There’s a new We are Vana’diel interview on the Final Fantasy XI celebratory website. However, rather than the MMO, it talks about the first Final Fantasy and its art. In it Koichi Ishii, who acted as a designer on the original Final Fantasy, said Yoshitaka Amano “was the first person that came to mind” when it came to picking out an illustrator for the game.
Here’s Ishii’s full comment on how Yoshitaka Amano influenced Final Fantasy and ended up as the series artist. He also brought up how Amano’s Maten art book affected his projects. He also mentioned how he recommended Amano to series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and the twist that came regarding it.
Back then, I wanted to create a fantasy world in digital form, and was often drawing illustrations in my notebook. With FFI too, I wanted to design a world where spirits and other supernatural beings felt close by. From that point, the visual images I had in mind were based on Mr. Amano’s illustrations.
At the time, the three illustrators whose styles were closest to my ideas of fantasy were Rodney Matthews, Greg Hildebrandt, and Mr. Amano. In particular, I considered Mr. Amano to be a leading figure in the world of Japanese fantasy illustrations, to a point where I referenced Maten to help further my imagination when working on projects for Square. That’s why Mr. Amano was the first person that came to mind when I thought about who I wanted to ask to illustrate the world of FFI. I went to Mr. Sakaguchi and passionately explained that Mr. Amano’s art was perfect for FFI, but at that point, he didn’t seem very convinced. But then about a week later, it was Mr. Sakaguchi who approached me saying, “Ishii, I found a great artist, what do you think?” and when he showed me the illustration, it turned out to be Mr. Amano’s work. (laughs)
Yoshitaka Amano also discussed working on Final Fantasy in the interview. He noted that, “For me at the time, fantasy was the theme I wanted to draw the most. I honestly didn’t know much about video games, but I wanted to try any job that led to fantasy.” Ishii also mentioned how Amano worked on the monster designs as well as concept art, illustrations, and the cover. Amano noted that usually he’d draw covers for projects first, and in the case of the first Final Fantasy that happened near the end.
Amano also talked about how his animation background helped with designs. Here’s his exact quote.
That’s where my background in animation came in handy. When it comes to animation, it’s important to design characters with silhouettes that can be recognized even from a distance. I had that in mind when designing the monsters for FFI, and it turned out to be suitable for pixel art too.
Yoshitaka Amano has been creating art for Final Fantasy games since the original, with some of his most recent designs appearing for FFXV and the series’ 35th anniversary logo.