Sunday, 19 February 2012

Art Direction for Games

An art director is the main man. The man that controls it all, the man with the one ring to rule them all! Well…maybe not but he is the man that decides and finalizes all decisions for anything that is related to the artistic value of the game.

The general role of an art director as described by the wonderful wikipedia:
Various artists may create or develop specific parts of an art piece or scene; but it is the charge of a sole art director to supervise and unify the vision. In particular, the art director is in charge of the overall visual appearance and how it communicates visually, stimulates moods, contrasts features, and psychologically appeals to a target audience. The art director makes decisions about visual elements used, what artistic style to use, and when to use motion.’

In other words, if you have a team creating the same thing and you all hand it to him, he decides which one is going to make it and which ones are going in the shredder! If you don’t have this guy doing this job you could end up with a game that has so many mis-matched ideas and styles that it would ultimately be very confusing and un-appealing to the consumer. This man of superior thinking has to think like a consumer but also needs to think like a true director! It’s a tough job, a double edged sword, a devil and angel on your shoulder, a marmite thing…he has to be the brain to the hive. The one that knows how to get you digging in your pockets to buy his game because it’s absolutely WOW. The vision this guy needs could be said as double vision. It’s the same with any art director in any genre of commercialism. In movies he has to think that it’s visually appealing to the viewer but it’s also the right style and cut for the vision of the film. In commercials It has to be friendly to all ages but also reflect on the purpose of the ad. Art directors are needed! They are the life that is given to these worlds and objects you’re viewing!


Art direction in games vs. art direction in film. Well, I think there are very few differences between them. They both have producers and executive producers to answer to, they both have major roles in deciding what the viewer sees and also ultimately are responsible for what the viewer hates about it. The only difference I see in them is that game art directors have to work with a poly limit. The game engines and what the modellers can do with the artwork given to them where as a movie art director doesn’t have this worry. They have a much bigger poly budget that allows them to get away with more complex visuals and because it’s on a big screen you don’t have to worry about it lagging out.

To become a successful art director you need a few important skills. Number one on the list, crisis development...I mean management. Crisis Management.  Probably a very important learning step to any director. It shows the skills to work under pressure and under an extreme change.  Bill Gates himself this is an important skill to learn because without it you’re not going to be good at your job. The second on the list is leadership. You need a strong leadership skill to be able to deal with the amount of people under your belt. You need that booming voice, that sympathetic tone, that good guy boss smile! You need to be able to have the control to order your minions about! And third on the list is a keen eye for detail and stylization. You need to know your shit to make sure it all works in perfect harmony. You can’t be much else if you don’t have these. Oh, also the will to persist if you do something wrong. It’s your responsibility if shit hits the fan.

All in all an art director is a pretty cool guy and doesn't afraid of anything.

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