Concept Art in Video Games

With the development of video games as a valid form of entertainment alongside literature, music and cinema, more and more people are tempted to pursue a career in this fast-growing industry. Young people who have the skills and talent to draw are turning to so-called concept art. In short, concept art is the process of visually designing everything the player will see in a given title: the characters, the environment, the colors, the mood, the style. In the following lines, we will pay more serious attention to this very important element of game development.

 What is conceptual art?

Concept art can be briefly described as a visual representation of a character, place, or object that will eventually be used in a game. It is among the first steps in creating a title. Usually, the studio has a few ideas of what the character or environment should look like. When artists visualize them through concept art, the team can more easily choose the best one. The main advantage and purpose of such designs is that they serve as a vital step between a game idea and its final design.

 “A picture paints a thousand words” – How to create concept art for a video game

Creating concept art is an early stage activity in the development of a video game. It aims to “clothe” the ideas and goes through several stages.

  1. The studio either accepts an order for a video game or decides to create its own.
  2. The idea of the game is formulated and key elements such as characters, weapons, etc. are ready for prototyping.
  3. The concept artist is tasked with visualizing the elements against some basic or more detailed requirements.
  4. The artist creates a few quick little sketches that will later be enlarged and improved.
  5. The artist prepares one or, if necessary, more versions of the concept art before the final version is completed and submitted for review.

The sketches can be drawn on paper or digitally, using the appropriate software. The most commonly used programs for creating concept art are Corel Painter, Adobe Photoshop CC, Autodesk Sketchbook, Krita and GIPM.

 The main types of concept art in video games fall into two categories.


  • Character
  • Item
  • Location/Environment
  • A weapon
  • Visual effect

By form:

  • Sketch
  • Drawing
  • Digital picture
  • Render

What is the role of the concept artist?

The concept artist is involved in the initial stages of the creation of the video game. Along with the art director, game designer and scriptwriters, he builds the foundations of the game, being responsible for its overall style. He is the first to flesh out the environment, characters, enemies, props, etc. His sketches help 3D artists, programmers and producers understand how the game will look. The role of the concept artist can vary from company to company. Big studios have entire teams of 3D artists and level designers working on the designs that concept artists prepare. In small studios, it is possible for only one person to take care of the concept art.

 When a concept artist tackles character and environment design, it’s important to look for answers to the who, where, and why questions. So, for example, when creating the character, it is necessary to know where he comes from, what he does and how he can achieve what he wants. The same applies to the objects – how they will be seen in the game – close-up, at a certain angle or from afar. Even when it comes to a simple chair, the concept artist must consider the environment, the era, and a number of other factors.

 What qualities does a conceptual artist possess?

A good concept artist has creative thinking and is creative – he is able to imagine what the character will look like based on a written assignment. He can draw very well by hand, has an idea of composition and genre styles. At the same time, he knows how to use specialized software and knows the latest technologies.

 A good conceptual artist has interesting ideas and is able to come up with visual solutions to problems and communicate them through clear drawings. A common misconception is that conceptual art is all about creating beautiful drawings. In fact, it’s about giving ideas and solving problems that 3D artists and game designers can face, and drawing is just a tool that is used for this purpose.

 Curiosity is another key quality in the conceptual artist’s arsenal, as he often has to learn new things – from animal anatomy to engineering – to perfect his drawings.

 Concept art is one of the first steps in creating a video game. It provides the foundations on which the project is later built and is a great field for the expression of creative personalities. ARC Academy gives students who decide to take up this part of video game creation a chance to get a serious dose of hands-on knowledge. Preparation for this profession can begin at school – art high schools are the ideal place for this. One thing is certain – the game industry provides a wide field for the development of young, creative and motivated people.