Those among us who have followed the development blog may recall the time when we put out a call for artists, aptly titled, “Calling All Artists”. We didn’t specify why we were looking for artists, but in the coming weeks you’re going to see why we did and what the artists who responded created in the form of fan art.

Continuing towards Cave Story’s March 22nd (2010) launch we’re going to be showing some of this fantastic artwork and while asking these very talented artists questions about themselves and how they created these works.

Melanie Herring has the unique distinction of being the only artist who created a painting WITHOUT the main character. And even though it's not a hero piece, her love for Cave Story is still apparent simply by looking at which scene she chose to recreate. Obviously, she enjoys drawing, but she's also a big fan of steak and not much for olives. She cites Pokemon's official artist, Ken Sugimori, as her childhood inspiration mentioning that she feels he really understands the anatomy and creatures he makes. Enough about Pokemon, let's talk Melanie and Cave Story.

Where are you from?
Well, currently I'm living in Baltimore, MD. This past winter convinced me that I need to move back to California post-haste, however.

What is your day job?
Actually, it's doing freelance art for people. I feel really grateful that I can make money doing the thing I enjoy most.

How did you get involved in artwork?
I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil, really- I don't think there's ever been a point in my life where I haven't drawn.

What are your tools of the trade?
I used Photoshop CS3 for a bit, which I believe is what I used to make the piece I submitted, but now I'm using Paint Tool SAI on Windows 7. SAI is really nice because it can emulate brushstrokes and act like a real painting tool, whereas you kind of have to fake the effect in Photoshop as that program is really geared toward... well, photo manipulation.

What kind of advice can you offer someone interested in getting involved with artwork and digital media?
First off, they have to realize that if they want to be really good, it's going to take a long time. No one gets good overnight, or even in a year or two. It takes a long time to develop a personal visual language. As long as a person doesn't expect instant success, then they'll be fine. Oh, and if you already draw on paper, but don't yet use digital media-- do not expect that getting a tablet will instantly make you better! Tablets are really useful tools in digital media, but they can only do as much as the person using them can do. If you're not very good on paper, you won't be very good with a tablet. Practice is absolutely the key here.

What is your experience with Cave Story?
My husband introduced me to Cave Story some years ago. He felt like playing it, and then sent it to me as well. My first impression was awe at how well-made the game was, and then learning that it was made by a single person was quite inspiring. Also, I found the characters quite charming!

Your painting features a scene that occurs early on in the game. I'll keep it vague since it still may be a spoiler for some players, but what can you tell us about it?
Ahh... that scene was important for me to do. Right away, I knew I had to do mimigas, and then it started to become clear within a few days that I had to do the two that stuck out most to me. I wanted to pick a scene that everyone would be able to recognize after playing the game for a little bit, and I wanted something with a bit of tension. Surely, I could have picked something more action-packed and whimsical, but there's something nice about the scenes that tell a story between characters as well. There's definitely a conflict of interests here, even if the player doesn't really think about it much as he or she plays!

What were some of the other scenes that you had in mind before you started painting?
Hmm... I suppose the only other scenes I had in mind involved King and something tragic, and Quote meeting Curly Brace. I like King a lot because of how much of a brave face he put on to defend everyone. I wanted to draw Curly Brace as well because she's still rather enigmatic to me. In the end, I'm glad I went with a scene with mimigas.

How long did it take you to put together?
I can't remember by now, to be honest! At least a few hours of working.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating it?
I do have the progress saved, actually! Let me dig it up...
There's quite a big step from 05 to 06, the finished one, and that's because of how I work. The first five show the process of building contrast up. I painted on top of all of that, adding in details and correcting colors where necessary. That's actually generally how I do a lot of my paintings.

Where can people find your work?
Until I have something better, I keep my work at Deviantart.

What's your latest painting?
[This one.]

Thanks for interviewing me, I really enjoyed making the piece for the game and I can't wait to get to play it in a mere week!