The Wonders Of Concept Art

(this post is largely inspired by the debut trailer of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which honestly raised by heart rate much higher than the insane finale to season five of Game of Thrones)

I was never one for concept art; when I was younger, it was an easter egg tacked onto games as an unlockable, that cynical 14-year-old James quickly realised was the developers’ way of instructing the player to do more things without actually creating that much more content. I saw no point in trawling through endless pages of sketches and discarded character designs on my TV when I could instead be playing around with the actual characters, and the artistic choices that had been kept, rather than abandoned.

Then my lovely friends got me a Mass Effect art book for my birthday and I’ve been poring over it like Battlestar Galactica fans desperately rereading the scripts of season four of the show in an attempt to understand exactly who or what the bloody hell Starbuck actually was. As someone more aware of being a creator of stuff these days (I’ve always been writing things, but I haven’t really seen myself as a creator until the last eighteen months or so) I;m now more appreciative of and interested in the process that goes into creating characters and worlds. It’s fun to look at alternative designs for characters, and try to get an understanding of the decision-making process behind abandoning certain designs – if character is supposed to represent y, why would look z portray this the best? Or maybe they weren’t meant to portray y at all!

I’m also aware that I’m going through a similar process as I slowly work my way back into writing my latest hair-brained attempt at a novel; I’m discarding and adding new looks and traits to my characters, to help justify or confuse their actions, and reinforce the ideas I’m trying to get across through them.

I’ve always struggled to see creation as a process; it was more of an initial spark, then a finished thing, without much of a middle. That’s why I started this blog, to create by doing, not just by pondering, and I’m starting to see the processes of others as I go.


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