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  • Concept Art: Are We Doing This Right?

    - Jitske Habekotte
  • Does the game industry care about concept art? The answer depends on the nuance of the question. If you're asking if the industry cares about research into the development of concept art then the short answer would be no, not really. This becomes very clear when looking into the published research on the topic, which is close to nonexistent.

    If you're asking about the process of concept art itself, however, then the answer immediately becomes a strong yes. This seems strange though, a process that is so fully embraced by more industries than just our own, relying solely on the assumption that, because it has worked so far, probably means that everything is fine.

    But what if there are faster or more effective ways to go about doing concept art and nobody knows because there is no research being done? Or what if concept art is already extremely useful in the earlier stages but they still get developed further than needed because there is no definition of 'usable' in this context?

    The research

    Time to dive deeper into the topic of concept art and specifically into the question: what is the earliest usable step in the process of 2D digital concept art creation? 

    This was the central question in the research that was done, focussing on the development process of 2D digital concept art and determining the value of a few defined steps. The steps were sketch, value sketch, initial photobash, rough shading, edited photobash, and final (mood) concept. All the steps were defined for three subjects: character, prop, and environment.

    Four game industry professionals were interviewed on their thoughts about the concept art process. Two of the participants were company owners and two were in senior art positions. One out of four worked at a large AAA-studio (500-1000 employees registered on LinkedIn) where the other three worked at smaller companies (from 1-10 employees to 10-50 employees registered on LinkedIn).

    The participants were asked about their personal opinions on concept art and the development process, specifically by defining the usability of the aforementioned steps. They also compared the three earliest steps in the process: sketch, value sketch, and initial photobash to see which one was the most useful, in their opinion, for that subject.


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