Danar's Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Did you have a story in mind for this piece?

Usually, for a story, I try to be as simple as possible so that the readability is very clear. When I got the KitBash3d Dark Fantasy kit I got a very dark and mysterious vibe to it, so I did some desk research for inspiration looking back at various sources that had evoked a similar emotion as the kit had. I remembered that the Hobbit movies had a town on the lake which had similar shapes and lighting situations that I wanted to evoke in my image. One led to another and I found myself looking through the Harry Potter movies as well as the game Bloodborne.

When I start the piece I have a vague idea and then I want to see how I can push that. When inspired by movies I look up movie shots and see how the director/cinematographer created them, trying to understand the bigger picture. I am a firm believer of borrowing from the past and forming the future with it. With all this in mind, I take notes that are infused with my own interpretation.

How did you complete the piece? Were there any particularly challenging obstacles?

1) Starting out I figured since the models were already textured, all I had to do was make a good composition with them. Afterwards, I imported the kit into Octane standalone software as an OBJ. I also imported the camera as an ABC. This way, I could only focus on the composition and not worry about Blender crashing the whole time. 

What I also did was merge some assets together, so that I could further Kitbash it in Octane Render, in order to prevent my file from being heavy and having a lot of Nodes. I’m always trying to make my life easier and trying to come up with easier solutions without losing quality.

2) Depending on the project, I'm either doing this step first or second. But here it’s all about reference research. I am a huge film buff, so I always want my images to be lit and color graded like one. I have a collection in a folder with photos from films, real-life places, and games that had some cool ideas in it. With these reference images, I tend to find finer details in my idea that I couldn’t have translated into visuals myself just yet. 

3) Next I import everything I did in Blender into Octane Standalone Software. Here I can use the reference research I did and try out the different types of moods and lighting situations. Here I usually think of how can I make the forms of Dark Fantasy pop out more? And how can I show as much as possible of the kit itself?

After this part, I make multiple renders like the Zdepth pass and material pass to make my life easier in Photoshop.

4) After this pass it's time to go into Photoshop and bring everything together. In photoshop it is usually the part where I can relax more because I already figured out the hardest part for me, which are the composition and lighting. All I have to do now is group the values together and push and pull the fogging and give the image more life. A good rule I always have when using 3d in my workflow is DON'T BE A SLAVE TO THE 3D. Even if I'm in Photoshop and I find a photo that works better than my 3d, I am not afraid to use it and delete the 3d I have used before.

How long have you been an artist? Can you tell us a little bit about your career?

I am a Kurdish artist from the northern Iraqi area. I lived most of my life in the Netherlands. My parents fled the war there to come and find a better life for me and my siblings.

Ever since I was little, I always liked to draw the cartoons I watched. But I took a huge break from it in my high school years. After high school, Art was the only thing I really liked and what I thought I could get better and better at without getting tired. Fortunately, there was a teacher at my high school who saw the potential in me and recommended me to go to Grafisch Lyceum in Rotterdam - a specific school focusing on the visual field.

Towards the end of 2010, I took a class called Visualizing and had a classmate of mine introduce me to Concept Art. All along the way I kept painting and trying to get better. Around 2013, I found out about Shaddy Safadi’s tutorials on Youtube. At that point, I made it my goal to be able to work for his company.

I kept trying, failing and being frustrated until I went to my first workshop, which was IFCC in Croatia. I met Shaddy there and had a chance to show him my work. After that, he told me to wait for him to get in touch for professional collaboration. 6 months later, I got the call and ever since that phone call I have been going to any workshop I can afford and trying to meet new artists and creatives to motivate me to push myself to greater things. I have always seen myself as a student and always will.  

And finally, what does art mean to you in both a personal and larger societal context?

Personally, it keeps my inner child alive and kicking. Every artist can show what she/he was inspired by when they were younger. My ultimate aim is to make sure that the kid in me never fades away and is always content, fulfilled with joy, love, and inspiration. Art gives me this. This feeling has always intrigued me to learn more, from understanding the nature around me better to understanding the human psyche, sociology, and history. I also hated school, but this feeds into the larger societal context as art connects all of these elements for me; I can find a slice of each element in any artistic engagement, whether the context is academic or more commercial entertainment.

Translating that richness into visuals allows me to look at life in a more respectful way. I mean come on, what a gift it is to be alive consciously, in this century, experiencing this technology, with all these tools, and all that comes with them! I feel very humbled that I can enjoy this ride and I am doing my best to reciprocate. Thanks to art, I am able to take an interdisciplinary approach to educate myself in various fields. This knowledge allows me to share all that I've accumulated through visuals and connect all of my conscious experiences, while still keeping that kid in me happy. This is what art truly means to me.


Danar Worya is a freelance concept artist from the Netherlands and has worked on video game titles such as The Last of Us 2, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Uncharted: Lost Legacy. 

Check out Danar's Artstation and Instagram


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