Author: Polina Malysheva, Creative Director
World of Warships blog readers are used to seeing the final versions of game artists’ work. While the production of screenshots is straightforward enough, many are not as familiar with how game art is developed. So, what does it take to transform a sketch into final in-game art?
It all starts with numerous drafts. At the drafting stage, artists let their imaginations run free and try a variety of concepts.
Of course, they must avoid distractions while flying unrestrained through the clouds of imagination. The creative process can be negatively affected by too many recommendations or technical details; otherwise, it might result in a dull and indifferent picture – and anyone can offend an artist, you know.
Once we have a number of drafts, we’re ready to choose the best one, and the work goes on.
The next stage doesn’t have as much imaginative drive, and instead requires a more thoughtful approach. Here, you may choose a protagonist and weave him into a suspenseful story.
The artist has to find that perfect balance between visual attractiveness coupled by picturesque dynamics and historical realism that respects the laws of physics.
Art QA specialists check for historical accuracy. Afterward, the final composition and details are formed.
After making final adjustments, the artist makes necessary corrections and selects the appropriate color palette for the whole picture. It is very important for an artist to have the skill of noticing interesting details in the surrounding world. We’re very lucky in this regard, as most of our references are readily seen from outside our studio windows.
These observations add to the “emotional” palette that the artist introduces into his/her work. It is very important for an artist to realize what he/she wants to say and to whom. In one specific case, it was our aim to depict the full magnificence of the battleship “Colorado,” a ship that remains an unstoppable menace even when besieged by enemy air attacks. Those kinds of attacks from all directions help to emphasize plot dynamics. Such art can’t just be a soulless painting – every detail has some sort of role to play.
The next step will be made by a renderer. He takes the model, thoughtfully prepared by the 3D department, and begins the magic. Special care is taken to loyally portray the ship’s perspectives and illumination.
The picture lives by its creator for several weeks, following him through all stages of its preparation. It resembles an unsolved puzzle, where the creator must find a solution. The more efforts he applies, the more will be seen in the final piece.
Secondary characters may appear and vanish in the process of creation, changing into another in the constant search of the right idea.
So, finally we come to the most time-consuming and serious stage: the “final polishing.” With the nearly-ready art in our hands, we need to bring it to a real “work of art” state, where “every pixel shines,” as Victor Kislyi used to say. This stage may be compared to the final rehearsal of an orchestra, where all the instruments play at the exact moment they should, not interfering with each other, but completing the overall harmony.
This is the gauntlet through which World of Warships game art passes before it will be displayed to our users.