The Art of James Teeple

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Leicester, United Kingdom
I'm 21 / DMU Art Student / British-American.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Elements of Game Design part 2: Art Direction

Art Directors In games

What do they do?

Im an art Director [click]

An art Director for game design is responsible for a number of very important things. One being in charge of the overall look and feel of the game being produced, both in the way that the player see's and interacts with his environment and how they play the game. The term 'art director' is really just a general title for a multitude of similar job functions such as advertising, marketing, film and television, publishing and Video games.  They are also responsible for both the active and passive art in the game. This involves them working with an art team to produce the best adapted look for the game they are trying to create. The position is a relatively new one within the games industry and has evolved alongside the constantly changing industry, where once it was tasked with the producer thair role has shifted more towards managing the time efficiently and completing the game on time and on budget.

What is involved in terms of IT?
95% games these days are created exclusively using digital art, as well as designs in a 3D rendering program, or traditional 2D animation program.  Computing power makes the job of animating a character, or manipulating the camera in an environment a breeze, and scanning and rendering are done entirely with the aid of computers saving masses of time and money. An art director needs to have knowledge to understand and harness all of these elements so that they can guide the visual aspect of the game well. The all have to be able to speak the same lingo or at least understand it. Guided by the art director and their vision, the lead artist works under them to carry out that vision with the team.

Art Direction in films:
 "Art Directors act as project managers for the biggest department on any film - the art department. They facilitate the production designer's creative vision for all the locations and sets that eventually give the film its unique visual identity. Art Directors are responsible for the art department budget and schedule of work, and help the production designer to maximize the money allocated to the department. Art Directors are usually requested by the production designer, and are responsible for the assistant art director, the draughtsman (as many as 20 draughtsmen may be employed on big budget films), the art department assistant(s) while simultaneously monitoring the budget, this is highly skilled work. Many Art Directors work on television dramas and commercials, as well as on films. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home. Art Directors work on a freelance basis."

In many ways the job of an art director in the films industry is the same as in the games industry. but they have evolved for two different commercial machines and so what most significantly differs is the team behind them. Where an art director on a film may need 10 draughtsmen to plan out the scenes before they go to film, there is less of that in games. However games have to consider elements that films don't access such as player experience interacting with the environment, mood, feel, sounds and game play. In the games industry an Art director has to finely tailor those crucial threads that keep the game cohesive and smooth so the player has the best possible sensory experience.

A good recent example of a game that uses artwork as its main selling point would be Bastion. The entire game is hand painted apart from you play a 3D character from RTS point of view. Bastion has been quite successful because the game feels like it all fits. And its a joy to look at and play. The soundtrack is totally in sinc with the art of the game and the play style. And that was all carefully orchestrated by the team that worked on it. Guided by the art director and their vision, the lead artist works under them to carry out that vision with the team.

"An Art Director in Game Design works closely with all forms of art, digital, pencil, painting and sculpture, in order to be able to properly express their creative vision.  An Art Director also works closely with animators and computer programmers to express their art in a way that doesn't draw attention to the technical processes involved.  Those who love a well-sculpted game environment and want to help make their own would do well as an Art Director"

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