Discover the area ‘Concept Art’ in how it’s used for not only the games industry but for other jobs, as well as learning it’s uses and how it is done!
Concept art is one of the most important keys when designing anything for any industry ranging from a gaming studio to architecture designs. Its purpose is to allow people to sketch and plot out initial designs of a wanted product, piece or even characters. The artists then build upon their first idea by drawing other images similar to first one by possibly adding in/ taking away detail keeping in mind how they’re going to possibly re-create this later or how they’re going to show other people how to create this product, like concept artists in the games industry produce sketches for the modellers to use later in production.
The Process and Traditional
Concept art is usually started off in a traditional form using different mediums such as tonal pencils, chalk or charcoal for possibly the line art or shading; if the theme of the product was supposed to be ‘gothic’. At other points watercolours, copic markers and possibly soft pastel can be used to colour the illustration to allow other members of the team, to see what the artist sees clearly. Normally the process starts off with having a number of different sketches for one character, a few favourite sketches are picked and possibly re-drawn on a larger scale but more detail is added to them, using charcoal and tonal pencils to add the lightning and shadows around the muscle or unusual anatomy parts. Finally a design is chosen from the rest by other members of the team, for example in the games industry modellers, developers, managers, some programmers and possibly animators will choose the design between them so that the creation benefits each of them, in terms of stress and work.
Initial sketches of Amaterasu holding the Glaives and their initial sketches, Glaives are known as an ancient Japanese weapon.
Some of these are sketches of what weapons Amaterasu could be holding, in the end Clover Studios decided to use Glaives, Rosary Beads and Reflectors also known as Divine Instruments.
Coloured in concept art of the divine instruments.
Finally the complete version of the concept art where the colour, lighting and shadowing effects have been used, in this piece it shows all the different Reflectors that will appear in the game by finding/ buying them or defeating enemies.
Digital Concept Art
Recently concept artists have allowed themselves to engage in digital art rather than traditional for a few reasons. One of them being its more time efficient as in Photoshop you can create an image using layer upon layer and if there’s a mess on the shading, all that would need to be done is to go to the shading layer and clean it up without disturbing line art, basic colouring or even lighting effects. Another great thing about it is using onion skinning to re-draw a certain object again or save one piece of art as a JPEG file, then going back and erasing the layers with the design of that object and creating another design for it.
Digital concept art of Ruin from Darksiders, it seems as though they've used layers because the tack is extremely detailed and clear whilst Ruin’s body looks as though they've used various levels of the opacity to create shadows and lightning which is substitute for charcoal and tonal pencils.
This is key factor when creating concept art, the artists have to keep in mind how they’re going to represent characters through simple sketches for the other departments, keeping in mind they won’t see what the creation is like the creator will. It’s necessary to keep the line art to a minimum as possible in order for the object to seem less confusing which will lower the stress levels of modelers When coming to adding the muscle effects it can be difficult as sometimes people have to think where a ray of light is coming from like the side, the front or behind or the item could have many lumps, bumps and muscles.
For example a horse can be quite difficult when placing the shadowing or lightning; I always complete the shadows first because I can always alter them later when it comes to the lighting bearing in mind I have an idea of where my light source is coming from.
I recently created this piece on Christmas Eve 2012 in memory of my Nanna who loved Shire horses; however when I drew this Clydesdale the shadowing on the muscles where quite hard because Shire horses are quite largely built compared to a skinny Thoroughbred or Arabian.
Leading on from visualisation the artist usually has to represent their creations possibly based on the role the character, object or scene does in the game, or let the creation’s attitude shine from their appearance. It’s important when creating characters and creatures that the target audience gets an initial thought of who is what in characteristics. For example you wouldn't have a chibi dragon that was supposed to be the games main antagonist where all the evil guardians were big, gothic and bulky mythical creatures. Such things would happen in a cartoon but not a serious game.
Link is Legend Of Zelda’s protagonist and the concept art here is based off the Twilight Princess game. Without playing any Zelda games we have an idea that this character is on the good side. For example the colours aren’t dark bold colours they’re quite relaxed. Verdant could be symbolised with for yes or go because these words are usually in this colour giving us the clue yes he’s a hero, but he could be one of the main hero’s as he has the get up and ‘go’. Green could also be associated with meadows, fields and life meaning Link gives people life or gives people a better chance at living which he does. For the meadows idea you could think he lives somewhere in the countryside, possibly a farm boy or someone shoved into conflict perhaps?
In the actual Twilight Princess video game Link does start off as a teenage boy who owns a horse and helps herd up goats in a close knit village, then from out of nowhere Twilight creatures are thrown into his village where they kidnap his friends so he has to save them- ultimately causing conflict. Throughout the game he saves people and creatures throughout the whole of Hyrule.
Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess concept art of Link the main protagonist.
This is the kind of thing target audience who’ve never played this game could pick up; another representation is his clothes and their design. If we look at the chainmail that would represent someone who fights to save something like a knight of some kind, on the other hand that’s the only protection he has (besides his weapons) which could also suggest again he’s a character thrown into a war he never wished to be in because most guardians or knights in games, are piled high in heavy armor like War from Darksiders for example.
War from Darksiders
If you look closely at the leather arm guard the top half represents a heart. Hearts are known to be symbol of life, dedication or love towards someone or something. Mix that with the fact Link isn’t an adult he’s a teenager which shows he isn’t a hard, intimidating character. Again in the game Link takes care of people’s problems saving the village children, Gorons, Zora’s, Epona (in one case), Midna, Zelda and many others. Finally if you look at the initial sketches of his most used facial expressions you’ll see he’s more of a happy character than an evil one.
The other thing with communication is allowing other people in the games industry, but in different sectors, see through the artist’s eyes so they have a full acknowledged grip on the structure of the piece of art from the sketches and drawings.
Every artist develops a unique style along the way that can be associated into different groups, or they simply have a passion for certain art topics; for example one of my favorite art topics is Surrealism. Each game will have a set theme and it’s that which the concept artist has to go by.
Spyro The Dragon franchise is very well known wide world and has various sequels and prequels to the original game. One thing that separates them is the concept art’s style. Going from the first Spyro The Dragon up to Spyro The Dragon: Hero’s Tail they use a younger Spyro to gain a younger target audience rather than an adult one and even in the actual game despite the graphics not being as good as they are now, the whole theme was set for younger children/ young teens. The colours were very bold, bright and even the enemies were something simple like a Yeti or a Rhino.
Then they decided to add prequels to the actual Spyro the Dragon game by bring out Eternal Night, dawn of the dragon and such. However with this the character designs were completely different including the game play. It gave off an adult/ teenage feel as the game has grown up with many people like me so they wanted to keep that audience and succeeded.
From the picture here there’s more of a realistic style to Spyro meaning more of a realistic style for the game too (Dawn Of The Dragon), whereas the first Spyro resembles more of a cartoon so whilst young children playing Spyro at the age of 5 when it first came out they’ve grown up with the character, giving more of a profit to the gaming company all thanks to the concept artist designs.
Where Else Is Concept Art Used?
Concept art isn't just used for the media sector, let alone the gaming industry. It can be used in any job that requires an illustrated image made from scratch. Yes this happens in fashion, films, graphics, printing, modelling real life products, architecture and many more. Most of the time the art is made in a studio of some sort ready for other workers to view the art. However it’s possible in some cases that the art for maybe a game, film, fashion is exceptionally amazing and followed by many people resulting in an exhibition of that artists work which will open doors for that person because no doubt a lot of business will want the best for their company.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images; all rights go to the original artists.
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