It’s Ata again. Let’s talk about the art style this week.
If you type ‘Art Style’ into google you’ll probably read about the abstract, the figurative, and the famous art movements of the past. However, when you start digging into ‘Game Art’ you will most likely find out about stylized vs realistic games, pixel art, and cel-shading. So how are we to choose the art style of our game? And more importantly, how are we going to implement it?
When deciding on a style for a game multiple restraints surpass the ability and imagination of the team, hardware that the game is going to run on is a prime example. If the game has a low hardware budget like limited RAM, and processing power the art has to fit into these constraints no matter what. Once things like the specifications of the hardware, expectations of the user from the genre are made clear then the design process begins. The atmosphere and the narrative of the game start to take shape between the game design and art team.
A game artist’s main role is to relay information, every character design should convey the traits of the character and support the narrative arc(s), every UI element should inform the players of a gameplay element. So extracting the necessary information and direction from the producers and game designers and translating it to the artists is the main role of the art director.
The in-game design art style and art direction, like many of the other disciplines that the game design process requires, can make it or break it. Have a good idea? Pair it with bad art and you have a pretty high chance of ending up with something underwhelming for most of the players. Game art is all about consistency and fine details. Games require an immense amount of art to be made. And every piece has to work together to create a coherent whole. The first step is to establish the general feel of the game, creating concept art, thumbnails and storyboards is a must. But even before the conception stage, there is an even more crucial: the research and reference collecting stage. Once a wise man said “Nothing is original, everything is a remix” this is especially true when it comes to the entertainment industry. After all, all we read, all we watch, all we consume are embedded in our brain and once we start creating our works all we can rely on are our library of images, sounds, and ideas. The road to ‘originality’ is doing sufficient research and trying to stay away from straight out copying your reference. The research and references are the ammunition of the artist. Once the ideas start flowing and the needed reference is at hand, then the design process begins.
It takes dozens of concepts and sketches for an idea to be realized in the game design process. Here are some of the sketches that I painted to get an idea of the player’s view of the planets that they can own.
Once the design is finalized and gets the okay from our producer the refinement stage begins. I start drawing the storyboards with the concept and the flowchart that our game designer supplies me with.
After the storyboard is finished, Our UI artist starts his work on the UI, and I start on the other assets like character illustrations and background images. That, of course, is a whole process on its own, but every step that we take to come to this part makes it that much easier. Having a sketch and a storyboard to fall back onto when you are stuck is a blessing. It may take a lot of time to establish but having these guardrails is always a good idea. With the beginning and the end of our demo established it is now time to churn out as many sketches and concepts as we can and iron out the kinks to deliver solid assets and art to the screen.