The Arkane Arts

Written By: Erika Haase
Video Featuring: Erika Haase & Caitlin St. Angelo
Video Edited by: David Haase

Arkane Studios has been busy winning awards for Dishonored and Dishonored 2 for the past few years, but that definitely doesn’t mean they’re resting on laurels. While the Lyon, France studios were parlaying with The Outsider & plotting to take back thrones; Austin, Texas was getting lost in space. Coming May 5, 2017 is a reboot on a long-quiet IP which surprised us all with its announcement at E3 2016 – Prey. If you’ve been watching the interviews, you’ll know that PREY has been planned out to a painstaking level of weapon design, alien biology, and human psychology.

UPDATE 5/12/17: Our full review of Prey is now live, as well as a NEW neo-deco outfit photo shoot gallery & game analysis. 

If you had questioned Arkane’s commitment to authenticity before, it should have been squashed by the time the “Karanaca Needs You” events took place in the US, and the “Karnaca Supper Club” was hiding runes around London in promotion of Dishonored 2. Venues were chosen for their relationship to the game’s themes and artistic aesthetics. Actors dressed as the Duke of Karnaca, Overseers and Howlers, and yes, even aristocrats, mingled with guests while staying in pitch-perfect character.  I was lucky enough to attend one of these events as I mentioned in a previous article and received the immense honor of getting to have a drink with Creative Director of Dishonored 2 (Co-Creative Director of Dishonored) Harvey Smith. His patience in talking to fans, kind words of wisdom and guidance to an aspiring concept artist, and overall approachable nature let me see the best sides of the gaming industry – the passion and creativity that fuels an art form. Never greedy, and always excited to find new talent and inspiration.

As a result of their attention to artistic detail, the outpouring of fan art and cosplay has been immense. It’s difficult to passively play an Arkane game and not want to incorporate some part of its world into your own. As seen in the photo set below, I was inspired to create my own tribute to Dishonored shortly before the launch of the second game with a body paint version of  Emily Kaldwin’s face scarf. With the talent of my very good friend, and professional body painter, Caitlin St. Angelo, all the texture and pattern of a physical scarf was transformed into a painted design over the course of several hours (to the backdrop of many episodes of Lucifer).

Dishonored 2: Modeled By: Erika Haase

The proclaimed favorite of Creative Director, Harvey Smith
Incorporating the infamous Corvo mask was an absolute necessity to pay homage to the excellence of the first game.
The little details of this shoot were a blast. From Emily’s royal purples to the Victorian-esque jewelry w/a nautical nod
A raw shot of the paint itself with the great sense of folded fabric
These tarot cards came from the collections released as bonuses for both the first print and Game Of The Year editions of the original Dishonored
What’s a Dishonored shoot without The Outsider…POPing up. HA. HA.

But of course, the wheels of progress demand we always move on to the next project, and Arkane is making big moves. From the gritty, plague filled streets of a sort-of steam punk Victorian era Europe-esque tale of revenge and betrayal in Dishonored, we’re being launched into a different kind of void aboard the Talos I in a future replete with its own alternative history. In the world of Prey, President Kennedy survived his assassination attempt in 1963. As a result, funding for space exploration increased and advanced our progression into the stars. Now in the year 2032, we face a new threat from an alien life force known as the Typhon.

Never a studio to shirk away from stunning artistic direction, the space station Talos I is dripping with story simply by way of its construction. Started in the 1950s, and built upon in the years following, the space station has elements of art-deco but has moved forward into the modern age to incorporate technology while keeping earth-bound aspects of wealth like real wood and leather. The term floating around various interviews with creative director Raphael Colantonio, and lead designer Ricardo Bare is “neo-deco.” Much like how Dishonored told stories without any words in the way furniture was built and branded, expect Prey to complement its spoken narrative with an environment that speaks volumes of the alternative history that’s been built to support it.

Now, with the imminent arrival of Prey, I was once again inspired by the story line and design elements that have been revealed in the smallest of increments to us through social media and official trailers. What struck me most was the idea of the blackness of space being a living, seething organism. The post-its of “Not A Mimic” on objects that might just slink into an air vent as black goo when you turn your head adds to the psychological elements of possibly losing your mind. Who is main character Morgan Yu and why is he leaving notes for himself? What will the “Groundhog Day” elements shown in the reveal trailer mean for the plot? Will M.Yu succeed in keeping the shape-shifting Typhon from getting back to Earth?

I went back to Caitlin with a new request – how can we make black goo and turn me into a representation of both the alien and human aspects of Prey as revealed so far? Excited to work with both a combination of paint and texture this time with the medium of liquid latex, I once again became a canvas for my own personal tribute to the art of Arkane Studios (our background this time were several seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

It is my sincerest hope that I did the game justice, and that the creative team behind the game appreciates it.

PREY:  Modeled By: Erika Haase

This image from the trailers is what originally inspired my idea that this project could be done with body art
I wanted to capture the sense of the FPS perspective
I wanted to incorporate Morgan’s notes to him/herself in a way that suggests paranoia
Liquid latex gave such a great visceral feeling of peeling another creature off myself
Can’t let this back to Earth
I loved the tortured look of struggle this picture provided
This logo inspired Caitlin to capture the blue glow in airbrush paints
These messages to Morgan have been on the PREY Twitter account. I loved their urgent tone
Becoming one with the Typhon
I wanted to capture a transformation, willing or otherwise. The sharpness of the nails convey an aggressive nature.
I really liked the look of the message on skin. I look like I’m trying to claw out of myself
Pick your coffee mugs wisely in PREY. And your friends, for that matter

I hope you all enjoyed what we made and filmed as well, and that you’ll join me in discovering the secrets behind what really happened to Talos I on May 5, 2017 on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.

To see more of Caitlin St. Angelo’s body art work, follow her on Instagram @caitlinstangelo


Disclaimers: I was not subsidized in any way for my cosplay or kind words about Arkane Studios or any of their games. 

Photos are my own, and owned by me. If you are going to share them, please let me know & be a creative pal. Send love back to my site in the form of credit or a link. 

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