Mo­bile art goes big

In­sid­ers tell us how dig­i­tal artists can ben­e­fit from the rise of mo­bile game art.

ImagineFX - - Contents -

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.”

Artis­tic ex­pres­sion

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

Up-and-com­ing in­die game devel­oper Pix­el­bomb Games re­veals how it’s used ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments from Manch­ester in its de­but shoot-em up. pos­si­bil­i­ties in this area for artis­tic ex­pres­sion," he ex­plains, “be­cause the in­di­vid­ual artis­tic iden­tity is more sec­ondary and ex­change­able in 3D art­work.”

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.

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