I think that one of the most challenging and fun parts about making art for games is the conceptual stage. No matter what your skill level is when it comes to drawing [making the finalized work], if you have a well planned out concept or executed idea, a viewer will notice. My job is to make the places, things, and people feel real in Stranger Dreams. Lately, because of this, I have a million thoughts going through my head at any given moment. Sometimes when I’m in a place I feel like my head is in the clouds because my mind is in perpetual motion and it’s not until later that I realize I wasn’t all there. So, today I want to talk to you about the conceptualizing phase of Stranger Dreams and how it goes hand in hand with organization of thoughts.
Most of the work I’m putting into our game right now has a lot to do with thinking about things. And we all know intense thinking is taxing. Not only is that, but it becomes even more difficult when you have so many tasks to complete. It can seem overwhelming at times and this is when people become stressed and disorganized. These things make an artist feel hurried and sometimes discouraged and then it’s a continual cycle. After realizing that an extra day in the week will never happen no matter how hard I wish, I decided to get very organized and ration out my thinking spaces.
I think being organized physically comes more naturally to people than being organized mentally. It’s easy to put things into folders or on a hard drive, but you have to do this in your brain as well. For a second, think about a large storage device and all the things you may have on it that you’re working on. When you go to sit down, if you’re working on a painting, you open it and work on it. Imagine sitting down and trying to open everything on your hard drive at once. It would be so overwhelming and daunting that you would never get anything done and eventually the hard drive might crash [don't work directly off your hard drive, kids!].
This is how my brain was thinking. Of course, it’s up to the artist to realize when your brain is getting foggy which can be difficult because we are such wonderfully complex creatures, but if you happen to notice: Slow down! Simply enough…just take a breather. Even if you only have .005 seconds to do anything but work, work, work, use those .005 seconds to clear your mind. Then, THINK about what you want to work on when you sit down. Have a clear goal in mind when you go to do something. Thinking about it all at once will not get you very far and you’ll use twice the brain energy making you feel tired and overworked with half finished thoughts about 30 different things.
Despite going slightly crazy, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and some concept work. Right now, my two main goals are getting the look of our menu system finalized, and creating the frames which will make up our main character’s apartment in the tutorial level. I’m feeling optimistic about my workflow, so expect more art soon! So, in your creative endeavors, stay mentally organized and the ideas will flow naturally.