Raid WW2: The Characters

Behind the Screens - The Making of Raid: World War II Characters

A personal story from the perspective of a lead artist that offers a glimpse into the process, passion, and perseverance involved in bringing a unique gaming experience to life

Introducing Our New Game

As the lead artist at Lion Game Lion, a subsidiary of Swedish Starbreeze Studios, I've been fortunate to embark on several remarkable projects.

My prior work includes Payday 2: The Golden Grin Casino expansion packs and The Butcher's BBQ packs. Yet, a novel adventure was soon to commence with our first standalone game title, Raid: World War II.

Raid: World War II was envisioned as a heist game set against the backdrop of World War II, with ex-soldiers from various nations banding together to plunder the treasures of the Third Reich.

While the core mechanics drew inspiration from Payday 2, we strived to elevate that framework, infusing a unique narrative and distinct characters into Raid.

This project represented a profound chapter in my professional journey.

I was given a canvas of near-unlimited freedom, allowing me to delve deep, explore new horizons, and hone various facets of my craft—from conceptual artistry, modeling, and sculpting to leadership roles like art team guidance and art direction.

Beyond the artistic realm, I also ventured into the software engineering sphere, developing tools for our art pipeline.

Despite leveraging the older Diesel engine technology, this chapter stands out as one of the pinnacles of my career. It wasn't just about the creative freedom, but also the privilege of crafting alongside a team of exceptional individuals.

Creating the Player Characters

As the lead artist, I was entrusted with creating character concepts, design, and development. My role was not just that of an artist, but also to provide a lead and vision for the team, bringing abstract ideas to tangible life.

In this mission, I found a kindred spirit in Ilija Petrusic, the esteemed creative director of Lion Game Lion. Together, we set sail on the vast sea of this ambitious project, charting our course with shared enthusiasm.

Our collaboration was more than just professional—it was a fusion of mutual respect and shared passion. Our seamless communication and unwavering commitment to our artistic vision marked our collaboration.

Together, we delved into an exhaustive process of researching, sketching, and refining the concepts for our characters.

The Concepts

After months of meticulous planning, research, and tireless effort, we successfully conceptualized our four primary characters for the Raid: WW2 game.

These characters symbolized the major powers that played pivotal roles during World War II: the Soviet Union, England, Germany, and the USA.

However, it was imperative for us to ensure that these characters were not merely digital avatars comprised of polygons and textures.

They were designed to embody so much more. Each character served as a vessel carrying a unique story, reflecting their respective nations' aspirations, struggles, and experiences. We needed to capture the diverse narratives and myriad emotions that intertwined to form the intricate mosaic of World War II.

Our process extended beyond merely creating playable characters; it was about infusing them with life and history. Every design choice, every expression, and each piece of equipment was crafted with this overarching vision in mind.


Below, the images showcase the breadth of our exploration. With the freedom I had, I experimented extensively, iterating through numerous designs and combinations. This process, both methodical and inspired, led us to capture the essence of World War II in each character. Each concept stands as a reflection of our dedication to authenticity, creativity, and the sheer joy of artistic discovery.

Modular Approach

My next challenge involved crafting a unified modular structure that would serve as the backbone for all characters. This meant ensuring that every character could share the same skeletal framework, along with interchangeable upper and lower body components.

To achieve this, I devised a body-parts sharing system that seamlessly integrated both artistic and engineering perspectives.

Throughout this process, I closely collaborated with the art and engineering teams, ensuring the system's effective integration into the game. This innovation paved the way for real-time player body part customization, amplifying the depth and immersion of the gameplay.

Our vision was clear: empower players with the ability to tailor their characters, enhancing their personal connection to the game. Furthermore, this adaptability enabled us to equip characters based on the player's chosen difficulty level, resulting in a gameplay experience that dynamically evolved in tandem with player progression.


As the lead artist, I had the privilege of closely collaborating with Davor Ladavac to craft the core player components. While I provided the overarching direction, our combined efforts brought our vision to life.

For additional elements, we engaged the expertise of Qubedoo Studio from Belgrade. The synergy was palpable; working with them was a seamless experience, ensuring a smooth production journey from start to finish.

Creating the 3D Models

After finalizing our concepts and ensuring a robust modular structure, our team embarked on the intricate journey of final character production.

This phase encapsulated a range of tasks, from detailed modeling and intricate sculpting to meticulous texturing and precise skinning.

As we shaped and refined the main characters, we undertook multiple revisions, each time edging closer to our envisioned aesthetic.

To streamline this stage, I aligned the team around the use of Substance Painter, curating a shared library of materials that became indispensable.

Additionally, I developed several tailor-made tools and plugins, transforming our art-pipeline into a powerhouse of efficiency.

When it came to modeling and sculpting, we leaned on our trusted arsenal of tools from previous projects: Foundry Modo and 3D Coat, both of which have withstood the tests of time and project demands.


The player heads for Raid: WW2 required intricate modeling and sculpting, capturing the essence of our characters through their defining features. Davor Ladavac, the talented team from Starbreeze in Stockholm, and I embarked on this detailed journey. With a blend of technical proficiency and artistic nuance, we worked harmoniously, iterating and refining to ensure each head model resonated with authenticity. This collaborative endeavor was both methodical and inspired, resulting in models that stand as reflections of our shared commitment to craftsmanship and the spirit of the game.

The player heads for Raid: WW2 required intricate modeling and sculpting, capturing the essence of our characters through their defining features. Davor Ladavac, the talented team from Starbreeze in Stockholm, and I embarked on this detailed journey.

With a blend of technical proficiency and artistic nuance, we worked harmoniously, iterating and refining to ensure each head model resonated with authenticity. This collaborative endeavor was both methodical and inspired, resulting in models that stand as reflections of our shared commitment to craftsmanship and the spirit of the game.


The first-person player hands and accessories, especially helmets, in Raid: WW2 were crafted with an unwavering commitment to realism. Every crease of the hand, every scratch on the helmets was meticulously modeled to reflect the gritty reality of war. Davor Ladavac, the adept team from Starbreeze in Stockholm, and I delved deep into this challenge.

Our aim was to achieve unparalleled detail, ensuring that players would feel an authentic connection to the virtual environment.

With a fusion of technical mastery and artistic precision, we collaborated intensely, pouring over the minutiae to ensure every aspect was perfect.

This rigorous process was underpinned by our shared dedication to capturing the true essence of wartime gear and the very hands that would have wielded weapons in the heat of battle.

The Enemies

In the realm of game design, while player characters often take center stage, the depth and richness of a game's narrative is equally shaped by its antagonists.

Crafting the enemy characters for RAID WW2 was no small endeavor. These weren't just foes to be dispatched; they were integral elements that breathed life into the game's setting and challenges. Building upon our success with the player characters, we adopted a modular approach for our enemy designs.

Similar to the player characters, this modular approach wasn't merely about interchangeable parts. It was also about scale and progression.

As players advance, the enemies they face should evolve, both in terms of challenge and aesthetics.

Therefore, our modular design for enemies wasn't just about variety; it was about creating a sense of progression and escalation.

Conceptualizing the Enemies

In my capacity as the lead artist, the task of conceptualizing the enemy characters fell largely on my shoulders. Each enemy character needed to convey a certain emotion, be it fear, respect, or even a touch of sympathy. They were not just hurdles for players to overcome but embodiments of the narrative we were trying to weave.

Teaming up with Ilija Petrusic, our esteemed creative director, our discussions often ran late into the night.

Which factions of the Third Reich should be represented? How do we ensure historical accuracy while still allowing room for creative liberty? These were questions we grappled with daily.

The process of enemy creation began with exhaustive research. We dove into archives, pored over historical documents, and even analyzed cinematic representations of World War II. Every uniform, every insignia, and every weapon was scrutinized for authenticity.

While history offered a vast array of potential enemies, we had to be selective. Deciding which ones to include wasn't merely about historical representation but also about gameplay dynamics.

Some enemies were chosen for their narrative value, others for the unique gameplay challenges they presented.


In conceptualizing the enemies for RAID WW2, distinctiveness was prioritized. I employed silhouette tests to ensure enemies were immediately recognizable from a distance, allowing for quick player reactions.

Additionally, while uniforms were designed for authenticity, unique color cues were integrated. This ensured that, even in the chaos of battle, each enemy's level and type remained clear and distinct.


For each enemy type in RAID WW2, I crafted multiple variations, exploring different aesthetics and attributes. This approach allowed us to mix and match elements, ensuring the final design was both authentic and engaging.

Through collaboration and iteration, we then selected the most fitting variation. This meticulous process ensured that every enemy not only looked the part but also seamlessly integrated into the game's overall design and mechanics.

Modeling the Antagonists

Once our concepts were set, the modeling process began in earnest. Davor Ladavac and I, with our cumulative experience and honed skills, took on this challenging task. Each enemy, from the lowest rank to the elite, was sculpted with an attention to detail that bordered on obsession.

Working in sync with the talented art team from Starbreeze in Stockholm, we ensured that the accessories and weapons each enemy wielded were not just historically accurate but also game-ready. Helmets gleamed with menace, boots trudged with weight, and every buckle and strap told a story.

The Diesel Engine Dilemma

Regrettably, we were obligated to use Starbreeze's Diesel Engine due to some business decisions. This engine, which had previously proved limiting during our work on Payday 2, threatened the production of our game. Despite exploring other engines, such as Unity, Unreal, Amazon's Lumberyard, and even considering the use of Serious Sam's Serious Engine, we ultimately needed to revert to Diesel.

We pushed the Diesel Engine to its absolute limits, but as we approached the completion of Raid, we were faced with a harsh reality. The engine had been stretched to its maximum, and its limitations were apparent both in rendering and tooling.

To mitigate this, I programmed several tools to expedite our art production, streamlining the art pipeline. Nevertheless, these improvements could not enhance the engine's rendering capabilities.

Our vision, passion, and artistry outstripped the engine's capabilities. The characters we had meticulously crafted and the experiences we had carefully curated were compromised by the limitations of our tools. It was akin to attempting to paint a masterpiece with dull tools or composing a broken instrument symphony. But we were constrained by the tools at our disposal and were determined to make the best of them.

Despite this reality, we remained undaunted. We continued to work with what we had, striving to extract every bit of potential from the Diesel Engine. We optimized, innovated, and improvised. We tirelessly fought for our vision, our art, and our game.

In the End

Raid: World War II clearly demonstrated our passion, creativity, and resilience. While the final product might not have fully captured our initial artistic vision, it was undeniably the best we could craft with the resources and tools at our disposal.

There's a bittersweet undertone in acknowledging that our ambitions sometimes surpassed our technical reach, yet this never deterred our spirit or commitment. Every challenge we faced was met with tenacity; every limitation became an opportunity to innovate.

Reflecting upon this journey, working on Raid: WW2 has become more than just a chapter in my career. It serves as a poignant reminder that true artistry isn't solely about the grandeur of our visions but our capacity to adapt, persevere, and find meaning amidst constraints.

The obstacles we encounter are not barriers but the very path itself. And even in the face of adversity, with determination and a strong spirit, we can carve out works that resonate deeply, echoing both beauty and purpose.

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.. and now that you've scrolled down here, maybe I can invite you to explore other sections of this site