First, what is concept art?
Concept art as, well, a concept, is quite self-explanatory; It allows for a vision or style, to be shown on either paper, digital or another medium. There is no specific way for Concept Art to be visualised, it could be through collages and sketches on rough pieces of tissue, all the way to fully finished high definition digital paintings. It’s only purpose is to portray what the artist is thinking it will look like, even if it’s a character, scene, landscape or HUD.
There is no word definition to describe it the way I want to, but imagine this; A dark plain landscape in the middle of the night, it’s very hilly and nothing grows there apart from tainted grass, in the distance amongst the fog, makes out an eerie stone black castle, with a light on in the top window, carving out the thick cloud, like a lighthouse by the cliff-side Even without saying anything, you could probably imagine this would be for some sort of a horror or mystery game, much rather than for a happy Mario game.
I would definitely say, in my personal opinion, that the largest part of creating an atmosphere for any kind of scene, would be the lighting. The reason why I say lighting is because you could have the most colourful scenery with happy flowers and sunshine etc. but if you make the lighting quite dark and grey, it can become very eerie and creepy. Same in the reverse as well, if you have this horror scene, like a rundown Ferris wheel, and then make the lighting very bright and yellow-tinted, it becomes a bit comedic, imagine a Simon Pegg movie.
Florent Auguy. ((No Year of Publication Stated)). Character Concept. Available: https://www.videogamesartwork.com/games/beyond-two-souls/character-concept-4. Last accessed 23rd May 2020.
Character references are incredibly important in the development of a game. Not only does it visualise a character to the extent that all relevant features of the individual are clearly visible, but it also allows for efficient 3D modelling without having to explain and imagine the character every time you come back to modelling. A character reference will usually picture a fullbody of a character, with a side and back allowing for all details to be visible and used for its intended purpose; a reference for other artwork to be made of them.
Bastet. (2014). C215 artworks in the Video Game “Far Cry 4″ Ubisoft. Available: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/297448750368508146/. Last accessed 23rd May 2020.
In-Game art is incredibly self-explanatory, literally meaning art, or concept art, being shown in-game in either cutscenes, on walls, paintings or even in loading screens. It can be shown anywhere or not at all. Far Cry 4 is a prime example for video games with ‘In-Game Art’, it features a wide range of ‘Easter Eggs’ (Small references that are hidden within the game) that are shown as graffiti art of both protagonists and antagonists alike in the style of French street Artist ‘C215’. The artwork itself is beautiful, mainly being on the sides of walls or small houses, in a way to mimic a graffiti artist in the fictional world of Kyrat.
Irwyn Diaz. (2019). Bet You Can’t Name These 10 Games from Their Box Art. Available: https://twinfinite.net/2019/01/name-games-from-box-art/. Last accessed 23rd May 2020.
Video game box art is meant to capture the attention of the consumer, meaning it has to be interesting, it has to have bright colours and a solid focal point to bring in people from a busy shop floor. The box will feature the first ‘need-to-know’ before you pick up the case, meaning it will usually feature the protagonist/main character, the title, age rating and genre-through-art. This means before you even pick it up, you may be given the impression it’s a shooter that’s age 18 and older, it’s a part of the Battlefield franchise and it’s set in a specific time era, such as World War One.
As shown here, The main character is in front of a burning Zeppelin (Zeppelins ceased all use after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937), in this right hand he is holding a German Mauser C96 (In-service 1896-1961), and
in his left holds a German Stielhandgranate (Stick Grenade). In his belt is a holstered rifle and early gas mask, tied with his early 20th century-esque uniform gives the atmosphere of not just normal history, but specifically World War One history, with the title “Battlefield 1”, giving that last clue away.
So we’ve looked at Concepts as a definition, how you can define a video game scene or landscape using art, how character references and art can allow for more efficiency within the production of a video game, examples of In-Game Art and finally promotional art for video games. But why does a company go through this process of hiring multiple artists for a video game?
“At a time when technology is no longer a significant limitation, game developers often create deliberate constraints — such as limited color palettes, constrained controls, or abstract depictions — out of artistic choice to enhance the narrative and emotion conveyed.”
Chris Melissinos, CNN. (2016). Why gaming is now for adults and art lovers. Available: https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/video-games-highest-form-of-art/index.html. Last accessed 24th May 2020.
Chris Melissinos writes in his article; “ Why gaming is now for adults and art lovers ” that he views video games as potentially the highest art form, suggesting that a lot of modern games could be classed as not just play material, but actual interactive art that you can engage with and mould to your will, suggesting that the player has become “an active participant in the emergence of the form” meaning that the player him/herself, have become an artist.
Several video games in the last decade have been placed in actual art galleries, such as Jenova Chen and Thatgamecompany’s “Journey” (2012), being classed as not just a game, but an interactive artistic experience, and rightly so, the game features the most beautiful musical and digital that I have ever experienced.
Courtney Holmes. (2014). (EMOTIONALLY) MATURE GAMES: HOW JENOVA CHEN REDEFINED VIDEO GAMES. Available: https://pixelkin.org/2014/05/03/emotionally-mature-games-how-jenova-chen-redefined-vid eo-games/. Last accessed 24th May 2020.
As some video games are considered art or interactive experiences, you could see that adding more digitalised art on top of this, would create a collage of different art forms, improving on the overall piece and creating a more lasting and varied experience for the player.