saona

How we bring assets to life

The importance of environment artists.

Some might think that once the artists have the final concept of any element or character from the game, there’s no further complication. But it’s not as easy as having a new drawing and just letting it be inside the game hoping it goes along with the whole level-design.

There has to be someone who does this, an environment artist, a person with a 360° vision of the game, capable of knowing exactly where to put each element for the final scene to make sense. A person that having A and B is capable of getting C as a result. Some would call it a “game-builder”.

This is a hard task because deep down you can’t avoid thinking that having different elements and not knowing how to combine them can lead to an unfinished project.

In our studio, the person in charge of creating all these game environments, is not the game designer, it is one of the artists from the team. This is because it actually does not include adding playable mechanics, it’s more about connecting the content that is already created with the game itself. Long story short: it’s all about bringing the game to life.

How does someone do this? From our experience, the best option is to use Unity, which is a game engine that helps the game devs power all their ideas and created concepts. Using this tool is extremely powerful for indies like us because it makes it possible to compete with some big projects that were also developed using this professional program.

To understand this process let’s chat with Carmen Villa, the one responsible for this part of the process in Saona Studios, a young artist with an amazing talent.

Hey Carmen! Can you explain what really goes on in your mind when you receive a group of assets and you have to create a new environment?

C: First of all, I think about how they are going to be set. Before the artists of the team work on the assets final art, we make a sketch of how the level design is going to be visually translated into what we see on the screen. I use this sketch as a reference in order to create our environment. Many changes are made in the process in order to have the best version of our world design!

How do you get inspired? 

C: As I mentioned before, we sketch the final look of the level design before jumping into Unity. There is a whole process behind it in which the artists create several concept art pieces for each part of our game. When I feel a bit lost and need some inspiration, I just go back to the concepts of that zone. Usually I also talk to my teammates and we figure out together what fits best.

From your point of view, how should an environment artist be as a person?

C: Detail-oriented, creative and skilled for drawing and composition.

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