It’s harder than you think to create children’s drawings which look like the real deal. To make The Division 2’s environment as authentic as possible, the team decided to go directly to the source: their own children.
We met the “Children Art Support” team and their parents to talk about self-portraits, the challenges of children’s drawings, and being credited below your child in a AAA game title.
There is children’s laughter coming from one of the meeting rooms on the second floor of Ubisoft Massive’s studio.
Entering the room, a group of kids and their parents are making themselves comfortable in the sofa and in the arm chairs. Today, they all meet for the first time to see what they have been working on for The Division 2. The children, that is – not the parents (even though they have also had a hand on the production).
The children have all been part of the production of The Division 2 as artists for the game’s environment by doing drawings.
“Since there are a lot of children in the settlements of the world of The Division 2, we felt it made sense to incorporate kids’ drawings to show their presence in those environments. We started out doing them ourselves in the team, but it was difficult to make them look and feel real,” explains Johan Oldbring, Associate Producer, as his 4-year old son Filip climbs onto his lap.
“It’s harder than you think to draw like a child,” says Joakim Månsson, Expert Texture Artist. “We tried drawing with the ‘wrong’ hand to make it look child-like, but it never really looked like the real deal. So, we decided to go directly to the actual source instead.”
Running wild with pen and paper
The idea of bringing in their own kids to draw for the game’s environment had been discussed already during the production of The Division. Now, the idea fit perfectly for the team, and they went home and let their kids run wild with pen and paper.
“We didn’t give them any instructions – we just let them draw whatever they wanted. It’s very authentic in that sense!” says Johan Oldbring.
We didn’t give them any instructions – we just let them draw whatever they wanted. It’s very authentic in that sense!
The kids all feel excited about being part of the project and the “Child Art Support” team, and they all approached the task differently.
Cadel Miley (7 years old), Filip Oldbring (4 years old) knew both straight away what they wanted to draw (dinosaurs and colorful shapes, respectively). Juno Miley (9 years old) and Cloee Podlesnigg (8 years old) focused on cats and dogs, and Emelie Ekstrand (8 years old) drew a fish – and the solar system!
“It was so much fun doing these drawings for the game. I love games and my dream is to work in the industry just like dad,” says 8-year-old Charlie Jarnestad. His sister Alva Jarnestad, 11, nods in agreement.
“I just felt excited to be part of this. I drew myself, so now I’m really in the game which is amazing!”
“It’s truly a legacy”
To show their kids exactly what their art looks like in the game, the parents bring up the editor view of the game. In this view, you can only see the environment, no characters or game play. They jump straight into one of the settlements.
“Wow! Is this what the game looks like?” asks Charlie as the camera flies through the buildings to find the drawings.
They soon find one of 6-year-old Joel Ekstrand’s colorful drawings on the ground, mixed with some of Joakim’s art. Then they come across Alva’s self-portrait on a wall, and she immediately gets up to point it out on the screen.
“It’s so cool to see it in the game!” she exclaims with a big smile on her face.
Both the children and their parents have had fun during this experience. And their work has been noted: all the children are credited in the game – and some of them even before their parents!
“It’s truly a legacy, to have this kind of experience at their age,” says Gerard Miley, Associate Art Director.
Johan Oldbring agrees:
“My son is now a more acclaimed artist than I am – and he’s only four!”