Magna JohannesCG artist Hyung-tae Kim talks about his latest game, Magna Carta: Crimson Stigmata, what it's like being an art director, and why his critics may just be right.
By Althea Chia
(Translation: Haemy Chung)
May 2, 2005 | The strains of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart” crackle through my earpiece twice before he picks the call up. It’s two o’clock in Seoul on a Sunday afternoon and sleep blurs his words, but Hyung-tae Kim is as gracious as ever.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m really tired right now. Can I e-mail you later?”
He apologizes again, I say it’s no problem at all, and we hang up.
That was nine months ago, when production of Softmax’s Magna Carta: Crimson Stigmata PS2 game was coming to a feverish end and it wasn’t unusual for Kim to work non-stop three days in a row. As Art Director, he was in charge of the concept art, illustrations and 3D real-time character animation, as well as the commercial and logo designs. “Maybe I’m just an odd-job man?” he finishes with a smile.
Born to unconventional parents -- his father majored in English literature and dabbled in a wide variety of jobs -- who encouraged his pursuit of the arts, Kim entered the game industry through music production. However, he soon wound up on Softmax’s graphics team and their RPG series The War of Genesis thrust him into the limelight in 1999. He has since become one of the most prominent illustrators in South Korea today at the age of 27 with his flair for designs and CG paintings.
My typical day begins at 9 o’clock. I get to work at around 10 and participate in various game-related affairs (paperwork, discussions on designs, etc.). At 6 pm I eat dinner, and then draw concept designs and illustrations at 7. I head back home usually at around 1 am.
This is my typical schedule but it varies according to the schedules of the games I work on. Sometimes I do nothing the whole day.
Well, do you have time for personal projects anymore?
I don’t have close to any time for drawing comics. But when I work on a game I put lots of effort into illustrating the story I hope to tell the audience. So I invest all my personal time into the games we make.