The Last of Us artifacts get the real-world treatment

Posted on Jul 17 2013 - 9:30pm by Tatjana Vejnovic
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© Kyle Warren

As gamers, we all wish we could jump into our televisions and experience the amazing worlds of some of the games we play. I wouldn’t mind living on the Citadel, or even taking a trip to Silent Hill. Developers across the globe put their hearts into creating intricate, detailed worlds in which we play and surrender our imaginations. Australia-resident Kyle Warren wanted to take that to the next level. Later this year, Kyle, his twin brother Matt, and brother-in-law Paris Daniell will launch their website dedicated to video game replicas.

The replicas Kyle has chosen to recreate are various artifacts Joel picks up in The Last of Us, as well as notable objects in the environment. In the gallery are Defender Soccer stickers — stickers that you’ll find in Sarah’s room at the beginning of the game. The evacuation notice pictured towards the bottom of this article is a memorable artifact you pick up in Boston. Playing The Last of Us gave Kyle a creative spark and the motivation to bring various game elements to life.

After spending days perfecting these incredible The Last of Us artifacts, he wanted to share them with us first.

What was it about The Last of Us that inspired you to create these replicas?

K: I’ve always had an interest in creating video props, and it wasn’t until after I finished The Last of Us that I got a huge creative spark. Something about the reality of the game stuck in my head, and for the next few days I found myself going over every inch of it to just try to figure out what it was that drew me to the game. I spent hours pouring over images, videos, and gameplay just soaking in the environment. I would say the overall scope and beauty of the game really drew me to pull these pages off the screen. I wanted to be in the game.

Is this the first set of replicas (or something of the similar sort) you’ve done?

K: It’s the first full set I’ve done and the most in depth. I’ve played around with the idea of a Bioshock character journal and trying to replicate posters from that game, along with physical props and models. But it wasn’t until The Last of Us that I really sat down, and knocked out full pieces.

How did you accurately recreate the designs?

K: That’s a secret!

How long did it take to make one page?

K: After I have the page template, which can range from fifteen minutes for the Draft Notice to upwards of two hours (to redesign the Stage of Infection page), I would start the aging process, which takes around 45 minutes to an hour.

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© Kyle Warren

In the photos you can see the intricacy of the aging. Was this difficult?

K: The hardest part is not knowing how the paper will react to the process. Every page comes out very different from how it starts. It’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes it’s perfect the first time, and sometimes I can take three or four goes at it before it comes out right.

You told me that The Last of Us was “a world you cannot simply escape from.” What is it about the game that grasps you?

K: I’m a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre. Movies, books, videos games. Something about reverting to a savage world is incredibly intriguing. It’s got to be that drive to survive. With The Last of Us you’re drawn in by this human element. You’re not a cyborg or some superhero. You’re just a normal person with normal problems, and on top of that you’ve got this horrible virus threatening to turn you into a walking mushroom at any minute.

You follow a believable story that carries you through a world so filled with detail you could honestly spend hours walking down the same road and still find something new. Some tiny speck of how things were before. A person’s luggage, a photo or even a soccer ball. They all tell a story, and for most people its just trash or computer generated background clutter. But for me it’s what makes the game so hauntingly beautiful.

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Kyle urban exploring–he is quite familiar with the TLOU expereience.
© Tatjana Vejnovic

The Last of Us is filled to the brim with amazing artifacts. Do you plan on making more?

K: I’ve had a few request for some of the other pages and letters you find throughout the game. I would love to take a crack at Firefly Pendants and ration cards.

Are there any other games that inspire you to give them the replica treatment? If so, what games?

K: At the moment Borderlands (1 and 2) are high on the list. Along with the Arkham Asylum series and Skyrim.

What initially inspired you to become a graphic artist?

K: Two years of my mother nagging me to go to college. Hahaha. But really, I would say my drive to make my passion a career was the doing of my 9-12 grade animation teacher (Mr. Muzzy). He really pushed me to keep going with my art, and clearly it worked because he was stuck with me for four years of high school, two classes a day.

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© Kyle Warren

What was your favorite page to make?

K: Well the page that got me started was the evac notice. That one stood out to me the most. It was simple but powerful.

Do you have anything you’d like to say to aspiring artists out there?

K: I talked to a kid the other day that had once been big into drawing. He had seen my pages and we started talking about the process and all the technical stuff. After awhile he told me he wished he could do what I’d have done. I told him he can. The hard part is never to stop. You have to start somewhere with everything. Last time I talked to him, he’s been giving it a go at some page aging himself.

Kyle can be e-mailed at: kylwarren@gmail.com

All artifacts are hand made by Kyle Warren, and all handwriting is done by Rebecca Eaton.

All photos you see here are ©Tatjana Vejnovic.

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Gamer. Photographer. Internet superhero. Commander Shepard. Specializing in urban decay photography and being a gamer since she was two, Tatjana is one unique cookie. Not only does she climb fences and risk arrest for the perfect shot, she's also convinced that she's actually Commander Shepard.

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