Have you ever wondered how video games come to have such stunning landscapes, realistic characters and convincing settings? It takes a village to make the masterpieces we play today. One of the most important jobs in developing those masterpieces is the concept artist. Concept artists essentially pave the way for the game we see today.
The concept art behind a game usually drives the artistic style of a game. Such unique and notable examples as Okami and Shadow of the Colossus (CA/UK) owe their artistic excellence to the careful work of expert concept artists. If you’re not familiar with the glorious work that is concept art, here’s an introduction to the various online resources at your disposal.
What Is Concept Art?
Video game concept art offers insight into the nature of a video game’s artistic direction. Concept art is an important, although undervalued, aspect of gaming. The landscape and character concept art of today becomes the in-game content of tomorrow. The very best concept art often results in the best, and most immersive, games.
For the casual gamers, video game concept art provides fun wallpaper choices and an interesting look into a game’s artistic style. For the hardcore gamer, however, concept art provides insight into the artistic and graphical scale of a game. It also narrows the envisioned play styles, game mechanics, and genre of a game into a conceivable product.
There are many types of concept art, ranging from landscape to character art. Some websites focus on character art and weapon design, while others while focus on the interior design of buildings. The excellent resources below have no particular artistic focus, but will provide you with enough images to have you ogling for days.
ArtStation is a great resource for gaming concept art, and is used by some of the greatest concept artists in the world. The selection library is staggering, and heavily game-oriented. ArtStation put a lot of effort in gathering the best quality works available online.
Renowned artists also use ArtStation to display various official works. The list is vast, and includes members like Ben Lo, concept artist for BioWare and one of the leading concept artists for the stunning Bioshock Infinite.
ArtStation’s use doesn’t stop at providing excellent graphic resources for fans and artists alike. It also provides a magazines feature dedicated to reporting advances in digital art and design. ArtStation Magazine’s content provides resources like guides, tutorials, artist profiles, and news.
They also provide job leads for artists and graphic designers, making ArtStation a useful resource for both artists and fans.
Concept Art World follows the trend of all-around concept art news and information. Along with providing training and inspiration, Concept Art World’s news category also provides a great resource for concept art surrounding recent games and movies.
Concept Art World is best used as a source of concept art news rather than an accessible library. Nevertheless, the quality of official work present on Concept Art World is stunning.
DeviantArt is perhaps the most popular artistic work platform, used by beginner artists and experts alike. Professional gaming concept artists use DeviantArt frequently to display and preserve their work. Artists like Kienan Lafferty and Alex Flores are some notable examples. If you aren’t familiar with their names, you’re surely familiar with their work on League of Legends.
Here’s another piece on DeviantArt by Blizzard artist Luke Mancini, who has worked on the Starcraft series as well as Heroes of the Storm.
The previous resources are best used for finding concept artists. Creative Uncut is better suited for finding concept art based on game categories. Although the library is somewhat limited compared to other websites, there’s no question that they are high quality works. Here an example of what you can find on Creative Uncut, from the popular Metal Gear Solid V.
In a complete turn of visual style, here’s an example from Creative Uncut’s section devoted to Overwatch.
Video Games Artwork provides just what its name suggests: High quality video game artwork. It’s a resource similar to CreativeUncut, wherein users are able to find images based on video game titles. Again, the library is limited, but they do provide several pages of graphics for most supported games.
Here’s an example of a character portrait from their Tomb Raider (2013) category.
Here’s a weapon sketch by the legendary Bethesda concept artist Adam Adamowicz for the popular game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, also present on Video Game Artwork.
PlayOverwatch.com, the official website of the popular game Overwatch, is a brilliant example of how game developers can present concept art to fans. For one, PlayOverwatch provides fans with several impressive comics ranging in character use and subject matter. The example below comes from McCree’s comic Train Hopper.
If that’s not enough, they also provide high quality concept art for every playable character. PlayOverwatch even goes a step further, providing reference kits for every character detailing character designs, color swatches, closeup details, and more. Below is a page out of Lucio’s reference kit.
Kotaku is best known for their gaming content, but they also showcase the artistic work behind many popular games as well. Their Fine Art section is best defined in their own words:
Fine Art is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios.
If a new game is coming out, you can be sure that Kotaku will display its concept art. Here’s an example of the stunning concept art they recently released for Witcher 3.
The Modern Art of Modern Gaming
Games don’t become beautiful overnight. Concept artists dedicate their time to creating the video game worlds players enjoy before the world has been built. Their designs are the backbone of the characters we’ve become so fond of today.
Concept art isn’t just a loose composition of sketches and artistic pieces. It’s the template upon which in-game worlds are created. Even if you’ve never bothered perusing a game’s concept art before, browsing these sites will definitely give you a glimpse of the masterpieces behind your favorite video games.
Are you a fan of gaming concept art? Which game’s concept art impresses you the most? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credits: Victor Maury, Ben Lo, John Sweeney, Eytan Zana via ArtStation, Sam Brown, Morgan Yon via Concept Art World, Kienan Lafferty, Luke Mancini via DeviantArt, Metal Gear Solid V, Overwatch via Creative Uncut, Tomb Raider (2013), Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim via Video Games Artwork, Train Hopper, Lucio Reference via PlayOverwatch, Witcher 3 via Kotaku