The most commonly used tools for concept art in game development

The video game sector is constantly growing thanks to the continuous technological evolution that characterizes the entertainment market. New audiences, forms, and channels of play require increasingly specialized skills and professional figures. The most in-demand figures in the entertainment industry are in the arts, including 2D Artist, 3D Artist, and Concept Artist.

What is concept art and why is it important

Concept art is the visual representation of an idea. It can be applied to characters, game environments, props, vehicles, weapons, and anything else in the final product. Its purpose is to establish the building blocks of the overall artistic vision of a project before it goes into production. It serves to set the tone and convey points of reference that other team members will model during development. Concept art is not a promotional illustration used to sell a video game or the creation of amazing objects for their own sake, but a specific creative response to a design challenge.

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Depending on the size of the studio and the ongoing project, a video game can have anywhere from a few artists to thousands working on it. Defining a single shared vision ensures that all the people involved are consistently working on the same idea. Whether you’re starting a project from scratch or wanting to incorporate new ideas into existing projects, it’s important to define the look and feel of the product right away to reduce future inconsistencies.

Who is a concept artist and what does he do?

A concept artist is a designer who translates into visual form, using sketches and images, the instructions contained in a project brief or design document. In most cases, the art or creative director must provide important details contained in the brief, such as the nature and personality of the character, his or her appearance, and stylistic influences. The lead concept designer can then guide the concept artist in the right direction.

Creating concept art is an iterative process: it takes a lot of creativity and a fair amount of patience to develop the look of all those interconnected parts that in the game world allow you to support the story and art direction. As a concept artist, you will need to be able to redo the same piece of the art multiple times, accept and understand your manager’s feedback, all the way to refining and present everything with a more detailed illustration.

Before you start shaping with ink or a graphics tablet, it’s good to plan, research, and collect visual references for what you want to create. At this stage, the artist may begin to develop some preliminary ideas through small sketches made quickly: the art of sketching. In this way, you can design freely without worrying too much about the technique or the final look, putting many more ideas on paper than you could explore if you focused only on making the illustration beautiful and fun.

These sketches should be seen as guidelines that will greatly help you even in later polishing steps when you are adding color and detail to large portions of images or creating a full rendering of the design element you are working on. Once approved, concept art will be shared with modelers, animators, and designers, and can sometimes be used to convince potential investors of the game’s qualities.

Concept Artist Tools

The concept artist is an eclectic artist armed with very versatile tools. He is a professional figure who has developed artistic skills in traditional drawings, such as the study of human anatomy. He knows the theories of perspective, composition, and color. He knows how light affects surfaces and how each of these elements affects the prevailing atmosphere and emotion of a scene. Pencils and paper are still reliable allies in the design phase, but the professional is also up to date with the latest digital drawing techniques and 2D and 3D graphics processing tools.

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard when it comes to 2D graphics and is one of the best tools for photo bashing (a technique where artists mix photos and other 3D assets to redraw and compose into a new image). It boasts a large set of tools and features for photo editing and digital brush painting. Photoshop is software that can count on a large community and a significant number of plug-ins to improve productivity and save time.

Corel Painter is another digital painting program with many useful features. The tool offers hundreds of brushes and strokes from pencils and pens perfect for sketching, plus the workspace can be organized according to your needs to make your concept art process easier. For those about to take their first steps into the world of digital art, there are great free and open-source alternatives like Krita and GIMP that even support native Photoshop files.

Now you know everything about concept art and the tools that may be required for this.