There is no better reward for a skinmaker than getting into a CS:GO case. And debuts are especially emotional.
CS.MONEY Blog spoke with Kattys, the creator of Negev Drop Me from Recoil Case. Almost two years of painstaking self-improvement led to Valve finally accepting her work into the game. In this interview, Kattys talks about where she draws inspiration from, names some of her favourite skins, shares her story, and states that skinmaking is available to everyone; you just need to dedicate yourself.
Hobby Into Job
How long have you been doing skins, and what inspired you to start?
For almost two years. I’ve always wanted to create stuff, and a couple of years ago my boyfriend introduced me to the Steam Workshop. It caught my interest, so I began to study it intensively, and read a lot of information and a couple of interviews on the topic. It inspired and intrigued me a lot. And I decided to try.
Do you have special education? Design or 3D modelling?
No, neither one nor the other. I learned everything from scratch myself.
Of course, it’s better when you have some experience since it’s easier to merge into skinmaking. But nothing is impossible. You can learn from zero knowledge easily. Even creating art. I remember taking a tablet for the first time, and nothing worked. But after a month of daily hour-ish drawings, I realised I was good.
Does your bf help you much? Like, you draw, he bakes?
No, not really. I do all this myself. My bf brought me to this profession, and somehow it turned out that I mostly consult with him, but there is no such thing that we do full-fledged work together. This is basically my field of activity, he has his job.
He only helps with posting things on the Workshop page. Because when I started it all, he said he would help me with it. And continues to do so.
It turns out that a hobby turned into a job.
Yes. Because for almost two years, I was doing this without any income at all. It’s just really a hobby.
What you felt when Valve announced the Recoil Case?
I had a lot of dreams about how they take us into a case [laughs]. And when it happened, I was also afraid that this was a dream. It was incredibly emotional, and I can’t describe it. First, you have jitters, and shaking. People congratulate you, but you don’t believe it even a month after you were accepted.
On Negev Drop Me
Please, tell about the main character, your Negev, originally called “Clear Sky”.
I really like the post-apocalyptic theme. And I love it when a weapon has a history: you take it in your hands, but it is not so clean and perfect, there is something behind it. Speaking of my Negev, it just happened like this: I watched Chernobyl: Zone of Exclusion, a TV series, and my inspiration came from there. Clear Sky is a reference to Chornobyl.
Isn’t this a reference to the STALKER game?
No, not at all! I have never even played STALKER. That’s interesting. But I was inspired by the TV-series. I believe this is exactly how a machine gun should be: worn, shabby, and looking as if it has been used for suppressive fire and in difficult military conditions. I wanted to do something like this.
Are those sunflowers on it?
Yes, withered sunflowers. After the explosion at Chornobyl, all fauna, animals, and everything nearby died out. That was the idea.
How long ago did you create it, and when did Valve accept it?
Two months after I first published it.
How do you take community criticism?
I don’t remember any bad reviews. Some people write “it’s bad skin” or something like that, but I don’t pay attention to it. On the contrary, it motivates me to improve my skin next time. We watched a case-opening video, and a well-known blogger dropped our Negev. He sees it, inspects it, says, “ah, shit,” and closes it. My bf and I looked at each other and laughed. Then we watched it ten more times and laughed again. No hard feelings, no bad emotions. It’s cool to listen to every opinion: a lot of people said that we deserved it, and many said that the skin is bad. In general, on the contrary, it is cool that people speak honestly. It’s better than talking bad things behind our backs.
Other skins & Inspirations
You have other unreleased skins, right?
Yes, and a lot. I try to make skins according to my mood; I choose in what style to do only in this way. And Valve liked this one, so, okay.
And you do a lot for Rust, right? Did you start with it?
On the contrary, I started in CS, and Valve kept silent for a long time. I waited and waited and decided that while there was no news, I would do another game.
Is there any difference?
In my experience, Rust needs 3D modelers, while CS is more about 2D. But I will still continue to make skins there, and I will try to combine them.
Hexeth suggested in a recent interview that those who make skins in CS don’t get into Rust, and vice versa. Do you agree?
No. I also talked about this with him. And right after our conversation, I browsed accepted authors and looked at what they were doing to get into cases. For example, cimota. I saw that he had recently commissioned a whole set to Rust. The theory may be working, but I can’t say 100% that it is true. There is no point in panicking. If there’s a person accepted both in CS and Rust, there is no point in panicking.
So you use emotions as a creative generator to make skins, right?
Actually, probably … I just imagine things. It’s not like I, for example, watch a movie and immediately see how I can make a skin. I may like some artists and want to do something in a similar style. Only on a skin and show my idea. Sometimes I scroll through Pinterest, find something, and think about how I can do that better.
Duckface AWP and Restoraion series
There’s a funny AWP skin with a duck in your Workshop. Tell me about it.
I like it a lot too! Somehow it happened that I just wanted to do something with an AWP. I thought: “Maybe if I do something for a serious weapon, Valve will notice me; who knows.” I didn’t have any ideas. I was browsing the internet and came across those rubber ducks. And one had a helmet with a propeller that looked like an 8-ball. And for some reason, I thought such a duck would look cool for a prolonged weapon, and the propeller would fit on sight from above. And I felt that it should be implemented. I drew it, and I really liked it. I was pleasantly surprised: you work, see that it goes well, and you get this itchy feeling inside, and you want to put it into the game as soon as possible. It would be really cool if it was accepted. But I’m looking forward to my other collection.
“Restoration”. Here, I have a CT made from newspapers, and he has a phone wheel instead of a gas mask. Like before, I got inspired while scrolling through Pinterest and saw how artists make collages. I also decided to make a collage of newspapers, I thought it would be cool. I added little painters like they’re restoring an old weapon you can restore with your hands.
It turns out that “Restoration” has an idea, but the duck’s case is just utterly eye-pleasing [laughs]. Making weapons people would like to take into their hands is crucial.
This skin was more difficult than any other. It took about two weeks to do the first weapon, but a little easier for the rest. Still, when I did the last one, although I liked the collection, I was pushing myself hard to finish the job. I barely did it. I thought I wouldn’t even post it. But it turned out that the community, on the contrary, appreciated this skin the most. The last was the AUG, and the first was the P90.
These two weapons are good for drawing because they are like a canvas and there is room to work with, which is very nice. On other guns, it is difficult to apply a pattern so that it has synergy.
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Art or Job? What about stickers?
How can one choose between creativity and the desire to meet the audience’s needs?
There’s no way! When you make skins for a long time, you can no longer look through the eyes of the consumer. You try to do things perfectly, but the consumer will still want a weapon that was made in Photoshop and it took five minutes.
So what can we do with it?
Of course, when you realize that you spent two weeks on a skin, for example, and then Valve accepts something done in half an hour, your ambitions hit you very hard. You feel unfair. But you need to understand that the author can no longer look through the eyes of the consumer. For example, you spend time making a metal texture, a lot of time. But the players do not need your metal! You can spend a week on this; only the drawing is important for the players. They don’t care how detailed your metal is.
Don’t you care, for example, that your skin will be covered with stickers?
No. Moreover, I never thought about it until you said it. And now I’m thinking … and I don’t care at all. So just feel free to run around with weapons and sticker them with whatever they want.
Look, we are skinmakers, we create art. But maybe other people also want to create art and express themselves in some way. With skins. But they don’t know how to do it. So they take weapons and apply stickers. So they have to come up with something of their own. It’s cool as well.
Favourite skins, thematic cases, and haters
Can you name your favourite CS:GO skins?
I really like Blazer’s AWP Neo-Noir: The colour scheme, the art style, and it looks really cool in the game. Even if I play with an AWP, I can get distracted and start inspecting it. I don’t have it, though. But I have a USP-S Neo-Noir!
I also really like the AK-47 Wasteland Rebel. People have to learn how to do skins from this one. M4A1-S Player Two is also great, from kadzor. He has cool drawings and colour schemes, and you want to spend time browsing them. Five-SeveN Buddy is also cool, it has a CT character on the back; there’s also a cool Tec-9 in a similar style but with a T depicted. And I like R8 Revolver Skull Crusher. This should also be an example for artists. There is also AK-47 Neon Revolution, a colourful one: it has CS:GO material, but the skin looks like it was sprayed with colours, and it turned out very cool.
If we talk about Valve’s competition for Dreams & Nightmares, I liked FAMAS Rapid Eye Movement. The eyes are decently rendered there as if you are looking into the abyss, drowning, and it’s mesmerising.
In general, do you like the idea of thematic cases? What topic would you like to see?
Probably cyberpunk. Or post-apocalypse. This is very cool for those who know how to work with it, because this style is heavy and few people manage, so there will be a small number of competitors. It would be amazing. But cyberpunk would be better; CS only has a few of these skins. Maybe Valve doesn’t like it, but I’m eager to see more of them in the game.
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