Exploring the design process step by step..

Concept Art Time!

Right now we’re in production of the game Sketch Artist, where I am the Art Lead for a team of 11 members. One of my tasks is to set the visual style of the game, starting from the very basics of choosing the mood the game is intended to have.

To work through this phase, I created Mood Pieces, quick colorless concept art that should describe the feel of the game. From there we can decide if we’re visually on target before continuing the art style process so that no work is wasted.


The mood of Sketch Artist should be humorous in a charming way, bordering on cute and childish but still retaining the intended audience of late teens to college-aged players.

After setting the visual mood, we start trying to hit style targets for environment concept and character design.

Here’s an example of an early version of one of my environment concept and designs, simple so that changes could be made without wasting too much effort or work, followed by a video of a later version. Earliest iterations were completed on paper within meetings so I could get immediate feedback and make sure my designs suited the scene’s needs within the game. I’ve included one example of one of the paper sketched designs we decided to not use. After that, it was taken into Photoshop and sketched out and agreed upon by all of the leads before progressing to a cleaner image with rough colors thrown in. Next it went through a lighting and detail pass to truly give the feel we wanted and provide the most accurate reference to our 3D artist, who would replicate it within Maya. The video also contains concept animations I did of possible ways the environment UI could move or interact with players.


Here’s a sketch example of a design we did not use, but it illustrates the roughness of the original idea phase within our meeting.



This displays a mostly cleaned up digital sketch with the lines still in place for floor perspective.



Here is the finished concept piece without the UI. It’s very different from where it started!


office_layout office_playerUI_woutGrayout missingframe office_bg_lighting

Here’s an example of my progression of design for the game’s main character, Captain Walters. It started with a rough sketchbook sketch, then a thumbnail process to find interesting body shapes, moved onto more defined designs with different perspective color palette choices, and then a final design I set into a page layout for our official style guide. One of the designs that didn’t make it, design D from the colored board, was still loved so much that he made it into the game as a background character and comic relief!

katieFreeman_waltersSketch 12632946_1515940312042673_1342361909_o

katieFreeman_captWaltersConcept 11X17_PageLayout_Horizontal

Katie Freeman