In another Obsidian developer profile Q&A, we hear from Justin Cherry, the Art Director for Neverwinter Nights 2 and the Lead Artist of Mask of the Betrayer. This article looks at the man himself, is role in development and path to the industry.
Interview with Justin Cherry (Art Director, NWN2)
Questions by Suzie Ford
NWN 2 WarCry Interview: Justin Cherry, August 2007
WarCry: Can you introduce yourself and give readers an idea of your responsibilities at Obsidian and on NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer?
Justin Chery: I’m currently the Art Director at Obsidian Entertainment, and Lead Artist on NWN2: MotB. For the majority of the project I did concept art and special effects, and when the other lead Tim Cox left, I took up some of his responsibilities.
WarCry: What is your gaming background? Have you always had an interest in gaming?
Justin Chery: I’ve been playing games from as long as I can remember. I love them.
WarCry: What computer games have been inspirations in the past?
Justin Chery: Well I actually haven’t played that many computer games. Most of the games that I have played have been on console systems. The last time I played a PC title was Quest for Glory III, haha.
WarCry: Do you have time for or any interest in gaming at all during a development cycle? If so, what games do you play?
Justin Chery: I do. I tend to play RPGs and Action/Adventure games. The last couple of games I played were Final Fantasy 12, Odin Sphere and Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
WarCry: Did you play tabletop RPGs? If so, which ones??
Justin Chery: In middle school I played D&D, but I’m not sure that really counts, and I’ve played none since then.
WarCry: Are there any fantasy novels that have inspired you as you worked on the various RPGs you have developed?
Justin Chery: Not really, but I am inspired a lot by Mythology texts and poems, like The Poetic Edda, and works by the mystic Rumi.
WarCry: When was your interest in art sparked? Was it that match cover art thing or were you always drawing or has it been computer animation all the way?
Justin Chery: I’ve been doing artwork for as long as I can remember. But for as much as I loved games I didn’t really consider going into the field until after college.
WarCry: What’s a typical work day like for you?
Justin Chery: Generally, I come in and get caught up on the morning emails, have a quick meeting with the artists, and by then it’s time for my favorite part of the day, lunch! Afterwards, it’s a combination of working on tasks and making sure the other artists are all good on what they’re doing.
WarCry: What is the development cycle for art in MotB?
Justin Chery: Typically there will be a concept phase, a modeling/texture phase, a rigging/animation phase, and finally an implementation/polish phase.
WarCry: How many people work in your department and do they get new crayons and markers occasionally? You know how inspirational the smell of new crayons can be and the “high” one gets from those permanent markers…
Justin Chery: Hahah well there are seven artists currently in the art department for MotB. Sadly, no one gets crayons or markers.
WarCry: Do you ever get time off? If so, what do you like to do?
Justin Chery: Yes of course. Surprisingly enough, I still like doing artwork when I’m not at work. I also like traveling, and I love the beach.
WarCry: If you weren’t in the room what would the other OE guys and gals say about you? Do they have one of “those” stories they could tell about you? If so, what is it? Remember, if you don’t spill the beans, we’ll dig up someone who will.
Justin Chery: Oh, I’m sure there are plenty of things that they could say, but hopefully they won’t!
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