How Space Ape creates amazing concept art for games with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Luke Kendall tells us about creating art for award-winning games – and how being able to draw wherever he wants in Photoshop on the MobileStudio Pro helps him create better artwork.

Space Ape has created some very popular games. An early title, a strategy game called Samurai Siege, made more than $20 million in just over a year, and it has been downloaded over 20 million times, while mobile strategy titles Rival Kingdoms and more recently, Transformers: Earth Wars, won Game of the Year at the TIGA Awards in 2015 and 2016 respectively. All three have been responsible for bouncing Space Ape into the big leagues of games companies.

“Space Ape has been in business for five years” says Luke, who is coming up for his one-year anniversary. “As a company we excel at making build-&-battle games.”

“I really enjoy being able to jump between different themes, different projects,” adds Luke. “One of the things I find rewarding is physically sketching out; as a concept artist it’s where I really come into my own.”

It’s apt then that Luke was one of the first artists we asked to try out the new Wacom MobileStudio Pro. This line of lightweight, powerful mobile computers is aimed at busy, on-the-go professional creators of digital content seeking the freedom to take their studio with them wherever and whenever they go.  

Designed to give artists the freedom to create anywhere, Wacom MobileStudio Pro packs a whole studio of creative tools into a screen-based tablet, with simultaneous pen and touch support - in fact it’s a true desktop replacement.

“One of the things I find most helpful with MobileStudio Pro is the fact that it allows me to go and sit on my couch where I feel relaxed,” says Luke. “I don’t have sit slouched over a computer. It allows me to just draw games designs, almost casually.”

Wacom MobileStudio Pro offers six configurations to choose from. Four 13.3-inch models combine maximum mobility with high performance and colour accuracy, and two 15.6-inch models deliver a larger work area, 4K resolution and high colour performance, as well as Nvidia Quadro graphics. The Wacom MobileStudio Pro enables you to use full Windows 10 applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator – as well as demanding 3D creative software.

Such tools are bread and butter to an artist like Luke Kendall, who recently took part in a ‘Space Ape Game Jam’ at the studio.

“One of the things we’ve been doing recently is the game jams, where we jump into little teams, and go away to spend a day and create up with an interesting product,” Luke explains.

“Being tied down to my desk isn’t great when I’ve got to do that, when I’ve got to be constantly talking to people,” he adds. “We’re quite a big studio, so it's a bit of a distance for people to go and do that. Instead it’s super handy for me to just pick up my tablet, just walk over to the product guys and just say, “what do you think of this?’.”

“There have also been plenty of times when I’ve been discussing with my art director, or producer, or someone else, and I’ll ask ‘what about this idea?’ I’ll quickly use the lasso tool and go into Photoshop, move stuff around, and have it there and there for them, when they’re still talking to me.”

“That definitely improves the speed and quality of my working process,” he adds.

Wacom has rolled out its latest pen technology with MobileStudio Pro, the Pro Pen 2. Delivering four times greater accuracy and pressure sensitivity than the previous Pro Pen, it offers an intuitive experience that is free-flowing and transcends the digital divide. Users will also discover virtually lag-free tracking which helps them find that creative feeling faster and maintain focus for longer periods of time.

“In general the Pro Pen 2 is more sensitive,” says Luke, who also uses an older Wacom Cintiq tablet display in his day to day work. “I’ve found when I’m painting or shading, or even sketching, it really helps nail down those line weights; I draw a line and it really helps me get the line that I want.”

“Just being able to quickly sketch stuff out – I normally draw without having to wait for my drawing to appear - that really, really helps,” says Luke. “It stops the ‘illusion’ from breaking, when you’re in the zone and you’re creating.”

The MobileStudio Pro builds upon the wealth of experience Wacom has had in designing tablet interfaces, with usability a top concern at all times. Thus this latest tablet studio features the customisable ExpressKeys which allow easy access to an artist’s frequently used shortcut keys. However the design of MobileStudio Pro has unique usability features all on its own

“Instead of having to use all my hotkeys I normally have on my keyboard, I can just flick an image round, and rescale it,” reveals Luke. “I really enjoyed the five touch shortcut, which allows you to switch between the Adobe Photoshop modes, so you can go between desktop view, to just the image by itself on screen so you can work on that alone.”

The Wacom MobileStudio Pro offers an etched glass surface that provides the perfect amount of resistance to recreate the familiar feel and control of pen on paper. So working on Wacom MobileStudio Pro feels totally natural, instantly.

“The MobileStudio Pro just allowed me to treat the design like it’s on a normal piece of paper and just flick it around, whereas normally I’d have to hold the spacebar down and move it around with my pen. The MobileStudio Pro really upped the engagement I have with the art that I make.”

The MobileStudio Pro is unique among Wacom’s tablet computers in that it features a world-facing 3D camera that can be used for 3D Scanning.The 3D camera is available on both models of the MobileStudio Pro 16, and on the 512GB version of the 13 inch model.

“It’s ahead of the curve,” says Luke. “It has three USB-C ports. I don’t currently have any USB-C technology, but that is excellent for stuff like how to power it, or to be able to hook it up to monitors.”

“It taps into the current generation of mobile tech,” he observes. “It builds on the fact that everyone has touchscreen phones; a lot of that heritage and knowledge is brought into this product. It’s quite seamless, in that you’re able to pick, it up, understand it and use it effectively.”

Wacom is a natural choice for artists,” he adds. “The company has really tied into the way we work as artists and is always trying to push the boundaries between technology and physical media.

“And I think that’s one of the things that’s most successful with the MobileStudio Pro,” he concludes. “ It’s a sort of harmony between the physical sketch book and the freedom that different programmes on your computer offer.”

Learn more about the Wacom MobileStudio Pro