Masahiro Ito is best known for his contributions to the first three Silent Hill games. Ito studied graphic design at the Tama Art University. In 1997, he joined Konami and became a part of Team Silent. He designed backgrounds for the first game, and was art director and creature designer for SH2 and SH3. His work on these games established the visual look and feel of the series. He uses SoftImage for modeling and painting textures, and all of the 3D images on his website were made with this software.
Masahiro Ito, qtd. on silenthillchronicle.cjb.net/ wrote:I saw [Jacob’s Ladder] when I was in high school and experienced terror psychologically for the first time.”
Ito has drawn inspiration from a diverse array of artists and filmmakers. One can see the inspiration of the film Jacob’s Ladder in some of the monster designs as well as the hospitals in the games. The main character, Jacob Singer, is wheeled through a nightmarish hospital, strapped to a gurney. He sees deformed humans and doctors with no eyes, as well as a lot of humanoid creatures in frames or boxes. It brings to mind several scenes in the Silent Hill games, especially the cutscene of James being wheeled on a gurney in Brookhaven. There are bloody floors littered with body parts in areas of Silent Hill 3, as well, and the subway scene is reminiscent of the film (the same stop, Bergen St., is also in the game).
Many of the monster designs look relatively human at first, but upon closer inspection, have missing or distorted features, or they move and behave in strange ways. In the Making of Silent Hill 2, Ito explained some of the inspirations behind the monsters. The Lying Figures were inspired by a friend who was walking around in a hooded sweatshirt with his hands in his pockets. Other monsters resemble humans, but with the “mannerisms and movements of a drunk person.”
The Silent Hill series is full of details that you can easily overlook the first time through, and much of the details and scenery was carefully chosen and thought out. For example, in Silent Hill 3 there are pictures of ears and mouths on the walls of the hospital and Hilltop Center. Ito explained on his messageboard that he wanted to use thes to express the Otherworld and its personality, but didn’t want to use eyes, because he didn’t use them in the Silent Hill series creature design. The ear is bloody because Alessa is angry; likewise, the red around the nurses’ mouths are to express a feeling of anger. The mouths appear to be smiling, but Ito says they really represent Alessa’s “shrieking insanity.”
You’re not friends with that Red Pyramid Thing, are you?
Pyramid Head is the most instantly-recognizable character in the series. Ito has explained some aspects of Pyramid Head’s appearance on his message board. Since Pyramid Head doesn’t have a face, he uses his hands to express himself. Silent Hill 2 was developed for the Playstation 2. Though it was much more visually detailed than the original game for Playstation, there were still some limitations to the numbers of polygons that could be used for a character or monster. Pyramid Head’s hands are gloved because it reduces the polygon count. However, it was still possible to use the hands expressively by moving his index finger. This also allows him to make pointing motions.
Pyramid Head, in Silent Hill 2, is based on the old executioners in Silent Hill, but specifically, this incarnation represents James’ guilt. “He attacks other creatures on James’ delusion.” Later, Pyramid Head kills himself, but only after James has realized his own guilt, so Pyramid Head is no longer needed.
In addition to the games, he has illustrated some Silent Hill comics for mobile phones. The first of these was Cage of Cradle in 2006. The scenario for this comic was written by Hiroyuki Owaku (the writer who co-wrote or wrote the scenarios for the first three games) and centers on Lisa Garland, the nurse that took care of Alessa from the first game. Unfortunately, this was only made available for cell phones in Japan, and has not been translated or made available elsewhere. Double Under Dusk was released the following year, also for cell phones in Japan. He has also done a variant cover for the Dying Inside #3 comic and many illustrations for the Silent Hill 1-3 novels.
In 2008, he created the comic Белый охотник for the Silent Hill: Zero soundtrack, as well as the Japanese cover for Silent Hill: Homecoming. The reasoning for Белый охотник (“White Hunter”) being in Russian was due to Ito’s interest in Russian language and culture. He wanted to “make another Pyramid Head and his world,” and he did so by making his helmet white instead of red, and naming him in Russian. He has posted additional drawings of incarnations of Pyramid Head on his website and via Twitter.
In addition to his work on Silent Hill related projects, he has also done illustrations for KIBA, a Japanese trading card game, and Metal Gear Solid 4. He has released an art book called The 2nd Wild Pig twice at Comicmarket74 in Japan.
He stated that he had been contacted to work on the Silent Hill Revelation 3D film to design characters and backgrounds, but he had to decline because of a busy work schedule. He has expressed interest in making a book of Pyramid Head art, but this may never come to fruition because of difficulties with Konami and publishing it overseas. This is also why Cage of Cradle, Double Under Dusk and his art book weren’t released anywhere but Japan. He has also stated that he will be doing the cover for the Japanese version of the upcoming Silent Hill: Downpour.