Alex Ross is a name well known to comic book fans thanks to his unforgettable work on series like Kingdom Come, Marvels, Justice and countless other showcases for his gorgeously painted art. With that kind of fame it's no surprise that Ubisoft contracted him to create one of the first released images of the star of Assassin's Creed III, the same image that will be on the preorder bonus cover when the game launches October 30. We got a chance to talk with Alex about his work on the piece, his thoughts on the character and the setting, as well as his views on his comics and video games in general, and where they may meet in the future.
GamesRadar: How were you first approached to create this art?
Alex Ross: They contacted me at the end of last year to invite me to do the cover for the special version of this game.
GR: What type of guidelines were you given for creating the art?
AR: Well, that had a specific idea of what they wanted to try, but we went through a couple versions of the layouts. We considered a wraparound image that might have been a group scene involving the character running from some Revolutionary War forces. But the image turned into this simpler form of the character facing us on the cover and the back of the cover being his reverse angle.
GR: Did knowing this would be a character people play as affect how you approached the art?
AR: I kind of think of all the characters I’ve done in my comic painting as things you would put yourself into hopefully. You always want to convince people that a character is cool enough to want to live in their skin, so that seems like a natural byproduct.
GR: I know in your work you sometimes use models as visual aids, did that happen this time?
AR: Well, I shouldn’t say it’s based upon that person, because that person is me. (Laughs) I grabbed a white sweater with a hood and went outside to shoot to get the kind of lighting that the piece has, because there was snow falling at the time I was making the piece. I was able to capture that kind of environmental effect that was in the piece live. And I tried to replicate all that in the final painting.
GR: Was the character’s design given to you pretty much finished or were you able to tweak it any in your art?
AR: There was some adjustment, because there was both my learning curve and me picking up on the various pieces of art they were giving me of the character. You know, different screen grabs that I could see levels of detail upon levels of detail. That’s one of the things that’s very different from how I work in comics, where I could often be the person trying to push the detail for a character further than it traditionally is. This character has so much going on with the his clothing, physical detail for the weapons, etc, that I have a hard time playing catch-up in my task to visually capture everything they’re showing me.
GR: I’ve heard you’re not normally much of a gamer, but has this project made you more interested in games?
AR: Well, I definitely would like to watch them, like I could sit back and watch someone play video games in front of me. I just don’t have the natural inclination to take my thumbs and do this repetitive motion with them for hours on end. My connection to fantasy like this is more visual, I want to just sit back and absorb it that way. I like to create my art, but I’d rather sit back and enjoy the art of others.