Video game art style visually appeals to the players immersing them in the game world. The game art style is nothing but the visual representation of the game using specific techniques and aesthetics that captures the players attention.
For instance, let us take the games, Gris and Dear Esther. When you look at these games, you can see that Gris uses 2D monochromatic art whereas Dear Esther beautifully depicts 3D realism art. Though both games use different game art styles, they both have breathtaking artistic visuals that have an immersive effect on the players.
Thus, there are many different game art styles, and each has its own unique features. Primarily, the game art style is divided into 2D and 3D art styles.
Here, I have mentioned 12 types of game art styles in both 2D and 3D with suitable examples.
The 2D art style uses two-dimensional graphics to visually represent the game elements. It uses only height and length but lacks depth. There are many types of 2D art styles like pixel, flat, and cutout art.
Today, mobile game development services use 2D art style over 3D as they have simple control and are easier to make games that are immersive and visually appealing.
Let us dive deep into the different types of game art styles in 2D.
A pixel is the smallest square unit of color of a digital image. The pixel art was created by coloring these square units block by block.
Pixel art style comes with a nostalgic and retro charm that makes us want to travel back in time. Since the dawn of video games, pixel art style has dominated the game world graphics. Games like Super Mario Bros, and Legend of Zelda were some of the earlier games built using pixel art.
The major advantage of pixel art is its smaller file size and scalability. And it is also great for beginners, as it is simple and accessible.
Even today pixel art style is very relevant and is widely welcomed by vintage lovers. Isometric pixel art, chibi-style pixel art, and detailed pixel art were some types of pixel art used in modern day.
Examples: Minecraft and Celeste.
Vector art uses mathematical formulas to create vector graphics which include lines, curves, and squares. Mostly vector art is not used to create the entire graphic design but rather it can be added to the game design.
In modern game art, the vector art style is widely used for its uncompromised resolution and adaptability to different screen sizes. As they are created using mathematical formulas, the quality of the image is sustained when zoomed in or zoomed out. Apart from that they have a smaller file size and are easier to edit and port.
Examples: The Banner Saga and Geometry Wars.
Traditional cutout art is one of the oldest surviving art forms used to make animated illustrations. Thus, this art style gives a sense of nostalgia to the players.
Cutout art looks as if it is cutout from a drawing or an illustration. In this art style, the character assets of real cutout art can be imported, or it can be created in digital art. The movement of the imported cutout art is made by identifying the axis points and regulating them. You need not create many models for this art style. Once a few action models are done, they can be used interchangeably.
This art style is mostly used in animation games.
Examples: Cuphead, Papers Please, Don’t Starve, and Paper Mario.
Cel shading, also known as toon shading, creates characters or animations that are made to look flat as if they were stretched out from 3D models. Here the lighting and shading are adjusted to give a flat look to the 3D models.
Cel shading got its name from ‘Celluloid’ – which is used to create animations from early times.
This art form is widely recognized for its creative and artistic style in making models that resemble 2D cartoons or animations. In addition to that, it also gives the look of hand-drawn sketches creating a fascination among the players.
Genres like action-adventure games, RPG games, and combat games use cel shading art.
Examples: Dragonball Z, Jet Set Radio, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
Monochrome is derived from two Greek words ‘mono’ which means single or one and ‘chrome’ which means color. In monochromatic art, one or two colors or shades are used in the entire game.
Generally, game artists use black and white colors for creating monochromatic art. It is not very often colors other than black and white are used in this type of art. For instance, let us take Playdeads LIMBO. In this game, black is the main color theme, with variations shaded in white and grey scales giving a dark and dangerous feel to the players.
Thus, this art style is best suited for mysterious and horror genre games offering an eerie feel throughout the game.
Examples: Playdeads Limbo, Inside, and Gris.
As the name suggests, this art appears flat on the screen. Flat art lacks depth and visual effects like shadow and gradient.
It is one of the oldest surviving art styles and is said to have its roots in Swiss Art from the 1920s. This art style found its place in the video game industry from the earliest days and has sustained till date.
Nowadays, game artists are more interested in using flat art in their video games.
It is preferred by them for its simplicity and clarity. Not only that, it also provides a great user interface, because of its minimalistic and functional approach. Skeuomorphic details, physics, and realism simply do not exist in this type of art style. This art style uses horizontal parallax to create an illusion of depth in 2D character models.
Examples: Nidhogg, Flat Kingdom, and Alto’s Adventure.
Doodle art depicts the fun way of expressing art. Doodles are hand drawn free images. Doodle art is basically scribbles, uneven lines and characters with not well-defined features.
It is popular because of its simple and light-hearted nature. Vibrant and bright colors are used to provide a great visual appeal to the players. Doodle game art provides an interactive feel with the players due to its informal nature and simplicity.
This art style is mostly used in casual and indie games.
Examples: Doodle Jump and Doodle God.
The 3D art style is the visual representation of a game using three dimensions which are length, height and depth. There are many types of 3D game art styles that help in creating realistic and engaging gaming experiences for the players.
Keep reading to learn the different types of game art styles in 3D.
Realism art, also known as photorealism art, immerses players with visuals that closely resemble the real world. The characters, environment and game assets are created imitating the real world to provide a lively atmosphere for the players.
This video game art style is largely used in games that are intended to give a realistic feel to the players like simulator games, horror, and survival games.
Examples: The Last of Us: 2, Battlefield 1, and Microsoft Fight Simulator.
Fantasy realism is a highly imaginative and creative art style that mixes realism with fantasy to create an astounding gaming experience for the gamers. This art style uses fantasy, sci-fi or steampunk concepts to create realism art that is otherwise impossible in the present world.
Many action and sci-fi games are created using fantasy realism art style. Adventure, quest, shooter, Role playing (RPG) games were some of the genres that commonly uses fantasy realism art.
Examples: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Dark Souls.
Low poly art is created using a minimal number of polygons. This art style gives a unique feel from other game art styles. They help in conveying the emotion of the entire game and build a connection with the players offering a visually captivating experience.
Mostly mobile games and indie games use low poly game art style as less resources are used in creating low polygons. Because they use low polygons, realistic games cannot be created using this art style.
Low poly art is cost-efficient, speedy, stylish, and flexible which makes it one of the most preferred choices for game developers with limited budgets.
We can see this art style mostly in Role playing (RPG) games.
Examples: Abzu, Journey and No Man’s Sky.
Anime art is an art form inspired from Japanese animation. In anime art style, large eyes, exaggerated facial features, and stylish outfits are used to capture emotion and build up a strong personality in the characters. They use vibrant colors and visuals as well to provide a captivating experience for the players.
Anime art is used mostly in genres such as simulating games, RPG games, Action games, and Fighting games.
Examples: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Gensin Impact, and Ni No Kuni.
Hand painted art is a type of game art style where the art visuals look hand drawn which invokes the feel of painting and illustrations. In this art style, the models are painted directly into 2D and 3D models to give a visually appealing effect.
In this art style, 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, and texture painting are used to give an aesthetic and artistic feel to the game. Plus, this art focuses on attention to detail, making video games all more interesting for the players.
Fantasy, indie, and strategy games use this type of game art style.
Examples: If Found, Cozy Groove, and Mundaun.
You would have a better knowledge of types of game art styles by now.
In conclusion, game art is very important as it influences the player’s engagement and overall experience throughout the game. It is not necessary that a complicated game art style ensures the success of the game. Even simple 2D game art styles like pixel art can be used to create enjoyable and successful games. Each game art style is unique, be it 2D or 3D. And they are used in specific genres they perform well with, making profitable and joyful games.
Juego studios is a leading game art outsourcing studio specialised in 2D and 3D art styles. We have a team of 2D and 3D artists who have great expertise in working with various game art styles and creating games in multiple genres.
Whether it is mobile, desktop or console games – our game development company has a specialised team of artists, and animators who handle the entire game art production process.