XieAngel is a Brazilian 3D graphic artist who started making very simple 3D art with ‘Garry’s Mod’ for Valve’s Source engine at the age of 9, posing models and setting up scenes in different environments to tell stories. As she grew more familiar with Valve’s videogames, it was natural for her to try Source Filmmaker (SFM) as soon as it was released, which rapidly became the main tool she used for making art. She perceives SFM as an old programme running on an outdated engine. This has forced her and other users to find work arounds to improve the quality of the works, and to a certain extent, adopt modern techniques and technologies.
The software was released with the assets of Team Fortress 2 (2007), but users were also able to import objects and characters from other games. Always using the same programme, XieAngel has experimented with different games, although she has felt a special connection with Faith Connors, the protagonist of Mirror’s Edge (2008) and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (2016), who is often present in her artwork. Pieces such as Mirror (2017), Untitled 3 (2017) and Every Side of You (2018) are all examples featuring this character. More recently, XieAngel has started to use additional software such as Photoshop for post-editing, and Blender for 3D modelling and importing new assets into SFM, which has significantly improved her storytelling opportunities.
Her artworks are generally composed in a layout of single or double panels with no speech bubbles, just displaying a short story, intimate moments and subtle actions containing sparkles of emotions and narrative represented through powerful scenes:
The stories XieAngel tells are based on her own experiences, thoughts, fears and desires, always buried under a thick layer of metaphors and analogies.
Nevertheless, she has found limitations on using videogames to create her pieces, as these come with their own characters, stories and worlds: ‘even if you project yourself onto a pretty blank-slate character, you still need to follow the rules of the world’. For her, these rules place some boundaries on storytelling, but this is not always negative, as it encourages creativity.
Dance with me, my dear
Every Side of You
Mirror's Edge Catalyst and images of it are licensed property of Electronic Arts, Inc. Batman Arkham Knight © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Source Filmmaker is used with permission of Valve Corp. © 2007-2021 Valve Corp.