Sketches from Final Fantasy, Inspired by Amano’s “The Sky”
A few weeks ago, Amazon had a really great deal going; sign up for an Audible (audio book) trial, and get a free hardcover book. After browsing a bit, I found this book called The Sky by Yoshitaka Amano. This is a re-release of a limited edition set, containing three hardcover art books with concept art, character designs, and other illustrations by Amano. For fans of classic video games, he’s pretty influential even if you don’t know him by name. Amano worked for Square (now known as Square Enix), and was the main character, image, and graphic designer for the Final Fantasy series from the first game until the sixth. His illustrations are fairly iconic in my opinion, and this book set is really incredible. I liked it so much, it got me in the mood to do some sketches based on his work from the books.
I’ve included my sketches below, but first I have to say a few things about Final Fantasy. The original game came out in North America in 1990 for the classic Nintendo (NES), I was nine years old and totally obsessed with this game. I subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine back then, and couldn’t get enough news about it. I received the game from my parents for Christmas that year, and I don’t think I’ve ever received a present that made me as excited as Final Fantasy did.
Final Fantasy on the NES was a completely new experience for me. Prior to it, I’d really only played Super Mario Bros and a few arcade games; the RPG experience was totally foreign, and absolutely loved it. In 1991, the next Final Fantasy came to the U.S., this time on Nintendo’s new console the SNES. While it was Final Fantasy II here, it was actually the fourth game in Japan. This sequel was a revelation; the original game didn’t have much of a story other than “take your four heroes and defeat evil.” Final Fantasy II though had an epic plot involving betrayal, loss, friendship, redemption, and family; it even took you to the freaking moon at the end!
The next sequel I would see came out in 1994 (the sixth game in Japan by now), and took the concepts from the previous game and expanded them greatly. This game seemed more epic than movies to me at the time, and even took the player through the end of the world. Also, I still think the game’s main villain Kefka is one of the all-time great antagonists in games, especially compared to others from that era. To this day, Final Fantasy III (or VI if you go by the Japanese series) remains one of my favorite games of all time; I think this is true for many video game fans who grew up around the same time.
Inspired by Yoshitaka Amano, I drew sketches of some of my favorite characters and scenes in his book. I’m also going to include some animations from the original games, in case some readers aren’t really familiar with them.
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Gah! Your rendition of Kain gave me chills. Great job on the helmet! Rydia is also really well done, the proportions are excellent.
I played four forever ago on GBA as my first FF, so I’m partial to four’s cast. Also really fond of ten, twelve, nine, and seven (even though I have yet to beat it lol).
Thanks man! I tried to make sure Kain looked especially grim, what with all his backstabbing and betrayals. Definitely have to give credit to Amano though for his original concept art. All of these are based on his ideas for these characters. The guy was a genius when it comes to interesting designs.
You pretty much listed most of my favorite Final Fantasy games, too. I actually just started playing that new remake of Final Fantasy XII on Steam; it’s fantastic. I had forgotten how good that one was. Have you played Final Fantasy VI? If not, I highly recommend it! It’s one of my favorites of all time, right at the top with Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana.
You’re right about FF IV’s cast though, they are really memorable. That was the first game that I remember having an epic, movie-like story
I have six, but haven’t got around to really giving it a fair go yet. I really want to, especially since Kefka’s supposed to be one of the best villain’s of all time.
But yeah, that game got me into RPG’s as a kid. The characters are amazing and the world is so engaging.
Oh yeah, Kefka is a classic. He’s such an unhinged villain. I can’t recall another so psychopathic in the SNES era
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After thinking a bit more about Edgar and Sabin from Final Fantasy III (VI), I realized I made a mistake…I may leave the post as-is, but I’ll correct myself with some details here. I initially said, “Figaro is destroyed by the main villain” because I was remembering Edgar leaving and the castle on fire. Actually though, the castle survived! It was technologically sophisticated, and the entire thing tunneled underground into the desert. So, Edgar did escape at that time, but he later went back. Because the castle was underground, I believe it even survived the cataclysm towards the end of the game.
Also, something I forgot about Edgar and Sabin is that they were supposed to rule Figaro together, but Sabin didn’t like everyone’s fixation with who would be king. He wanted to leave, so Edgar proposed a coin flip to decide who would leave. Edgar rigged it with a double-headed coin to ensure Sabin would be able to leave freely.
More details can be found here: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Figaro_Castle. It just goes to show the detailed and compelling story in these games, which was sort of unusual in the early 90s.