well. I wanted to design characters who were believable as underdogs, but also aspirational and capable of performing our parkour moves. There is remarkably little concept art for this game because so many things were dependent on the modelers working collaboratively with design and creative.
Why all the color?
Sunset Overdrive is all about fun in the end times and I wanted to reflect that in the art style. I was inspired by some colorful buildings in Havana and I loved how the peeling paint and plaster would often reveal other colors underneath. This eventually made it into our game as brushstrokes that are splashed onto the asphalt, buildings, and even clothes. Not only did I want the world to be a happy place full of vibrant color, but a place where you didn’t have to follow any rules. This is why we didn’t bother to paint within the lines. It’s controlled chaos.
If an animation studio made a movie out of Sunset Overdrive – who would you want it to be and why?
Actually, I’d want Edgar Wright to direct the Sunset movie because the irreverence and humor in his movies would fit really well with our game.
Do you have a guide when it comes to what vanity to put in the game for character customization?
I find a lot of vanity systems to be rather limiting because there are a lot of options, but most games don’t really spend a lot of time considering the design of each individual piece. I want you to be able to be who you want to be, but I also want you to look cool. I’m really interested in fashion and wanted to design clothes that people would actually want to wear in real life. I tried to pick a wide range of garments that would appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The Insomniacs were the ultimate guinea pigs because we would drop new vanity items on a weekly basis and see what people would gravitate towards. It was really gratifying to see even the most conservative players creating outlandish costumes. Sure, you have the option to wear blue jeans and a t-shirt, but why would you want to?
You can be one of the character we showed off in the E3 Chas Squad demo. Who do you choose?
I’d be Bunny Girl all the way.