Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Metal Gear Primer 2009 - Tribute to Yoji Shinkawa

Today is a massive blog...except that it's mainly composed of scans I whimsically decided to take from my book, The Art of Metal Gear Solid. Please make sure to click on the pictures for better views, or even download them if you have to.

Anyway, among my many interests, I do still consider myself primarily an artist. Nine times out of ten, I either have a book, a controller/keyboard, or a pencil in my hand. I spent two years in art school, but got bored and drifted off, so now I'm content with doing things on my own terms at my own pace. I've always been told I have talent, but as with most art, people still only generally flock to realistic portrayals of the world (albeit, it still doesn't pay to be a traditional artist despite quality). Don't get me wrong, there is an insurmountable discipline and amazing craftsmanship that comes with drawing with a certain high fidelity. However it doesn't soothe all of us as artists and I'm one of those people. Despite having the gift to do so, I've been actively working against that type of artistic perception since I was in middle school.

Among my many favorite artists, one does stand out above all the others and like the myriad of games I love playing, he's directly related to my favorite game of all time: The 1998 Metal Gear Solid. Yoji Shinkawa's influence on Metal Gear Solid has been so ingrained into the series, he's just as important to the game as Kojima himself (for me anyway). His style is composed of highly realistic sketches and focus on linework and movement that I've seen in no other artist I've come across so far. The attention to detail through his pen brush use grants his work a sense of resolute and distinct style, despite it's high technical accuracy. Because of his work, I've found myself a path I can go down that I actually enjoy and find discipline within at the same time. No doubt I'm nowhere where I want to be right now as I still have to find a way to bring myself into the work I'm doing without slipping into a straight emulation of his work. Luckily, the time off from school has given me the facility to do this and I've actually been progressing over the past year.

Anyway, as a tribute to this guy, I've decided to post the previously mentioned scans, quotes, and excerpts from The Art of Metal Gear Solid. This is a 180+ page book with an immense compilation of the work he did for the 1998 Playstation title. Illustrations, paintings, sketchbook shots, and other minutia-like work such storyboard layouts make up the mass of this book. I've been using it off and on as my own sort of textbook for the past few months. This is because when I finally start my annual playthrough of the Metal Gear games, I'm going to post up my own work with the first two Metal Gear playthroughs (Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land). I've started to sketch out areas, characters, and weapons...and I've had a ton of fun doing so. Anyway, here's the collection of pictures I decided to scan from the book. Be sure to check out Shinkawa's interview with his major influence Yoshitaka Amano at the bottom. Amano is another artist I'm amiable towards and his work is mainly known in the Final Fantasy universe. Enjoy.

"Pink and purple are some of my favorite colors, which often I use without being aware of the reason. Colors are said to bewitch and fascinate people." [sic]
-Yoji Shinkawa

"When I tried USP in LA, I noticed how well the Japanese air guns are made. It's moderate kick back resulting from 9mm and how it fits in my hand reminds me of the toy gun I bought in Japan. So it didn't feel like I am shooting for the first time in my life! Weight balance was quite similar too. When I had a shot, the bullet headed right where I targeted. It just startled me when I tried on the Government with my right hand. That 45 caliber shocked me! It was like me desperately holding the door which is banged by someone from the other side. How would it be like if I tried 50 AE Desert Eagle with my one hand?" [sic]
- Yoji Shinkawa

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"This is drawn with the same technique I used in the postcard that's handed away as a bonus give away to people who reserved the product in beforehand. It turned out to be really crispy and dried out, because I painted again and again with diluted Chinese ink and correcting inks on plain copying sheet. At the end matier showed up from underneath. It felt like I was painting with oil. It was fun, because drawing this picture was like what I had been doing in the past." [sic]
- Yoji Shinkawa

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This is one of my personal favorites. It's actually pretty small in the artbook, but I blew it up with Photoshop.

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This is by far my favorite art piece of any of the Metal Gear models. Shinkawa's quote pretty much sums up why:

"When it is in the hanger, it has 12m in height. If it bends the heel and stands up to walk, it should be 15m in height. I imagined dinosaur in the manner of the way it works." [sic]
-Yoji Shinkawa

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"Mr Kojima, the director asked me to draw ads with only feminine characters, which I remember I had a hard time. He even titled it Lovers Rock." [sic]
-Yoji Shinkawa

"I painted that for magazine publicity, but unfortunately no good, which was used on new year of KCEJ. It was in the early stage, and pretty rough." [sic]
-Yoji Shinkawa

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Sniper Wolf, a beautiful and deadly sharpshooter..."

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"Liquid Snake?"
"The man with the same code name as you..."


Yoji Shinkawa & Yoshitaka Amano

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