Mobile art goes big
Insiders tell us how digital artists can benefit from the rise of mobile game art.
Think of mobile games and you might think of a bright, shiny fad like Bejeweled. But as devices get more powerful, they’re actually getting closer to the quality of AAA games for the PlayStation 4 and XBox One.
And as mobile gaming becomes big business, the money’s not just going to coders. Digital artists are getting a slice, too. So is this a potentially lucrative new market for your digital art skills?
Jack Gilson, lead artist at Wooga, starts by urging you to shed any preconceptions about mobile. “It’s one of the largest platforms for games right now," he says. “People who would never have usually played any type of video game, such as grandmothers, are now doing so.” Even free games are becoming cash cows, by charging for add-ons and access to extra levels. And so artists are increasingly in demand.
“Companies like Gameloft and Zynga are spending mega bucks on art teams," says Jack. “With most mobile companies now, the team sizes are getting way bigger, as art quality needs to excel to stand out.” Take Gameduell, where Daniel Nikoi Djanie is working as head of illustration. “Despite having been in the business for more than 10 years, we’re currently reinventing ourselves – and one major part of this change is a strong focus on high-quality artwork," he says. “Our team is continuously growing: at the moment we’re 20 people led by Rockstar’s former art director Ian Bowden and myself.”
And we’re not just talking about the work of 3D artists. “2D will always have a place in mobile games, because although more games are becoming rendered sprites, they’re essentially all hand-sketched first and then made in a 3D software package,” explains Jack. “Concept artists will always be needed.”
While 3D artists on the whole are better paid than 2D artists, Daniel believes the latter role can be more rewarding creatively. “Being a 2D artist myself, I feel that I have more
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Donald Mustard, creative director of Chair Entertainment – the company behind landmark iOS game Infinity Blade – also stresses the possibilities for creative expression. “Modern devices are very powerful and so artists can now more fully realise their visions and ideas than ever before," he says. “We’re now seeing huge diversity in the art direction of different games, from retro to realistic, and everything in between.
W ith most mobile companies, the team sizes are getting way bigger, as art quality needs
to excel to stand out
Daniel Djanie created this character style exploration for a Mafia-themed prototype. Infinity Blade, developed by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games, was the first iOS video game to run on the Unreal Engine.
Another character style exploration by Gameduell’s Daniel Djanie, this time for a space-war themed title.
Because it’s a hidden object game, the background art in the newest Wooga hit Agent Alice is key, because players
will spend a lot of time examining it.