The Difference Between Concept Art & Production Design
Young people, often venturing into the unknown abyss of the gaming industry, find themselves in a dilemma. The dilemma of choosing game designing as a career option, however not knowing where to begin with. Most people don’t understand the different roles and skills that it takes to develop a full-fledged game that grabs the market by its unique conception. So, we should address it in a simpler, easy to understand manner and paint a picture for the beginners about concept art and product design.
Concept art can be called the visual representation of the idea and mood in a game. Majorly a skeleton of the final product. This format means to express the design vision in a basic form of sketches, drawings, or even build up scenarios mostly used in visual mediums of films, video, video games, animation or comics.
Often, it is also referred to as “visual development” or “concept design”.
Concept art is a process in itself. It is a sustainable conduct that is produced over time. Giving in for inspiration, taking feedback with several iterations and modifications, the gist is created to move ahead. The Concept Artists are responsible for designing and visualizing the gist designs that need to match the brief and develop accordingly for the resulting work. Among numerous designs, some are filtered and created in stages to narrow down the options. Concept art is not just used to develop the work, but also to display the progress of work to directors, clients, investors, and senior-designers.
If we mention ‘production design’ a fact that needs to be uttered at ease, is the term “production design” has been extracted from Hollywood. Production designs are like depth and variety that is provided to an idea. It is a holistic role where both the production design and the structure is taken into account. It involves not just the look for the game but also the design philosophy of it. Like the main content of gameplay, rudimentary details of atmosphere and characterisation of scenarios.
This involves creating the “game world” that has considerable depth and variety — that in turn results in creating a sense of real feeling of being in the game (immersiveness) and a sense of place. This also involves creating various stages or levels that make for interesting and unforgettable experiences.
Point to be noted is that — the game world isn’t just for the player/gamer; it also helps the extended team to design the game and possess a sense of every minute detail put across the table into this imaginary world of visual aid.
The aim of production design is to always be telling great stories with an immersive world that looks and feels at the place with the story with an oriented model.
Major points of differences between Concept Art & Production Design
- It is debated that the term concept art was coined in reference to pre-production design and since then has been used in that reference. However, Production designing is a term used for interpreting the visual narrative of the story, script, plot and action — which is done pre, during and, post-production.
- Concept art takes into account the many aspects of the environment, character design, movement of characters, their history; certain elements from the world of the characters, elements, etc. It also concerns itself with the 3D aspect of the game art. This means visualizing the world, it’s objects, surroundings, even sometimes what may not be seen but only heard or interpreted. Nevertheless, Production Design is the post-form composition of the concept that is the blueprint and forming proposals of gameplay, setting and story, budget estimates etc.
- A concept artist imagines and produces visual design & language for maybe a product, environment, scene, world, etc. Production Designer on the other is an individual responsible for the visual judgment that involves transmitting the information in narrative format with the script in mind. As each game is different and unique in its visual world, so are the solutions and iterations — having its own identity. It appears as a visual interpretation of the script, plot and action, transmitting information about the narrative in terms of the script and its view. Each game and its stages have different intentions and solutions. Each case is unique, with its own identity.
It’s of importance to note that a great game can only be made when a designer and a concept artist working in tandem. They are interdependent and essential for the timely arrival and quality of the game. People might say that the role of a concept artist is to tell the story through the art of the gaming world. In a sense it is correct, but once the art is created it is the duty of the production designer to ensure that the look, feel and immersiveness of the world aligns with the story. That means the designer is responsible for the game having the right style, mood, colors, and consistency.
In a linear 3D game, the gamer is led, without much choice through a number of stages, events, storylines, conclusions, anticipations, fear, joy, likes & dislikes, characters, and environments. If you have ever played any video game you know that these need to naturally blend with the environment, the overall look, and feel of the storyline to give you a sense of place and immersion.
The production designer is exactly responsible for doing that — making sure the overall look & feel remains intact and this means working closely with the director, producer, game designer, etc.
The characters you see and play with — their narratives and dreamlike world, other characters they interact with and the events they go through are all designed by the concept artist. Thus the two, making the game a real and great experience to remember
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