Earlier this year, we worked with 3D Art Lead at Frictional Games Lea Kronenberger on Project Titan, a collaborative effort between SideFX, Unreal Engine, and KitBash3D. Project Titan has a dark, moody aesthetic featuring our Cyber Streets and Brooklyn Kits but as we were building the bright, utopian technological world of NEO NYC, we thought Lea would be a fantastic fit to showcase another side of her work for the Kit cover. In this interview, she gives us all an inside look into her creative process and background!
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"I used Unreal Engine 5 to create the NEO NYC cover art, and it was working super well with the Kit... importing it into the engine was simply a matter of dragging and dropping it into the content folder and everything was already set up as blueprint actors with materials. This allowed me to start directly with asset placement, skipping any preparation work." - Lea Kronenberger
KitBash3D: Can you introduce yourself to our community and describe your creative journey up until this point?
Lea Kronenberger: Hi! I’m Lea, I have worked as a 3D artist for over 5 years now, and I live in Germany. Before I discovered my passion for 3D, I was an architectural draftswoman, but I switched industries shortly after.
I love modeling and texturing all kinds of things, but I think what I enjoy the most in 3D is finally bringing it all together into a complete environment, trying to capture the essence of the world that I, or someone else, imagined.
KitBash3D: What was your first thought when we asked you to make this cover art?
Lea: I enjoy working with asset kits a lot and had a great experience with the KitBash3D Kit we used on Project Titan recently, so I was very hyped to see your new one and excited to contribute to the Cover Art Series!
KitBash3D: What inspired or influenced your design for the cover art?
Lea: My main inspiration came from looking at various New York City photographs. I tried to capture the general feeling of the big city life with this futuristic version without being too sci-fi. The goal here was to show an enhanced NYC, something that shows a promising future!
KitBash3D: What was your favorite part about making the cover art, or your favorite part about the Kit?
Lea: There are many of the building models that I really like! The buildings also have unique silhouettes and can be used from multiple sides without looking repetitive, which felt very nice to work with. I also enjoyed finding an interesting angle for the cover art shot.
KitBash3D: What software did you use to create your city and what was your experience like?
Lea: I used Unreal Engine 5 to create the NEO NYC cover art, and it was working super well with the Kit. I got the Kit in Unreal project format, so importing it into the engine was simply a matter of dragging and dropping it into the content folder and everything was already set up as blueprint actors with materials. This allowed me to start directly with asset placement, skipping any preparation work.
The new lighting system, Lumen, was really awesome for this environment, as I didn’t have to spend any time on the light baking process and always saw the results in real-time. It was also fun to play around with the volumetric clouds feature to create the sky for the cover art!
KitBash3D: What did you learn from making the cover art, or what lesson did you try to employ while making it?
Lea: I think the main challenge for me was to find a fitting spot for the camera that shows a good portion of the city in an interesting way – sort of how you would look at it from a photographer’s point of view. I’m not very well versed in photography though and so I spend a bit of time checking out how to get buildings undistorted and looking into general camera settings.
KitBash3D: What would you like to try next with this Kit (without the constraints of making a cover art)?
Lea: I would like to try it out with a totally different lighting and setting, basically using the building blocks to build something besides a regular city. I think it could be interesting to build a sort of futuristic magical castle with it in a mood that is like your Dark Fantasy Kit cover art.
KitBash3D: What drives you to keep creating?
Lea: I feel most inspired when I have a certain diversity in my daily life. I think it’s a combination of getting inspired by games, books, and music mainly, but also when I hear about a new cool tech thingy that I get overly excited about trying it out myself.
Recently I feel most inspired by playing Elden Ring (which might explain my thoughts about creating some dark fantasy-inspired scene).
KitBash3D: What artist(s) inspire you?
Lea: There are a lot of amazing artists who have inspired me in my journey. To name a few, I really enjoy the artworks of Simon Stålenhag and Zdzisław Beksiński. There are also a lot of 3D artists whom I find inspiring for a multitude of reasons, for example, Jeryce Dianingana is creating awesome African-inspired art, which I just love to look at. Being relatively new to the industry myself, I’m also super amazed by other great artists who have started out just a few years ago and are just crushing it, like Jasmin Habezai-Fekri and Ivanna Liittschwager.
KitBash3D: Any final thoughts for us or the KitBash3D community?
Lea: Working with the Kit was a blast! Please keep up the great work and I’m excited to see more artworks using it coming up!
ABOUT LEA KRONENBERGER
Lea is a 3D artist with a background as an architectural draftswoman. She is most passionate about environmental art, especially enjoying anything fantasy and sci-fi. For about 2 years, she has been working as a 3D Art Lead at Frictional Games. See more from Lea via her ArtStation, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
**This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.