Talented artist eyes gaming industry's top cover

By Chris Elliott

Apr 23, 2014

Student Spotlight Mickey artwork

Larger than life weapons, outfits that scream post-apocalyptic high fashion, alternate realities detailed down to the key hole on a seemingly normal door and perfectly styled hair – fans of Japanese Role Play Games (JRPG) are more familiar with these concepts than most. The art style even delves into popular anime series.

It’s a style that can be provocative and subtle at the same time. It’s a style that can feel harsh and yet beautiful. It’s a style that is outrageous enough to create the essence of another galaxy and yet is believable enough to make the fantasy world feel like home. Twenty-year-old Houston Community College student Ampaipak Sanongkun “Mickey” has been taking those characteristics and honing her own style, which she hopes will become defined and recognized enough to decorate one of the covers of the biggest name in the game when it comes to JRPG titles – Final Fantasy.

“I love Japanese types of games,” said Sanongkun, who has been in the U.S. for six years and has spent three as an HCC Student. “They include a lot of details on everything. For example in Final Fantasy sometimes they create their own language that can be translated. I think that’s kind of cool that they include those minor details in games. I want to be able to create those minor details and make games more life-like.”

 Sanongkun, from Thailand, has a particular interest in creating the weapons and the outfits that make Japanese games so unique. Eventually she would like to create video game cover art. There is a job market for graphic artists with the vision to dream up a broad sword the size of an adult man with the ability to also be utilized as a rifle and an inter-dimensional key. Rendering an otherwise impractical concept like that into something that game producers can use and make a selling point to complement game play is the type of task Sanongkun is prepared to tackle in the not too distant future.

She can be found honing her skills in her free time at home or even in the student lounges of the HCC Southwest West Loop Campus. Her huge Sony over-the-ear headphones block out most distractions. The oversized red hoody keeps her warm, while the energy drink in proximity helps to keep Sanongkun alert and her fingers precise. However, the most interesting part of her layout is the Bamboo digital tablet and pen she has connected to her large Dell touchscreen computer.

Sanongkun uses a program called Paint Tool Sai in conjunction with the Bamboo Tablet to create each piece of art. Ever layer is captured digitally, leaving room for changes and colors to be added at her discretion. She’s spent countless hours practicing to get better at drawing everything from building interiors to books and full characters. Sanongkun says being disciplined enough to create each aspect of a fantasy world is what drives her now. In the past, however, inspiration came from playing the games.

“At first I would play to get inspiration,” Sanongkun said. “But it got to point where you’d spend so much time playing games, and you didn’t have time to draw. Now I just view game cover artwork, and sometimes I will watch other people play. That way I can practice more on designing.”

 Sanongkun has a preference for fantasy drawing over sci-fi related art, and said that designing album art for a Final Fantasy game for Square Enix would be a definite dream come true. She hopes her unique style she’s developed over years will separate her from the rest in a competitive field.

Her art can be viewed on her facebook page www.facebook.com/Raveeoftitans

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