3D Animation Of Vintage Electronics

Whoa! Let’s start by saying that French illustrator and animator, Guillaume Kurkdjian has totally blown our mind with his awesome 3D animated works of electronic items. Guillaume has created iconic electronic items from the French Minitel, to the Kaypro 2 fold-out computer and the vector based all-in-one video gaming system, the Vectrex!

To check out the rest of Guillaume’s brilliant electronic animations and other illustrations here!




u-matic_600source: Guillaume Kurkdjian


Interview with a Digital Artist and Animator: Yangtian Li

Tian_Li_profile_picture_by_tiantian1008-d4p4rwzAt the recent Re:Play – Indie Development: Exploring the Fringe event, we had the pleasure to attend and listen in to a talented panel  of indie artists and game developers discussing their work and their own plight in the ‘indie’ movement. One particular panel member, Yangtian Li (Tian to her friends) caught our attention. Once Tian’s work was displayed on the huge screen, we were instantly drawn (pardon the pun) into the beautiful and detailed artwork that was in front of us. We decided to track down this talented artist and ask her some hard hitting questions – and also showcase her amazing work.


Australian Retro Gamer: When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut, but that dream never came to fruition. What did you want to be / or do when you were growing up (or did you always know you were going to be an artist)? 

Yangtian Li: I think what you are doing is cooler than being an astronaut (ARG: we love compliments!)! Well,  that’s just my personal opinion. I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was very young! My parents were both artists so I guess there was definitely that influence. They didn’t actually want me to become an artist at first because they knew how hard it was being an artist. However, they knew I was determined and they have been very supportive. I guess I am kind of living the dream of the ‘little me’, but I think the ‘little me’ definitely didn’t have a clue of what it was really going to be like! I don’t think my current life is exactly what I really pictured in my mind back then, but I believe eventually I’ll be really “living the dream”!


ARG: Do you remember your first piece of art? What was it, and do you still have it in your collection?

YL: I don’t think I do remember the exact first one – it was probably when I was 2 or 3 years old. But what I do remember is that I drew a lot of rabbits and little houses when I was young. There was always a rabbit in a pink skirt, all the time. My parents might still keep it somewhere!

ARG: What inspired you to pursue being a digital artist and animator? Why did you choose Melbourne to pursue your studies in animation?

YL: I loved reading comics, playing games and watching animated films in my teens. I always thought I wanted to work in those fields. Digital art just seemed to be the most related media to these fields, and I am a nerd anyway (ARG: there is nothing wrong with being a nerd). I won’t say digital art is easier than any other art form, in the end it’s a tool and all the fundamentals are the same. However, there are tools that allow digital artists to be efficient as commercial artists. As for why I came to Melbourne, it’s a longgg story. Well, in short, I originally wanted to go to Canada, but the visa was very hard to get back then, so the international student agency suggested to go to Australia. Back then, the Australian game industry was booming (this was in 2007). Then, as soon as I started my course, everything kind of exploded *hands in air* I didn’t do anything!


ARG: Pardon my ignorance in ‘art’ speak – do you have a favourite theme, style or genre you use for your creativity?

YL: OH MY GOD, how dare you! I am so offended right now! LOL. Just kidding. My favourite drawing subject is definitely “pretty girls”. Quite obvious right? I always try to come up with different themes, but all in all I want to use illustrations to express a thought, tell a story or share a vision. I would probably define my style as a hybrid between “anime” and “traditional painting” styles – I guess it’s reflecting my background too – growing up in Asia then coming over to Australia.

ARG: You have worked on a few high profile games, one in particular which we all know, Train Conductor – tell us about that experience? Was it fun or was it all serious business?

YL: Working on Train conductor was really fun! When I got on board, the game was already out, so what I did was lots of graphic updates. I have literally touched every graphic of the series, especially Train Conductor Australia, because I repainted lots of graphics when we had to convert the SD version of the game into HD to adapt to the newer devices. The funny thing was, after spending weeks repainting a bunch of 480px*320px into 2048px*1536px images, I saw a comment on iTunes saying “the HD version is great! Graphics look so much sharper and nicer, thanks to the programmers!!” Could you imagine my rage! I was ready to spit fire like an angry dragon. Working on other’s design and coming up with your own twist was definitely an interesting experience for me and I did learn a lot. It forces you to work with something you are not familiar with, and by observing other’s Photoshop files, you can learn their painting process and discover some techniques. It was a bit like being a detective! There were the serious business bits too, in the end it is a company running a business, but all in all it was great fun working on the train conductor series.


ARG: Was going freelance / indie a tough decision? Why did you choose to go freelance?

YL: I don’t think it was a tough decision. Even though I was employed full-time, I still worked on freelancing projects at night/weekends. I already knew how it was being a freelancer before I became a full-time self-employed artist. However, it was very hard to go to my employer and tell them I wanted to be freelancing. Luckily, they understood, so thanks to them! There are quite a few reasons to go freelancing. A major one is that working as a freelancer, you can control what type of projects you want to work on. I did make some mistakes in taking projects that I didn’t really enjoy and I learned that it’s important for me to work on something I’m very passionate about. Being a freelancer also opens you to different clients and projects, and you are not necessarily stuck in one industry – so definitely more opportunities there. In the end, working as a freelancer means that you are working for yourself, and this idea is simply very attractive to me.

ARG: We noticed you are currently working on the 2D platformer, Gauntlet Quest (Soundplay Interactive). This is highly anticipated by us (we love our 2D platformers!). Can you tell us more about this project and your involvement in it?

YL: Yes, thank you for noticing that! It’s a very interesting project for me to work on. I’ve always wanted to work on a 2D platfomer! I’m responsible for all the graphics in this game as I am the only artist in the team – the others are some very talented programmers and designers. There are still plenty for us to work on, but it’s very exciting for me to be able to have a lot of control of the art in this game.


ARG: If you weren’t an artist, what else would you have pursued and why?

YL: Mmm, interesting! I can tell you this first, I’ll never be a programmer that’s for sure! XD Only one side of my brain actually works properly. I’d be interested to be a singer or an actor, it’s still “art” – but the entertainment industry is too complicated for me I think. Maybe a dessert chef? I love cooking and baking!

ARG: Do you have any suggestions or pointers for up and coming digital artists or animators getting into the games industry?

YL: No matter what industry it is, I think one of the most important things for a commercial artist/animator is being friendly and approachable. I mean, I’m quite approachable right? Hopefully? Or just cheeky? Oh well. A good portfolio is definitely important – but I’m not authorised to judge what a good portfolio is. However, Christopher Natsuume, art director at Boomzap, provides great portfolio advice.


ARG: Now to some hard hitting personal questions:

ARG: Tell us about Tian away from art – what extra curricula activities do you enjoy?

YL: Cooking! I consider it to be an art too. I am sorry that I didn’t really answer your question properly. I find cooking and art have a lot of similarities. When I have trouble explaining art to others, I use cooking analogies as an example to explain it, and people would generally understand it.

ARG: Do you have a favourite video game console?

YL: Mmm, the console I played most on was the PC. I played lots of RPG games when I was younger. I really did like playing on the DS (lots of Pokémon), but now, I play games on my iPad. I think I do enjoy PC games the most though, but unfortunately nowadays I don’t have that much time to play games.

ARG: Do you have a favourite video game or genre?

YL: RPG!!! RPGGGG!!!!!!! For me, it’s the experience and the story that can take me away from the real world – that really attracts me. I really enjoy spending a good time playing them and getting totally immersed. Not saying that I don’t like my daily life, I love it, but I also love to taste how it is like to live a different life. Some of my favourite RPGs are Dragon Age, Legend of Heroes Trails in The Sky, Skyrim (haven’t really got the time to finish it) and Pokémon!

ARG: If you had a choice between Atari, Sega or Nintendo, which would you choose?

YL: Nintendo! As mentioned above, one of my favourite games is Pokémon, haha!!

ARG: What is next for Tian? (what is on the horizion?)

YL: I am planning on moving to Singapore for work. Reason being, so far, I have only worked for indie game studios and worked as a freelancer. I would like to try working in a big studio under an art director. I think I can learn lots of things from this new experience, before I finally set up my own animation/game studio. Why Singapore? Because it’s in the middle of everything – I can fly to either Australia or China easily! My new map is about to get unlocked and I’m pretty excited for levelling up soon!


Thank you very much for your time Tian. It has been an absolute pleasure interviewing you and indulging in your creative work. We honestly cannot stop looking at your gallery of fine art.  To see more of Tian’s artwork, please visit her site here.