Game visuals today span the artistic spectrum, from iconic mobile graphics to lush AAA productions and now of course the shift towards virtual reality and a return to photo-realism. Our Art Track will provide artists with inspiration, practical advice, best-practise guidance and real-life case studies from not just the games industry but other creative industries too.

Art sessions

Art Pipelines in Hold The World

This session will take attendees through how the art of Hold The World was created and developed. The focus is on three core strands; volumetric video capture, photogrammetry environments and scanned objects. The session will cover several key findings that arose from working with and combining these different technologies in engine. This includes how various lighting techniques and colour grading methods were employed to ensure that assets with highly varying properties and produced from disparate sources were implemented in Unity to cohere into a believable scene. Another challenge was the variety of scan types including LIDAR and CT, and the levels of fidelity required by scientific record scans compared to game assets. The talk will be packed full of informative and entertaining visual aids including a video of Attenborough meeting himself in VR as well as behind the scenes images revealing how ‘Hope’ the 4.5 tonne blue whale skeleton and other amazing specimens were brought to life in VR. This session will also cover how we ensured assets were mobile friendly including using the raw materials for use in volumetric video capture to create stereoscopic videos. The session will be of interest to attendees who want to have an inside scoop into working with volumetric video capture which is still an emerging technology not easily accessible to all. Develop attendees will also benefit from our key learnings on how we created a visually high end product within strict performance guidelines for tethered and mobile VR.

  • An understanding of the pipelines employed to achieve a realistic, educational VR experience with high fidelity representations of real life people, environments and objects.  
  • Key learnings for any developer from any discipline in terms of what look out for and what to avoid when working on a VR project such as this. 
  • For those interested in more detail there will also be concrete tips and tricks that can be put into practice when working with volumetric video capture, photogrammetry and scanned objects.

Body Positivity in Character Design

With games reaching an increasingly wide and diverse audience, it is important to represent all groups of people in the characters that inhabit them. This talk will explore common themes found in character design and the reasons certain stereotypes continue to dominate the world of games. Using her own journey of recognising patterns in her work, Lucy will explain how we project our own ideals into the characters we create and offer ways to overcome this and expand our reference pool.

  • Recognising emerging patterns in character design
  • Why we need to change how we create characters
  • Breaking away from the "default"

Intro to UE4 Niagara

Niagara is Unreals next gen vfx toolset and is amazing to use not just for particles but vfx in general. An incredibly customisable system, Niagara can seem daunting to learn, so this talk focuses on demystifying the new toolset by drawing parallels between Niagara and Cascade, giving an overview of key concepts and the practicalities of making effects.

  • Moving particles from cascade to niagara
  • Advantages of Niagara over cascade
  • What you can do in niagara that you couldn't do in cascade

Real-life People, Buildings and Objects in Game Artwork: Intellectual Property Issues

This session is intended to help artists better understand and avoid the legal risks involved in using real life sources in game art. Can you put a real-life car in a game without a licence? What about a gun? What if you change some of the parts or don't use the logos? Can you photobash some everyday objects together to make an in-game character? By the end of the session, artists should have a better idea of what is higher or lower risk. Nick opens by explaining briefly the different types of intellectual property rights and what they protect, including trade marks, patents, copyright and design rights. He then focuses on the common areas and issues with using real people, buildings and objects from an IP perspective. The session closes with some practical tips and a summary of the key takeaways. The session is aimed at game artists, but will also be of interest to anyone involved in taking commercial decisions on licensing or legal risk.

  • Self Learning Techniques whether that be reading, learning through doing or just good old grit!
  • Shifting Disciplines and the issues that can follow
  • Finding what you are passionate about and going for it

Secret Recipes for Great Art: Diversity, Familiarity and Trends

In this talk I will focus on the methods I used to understand the audience in order to build the best possible art style for the games I worked on through three foundational areas; diversity, familiarity and trends. These are based on methods tried and tested at Wooga and now at Rovio. I like to call it the familiarity and diversity spectrum. This 30-minute talk will be broken down into three sections: Diversity, and why having a team of mixed sexes and ethnicities is just as important as good design, secondly Familiarity, and how to build value using familiarity through psychology and thirdly Trends, understanding the trends to use as metaphors in art for your product. Getting aligned on all three of these before production is perfect for a healthy and successful launch. Diversity is an important thing to remember when you are creating a product, professionally we tend to build games for a specific audience and not normally for ourselves, for example over the last six years I have spent my time creating games for ‘Males aged 18-32’ or ‘Women aged 24-35’, two different audiences and both the products were different genres, so how can I direct solid art for a product if I don’t know my audience as I (sadly now) full into neither? Build a culturally rich team with the people you are aiming the product for. Not only is this healthy for your workspace but this also promotes healthy discussions and fresh ideas. Now this is harder than it seems for many reasons, reasons I have been on a crusade to fix over the several years. Over half of the games I worked would be nowhere near as good without the help of a strong diverse team. Familiarity is good, people like familiarity. Many studios want to create a stand out game and they believe something that has never been done before will work, but sometimes the audience just want something known therefore games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush are household names not just for their games but because they because they offer a sign of quality and familiarity. An IP as huge as Angry Birds is used as a staple foundation because the brand itself offers the audience the comfort of familiarity. Psychology has a term for this and that is the Mere-exposure effect which shows that people relate better to something familiar than the unknown. Familiarity also tends to reduce the cost the user acquisition (UA). And finally, trends and why should you look at the current trends when making art. Trends are why people say “That’s cool” at least from my experience when I then ask someone “Why is it cool?” I usually get the reply that “It just looks cool”, now taste can account for this, but influencers and social media are huge motivators and again this also is part of the familiarity and diversity spectrum which I used to help build my games visuals and keep UA acquisition costs down, UA costs that were estimated to be 4-5 dollars but we got them down to $1.00-0.45 cents, a massive saving of up to three dollars, this was not Angry Birds but a new IP. There was no magic, just logic and smart art.

Art is subjective, worst of all - as a developer chances are you won’t find out if you did it right or wrong until Soft Launch. This talk is about understanding that there is no magic wand for getting art right for everyone, but you can help your product reach a broader market by building a diverse team that embraces familiarity and follow the trends of the audience you are after.

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