TALE TUESDAY #5 – How helpful concept arts are?

In the last Tale Tuesday, we’ve touched the topic of concept arts. Even as I said previously: “concepts were quite useful”. Today, we’ll focus on that topic more: how helpful concept arts really are? How do they shape the development? I will base of my own experience with them.

Even though I had no experience, I’ve started using concept art from the very beginning. Firstly, they were mainly in form of sketches. A lot of things were actually planned and quickly sketched on a piece of paper. That was then transformed to the actual digital elements that I’ve put together. If something was looking off or I wasn’t happy with it, I gave the concept a little remake. I kept looking at it and started making changes. Eventually, I would come around to the proper, nice solution.
Pretty much everything made in the early days had several iterations. It often took several tries to get something in the right way. Currently I am more confident about some of the designs, however they still change often. Concept arts are an important part of the development, especially of the development of the graphics and UI, and I believe that they’re really helpful, even in the early stages.

The first rule I’ve been using in that case and I’ve been using it previously with other work as well, but not in such a scale as with art. If you create something and you’re done, leave it for the rest of the day, get a proper sleep and look at it the next day. This way, whenever I looked again, I could see some crucial mistakes right away or see things that were simply putting me off. Those are some of the things you might not always see during the creation of the graphics. It is always great to try that pattern.
It works in a similar way if you have to A|B test something. It’s often good to check it out the next day, to see if your opinion didn’t change. Suprisingly, sometimes my opinion has changed – the one that seemed less interesting and fitting, was actually the one that in the end I prefered.

So how useful concept art really is?
I would say that it’s very useful and it’s good to use it from the very beginning. At different stages it might serve various purposes. At the beginning and early stages of development, it helps to shape the character of the game. No matter who are you – a designer, a writer, an artist or a developer – such concepts will help develop and shape the character of the game and the feel behind it and show what the designer had in mind while designing the game. It could help the team ‘feel’ the game and its inner characteristics. In the middle, during development, it helps shaping the actual game feel and mechanics. The end users can experience first feel and express their worries or positive reactions. They definitely help in creating the proper environment for the game idea. In the late stages, concept arts can pretty easily summarize the project’s idea, however they can also act as time capsules and remind of ideas that in the end weren’t implemented and help in searching for alternatives. Even after the development is finished, such concept art is bringing a valuable feedback and archive to the development and concept, especially those concepts that did not end up in the final product.
Nowadays, I am still using concepts a lot. They change less, as I’ve improved in designing, however they’re still important part of my work. I’d say they are essential part of the development when it comes to the graphics and user interface and experience. For anyone who starts their journey with game dev – I would highly recommend such solution with concepts. They can definitely be helpful

To be continued…

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