Ringtail Studios’ Fundamentals of Concept Art
As the dedicated art development team in Magic Media, we’ve always emphasised the importance of concept art and a solid starting point for any piece of artwork. Often overlooked by many outside of the industry, concept art is an absolutely integral piece of work for every great character, environment, and asset you’ve enjoyed in gaming.
There is a lot of work behind great concept art and we discussed this with the fantastic artists in the Magic Media team.
Why is Concept Art Important?
If you’re uncertain and looking into the value of concept art as a process, look no further than its purpose. Why does this step exist in art development?
The concept artists on staff described the stage as a translation of ideas. Whether you’re given the brief, reference images, or descriptions of the concept, the artists are tasked with collating it and bringing it to life visually. The key question that our artists impress upon this stage is “what is being conveyed to the player?”. Concept art is the beginning, the first moment that this question is approached. As the first step, the idea is explored and the teams begin to understand an idea of what they’re working with and what is being shown to players.
Concept art isn’t just for this visual delivery, it also helps to keep the workflow balanced. The bulk of adjustments and alterations will happen in this early stage, where things are still fluid and changeable. Once the concept art is in place and it is moved on, changes become more difficult to deliver. Changing a concept is a lot easier than changing a 3D model or a nearly completed model’s animation rig. The more exploration and confirmed decisions that happen during concept art means a smoother pipeline for the rest of the art’s creation. Smoother pipeline means less time and more efficient cost.
The Core Principles of Concept Art
The Magic Media art director and our entire art team often sound like a broken record regarding fundamentals. The basics and core elements of art development help create a great artist. If you’re looking to hire an artist or art team, look at how they utilise their fundamentals.
Things like anatomy, shape, colour, perspective, rhythm, and silhouette. Concept artists are often referred to as “visual knowledge chimeras”, an incredible mixture of talent and skill. All of which is necessary to properly deliver high-quality concept art. The core principles also include things like readability, composition, and use of light. Keep an eye out for these, they will truly make your game’s visual communication standout.