Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Art Direction

Art Directors need leadership abilities responsible for building a team establishing their visual style and quality consistency. This can include overall game assets, environment lighting, character direction, menu HUD, websites and branding.
The job role of an art director is to communicate visual ideas to their team, through documentation, example assets, mood boards, key drawings, art style and colour swatches. This job is vital to the games fast progression and final end product, as each team member needs to have the same vision in mind when creating there characters and assets.
Art Directors also have the pleasure of recruiting potential art employees and outsourcing groups. Making this decision can have a good effect on the game, instead of being landed with a team you don’t know the potential of. They get to take control on whether your skills can produce what they envision.  Art Directors work with Senior Producers and Design Directors to ensure the art direction fits in with the overall project goals. 

The amount of responsibility and control art directors have over a game project expresses just how creative the role actually is.  The important decisions they make, involve setting the visual tone, quality, and style for the game, environment composition and the placement of each prop in the location. Does the prop support the story, the feel and impression of the game?
Good art direction can speak for itself, telling a story without words being spoken. It’s the same with a concept design. If the drawing, placement of objects within the piece, can tell a story to the viewer through image, then it’s definitely a good concept.

Not only does placement play an essential role in art direction, equally colour tone and texture does, as a colour pallet can represent feeling, whether it’s shades of orange, brown, yellow (warmth) or blue, green, black (cold). It gives mood in a scene, or even a character. Does the character wear bright colourful clothes, to represent their personality or dull mild tones?
All these things are what the art director has to think about, and can be the most creative role in the game industry.

The future qualities you would need to develop to be become an art director would be
·       A deep understanding of 2D and 3D software packages (Photoshop, 3DS Max, Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox)
·       Advanced understanding of Motion principles and Animation
·       +3 - 5 years professional experience in leading art production team in the game or film/TV Industry, as an Art Director or Lead Artist.
·       Solid communication and problem solving skills
·       Must be strategic, with an eye for detail, great commitment towards deadlines and delivering high quality art on time and within budget.
·       Experience managing multiple projects, motivational, priorities, schedule, and deadlines with a strong attention to detail.
·       Solid understanding of architecture, perspective, human character anatomy, gesture, clothing, art direction and storytelling/boarding
·       Broad understanding and interest in visual art outside of game industry world, e.g traditional art, photography, sculpting etc. 
·       Demonstrated ability to direct and multi-task effectively under pressure, while balancing speed and quality of the work.
·       Passion for making and playing video games, with an awareness of current titles and industry trends.

I bet you’re thinking.. wow that’s a lot right?
Art Directors have to oversee a whole team of individuals that produce and work on different mediums, whether its concept artists, character and environment modellers, animation team, audio team, visual effects, technical and graphic & user Interface artists etc. This means it’s very important to have insight on how everything works for the vision to come into play.  Not to mention the managerial role of delegating, problem solving, organisation, budgeting, deadline steadiness and keeping the art direction of a high quality consistency. 

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