Updated: Mar 3
First of all, thanks Lyra from Lost Time studio for allowing us to use images from her project with us, to illustrate this article.
You can visit her work here:
As usual, I advise my clients to avoid focusing on the art too early unless it is necessary for developing the story or world design. There are several reasons for this:
During the development process, games typically undergo many changes, both minor and major. Completing art assets too early can result in the need to redo them later due to changes in mechanics or other technical aspects. This is a waste of both budget and time, especially for indie game projects.
Completing the art too early can also lead to hesitation when making development decisions. For example, developers may wonder, "If I make this change, will I need to replace the art? But I already spent a lot of money on the art, so I shouldn't do it."
In summary, as an artist and game developer, I advise against rushing into art, even when you have a good budget. Our ultimate goal is to finish the project together, not to create another development hell.
Here is our process for creating art for clients:
We begin by creating sketches of the design. To help us visualize your ideas, we will need reference materials and a description from you. If you already have concept art, we will review it and may skip redesigning if it's good enough.
Once the sketches are complete, we refine one single starting frame of characters or objects, such as the environment, obstacles, or items.
For animation, we will send rough sketches of animations as placeholders to test with in-game animation and mechanics. Some changes may require us to redo the sketches, but since they are just rough sketches, there won't be much waste created.
Finally, when you are ready, request that we refine the art to its final form. Between step 3 and 4 could be months or even years, but it's totally worth.
Throughout these steps, we will discuss, receive feedback, and make modifications. Good communication is always key to success.
Here is an example from Lost Time studio's project:
1. Lyra contacted us with some concept art. The original artwork is rough and humble, but we respect the artist's work and priority in keeping its idea. After reviewing it, we suggested some improvements. This gave us more options to consider when deciding which direction to take.
2. Next, we created a single frame of the characters from the chosen option. These can also work as placeholders without animation.
3. Then, we created animated sketches for the client to test the mechanics, adjust parameters, and other things. These sketches or placeholders are tested for weeks, and sometimes even months, before being refined.
4. Finally, we refined the artwork when it's really ready.
There is nothing new in these working processes. However, taking them seriously can reduce waste and create more opportunities for experimentation.
Hope these information are useful to you.