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Communicating with Artists

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Hey guys, I've been learning a lot in my quest to design and build a game and I've got another question I'd like answering! Now, I know that everyone does things differently so I'd like to suggestions and testimonies regarding what has worked best for you. So I'm looking to commission some concept art and I was wondering what language you use when communicating a vision to artists. Additionally, what process do you commission character or aesthetic concepts and how. I've been looking into it and it seems sketches, then action poses, then black line orthographics, then full colours seems to be the most logical progression, with a whole lot of communication thrown in the mix. Any tips would be appreciated.

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Detailed written descriptions. Include everything about the character you want.

What are the important parts of the character/object? Do you have a similar object from which to base your concept on? What are your art design skills compared to theirs?

Let your artist choose what mockups to do, if they feel it is a waste of their time to do something when they can move on to a more 'advanced' style for the concept art. I know several artists that usually go right from sets of basic 2 minute sketches to 3D digital models. Why? Because if the goal of their work is a 3d model to begin with, they find it just as easy to work out things as chunky unrefined models and improve them as they go than to keep redrawing the parts that are already good just to show a new change for a hand done sketch.

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You are commissioning the concept art for 3D models to be made from, yes? Because concept art for modelers is actually different from concept art for anything else - it requires mathematically correct blueprints from several perspectives, and also requires you to know ahead of time which pieces will need to be animated. Models have to work with each other, for example a clothing model and texture must go on an avatar model, which might in turn have to sit on a mount model, or hold a weapon model. Many people buy an avatar package because they are extremely complex to model and animate, and fairly easy to make a generic one look unique to your game by small modifications. Cars, trees, monsters, and architectural packages are also frequently bought then modified. I've twice had the job of developing clothing concepts for an existing model, and it's essential for the employer to have bought the model first so I can look at the skins it comes with and work over top of its nude skin.

There's also the fact that many concept artists are good at only one or two kinds of concepts (I would probably be terrible at mechas for example) and some 3D modelers prefer to do their own concept art.

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Can you point me in the direction of these packages? I've already commissioned a near cartoon artstyle that I think will be easy to manipulate and bold enough to stand alone to be recognised (on top of its obvious pleasing aesthetic qualities).

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There are hundreds of online stores selling 3D models of various kinds. You have to know what 3D software you're going to use and whether the models are compatible and/or any animations that come with the models are compatible. For example there is a ton of Poser stuff out there that as far as I know isn't compatible with anything except Poser (but I don't know for sure). Anyway here are 2 sites which have a lot of stuff, beyond that google is your buddy.
garage games content packs
turbosquid 3D models

[Edited by - sunandshadow on February 4, 2008 8:10:22 AM]

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If you are doing human bodies though, poser is the best solution. Daz Studio can do it to I've heard but Poser can work with the Daz3d models and Im not sure if it works with Poser's, but I still vouch for Poser as being a great solution for figural work. Certainly better by far than something like MakeHuman. For any other models, you have a huge variety out there with various price ranges.

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What would happen if I got it modeled from the ground up in 3dsmax? Would there be any negative side to this?

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Depends how experienced the modeler is, and whether they are also good at rigging and animation. Generally it takes longer and is more expensive to create any content than buy it premade.

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