Welcome to our second Community Corner blog!
The Community Corner is a new blog series where we spotlight and interview individual members of the Halo community – we chat with them about the cool stuff they do, their personal history with the Halo franchise and universe, etc.
AW: Welcome Rythaze! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us in this issue of Community Corner. Introduce yourself, what do you do and where can we find you?
A: Good morning! Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be part of this Community Corner! I am Rythaze; a self-taught concept artist/illustrator. I love drawing a variety of things like my giant animal paintings, general weird/funny meme paintings, and of course sci-fi stuff like Halo.
More recently I’ve been focusing on a long term project of mine called “REPHA” which is a 90s/early 2000s inspired sci-fi universe. Halo, Solid metal gear, Jet Set Radio Future, half lifeand or Panzer Dragoonthen you might enjoy REPHA.
I’m on almost all social networks, but my main place is Twitter, @rythayze.
AW: Tell us your Halo origin story. How did it all start for you?
A: Excellent question. It was a very long time ago, I was very young (certainly too young) and I can’t remember all the exact details.
It was around 2003, and I was visiting a friend’s house for a game date. I had already played a few games, including Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, but a friend of my friend’s father had brought his Xbox with him to their apartment. With it they brought a game called Halo: Advanced Combat.
I remember watching adults play, and they were like, “Do you want to try?” Completely changed my world.
I vividly remember playing Assault on the Control Room in the tank, and I was absolutely blown away. After that I begged my parents for an Xbox with “Sonic and Halo,” And the rest is history.
AW: More to the point of what you do in the community: what is your origin story as an artist? How did it start for you and who/what were some of your main inspirations?
A: In truth, my origins as an artist began when I could hold a pencil like most children. I used to like drawing sharks and Batman, but I ended up finding Halo and Sonic. When I started to take art more seriously, I tried to learn realism by drawing wildlife.
My dad eventually bought me a Wacom Intuos 4 graphics tablet, but I didn’t really start using it until high school. That’s when my real training arc began, and I took every second of my free time from high school to finishing my engineering degree.
My biggest inspirations were the media I consumed. I really loved the art of Halo and Sonic, and the artists who made it a reality. This includes Yuji Uekawa, Naoto Oshima, Shiek Wang, Eddie Smith, Lorraine and Robert Mclees, Isaac Hannaford, Jaime Jones and of course Craig Mullins. My artistic inspirations have changed a bit over the years, and if I had to name my top three current inspirations, they would be: Craig Mullins, Yoji Shinkawa, and Eddie Smith.
AW: Your Halo the art draws from many fascinating corners of the universe, encompassing the elements of military-oriented sci-fi but also the more esoteric and mysterious aspects of the Forerunners’ own time. What makes you gravitate so strongly towards these things?
A: As far as military sci-fi goes, that might be my nostalgia for the era. The 90s and early 2000s definitely had a thing for military badass, and I’m so nostalgic for that era that my art kind of reflects that aesthetic. Because Halo already has a lot of that design trope, it’s easy for me to indulge even more in that aesthetic and my own nostalgia.
My first experiences with Halo: EC mostly marveled at the size, depth, and mystery of the Forerunner architecture left behind. the original Halo The trilogy had this unmatched balance of mystery and grandeur around the Forerunners, and I was always addicted to that kind of aesthetic.
Along with the almost cosmic horror focus of Greg Bear’s Forerunner books, it gave me hundreds of ideas that I dipped into from time to time. I love military sci-fi and advanced ancient aliens.
AW: Are there any pieces that you would say you are particularly proud of?
A: I have a few, but I’ll limit them to Halo rooms. The first one is from 2020, where I really pulled out all the tricks with this one. From the first composition sketches, to the 3D modeling, and finally to the repainting. I think they did very well, even today, and it has a good sense of the scale and the story.
This second dates from a few months ago, and it was a collaboration with the legendary Espen Olsen Sætervik. It was great fun working with him and I really like the way the piece came out.
AW: HaloThe visual identity of is such a powerful central element of the series. What are the artistic pillars that you particularly like?
A: I’m sure not many people would consider this a real art mainstay, but I personally love the 90s anime inspiration for many designs in Halo. Whether it’s the Spartans, the Marines, the Covenant, there always seems to be some visible anime inspiration from that era.
Another artistic mainstay that I appreciate is this sort of aesthetic of cassette futurism. I guess you could say it plays into the 90s anime aesthetic, but I really love that even though it’s 500 years in the future, humanity still has pretty much the same technology.
Walk us through some of your process when it comes to creating a new piece. How do you start? What music plays when your head goes into artist mode?
A: Typically, before starting a new piece, I’ll have an idea that I really want to do. The rest of the steps usually vary depending on the idea, but if I’m doing an illustration of a pre-existing character/location, I’ll compile some reference images to help me get a feel for it. Then I do small grayscale thumbnail sketches to get a better idea of how I want the composition, pose and lighting to look. Whenever I’m satisfied, I start painting on the thumbnail with the colors I want to use.
Music is very important. I don’t really have any music in my head because I have to match the song to the idea I have. If I’m painting something ambient like a Forerunner beam emitter by a beautiful lake, I might play an ambient song that helps fit the mood. If the idea is something high octane like a Spartan and Elite getting into CQC, I’m probably listening to something that fits that badass vibe.
AW: Do you have a favorite medium, either for your own work or for other artists?
A: Personally, I would like to work in all kinds of mediums. Right now I’m pretty used to digital painting, but I like the look of traditional painting, ink concepts, etc. If I had to choose one, I would say traditional ink.
AW: You’ve been creating art for a while now, so how do you think your art has changed over time?
A: It definitely got better. Several years ago I focused heavily on cartoon styles, but in recent years I have become more of a painter and draw in a more realistic style.
AW: Looking briefly beyond Halo, I’m such a fan of your “big animal” pieces – some have noted that it almost becomes your own universe. There’s something so oddly evocative about it and I’d love to hear more about your thought process around this series.
A: The thought process was simple: “What if the frog was giant?”
It is a very relaxing subject to paint. Animals are great fun to draw and it gives me the opportunity to play with huge scale and beautiful landscapes.
The addition of medieval knights made perfect sense to me, they make great scalers and provide hilarious context. It becomes my own universe, and maybe in some weird way I’ll connect it to my other universes.
AW: Do you have any words of wisdom for artists who might find their feet?
A: To any artist, whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, strive to enjoy what you’re doing.
Don’t overwork yourself, don’t always force yourself to draw things that don’t interest you, don’t worry too much about improving. First and foremost, find ways to enjoy the act of creating art!
The rest will follow later, at least in my experience.
AW: What’s your favorite? Halo game and why? And then, separately, what is your favorite official coin Halo art?
A: My favorite Halo the game often depends on the day, but it is always divided between one or the other Halo: EC Where Halo 2.
They both echo similar sentiments that I adore, so it’s really hard to choose one. Both have amazing art direction, soundtracks, and gameplay. For me, it comes down to the unparalleled atmosphere of the original Haloand the fantastic story of the Arbiter in Halo 2. Today I think I will say Halo: ECbut come back to see me tomorrow and i could tell you Halo 2.
Now my favorite Halo piece of art is trickier, it really comes down to Craig Mullins and Eddie Smith. I think today I will choose “The Chief Awakens” by Eddie Smith. Featuring incredible scale and the most perfect Mark V armor we’ve ever seen.
AW: Tell us about an interesting fact about yourself.
A: By night, I’m a goofy artist on Twitter, but by day, I’m actually an engineer! By that, I mean quarry, not those floating pink squid Huragoks (although that would have been a much more interesting fact)…
Despite my career, I always wanted to work on something Halo in an official capacity. Like a book cover or promotional art. I may not be at that level yet, but I just want to make at least one contribution to the franchise that has gotten me to where I am today, both in my career and in art.
AW: I very looking forward to the day that hopefully will come! Thank you again for giving us your time for this today, Rythaze, it was great to have you on the corner of the community! Do you have any parting words to share?
A: Thank you for! I’m honored to even be considered for this spot on the community corner! Thanks also to my followers for being epic. Thanks to Bungie for starting it all, 343i for carrying the legacy, and finally, a special thanks to my girlfriend and our cat, Bhumi.