At Keywords Studios, we have many talented artists working across video games from all genres and on all platforms.
The aesthetic of a video game can be a huge factor in its potential for success: If a game looks great, players are more likely to think it will also be great to play, and visually stunning games stand out.
The process of creating the artwork is both complex and rewarding, whether it be super photorealism or highly stylized artistic graphics painting a picture of an alternate reality.
D3t is a co-development studio delivering work-for-hire services to AAA video games clients and part of Keywords Studios since 2017.
Recently we spoke with some of our art team members at d3t to get their thoughts on art development for games. In this spotlight we meet Louise Andrew, Head of Art, who joined d3t in 2019 and Tony Weekes, Artist, who has been with the company for five years now.
This is what they had to say.
What does a typical day at work involve?
Louise: I run the art team at d3t, so my role is to make sure all the artists are as happy and productive as possible. This can involve all aspects from appraisals, ensuring everyone has the hardware and software they need, initiating training, ensuring we have adequate staffing levels per project and that artists are working on projects that interest and inspire them.
There is no typical day for me. Some days I can be involved in recruitment, or with studio strategy decisions or with pitching for new work, other days I spend time talking to the artists and seeing the artwork.
I am also involved in decisions about the refurbishment of our studio now, so I talk to interior designers and garden designers too! It’s quite varied.
Tony: My job as a game artist is to work closely with my lead artist to pre-defined art styles and produce high-quality artwork.
The creation of artwork for games requires balancing many differing responsibilities, the primary one being fulfilling the client’s art direction, but also getting to grips with each individual project’s workflow, always being mindful of tech limitations and regularly learning new techniques and processes.
A typical day in production stages of developing artwork will begin with finding good image references for the artwork that is being worked on. Having reliable references is highly important, as I frequently refer to them as I start to block-out the main forms of the subject.
Other parts of the process will include comparing the artwork’s scale with characters in-game, understanding what surface material is being used and creating textures.
Final stages are checking the subject is lighting correctly in-game with the correct smoothing groups and when everything has come together, it will capture the personality of the artwork.
Is there a specific area of your role you enjoy most?
Louise: I really like people and facilitating them to be as happy as they can be in their work. That is what drives me.
I love talking to people and my role is very sociable. And I like to make things happen and find solutions, and thankfully I’m in a position where I feel like I can make a difference and continue to improve things for the Art team.
Tony: At d3t, I have been lucky to have an opportunity to enjoy all areas of the art department thoroughly and I am at a point where I want to stay focused on creating characters. For a long time, I have known that my love is with creating characters and it is a craft that motivates me.
I am fascinated with achieving that visual storytelling, revealing that person’s history and making that connection with the audience before showing any facial expressions or emotions.
What do you like best about working for d3t and being a part of Keywords Studios?
Louise: As part of Keywords, we are part of a bigger network of game developers, and I have been able to meet up with other art directors and heads of art from other studios and we are able to share knowledge, rather than be in competition with each other.
It’s great to feel part of something that is so global and so successful and yet also have the intimacy of working for a smaller studio on a day-to-day level.
Tony: What I like about working for d3t is how they make employees feel valued by always allowing opportunities for an employee to grow and pursue their interest within the company.
I like that we have lot of diversity of people with different backgrounds and culture that have bonded through solving any trials and tribulations of a project and making it a successful production.
What are you most excited for in 2021?
Louise: Haha … Going out again! Seeing people in real, three dimensions! Also travel; I love travelling and hope to be able to do that soon.
From a work point of view, I’m excited to see what new projects we are going to be working on later this year. We have some exciting potential ones we are in talks about, so I think it’s going to be great and I’m looking forward to growing the art team a bit more.
Tony: In 2021, I am excited to be more involved with the character pipeline and taking on more demanding responsibilities for new projects.
What is your favourite video game and why?
Louise: A recent favourite was Red Dead Redemption II. I loved exploring the beautiful landscapes and finding missions – it brought out the inner cowgirl in me. I have also just completed Little Nightmares II which was so beautiful but super creepy.
Tony: One of my favourite games is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. I like playing a good action game with great story telling and it has beautiful graphics that lock me into the gameplay even after playing it several times over.
And, finally, what advice would you give to job seekers considering a career in video games?
Louise: It’s a great industry to work in; it’s creative and varied and essentially about working together to make something that is fun. From an art perspective, just get a great digital portfolio together. For me it’s not about qualifications, it is all about artistic ability as demonstrated in a portfolio, so focus on that.
Tony: For job seekers who are considering a career in games development, my advice would be to become a student of traditional art first, attending art galleys or art lectures is great for motivating new ideas.
Find what drives you creativity, make a connection with someone who is in the industry or use forums such as Polycount to receive constructive feedback for the work you develop.
If you are interested in a Game Development role at Keywords Studios, you can find current open positions on our Careers page.