Drawing like Akihiko Yoshida.

He was the primary character artist for games like Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics. Specifically, I've always loved the character illustrations of the latter since I began playing the game as a wee child of 9. That game was released in 1998 though, so if you don't know what his artwork for it looked like check it out.

He uses a lot of hatching (a lot...) and these saturated warm tones bleed into the outlines in his artwork here. It probably has to do with the kind of materials he used; I only wish I knew what they were. But being a digital artist myself, I suppose I don't have the luxury of such results that come from traditional tools. Regardless, this was a little exercise to attempt to emulate his character style.













If I can be honest, this game was the reason I refused to draw noses for years. I can never beat someone else at their own style of course (read: I didn't even come close), but it was fun trying to figure out the process of getting the look down. A lot of the tones he achieves come from hatching alone (I added some shading underneath the hatching on a few until I'd realized this). Again, that's something that seems to be done better when it's a natural result of the tool, rather than trying to copy it in Photoshop. It's also harder than it might look to draw a proper looking head when it's missing an obvious feature. Drawing oversized hands was kind of funny though. To this day I think he might be one of the bigger influences on the way I draw characters though I may not have realized it at the time.

I'm also realizing the kind of workloads that professional character artists have in full scale projects like this. The ones I did here took around 2 weeks working alongside other things (I could do about one per day, around 4-6 hours for each). Akihiko Yoshida had to illustrate at least 32 generic human characters (2 for every job class in Final Fantasy Tactics--each gender has its own design), on top of all of the important characters, as well as the creature design. I also read in another article about Fire Emblem: Awakening that lead character artist Kozaki Yusuke was tasked with designing around 60 characters for the game, in addition to his other freelance work. It's daunting, but it's also good to get an idea of what character artists like these guys actually have to go through when working on a single title. I guess as long as you're getting hired to draw characters for a high profile title, it doesn't feel even like work. Too much, anyway.

8 comments:

  1. Can't believe you were nine when that game came out...

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    1. Probably why I barely understood the story and had you fight half the battles for me.

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  2. Really great work - I viewed the images before reading your post and I thought they were genuine. I hear what you're saying about an artist's inspiration, though mine came from Amano - the ambiguity of his style, love it - but Yoshida is awesome, as well; the way he conceptualizes clothing/gear is amazing.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, Amano is definitely one of a kind; I'll admit that when I was younger I didn't care much for his style when I first saw his illustrations for FF6. But now I really feel like his work stands the test of time--instantly recognizable. Both are great artists in their own right, for sure.

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  3. Any tips for achieving this look? I can't really draw at all, but I would be completely happy if I could pull something like this off.

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    1. I'd have to say it mostly just comes from studying the source material -- namely, looking very closely at his Final Fantasy Tactics illustrations (there's a link to some of his work in the first paragraph). At the end of the day, an art style is really just a set of rules. What are the character's proportions like? How big are the eyes compared to the rest of the face? How are light, shadow, and colors handled? Basically you just try to look at different characters by an artist and see what things they have in common. More than likely those are the core elements of that particular style.

      In this case I'd say some of the major things are tall eyes, lack of a nose, giant hands, hatching with lots of close strokes, etc. Outside of those things, it's mostly basic stuff like drawing 3D forms, knowing human anatomy and perspective which is useful for any character art. I think whether or not you choose to use digital or analog drawing tools makes a significant difference in the process as well -- there are unique things you can only do with either medium.

      I hope that helps... Keep drawing and you'll get there.

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  4. Hi! I hope you're still responding to this older post. I just stumbled on this page as I was searching up stuff on Akihiko Yoshida. I really love his work and I've been struggling to discover how it's done. I've also tried recreating what he does digitally with little success. I really like what you have done though and it definitely captures some elements of his work. I know you mentioned above that you don't know what he used, but I was wondering if you had an idea of the process behind making some of his stuff like the promotional art for Bravely Default or his FFXIV character pieces. Thanks a bunch!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! Admittedly, I hadn't seen the character art for either of these games previously, so I just looked them up quickly on Creative Uncut. His Bravely Default character art looks very similar to the illustrations in FFT: War of the Lions -- less hatching and more shading with painted values. If you look at his original FFT characters, the coloring is mostly solid blocks of color, and light/shadow are handled with hatching on top; but the Bravely Default works have light and dark values painted directly into colors. I'm not 100%, but the Bravely Default stuff looks digital as opposed to the original FFT character illos (hard to tell sometimes).

      The FFXIV work looks to be in a similar vein, I believe it's digitally painted as well, less hatching and more emphasis on painting in light and dark values. Other than that, I think it was likely something he was able to do in a 2D digital drawing/painting program akin to Photoshop or Painter, nothing too out of the ordinary. He's just an artist of incredible caliber.

      I hope that helps somewhat. I had no idea he worked on those games, glad to see his style appearing in modern titles.

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