[Editor’s Note: This is part one of an occasional series about EVE artists]
We recently learned that one of New Eden’s most well-known creatives, Razorien, officially joined our favourite developers as CCP Aperture.
While he is an experienced player, and his name has been ubiquitous in the community for a while, there are still many players who do not know who he is, or what he does.
Razorien is one of a few well-known artists in EVE, and he specializes in taking uniquely-positioned or timed screenshots. He excels at showcasing the efforts of CCP’s art team, in particular space and physical assets.
It is easy to think, “It’s a screenshot, so what? I can do that.” And you’d be right, however, like the photography contests held by Corel, Canon, and Kodak, it takes a lot to win. A combination of artistic sensibilities, aesthetic, composition, and experience are needed to stand out from the crowd. Razorien has won a disproportionate number of screenshot contests hosted by CCP Games over the years. In fact, he even poked fun at himself when members of the community raised this point on Twitter.
Razorien’s art endeavours have contributed to the community in other ways, and as he has gained repute and rapport with other creatives and members of the community as a result. He has also been able to participate in other unique opportunities, such as collaborating with Andrew Groen. Andrew is author of the tremendously popular Empires of EVE and upcoming Empires of Eve II, which retell the player history of null-sec empire building.
Razorien is still very new to his role as CCP Aperture, so questions about his role and what it will entail – or what his purview will be – will be left for another time. Let’s, instead, focus on his artwork and artistic motivations.
For those new to EVE or to the community, can you tell me what got you started with taking photographs of EVE?
I’ve been fascinated by astronomy for as long as I can remember and was drawn in by a desire to explore New Eden and its many mysteries. I also want to give credit to Mark726 and his EVE Travel blog which has been a great source of inspiration for me.
EVE had everything I wanted, a beautiful rendition of space, mystery, adventure, exploration of the unknown but most of all it had stories. Lots of stories, everything from individual accounts to grand tales of galactic conquest spanning years of time. It felt alive for me in a way no other MMO has ever come close to.
My photography adventures in EVE started back in 2015 when I had only been playing for a short while. My daughter was then two years old and with life being busier than ever, weekend long photography excursions had been replaced by precious family time. EVE I could play in the evenings when it was dark outside. I took a few pictures to use as desktop wallpapers and shared them with my friends in EVE University, who I was flying with at the time.
They enjoyed them, so I took a few more and that cycle repeated until one day me and other new players were invited to a fleet to visit #REKKINGCREW and for the first time get to see some of the biggest ships in EVE. I took some pictures of the event which were shared with the wider EVE community by RocketX and the response was fantastic. It was the catalyst moment for me to take on a role as a dedicated photographer and EVE became my new creative outlet.
Can you tell us about you process, and how you decide about what to capture?
Photography has been one of my passions for a long time, from the days of film and darkrooms. Back then, apart from what you could see in the viewfinder you had no previews or ability to undo. The amount and type of film you carried also forced you to consider your options more carefully. You had to make those shots count and I remember bringing a notebook to write down time, place, camera settings, film, light conditions and more. A time consuming but dedicated effort to learn what worked well and what didn’t which was later replaced by experience.
The post-photography craft of those days also required patience. After taking a picture on film comes the process of having it developed, either by youself or sending it to a lab. If you had to send the film away it would take days before you got to see the final results.
Even though it seems like a completely different world from taking screenshots in a game, some of what I learned back then has stuck with me. I still try to make those shots count by being patient, consider composition, lighting conditions and trying to envision the end result instead of the raw capture.
I add a final touch by post processing most of my images to enhance color and contrast but no cut’n’paste editing. This is a much smaller part of the process than many realize. The goal is not to completely distort reality but to enhance what is already there. I also never crop my images. If the composition is off I don’t try to “save” the image by cropping and just accept it as a miss and move on.
What I capture depends a lot on the situation I find myself in but wherever you go in New Eden there is something interesting to be found. A solo exploration roam with chill music on can be great for taking some atmospheric shots. For fleets and organized events it can be more important to let the pictures tell a story. In large battles I try to capture the sense of scale and chaos involved with thousands of players clashing. Whatever it is, I try to capture what it feels like to be there.
Do you use any special tools or peripherals to help you in your process?
Not much of note really. My gaming PC is average at best and I just put up with the lower framerate when capturing using max graphics settings and high resolution. I think the results are worth it.
The high resolution is achieved using DSR (Dynamic Super Resolution) supported by my NVIDIA card. It allows you to create artificial resolutions up to 4x what your monitor supports natively. ATI has a similar feature but calls it VSR (Virtual Super Resolution) instead.
I use a regular keyboard and mouse for input but if I ever get into recording EVE videos I’ll definitely get a 3D mouse for those smooth turns!
How long have you been playing EVE, and when you’re not photographing space, what’s your favourite thing to do to pass the time?
Since I started in 2015 I have always loved the exploration side of the game. Scanning, hacking and exploring sights all around New Eden and wormhole space. There are many “must see” locations for an intrepid explorer but some of my personal favorites is the New Eden gate, Molea memorial monument and of course the statue of Katie Sae, New Eden’s premier explorer.
Outside the game I enjoy spending time with my family and tinker with code based art projects, some of which are EVE related.
How have your artistic endeavours in New Eden grown over time?
It’s been a very exciting journey and I could never have imagined where things would eventually go. Starting out it was just a few pictures for my own desktop wallpaper and sharing them got double digit views at most. These days my gallery has a “background noise” of a few thousand per day and approaching 6 million total views. To me, that’s crazy.
I mention that only as a point of comparison for scale. The amount of views is not what motivates me to keep going but my love for photography and all the positive comments from people enoying the work. In the visually busy, infinitely scrolling environment of social media, you stopped to show appreciation by saying something nice. That means a lot, thank you.
I’ve received plenty of help from others promoting my work along the way. The initial catalyst moment of RocketX sharing my work got the ball rolling. I later started covering player events and game updates which I think put me on CCPs radar. The community team and others at CCP have always been generous with promoting community art. With their help I got even more momentum and then there was the huge battle of F4R2-Q. My images covering that battle got widely used by media and reached a much larger audience outside of EVE.
I continued covering more big battles and created my first EVE related code art that got prominently featured at FanFest. Doors were now opening all over and I got invited to cover tournaments, make studio art and doing some work directly with CCP.
The code art got developed some more and a new piece for EVE Vegas was very well received and raised a good amount for charity. I covered “the great fleet” which concluded the epic journey of Katia Sae, provided art for Andrew Groen’s latest book, Empires of EVE – Volume II and much more. It’s been a crazy ride.
If you had a ‘magic wand’ or ‘enchanted gavel’ and you could just make one thing true in New Eden or the game client (from an artist’s perspective), what would you change or produce?
That’s a difficult one but if I could choose just one thing it would probably be an optional “cinematic mode” post-processing shader.
Some other things I would like to see are better camera controls for cinematographers, higher resolution textures and backgrounds, abyssal evironment tech outside the abyss, fleet formations, corp/alliance skins and resolution scaling support for high quality capture.
What advice would you give to other creatives wanting to start making art from EVE?
When you have an idea and starting that new creative endeavor, one piece of advice that’s really helped me is to avoid waiting for inspiration to find you before getting started. Inspiration often lies dormant until ignited so try to get moving and it will likely join you along the way.
Try to focus on the making and let go of expectations. Have fun and play around, enjoy the process. Don’t compare your work to others and do it for you.
Lastly, keep in mind that EVE and its assets are intellectual property of CCP so if you want to sell your work for real money you’ll need to get in touch about licensing.
If you would like to connect with fellow EVE artists I recommend joining the EVE Creative group on Discord that’s hosted by Corrin Mor. It’s a great place to talk about different types of EVE art, show off your work, get commissions and more. Hope to see you there!