How to make a character concept based on a briefing

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Hello everyone!

Today we are going to dive into the creative process of bringing a character to life based on a briefing. The briefing describes the basic characteristics of this character, its look and its class within the game. It may even give us information about the emotional aspects, according to the general tone of the project. 

In concept art it’s very common to use clichés and conventions that the users are expecting to find and which they tend to relate to a specific type of personality. 

This briefing is often created by the game designers, along with the Creative Director.

In the case of One Military Camp, the artistic direction was crystal clear: we were looking for a cartoonish and stylized style, both for the shapes and proportions of the characters and the material of the textures in the game.

Using references and MoodBoard

Along with the description, we will use some images for reference. These images can be characters from other IPs that share similar features, different objects and clothing items that they will wear… Even materials, textures, color palettes or mood images that will allow us to transmit the proper atmosphere for the chosen setting and background.

Sketches

With all this knowledge and material (briefing, GDD, reference images, etc.) we can start to draw the first sketches, which can be just line art or shading. Some artists begin with a dark silhouette, to make sure that the basic shape of the character is well balanced and legible.

Character sketches

Sometimes, this can be used to complete certain views or give additional information that will help later with the 3D modeling process. In this phase we won’t be looking for a perfect and realistic finish. We just want to set the foundations for the anatomy, complexion… but we can also test poses, clothing, expressions, etc.

Concept art for characters

From Sketch to Full Render

Lighting is a key part of this phase, because it’s going to help us understand the volume of the character. The lighting scheme more commonly used in concept consists of a front light, together with a fill light, and, in some cases, a colder back light, to make the silhouette more defined and give it a more aesthetically pleasing look. That’s the most classic method to light a model and make all its topology perfectly distinguishable. 

In this phase it’s also vital to rotate the canvas, flip the image, deform with mesh or to use the color picker to extract colors. Also, it’s important to know how to blend colors with the help of the blending tool. The contrast between hard edges and smooth color transitions is what will give us the feeling of realism. Don’t forget the projected shadows!

Concept art for heroes

Color Study

Color is another important element in the development of any video game. It will tell us about the tone of the game, define its identity and help us make the information more readable. That’s why it’s also important for the user experience.

In the case of OMC, we use color to differentiate the character classes. This works in combination with the UI to help the user to easily identify any soldier. For the soldier specializations we did several tests, combining different color schemes that were tested by members of our art team.

Color studies for characters

Our goal as concept artists is not about achieving an extremely polished level of detail. What’s really important is to transmit the volume and material of the character very faithfully, while also having enough agility to adapt to an optimal workflow.

I hope you enjoyed this part of the creative process in One Military Camp! 🙂 Don’t forget to wishlist and follow the game on Steam! 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1743830/One_Military_Camp/

See you soon, soldiers!

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Written by María Ayuso (Concept Artist of Abylight Barcelona)