Harmonix Artist Mitch Fletcher knew he wanted to work on video games way back in seventh grade. After encountering concept art in a video game hint manual, the very idea of working as an artist in games appealed to him. He traveled up the west coast from his home town of Santa Cruz, CA and earned his art degree at the Art Institute of Seattle with a goal of working in the video game industry.
He cut his teeth in college establishing a serious work ethic drawing all day in class along with learning 3D modeling and a bit of sculpture to give his work reference from life. Mitch's skills as an artist have been influenced by his favorite games and his musical tastes & talents clearly influence the look and feel of his artwork.
As a kid Mitch got hooked on metal with an introduction to Mötley Crüe & Metallica thanks to his step-sister. Thirsting for something heavier, Mitch did what any young man in 7th grade in the '90s would do: he asked people hanging out in AOL chat rooms, "I am looking for music like Metallica, only heavier. Any suggestions?" No one answered. Thankfully, In 9th grade, Mitch spotted an ad for Cannibal Corpse in a skate magazine and his Catholic school classmates didn't quite understand his new favorite music. After years of enjoying the mosh pits of the metal scene as an audience member, an ad caught Mitch's attention when Soul Remnants was looking for a new singer, and Mitch answered the call.
We sat down with Mitch to talk about his band, his process as an artist how he finds time for games/music/art/work/life and for a walk through of some of his recent works.
Plague Of The Universe Album Cover
For Soul Remnants's album cover for Plague Of The Universe, Mitch went to huge lengths to put as much work into it as the band put into the songs. Plague Of The Universe is a composite of 3D rendered characters featuring a battle between two groups of aliens duking it out while their souls are simultaneously sucked out by a higher power. Mitch pays serious attention to the landscape, the perspective, the lighting, the typography and more to match the intensity the band poured into recording the album.
This orc-like humanoid alien creature modeled in ZBbrush also appears on the cover of Plague Of The Universe. The multi-eyed face of this hulking alien is evocotive of a cobweb covered, third degree burned skin and is super daunting. You would not want to run into or mess with this guy. He is also a sharp contrast to the amorphous toothy alien on the other side of the landscape in the battle.
A few members of the character team at Harmonix submitted entries into the "Domininace War" on Game Artisans to sharpen their skills after work (including Matt Perlot). Mitch came up with the Corpse Warper, who assimilates souls that then become part of its blood soaked and appendage filled body. Clearly this particular Corpse Warper is on the younger side giving how few appendages and writhing figures are attached to its torso. Corpse Warper is a departure from the Rock Band aesthetic and a chance to explore different ideas for characters.
Hours of figure drawing in college gave Mitch an understanding of anatomy, muscles, bone structure and proportions. These frightening monsters are informed by a solid understanding of the anatomy of the human figure adding realism to these creatures bodies.
Monster Corpse Drawing
Here we see an improvised drawing of corpses and monster body parts pieced together. Adding appendages and building up the creature until the page is filled or the creature looks complete is an imaginitive exercise and a chance to experiment with combinations of parts casually. These looser sketches without boundaries inform the final pieces before getting into concept sketches or rendering programs.
Demons Stuck Together
The intricacies of these demons and monsters bodies emerge from careful observation of the human form and a mix of monster, metal, horror & animal references. Exaggerating the doodles combined with Mitch's solid understanding of anatomy begin to come together with this fleshed out sketch that was an influence on the Corpse Warper 3D model for Game Artisans.
Demon In The Church
Special Guest Writer Christine Jandreau
This piece was created in Photoshop, and Mitch says that the lighting was an important factor for him. Church windows create very specific lighting circumstances, and the way he captured the lighting just right adds to the eerie feeling of the image.
At first glance your eyes are drawn to the innocent woman in a white dress standing in front of a church window…until you see the dark, looming figure over her right shoulder. When we talked with Mitch about this image, he pointed out that the woman may or may not be as innocent as she looks. One might see a woman being possessed by an evil demon invading her body as the demon grabs her hand and takes over. Another might see the woman’s own true evil spirit hiding back inside her innocent appearance, as the demon shows itself for a moment before disappearing back into its clever disguise.
Abstracted Texture Painting
You can witness Mitch's same attention to detail and crisp rendering in this abstracted study as you do in the other 3D models, drawings and posters. Fangs, claws and teeth swirl around in this piece painted in a cool palatte with hints of red.
The skull was originally an acrylic painting repurposed for The Stress Factor, a metal radio show up in Lowell, MA and was used for shirts and posters inside the radio station at UMass Lowell.
Mitch is working on behind the scenes projects at Harmonix at the moment, hence the lack of Rock Band specific pieces. You can check out more of Mitch's tattoo work in the in-game Tattoo Shop in Rock Band 2, listen to Soul Remnants at myspace.com/chopwork and view more of his art at mitchfletcher.com.