Project Rainfall: Artist Spotlight – Mauro Cerati

Welcome to our Artist Spotlight series at Atomhawk Canada, where we highlight one of the outstanding talents of our team contributing to the studio R&D initiative, Project Rainfall!

Today, we’re introducing you to Mauro Cerati, a Principal Concept Artist from Italy. He started at Atomhawk as a Senior Concept Artist and worked his way up into a Principal role where his skill and passion acts as a constant well of inspiration for the rest of the team.

Mauro created one of the stunning key art images used in the Project Rainfall reveal, and in this resource, we’re going to provide valuable insight into the creative thought process behind its development.

Large, complex scenes can often feel overwhelming for artists at any level, so Mauro overcomes this by creating an artistic vision for the piece, and through the utilisation of inspiration and reference, purposely starting on small, manageable elements to begin with.

When sketching and exploring ideas, Mauro strives to do this without any kind of stress. At this early but critical stage, having a relaxed and loose approach is essential for creativity and innovative ideas, resulting in higher quality ideation and options to choose from. This approach keeps art fun and helps protect against creative burnout.

Like all great artists, Mauro sees the importance of continuing to master his craft through regular learning and development, and while working on a tutorial from an artist he greatly admires, he was able to absorb new knowledge and technical skills, which in turn created a boost of inspiration that he decided to funnel into Project Rainfall.

With Project Rainfall primarily being a downtime R&D initiative in the studio, time is the most valuable resource, so it’s important the artists make the most of what is available. It’s through this lens that Mauro stresses the importance of utilising existing assets or kit bash sets to facilitate the creative process and make the development of pieces as efficient as possible. This mindset and approach allows him to pour the majority of his creative energy and time into designing and creating “hero” type assets for his scenes rather than generic elements that are not as important.

In chatting with Mauro for this piece, he described the creative process on Project Rainfall as more akin to a gardener than an architect, with this analogy showcasing two very different approaches to creative projects:

  1. A gardener starts with some small seeds and nurtures their organic growth and development until they have a beautiful garden. This approach offers flexibility and the ability to adapt to changes and new inspirations as they appear, with a great deal of value being placed on spontaneity and creative evolution.
  2. In contrast, an architect seeks to meticulously plan every detail of a project before embarking on it, ensuring every aspect is carefully considered, structured, and specified from the start. This approach emphasizes precision, control, and a very clear predetermined version in the sense you know exactly what you are trying to create.

While Mauro naturally leans into the gardener approach, his skills and experience have taught him that there is a place for both approaches at different times throughout the creative journey of a piece. By striking this balance, Mauro is able to create stunning imagery and poetic designs that really wow the audience, and it was this approach that helped Mauro create one of the first stunning key art images for Project Rainfall, as well as inspire the rest of the team in the pursuit of high-quality creativity and technical execution.