The Final Fantasy TCG has a very broad range of art styles that range from video game screengrabs to incredibly designed pieces completed in the unique styles of the artists. One such talented illustrator is Toshitaka Matsuda, who worked on the art for Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy XIII. He was also the art director for the mobile game Mobius Final Fantasy, prior to his involvement with the FF TCG.
Matsuda discovered his love for illustration when he was a young boy, doodling in newspaper margins. In high school, he honed his talent for creating realistic pieces, which he perfected when he graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts. Matsuda’s art style is very reminiscent of the Renaissance era, where those who could afford it would have their portraits painted to show them in their best light. This makes his Opus VI illustrations have a heroic and royal presence, which frames the subject with cloudy dark watercolours. Matsuda is exceptionally talented at creating stunningly detailed character portraits that really bring the characters to life.
Matsuda has worked on every set since FF TCG: Opus VI and has left his creative mark on each one. With Opus VII, the watercolour style remained but more background elements began showing up. In the ‘Bartz 7-059L’ card art, Matsuda referenced ‘makie’, which is a lacquer sprinkled with metallic powder, to give it a traditional Japanese look.
In Opus VIII, the art became more reminiscent of a comic book style with broad brushstrokes and paint splatter. Opus IX continued in a similar style, only the background was primarily coloured black beyond the initial elements behind the character. A good example of this would be ‘Wol 9-121L’.
Opus X saw a softer art style with the female characters, with lots of detail going into the facial features and hair. The background of the cards appear much blander and ‘unfinished’ looking, which strengthens the focus on the character. Opus XI and Opus XII had more stunning lifelike portraits that made good use of colour blending. Fans of the latest set, Opus XIII: Crystal Radiance, got some varied art styles, including ‘Doga 13-120H’, that had elements of smudging in it.
When asked if he enjoyed working on the art for the FF TCG, Matsuda said that it gave him “joy and freedom”, something that is more limited when it comes to working on the video game titles. Being able to inject his own style into the TCG has resulted in some seriously incredible pieces making it to print.
The work of Toshitaka Matsuda will return in the next set, Opus XIV: Crystal Abyss, which is currently slated for an August 6th release after being pushed back. Very little is known about the characters he will illustrate, or the style he will use, although one image shared by Square Enix shows one of his finished pieces. In the card, there is a realistic subject with the black and white cloudy background similar to his work on Opus VI and VII.
You can read about art in Pokemon TCG here.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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