The games we develop at Flyos Games give special attention to art direction. This is a central element that we put forward with pride. To achieve this level of visual quality, here are the 3 key points that we rigorously apply.
Finding, Briefing and Communicating with artists is the biggest artistic director challenge. Where to look, what to tell an artist and how to follow his work? Here's what I did for our two games Kiwetin and Until Daylight.
1) Where and how to find the right resources
I am subscribed to several visual reference sites (Behance, awards, Pinterest, various social networks...) and every day I spend at least 30 minutes to see what has been done, in all creative sectors (architecture, Photography, illustration, graphic design, video, etc.) I even was a jury on a graphic contest site for almost 4 years, that's another way to be closest to visual artisans. Having creative hygiene helps me find good references and especially inspiring artists, I could work with someday. Visual Arts are also subject to trends and thus to the effect of fashion. Knowing being up-to-date and using a mode to its advantage is an asset. This rigour also helped me develop a certain culture which today is mandatory. The Artistic Direction, as his name says, implies a part of leadership and an advanced artistic culture, which helps inspire and guide teams. Our previous article explains the importance of Art Direction of games creation.
2) Know how to brief artists
When the time comes to work with an artist, you must first have a clear vision of the project. The artist, from the outside, is a complete stranger. It's your job to prepare the ground and synthesize your vision. The creation of a brief is very useful. Illustrators and designers can refer to it and understand the image that needs to be produced. I am'll for clear summaries and lists that become milestones, it helps receive clear quotes. I remember a method used in an agency i worked for. It's called the 3/33/333 from Sid Lee. 3 Seconds to understand the Big Picture, 33 seconds to explain your concept and pass a simple message, 333 seconds to go into the details. It is also necessary to leave enough room for the artists to take ownership of the project and the visual universe you develop. Moreover, they often bring excellent ideas to which you might not have thought. On Kiwetin and Until Daylight, many visual ideas are the fruit of the creativity of illustrators.
3) Communication with freelances
Communicating is the key. On Until Daylight, we had a ton of illustrations to produce. In order not to lose ourselves and keep track of work, I opted for daily exchanges with Ben (the illustrator). Every day, he sent me the state of his production and I took time to answer every illustration or idea he proposed. We also organize a few meetings to talk to us about voices. I clearly favour meetings that never exceed one hour, in order to maintain a creative and optimal concentration. I also make sure that the consistency of the productions of the various speakers remains on the same guideline (Graphic Design Style, Typography, iconographie, formats, etc.) they must magnify the illustrative work that will be the soul of the game.
To summarize, working with different stakeholders on the visual portion of a game represents an artistic and human challenge. First, know where and how to choose the right artist. Opting for daily creative hygiene will help this choice. Second, knowing how to convey the vision in a clear and structured way will help a creative mind to own the game and thus deliver the best of himself. Finally, keep your vision and know how to communicate without oppressing, to achieve a result that will magnify a game. That's how we worked on both of our games.