Posted February 15, 2018 by David Latham in Feature
 
 

An Interview with Matt Heath, Australian World of Tanks Artist


Matt Heath is a Sydney based Australian illustrator with influences from Star Wars, 2000AD, and Blizzard’s Warcraft franchise. Matt now works for ARTtitude Collective and Plan 9 Entertainment, which has led to working on the Streets of Warcraft project.

In 2017, Matt became an ambassador for the Microsoft Surface in a three-city exhibition for Just Another Agency and Wacom Australia, and continues an ambitious illustrative career into 2018 by now working with Wargaming in creating an amazing piece of artwork to celebrate the 4th anniversary of World of Tanks on consoles.

World of Tanks has come a long way since its launch on Xbox 360 in 2014, now boasting support on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC platforms. The game itself has expanded from 100 tanks, three nations and 12 maps to now include over 660 tanks, nine nations and more than 90 maps.

World of Tanks

More than 14 million players have tried World of Tanks on console, with over 10 billion shells fired across 34 million epic battles. Wargaming is celebrating the 4 year anniversary of World of Tanks by rewarding gamers that have a successful victory during the month of February with a Japanese tank, the Tier II Ashigaru Te-Ke.

Today we interviewed Matt and asked him a few questions about what it was like working with Wargaming on this anniversary. Check out our full interview below the official World of Tanks 4 Year Anniversary trailer:

 

Hi Matt, thanks for joining us today.

Thank you!

We’ve read a lot about your previous work, but where did you learn how to use Photoshop, etc? Self-taught or school?

Self-taught really, but when anyone says self-taught I think there’s just so many resources that we can learn from, studying from other artists, online tutorials, and that sort of thing. I studied briefly in a TAFE course in Sydney, but that kind of ended and then I’ve pursued it aggressively since then, getting up really early and do online tutorials and just self-perpetuated study.

There are sites that have industry professionals that do $3-4 tutorials and they’re literally in the business and you can get everything from them that they do and it’s amazing, and it’s cheap! (laughs) I’ve spent a lot of money on online tutorials, and they’re great. One half hour tutorial and you can have a whole portfolio piece out of it.

How did you get the gig with Wargaming?

I’ve got an agent in Paris who I met when I lived in Germany, and I’ve been producing art for Paris Games Week for the last couple of years and his job is to get contacts at Paris Games Week and other events, and he’s met up with the Euro end of Wargaming and set up this job with four artists and I’m really happy to be involved, it’s amazing. Each artist is chosen for their unique style which is another thing that makes me really happy that I have a style that can fit this, because it’s a great thing to be a part of.

World of Tanks Matt Heath

Operation Sea Lion was a planned invasion of the United Kingdom by the Nazi forces during World War II. How did you come about choosing it for the artwork, and in particular the location used?

It was part of the War Stories on World of Tanks and the funny thing is that things just sort of fell in to place. I’ve been listening to a pod cast on World War II and just before I got this brief, I was listening to everything about Operation Sea Lion and it just blows my mind that that’s a thing that was going to happen and just didn’t happen, and I got the brief and that’s one of the World of Tanks stories and it just seemed appropriate right there – that whole “What if” scenario in the world, things that could have happened and things turned out the way they did. I thought it was a good way to go.

I spent a lot of time looking on Google Maps trying to find an iconic building, so that’s [Big Ben] obviously the one, but there were other things to consider like I looked up the buildings around it and what else would fit in to that piece and look realistic or in perspective, but then I blew them up anyway! (laughs) But with Big Ben being the most iconic, it was a pretty easy choice. There are some cathedrals and things like that that feature in a lot of photos from that time, in The Blitz, but Big Ben was just the one.

What was the hardest part of creating this piece?

I think a couple of things, but to me I spent a lot more time than usual on the concept. Normally I like to spend an hour or two, but for this I spent an hour or two over four days just getting that concept ready and just the problem was figuring out do I have a clear winner, do I have a maybe winner, do I have a guy on a tank or do I have the British and German tank, and all those sorts of things that no one will ever see or know, but you can probably pick some certain changes up in my time-lapse but I didn’t want to – because it was such an important piece and it’s going to have such great exposure through Wargaming, I wanted to spend time painting, I didn’t want to spend time changing as I went. I spent heaps of time getting it right before-hand which is a new thing for me.

And then the other part of it is I spent a lot of time on it painting. I painted a lot slower than usual which was weird because I got the concept down (laughs) but I wanted some really tight details in there, almost photo-real but it’s all painted. I spent a lot more, maybe twice the hours that I normally would have on a painting that size – but again it’s just my newest piece and I wanted to make it really great.

What was the most enjoyable part?

I think the process, again, and the fact that it’s hard and taking a long time, that’s the enjoyment and to be honest I had to research tanks and the gun, I like learning all these things, you know, the uniforms, you can’t make it up so you have to actually find out what the outfit would have been, and all those sorts of details and then maybe push those things that you’re learning to get the artwork exactly right historically but the process of it is the best part really, and then the end result is the main thing. I spent a bit of time nail-biting because it doesn’t look very good, and then you get to a point where you’re 90% through and you think, “It’s going to be fine!” (laughs) but once it all came together it was still quite a few hours away from being finished but I knew I was on the right track and then you go, “I’ve just got to fix his belt buckle or paint the end of the gun” and a hundred of those little things then it all starts making sense to a point, and it feels really good and you know you’ve got a successful painting.

And the little hand sticking out of the tank, was that always planned in the concept?

Yeah I wanted some sort of hint of grizzly death (laughs). It’s a war painting, you know, but I don’t want to have blood and things so much in this one, you know, people are dying that’s the reality of it as well but I just thought that would be a nice little point of interest that might draw your eye to another part instead of the main hero, as I said it’s a bit grizzly but it’s not too overt, I hope.

Keeping in line with the Wargaming competition, tell us which city you would like to cruise around in a tank.

Oh fantastic. Hmm, it sounds terrible but a Cuban city would be fun! It would be a nice location where you could stick your head out the top and get some sun and I think it would be kinda nice. It just looks lovely!

What’s next for Matt Heath?

Next up is hard to say because you can’t talk about things until they’re done but hopefully I’ll get to do some more stuff with Wargaming, it has been mentioned, but at the moment I’ve got some Samurai art coming out for an unrelated project, and I’ve got some more soldier things on the way so, really vague but those are the things I’m working on, so hopefully bigger and better artworks from now on!

Thanks for your time, Matt.

Watch as Matt Heath creates this amazing masterpiece for the World of Tanks 4 year anniversary, and check out the finished artwork below:

 

World of Tanks Matt Heath Artwork

For your chance to win this amazing print, head to the official World of Tanks Console Facebook page, and follow the instructions on the pinned post. For more information on World of Tanks, head to the official website here. For further information on Matt Heath, check out his website here.


David Latham

 
David has a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) from a Group of Eight university, but only uses his very unique set of skills writing about video games. By day he's a stay-at-home dad, by night he's literally Batman. Where does he find the time?