Julian del Rey has been working as a senior concept artist for the last 2 years, but he joined Social Point four years ago. During his career in our company, he has been involved in all projects. Nowadays he’s more focused in concept art for new IPs and prototypes and he wants to share with you the philosophy behind the concept art world.
What is concept art?
The answer to this question seems easy, doesn’t it? It’s super polished art used to promote forthcoming games, right? We are sorry but if you think that, you are wrong! The main goal of concept art is to convey a visual representation of a design, an idea to be used in video games, animation, etc., before it is put into the final product.
We live in a digital era, visually speaking, we mean that there are lots of ways of representing an idea, almost everything is possible, as our imagination is infinite. This has pros and cons, as there are infinite chances outside and many ways to represent the same idea; there are also infinite possibilities of error. That’s why concepts are so important; they are an easy way to align perspectives, not only between the product owner and the artists who are producing the assets, but also between all of the team involved in the production of a game: game designers, animators, 3D artists, among others. Thanks to the concepts, we can easily make infinite changes to prevent mistakes of misunderstanding, and we can align perspectives from the beginning to avoid unnecessary iterations.
Character exploration for Monster Legends
Asset exploration for Magic altar
In order to create successful video games, all members of the team need to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Concept art is key to focusing on that single artistic vision and to iron out any visual kinks that could be problematic down the line. The process behind the creation of an asset can be summed up in three steps:
- Briefing: First need request by the product department. It consists on general ideas E.g. what kind of environment or character we need for the game.
- Concept: It’s the idea turned into a visual design that can be modified several times depending on the needs of the project.
- Final design: After all the iterations we achieve a final design that fits the most in the style of the game.
Workflow for a creation of a character
Concept art can range from an ethereal mood e.g. funny, gothic, dark-medieval styles, etc., to a more detailed prop or character, for example. But crucially, it’s not just the art itself that is important. The most important thing is to capture the idea and be able to transmit it to the person responsible for its development.
That is why in some art books you can find just a few very detailed images or thousands of simple images that seem unfinished. They are all part of the process, even the “ugly” ones, because concept art is an iterative process. The key is to check each of them with the team to make sure that they are aligned in every step of the creation and design of an asset.
Different archetypes of characters
We have very talented artists at Social Point who can deliver art for our games fast, with good quality and with functionality. We understand the needs of every project and we work hard to transform those needs into something visual that besides being appealing, visually speaking, is the perfect support to the gameplay. The aim is to create playable and appealing games that entertain our users.
Concept art is not illustration
Concept art and illustration are not the same thing. The quality and techniques of both are closer than ever and there is a considerable overlap, but they have one intrinsic difference. That difference is represented by the word ‘concept’.
The purpose of the concept artist is to explore ideas quickly and communicate them as effectively as possible. The role of the illustrator is to create highly polished artwork.
As a concept artist you have to be versatile to adapt yourself to fit the style of the project and also agile to deliver quick functional ideas.
Modelsheet of character ready for 3D artist and colour version for texturer artist
The process behind a concept
Every day it’s becoming more and more important in our projects to iterate ideas in an efficient way at both the design and the visual level. We take time to think up ideas that work. Moreover, concept artists have more time to test and propose ideas and it affects the final result.
When the project is in the prototype stage, for me personally, this is the most fun and the stage when the most creative and mental input is required due to the iterations. It’s hard but enjoyable and rewarding. Especially when you get a final result that makes the whole team satisfied and then it is translated into the game and is well received by the public.
“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Workshops and in-house training
One of the most valuable advantages that we have at Social Point is the in-house training. We are surrounded by artists with different skills and diverse points of view that enrich our work and results. You can always learn from colleagues and accept their opinion and constructive criticism with a humble attitude.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop about “Fundamentals and Character Design” where I shared the basics so that the participants could apply the techniques to all types of styles and projects. It was a really gratifying experience as my colleagues were a fantastic audience. I hope that they can also share their knowledge with all of us in the future. We have a lot of talent and it’s worth sharing it to make the most of it!
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
By: Julián del Rey
Senior concept artist