• Apr. 23, 2019

FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #6: Akira Oguro

The FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME is a tabletop trading card game enjoyed by players all around the world, featuring characters and monsters from the FINAL FANTASY series. Some cards are decorated with familiar art, and others with FFTCG-original illustrations!

We’ll bef showcasing these original illustrations along with artist interviews. Some of the art will even be available as wallpaper from the FF Portal App!

Interview with Akira Oguro, Plus Original Illustrations

We talked to Akira Oguro, an artist who provided illustrations of characters from FINAL FANTASY IV and FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS.

Akira Oguro
Character designer for FINAL FANTASY IV (Nintendo DS), FINAL FANTASY IV THE AFTER YEARS, and FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS. Other involvement includes titles such as FINAL FANTASY X and the Hanjuku Hero series.

―First, we’d like to learn a little bit about you. Tell us about your career so far.
Before Square Enix, I worked as a freelance animator for about ten years. After joining the company, I was tasked with the storyboard design for FINAL FANTASY X and then character design for the Hanjuku Hero series per the request of Mr. Takashi Tokita. Following that I was assigned to the FINAL FANTASY IV remake for the Nintendo DS.

―Are there any big differences between the animation and game industries?
With games, even if something is in its final stages, it may need to be redone. That never happens in the animation world. It felt odd at first, but I accepted that was the industry’s ways and became accustomed to it. Though I did find myself thinking of animation while working on games, and I ultimately decided that I wanted to go back, which is currently what I’m focused on now.

―You provided some FFIV illustrations for FFTCG. Can you tell us about the character design process for the DS version of FFIV?
I based my designs on Mr. Yoshitaka Amano’s original characters. I didn’t feel much pressure, but I did make a conscious effort to keep the nuance of Mr. Amano’s designs and his use of colors. However, his art tends to lack detail, so at times I had to fill in the blanks. I remember having an especially hard time with Zemus because no matter how much I looked at the original character design, I couldn’t make out his form. [laughs] I also went with a minimal design in order to make the modeling process easier. I spent most of my time talking to the 3-D modeling team to make sure we were on the same page. After discussing what proportions would work best, the 3-D models were then created and checked in game for balance. We made small tweaks as we repeated the process over and over. Finding the perfect balance for Kain proved difficult... Palom and Porom, on the other hand, were easy as their designs were fairly straightforward.

▲ (Left) Kain for the DS, (right) polygon model of Kain for the DS

▲ Designs of Palom and Porom for the DS

▲ Polygon models of Palom and Porom for the DS

The characters’ clothing was designed with the overall balance in mind, so they differ slightly from Mr. Amano’s designs.

―What was the concept of these pieces?
Because the request involved drawing several at once, I knew I needed to decide on a style. I used bold highlights and halftone shading, and I considered the balance of each piece when depicted in the size of an actual card. I also focused heavily on how best to showcase it as a single illustration. “With this angle and pose, this shoulder piece should be bigger.” I even purposefully changed hairstyles and other aspects of the design. It’s possible my animation experience influenced my work on these pieces.

―Moving on to FINAL FANTASY DIMENSIONS (hereafter FF DIMENSIONS), how did you go about creating the original character design?
[It wasn’t easy, as] at the beginning of the story, your party is composed of Warriors of Light and Warriors of Darkness, but party members come and go. Not only that, I had to consider the characters’ various relationships: Sol, Glaive, and Diana are childhood friends, and Dusk and Alba are twins. In that sense, the sub- and enemy characters were easier to design as I could treat them as individual characters. Having seen the art of Messrs. Akihiko Yoshida and Yusuke Naora during the development of FFX, I was able to design the characters of FF DIMENSIONS with an understanding of the FF universe and focused on incorporating the FF style.

I referenced designs from past FF games for the characters in armor. I struggled most with the android, Argy... I’m more in my element drawing humans. [laughs]

As the characters are pixelated in the game, they’re designed to be easily recognizable through elements such as statement colors. But then you have characters like Shango, the master of lightning, who was designed with so many colors that Ms. Kazuko Shibuya must have had a difficult time creating his pixelated model. [laughs]

―Alba’s style doesn’t resemble that of past FF titles. Where did you get your inspiration?

Oguro: I referenced overseas fashion shows and fashion magazines. I was inspired by designs in a fashion show for the puffy silhouette of Alba’s skirt. That’s also where I got the inspiration to paint the soles of dragoon Barbara’s heels red.

―Which character’s design is your favorite?
The master of wind, Vata. I remember completing his design without any issues. I based this character on Toyama no Kin-san,* complete with the Japanese-taste clothing decorated with leaves and flowers along with his confident pose. I think Vata even helps out the protagonists in the game [much like Kin-san who helps out the common people].
*A popular fictional character based on the historical Toyama Kagemoto, a samurai and judge magistrate of Japan during the 1800s.

―What is the concept of these illustrations?
I drew what felt familiar. Though Sarah’s pose matches her chapter art illustration, I didn’t use it as reference and merely went with what I’d remembered.

▲ (Left) FFTCG illustration, (right) original chapter art

Back then, I’d never drawn illustrations for chapter art, so it was good practice; I remember struggling with the background. I do appreciate how these illustrations give players an idea of what each chapter entails.

After submitting my pieces of the four Warriors of Light, I was asked to draw the characters bigger, as you may be able to tell from the four Warriors of Darkness in Opus VIII. [laughs] As you can tell from Diana’s cute pose, each of their poses reflects their personalities.

―Prior to the FFTCG request, have you had opportunities to draw FFIV or FF DIMENSIONS characters?
I drew FFIV characters for LORD of VERMILION once. I remember trying to make Rydia as cute as possible as per request. [laughs]

―Are there any characters or FF titles you’d like to illustrate?
I’m currently working on another request, but I find the characters I’ve designed before are the easiest to illustrate. I love the design of Leonara from FINAL FANTASY THE AFTER YEARS, and I’d love to draw her again.


―We look forward to seeing more of your illustrations! Thank you for your time!

The next interview will be with illustrator Yasuhisa Izumisawa and will feature original art from FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES: Echoes of Time. Don’t miss it!

FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #1: Toshitaka Matsuda
FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #2: Ryoma Ito
FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #3: Toshiyuki Itahana
FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #4: Roberto Ferrari
FFTCG Illustration Showcase Interview #5: Kumiko Koike

Original Artwork Wallpaper: Diana

Akira Oguro’s original illustration of Diana is now a wallpaper!

Wallpaper: Original Illustration "Diana"
Valid Until: 6.30.2019 (GMT)

Download the wallpaper on the FF Portal App!

Download the FINAL FANTASY Portal App here!

What is FFTCG?

FFTCG is a one-on-one tactical card game featuring FINAL FANTASY characters and summons. Not only is there fun in collecting cards featuring familiar faces, the main draw of the game is the simplicity of the rules combined with the complexity of the gameplay. The art drawn for the game by famed illustrators is also a popular aspect of FFTCG!

Find the store nearest you carrying FFTCG using our store locator!

Play the FFTCG tutorial:

Read the interview with the FFTCG producer here!