Allegorithmic managed to meet with Koola and record a short interview with the artist.
Koola is probably one of the most enigmatic artists in the game industry right now. He’s an incredibly secluded professional, who never shows his face online, doesn’t share his real name and does not return countless messages 80.lv has sent him at Unreal Engine Forums.
Most recently Koola started his own development blog, devoted to the creation of his debut new game. Thanks to this fortunate turn of events and thanks to their connections a team at Allegorithmic managed to meet with Koola and record a short interview with the artist. He discusses his projects, tools of choice and gave some neat hints for fellow artists. We provide his interview below. You can also check out his developer blog, YouTube and flickr pages for more awesome art.
I’m Koola from France and I’m working on HK, a cat adventure video game.
I studied computer maintenance, but I have always been attracted by 3D. This is the reason why during my free time I enjoyed doing some rendering (essentially with V-Ray) which I posted on 3DVF at the time. That is when I got spotted by Ubisoft Montpellier, where I managed to get a job as an environment artist.
I stayed there for 8 years, as an environment artist, FX artist and finally lighting artist. I recently stopped to dedicate myself entirely to my new project: HK.
Building the scenes
Actually, since I’m more interested by rendering, I don’t want to spend too much time on modelling (moreover, I’m not very good neither fast at modelling). I want to quickly be able to enjoy lighting, shading and rendering.
So I started looking at architecture pictures in search of something that could be quickly modelled and textured but which would make good tests for lighting.
For example, I have been particularly fascinated by The Third & The Seventh by Alex Roman.
Some time ago at Ubisoft, some of the Technical Directors started having a closer look at these kinds of tools to enhance production speed. I must admit that I was a little hesitant at first because I had some prejudice. For me, procedural necessarily had an unnatural kind of feeling, very “computer-ish”.
But when I saw what some artists were able to do with it, and particularly on Polycount, I was mindblown. This is when I started to get interested in the Allegorithmic tools.
Using Substance Designer
What initially was a pain has become a real pleasure.
I like to iterate a lot. With a traditional texturing pipeline, it’s inevitably very long to iterate. You have to edit each map of a material individually. With Substance, it’s possible to do everything directly, you don’t work on textures anymore but on materials.
Moreover, the nodal approach nicely matches my workflow.
With Viv, we’ve been thinking of making a game for a long time. With the release of Unreal Engine 4, we thought the moment was right (thanks to Blueprint and thanks to Epic for the dev grants).
I’d rather not talk about it too much for now, we are still in research phase. Being both graphical artists, we have to learn everything about animation, gameplay, Id, etc… which is taking a lot of time (but is very exciting).
For props, after having modelled high/low poly, we use Substance Painter for baking basic maps (normal, AO, etc.) and for texturing. Concerning flat surfaces like walls, grounds, etc. we use Substance Designer for creating tileable materials, that we have just started blending together with vertex paint in Unreal Engine 4.