A wise man once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Concept artists understand this sentiment better than most. With full creative license, concept artists have the unique and enviable ability to make the game world match their vision of what it should be. If this concept hasn’t been fully fleshed out or has mistakes, then that’s all going to end up in the game – rendering useless the work of 3D artists, animation artists, and all those other talented professionals who worked to bring this concept to gaming life. Plarium concept artist Andrey Ivanov has been successfully tackling these challenges on a daily basis over the past four years. Let’s follow along as he takes us through a day in his shoes.
The cat prances back and forth on the bed, waking me up, bringing me out of the game I had been dreaming about. Most jobs require you to work 8 hours a day, and then you go home and forget about whatever it was you were working on. But not mine. I work in my dreams, designing game worlds and fleshing out characters. That is, until that inevitable moment when the cat comes, declaring its desire to be fed. It’s early, so I get out of my bed, heroically delivering food to the hungry feline so that my wife, Oksana, can rest. As I do so, my mind loses its trail as I attempt to grasp at the rapidly dissolving strings that, if I pull on them, will hopefully bring back that great idea I was just dreaming of.
I get out of my bed, heroically delivering food to the hungry feline…
The alarm clock goes off. I must have gone back to sleep after feeding the cat. Oh well. As far as I’m concerned, I’m already working. The alarm goes silent. Did I hit snooze? Maybe it was the cat…
Another alarm drags me out of the dream world. I look at the clock and realize that I can’t ignore this one. I’m up and out of bed.
Going through my morning routine doesn’t take much time. In twenty minutes or so Oksana and I are ready to hit the street. Since we both work at Plarium, we can spend our morning commute discussing what we’re going to be working on that day.
We generally take the metro to work, and today is no exception. A metro ride in the morning isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but I actually enjoy it. Where else would I get the opportunity to see so many potential characters in one place? Once I’ve settled on a good model, I’ll sketch them in my mind – a process that generally takes between 3-5 minutes, i.e. just enough time for the metro to arrive at my stop.
The metro: so many potential characters in one place!
The early bird catches the worm – and the salmon! I’m at the office early enough to be able to pillage through the breakfast supplies unchallenged. Today there’s salmon. Oh yes, add a cup of coffee and my brain is ready to go straight into action – no task is too difficult!
It’s time to see what’s trending at the Artstation with my fellow concept-artists. One of the most important parts of this job is keeping up with modern trends and assessing your skills against those of other artists.
Voilà! A new task has appeared! Regardless of whether I’m working on a new character for one of our existing games or a unit for a completely new project, I always start from conducting extensive research. Are there works of fiction or real-life people and events that might be associated with this character? What is my character’s trade? What makes them different from other people? Once I’ve found the answers to these questions I start drawing.
Annnnd there! Research done! Onwards, to glory! I mean, drawing. I always work through various iterations – starting with multiple silhouette sketches and gradually bringing the number down. The technique I use depends entirely on the type of project and its mood. For example, creating a new unit for Soldiers Inc. would call for photobashing. This is one of the primary techniques that we use to create realistic concept art. Doing this involves assembling and merging a lot of reference photos together in order to create a rough sketch that, when refined, will be as believable and realistic as possible.
After creating a list of sketches I go through it and pick the most promising ones to start refining. Sometimes this requires going back and starting from scratch because the refined version has turned out to be less interesting and impressive than I originally thought. Refining and finishing the concept will take another day at least.
The last thing I do before leaving work every day is uploading the results of whatever it is that I’m working on to the corresponding tasks. This is also the best time to select tasks for tomorrow so that I can do some thinking about them before going to sleep… or while sleeping, in my case. There are always various tasks waiting to be resolved – from artwork, to helping support new features in our existing games like the recent hero feature for our mobile game, Total Domination: Reborn, and of course concepts for completely new game projects. If we are not currently working on top-priority tasks, team members are given the freedom to pick their own from our task stockpile, keeping in mind those tasks’ priority levels.
Team members are given the freedom to pick their own from the task stockpile, unless there’s one top priority.
If you concentrate on a single task long enough, there’s a possibility that you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why we usually discuss our tasks within the team once the working day is over. This helps us get fresh ideas, gather advice on how to improve our techniques and performance, and further understand the context of the game that we are developing characters for.
Oksana has some more work to do, so I’m going to chill out by playing a match of Overwatch with my friends.
Okay, so it was more than one match, but I had to wait for Oksana to get her work done, so I have an excuse. This time we walk back home. We decided to walk so that I could stop along the way to take some photos of old buildings here in Kharkiv in order to update a blog I keep. Oh, and to hatch a Pokemon egg. Ah, guilty pleasures!
It’s evening, that is – time to work on a personal project for a new contest. The submission deadline is soon, so I have no time to waste. Ideas that have been bouncing around in my mind for the past few weeks have finally coalesced to form a steady vision. All that’s left now is to bring it to life.
I completely forgot about those photos that I took on the way home. My wife is already sleeping, so I sneak back to get my phone and cables. There, uploaded! My Old Kharkiv blog has finally gotten that update I’ve been meaning to get around to!
What time is it…? Oh, shoot! Better get to sleep. If I stay up much longer, no force on Earth will manage to pry me off the bed tomorrow.
Original article: www.gamesauce.biz.