Kim Hyung-Tae has become the most well known Korean anime artist, defining the Korean style of anime (as opposed to Japanese styles) that has influenced artists worldwide and expanded the anime style as a whole. As one of the first artists who I owned an art book by and knew by name, I feature Kim Hyung-Tae’s art work again here on Anime Clay as one of the artists I know best and admire most.
Kim Hyung-Tae’s main work is in character design, designing the characters of the Magna Carta series and the upcoming MMORPG Blade & Soul (which I would highly recommend checking out if you like Kim Hyung-Tae’s aesthetic, because it is an entire world of it with a lot of customization). His characters have a truly unique feel to them, typically having an incredible amount of detail and complexity. There is a quality to the materials and forms of his designs that feel thick and heavy to me which I can best describe as “clay-like”. This clay-like quality is perhaps most obvious in the hair of his characters, which are rich in form and smooth with a heavy liquidity.
The other quintessential aspect of Kim Hyung-Tae’s art is his extremely stylized and exaggerated anatomy. I have heard a lot of people complain about and attack the anatomy of Kim Hyung-Tae, and every time I am confused. People seem to act as if Kim Hyung-Tae is trying to be realistic, and judge his art based on how inaccurate it is to realistic anatomy. I do not understand how anyone could think that Kim Hyung-Tae was ever trying to be accurate. Furthermore, I do not understand why anyone demands realistic anatomy from any artist of the anime style — a defining part of anime is to stylize and exaggerate anatomy. Even outside of anime, artists have been distorting the human body for centuries, in sexual and non-sexual ways, at times much further than Kim Hyung-Tae. With those contradictory critics aside, I admire Kim Hyung-Tae for his extreme twist on anatomy and the balance that he has found between expressive forms and the human body with the anime style.