Concept Art and Game Design

Concept Art Driven Game DesignI like to use concept art as an alternative way to think up game design ideas.  Here is a quick illustration I came up with today for a game I am creating.

I have done a few illustrations for this game working through various game mechanics, styles, and ideas.

This is a useful creative tool for me to rapidly try out different concepts and see what they might look like before I even write a single line of code or start creating any game assets.

Creating concept art becomes a way I can immerse myself in the world and atmosphere of the game ahead of time because as I am drawing these illustrations I am imagining the various aspects of the gameplay occurring.  This can even include me making hand gestures and sound effects without me realizing it as I try out the game in my mind’s eye.  As embarrassing as that might sound for some people it has been something I’ve done unashamedly since I first started drawing as a child.  It makes the experience that much more involved and creatively useful for me.

The mechanics of the game are fluid and easy to change when I am prototyping with illustrations so I can work through many ideas quickly as I form my plan about what to implement in the first prototype. It also serves as a way to get myself psyched about the game and really feeling the emotion and experience I want to try and create for the player.

This latest game has been inspired by a specific title I came up with yesterday.  I’ve been brainstorming various game ideas for it and think I’ve finally settled on a concept I want to implement a prototype of. I’ll keep the title in reserve for now but I expect to make a few more updates along the development cycle.

If you are a game designer feel free to let me know a little about your creative process when you are beginning with a new game.  I have used many different approaches and there are obviously many ways to do it.  I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has used a concept art driven approach to good effect with their games.

Art Games


  1. rosedragon says:

    I’m doing that too. As I stated in the secret chapter of ‘hotel catastrophe’:
    “My first concepts always appear as lines in a paragraph. After this, I make the first game scene, which was the first room in this case. From this first scene I visualize the whole design and write them down in my sketchbook. This ‘game document’ changes over time, though I implement most of the ideas in it. I start creating more artwork until I feel I should start coding. “

  2. D34TH2U says:

    I have made a few small, worthless, half-games with flash and have made a few games for my graphing calculator. But recently I have come up with a bunch of ideas for a game I want to start working on. I suck at drawing though, and I’ve tried to come up with a bit of concept art but I’m really going nowhere. got any suggestions?

  3. Dave "HybridMind" Evans says:

    I don’t have any quick suggestions unfortunately. Drawing concept art is an effective tool for me because of all the time I have spent drawing in my lifetime. The time I have practiced drawing enables me to use it in a way that helps rather than frustrates. Even though you say you suck at drawing perhaps if you use it more as a tool to help you think about your game designs it could still be of creative value? Instead of worrying too much of whether your concept art is ‘good’ or not just experiment with drawing for the sake of getting your ideas out in a different format or medium. This is the benefit I find regardless of the perceived skill or value of the underlying drawing.

    Another suggestion would be that if you feel more comfortable in a different medium perhaps you can use that to work on your game designs? Perhaps through writing for example?

    Obviously the more time you spend practicing with anything the more proficient you will become using that tool to reach your goals. Good luck!

  4. I do have many ideas to use art to design games . I did the first game scene but I didn’t continue 🙁 . I hope to get more ideas for creating fun games that players will love to play . Recently , I used Game Maker which I think its a good software to start bulding your art ideas and game scenes .

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