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Daniel Lilly

Artist Statement

Have you ever seen something that captured your imagination so completely that averting your gaze felt like you were missing something vital? My work seeks to create these moments, by building worlds. To build and create moments of excitement and shared wonder. Designed for video games, each piece is hours or days of work meant to ferry players through meaningful stories that raise deeper questions about morality, humanity, and hope. My current body of work focuses around a story on the corrupting of power and the dangers of self-righteous violence.     


My work is primarily 3d and digital. Each piece starts as a basic idea; let's say I want to build a tank. I start by researching and blocking out ideas and designs. I then figure out how to fit this idea into the design language of the story I am working on (color palette, mechanics, purpose). I then create a number of plan view line drawings and then build them into CAD models in SketchUp. I then work out how the lighting and materials of the model will work in Adobe Dimension. I have a large catalogue of color palettes and textures I have curated for this purpose. Once I do a few test renders, I will figure out the best framing for each piece and render the model with those custom lightings and textures. Afterwards, I will repair or add to the renders in Photoshop.


My work is visual storytelling through world building. Currently, there is a large focus on weaponry in my work. This stems from my internal wrestlings with the idea and role of violence and my experience growing up in a warrior culture. Many of my environments are meant to wrestle with the whitewashed darkness I see in society and hypocrisy we tend to see as normal. I want to bring these things to light in ways that are challenging, but also reflect the beauty that exists between and around these realities. Humanity is incredible, even though we are messed up. There is light even in the dark, and I want to reveal both.

Each piece I build represents a step and a moment on a character's or player's journey. Something or someplace memorable that they will take with them when they leave. I believe that stories represent the truest sense of how we see the world. I want to challenge and create new narratives that push people beyond what they normally see. And most of all, I want to create spaces for anyone to come and see the beauty that exists in life, even if they have to first open their eyes to its possibility. If this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that stories remind us of the hope we have in life, even when our troubles feel insurmountable.


My name is Daniel Lilly. I am a Hard Surface Concept Artist. My desire is to build thought-provoking environments for characters to inhabit. I am inspired by settings like the Grid in Tron: Legacy or Middle Earth from Tolkien's works. If you come to me with a world or story, I can build the weapons, tools, buildings, vehicles, and the environment, and then render the works in 3D.​

I grew up traveling the world, and I am inspired by my experiences living in different places and within different cultures. The themes of space and place fill my work and ascetically, I strive to create a sense of life and atmosphere in my pieces. Whether it is an indoor space or a machine, I want it to feel like you could walk into it or up to it and be impacted by the experience. I was trained as an illustrator and I try to maintain a sense of illustration in my 3D works. My works are made under the pen name Zeroe4.

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