Meet Melinda Lack, whose captivating character pieces have more than earned an MMO Games Game Artist showcase.
Game Artist Showcase: The Magnificent Melinda Lack
One of our great monthly joys is when we get to share the work of an up-and-coming game artist with you. So far this year, we've showcased Yuhang Weng, Betsy Weymouth, Nana, Chris Binns, Jesse Van Weiden, and Orlando Flusband. The artist we're highlighting this month is someone we've been following for some time, Melinda Lack.
After studying Games Art at Norwich University of Arts, Melinda has gone onto to work in a variety of creative and exciting roles, both inside and outside of the games industry. The hero image used above, is splash art for Oak Moon Games – an independent organisation promoting women in games. The piece below is one of our personal favourites, it captures a poignant scene in one of Melinda's favourite games – Life Is Strange.
There is an element of freedom when you sketch, mistakes don't matter and the whole exercise feels liberating.
Longing, learning, courage, or compassion – it's all in the eyes. Although inspired by movies, games, and other sources, one can't help but suspect there's an element of self-portraiture expressing itself, either intentionally or otherwise, in the scenes Melinda captures. At the very least, each of them represents a personality trait or a feeling that Melinda must deeply identify with. Occasionally ferocious, often formidable, and always captivating, Melinda's characters each have gazes that tell a story of their own.
Her coloured pieces have contrasting yet complimentary uses of oranges and blues, taking the warmth with the frost. Not all of her inspiration comes from video games; many of her pieces contain references to folklore, myth and symbolism. Her historical influences have long ranged from the Celtic to the Ancient Egyptian.
Many of Melinda's character paintings, and much of her latest project Dreaming Your Dream, take place in low-light areas. Yet whether it's a fairy lit balcony, the breaking of dawn over one's shoulder, a beam of moonlight upon the eyes, or a candle in the darkness, a recurring theme of "light as hope" runs throughout her work.
More of the images and details about Melinda's Dreaming Your Dream project can be found on Starwingdigital.com.
A Q&A with Game Artist Melinda Lack
1) What games are you playing or watching right now?
I'm not the most frequent player, I have a few horror staples I like going back to, which are Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Village, and also Little Nightmares 1 and 2. I really enjoy watching my partner play games, as our tastes differ vastly. I get to see and be inspired by a variety of games that I wouldn't usually choose to play! The most recent game I completed was Life Is Strange: True Colors, which I loved! I'm not the biggest RPG player as I usually get lost with so many options and I tend to end up with guards chasing after me because I killed a chicken... so True Colors was special to me, because it was the first game I had played in a long time where I didn't feel lost at all. Although the game gave me many options with how I could progress, it was very well contained and presented and never left me feeling lost.
2) How do you decide on your designs?
I find inspiration from a whole range of mediums, although video games and films definitely rank top of my list. I can pick out aspects that inspire me in various ways. It could be anything from the colour palette, narrative, aesthetics, cutscenes, or simply the emotions evoked!
Usually, my personal work revolves around different aesthetics and emotions. I was initially trained as a fine artist, and so that element of art has never truly left me. I'm heavily inspired by artists such as Glen Keane, Lois Van Baarle, Peter Morbacher and JC Leyndecker.
3) What is your creative process?
I have been very fortunate to have taken part in a couple of workshops with digital artist Lois Van Baarle (Loish). She has taught me so much about composition, colour, light, distribution of detail and most importantly: to do what you love! I tend to focus on characters, so my process these days is to try and maintain the energy that my sketches have, as I prefer my sketches to my digital paintings. There is an element of freedom when you sketch, mistakes don't matter and the whole exercise feels liberating. However, I find that painting makes me feel like I must hit a certain level of perfection and whilst I understand that isn't always the case, it does mean I gravitate more towards freeform sketches when I have the choice. I'm particularly inspired by animators; I love that their drawings have such energy and character. If you watch a Looney Tunes episode, you'll see some fantastic fluidity of movement.
4) Which piece are you most proud of?
I have a few pieces I'm most proud of. Namely, my studies from the Life Is Strange series of games. I've worked on three pieces, one in 2015, one in 2018, and lastly one in 2022. The original Life Is Strange piece in 2015 was a milestone in my artistic journey and the update in 2018 still stands out to me as one of my strongest works! If I can look at a piece, months or even years later and I'm still happy with it, then it's a milestone piece to me! I love these paintings because I learnt so much whilst creating them and looking back at them now brings great memories flooding back. This is especially true when I look back at the True Colours piece! I spent so much time just sitting and enjoying the music alongside the main character Alex, standing on that beautiful fairy lit balcony. I can smell the scent from the flowers, feel the heat of the summer evening and the apprehension over the events that have come to pass.
5) What are the next steps for your art? What are you working on?
Currently I'm planning a Pokémon Shield themed series of maybe two to three paintings of my favourite moments in the game. I have also been trying to experiment more with creating character paintings by animating certain elements of the artwork, similar to League of Legends splash art! It has so far been a very fun and challenging process!
My art and inspirations are always changing, I don't have as much time to explore these days now that I'm working fulltime alongside occasional freelance work. There are times when I go months without doing a full painting. So, I try to find whenever I can to sketch or practice gestures, to try and make sure that I'm always drawing. That way, when I finally do have time, I find that I have evolved as an artist. And that can lead in exciting directions.
All the images featured here belong to the artist, Melinda Lack. Do not reuse or replicate them without first contacting her and asking her.