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.