Dino Diaries #9 | Concept Art

November 15, 2022

Howdy Ranchers!

In this brand new development blog, we’re going to dive into one of the earlier phases of game dev: concept art! In game development, concept art is a huge factor – it’s how we create and define the general look and feel of a game. This includes colours, trees, characters, buildings and much much more! We’ll be talking to Elain Chen, one of our concept artists who has had a huge hand in helping define the look of Paleo Pines.

Early Pebble Plaza Concept by Jordan Bradley and Rubes Kissack

How does the process of creating a concept come about? Are you given a specific instruction or a more interpretative brief?
It really depends on the assignment! Each item that I am tasked to design is given a purpose: the reason this particular item exists in the world of Paleo Pines, whether that be festive summer decorations, a cozy dino resting place, or tasty food. Knowing the purpose that an object will serve helps inform its design. Sometimes Nina (Game Director) and Aisling (Producer) will provide more specific worldbuilding details/lore to go along with it, and other times it is left up to interpretation. Still other times I’ll be asked to touch-up an existing item or character, and those assignments can be quite fun as well!

Where in the world of Paleo Pines do you draw inspiration?
The dinosaurs! I’m definitely more of an environment concept artist than a creature designer but looking at the dinosaurs gives me motivation to flesh out the world around them. My favorite species are the velociraptors, but I’m also pretty attached to Lucky.

Do you imagine the finished 3D product when you are creating your art, or do you do it in your own style for a 3D artist to interpret?
A little bit of both. When I design, I try to make sure that the proportions, shape, and colour of the design fits well into the world first and foremost. I switch approaches for art style depending on which stage of the concept I’m focusing on (early ideation, render, and colour variations all come with different levels of finish). I do try to envision what the finished concept would look like in the game as much as I can; sometimes this means integrating my paintings with in-game screenshots for a more accurate visualization. That being said, my finished concepts always allow for freedom of interpretation from the 3D artists as they translate it to a model. The final product is very collaborative as it is the outcome of many different minds: the game director, producer, concept artist, 3D artists, and 3D art lead.

What is your favourite asset that you’ve designed and seen made in-game?
I have a few actually! I love seeing how my concepts translate into 3D, it is really satisfying to see those solid shapes form from 2D drawings.

One of the craziest things I’ve seen the 3D team do was overhaul the entire head of the character model, so I couldn’t leave this one out even though it’s technically not an asset. In the early concepts for the model update, we wanted to give the heads more of a 3D look and feel, as well as making sure that it was cohesive with the dinosaurs. I’m in love with how it came out – an enormous round of applause for the 3D team!

3D Artist: Abigail Gelston

I have a never-ending affection for small cute things, so these assets (modelled by Jakub and Rosie) really spark joy for me. The design language of Paleo Pines in particular with its chunky shapes and round edges is super charming and fun to work with.

3D Artist: Jakub Bojanowski

3D Artist: Rosie Jarvis

What sort of brainstorming process do you go through when you need to create multiples of something?
I try to keep the defining characteristics of each region in mind when I need to create several versions of an item that exists in different areas. For example, different trees and materials exist in different regions (dark wood for forest, sandstone for desert, light wood for valley), which would change the appearance. Each area also has a distinct palette, which is influenced by the materials available for certain dyes in each region.

For creating mass ideations, I try to go through different combinations of shapes and colours to create unique options, not being afraid to mix-and-match different aspects to create new variations.

And that was it for this Dino Diaries! To finish it off, we’d like to show you our updated player character in animated action (of course, this is without the final textures). This was already shown in our Discord server, join now if you want to see updates and behind the scenes development shots first!

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PaleoPines
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/PaleoPines
Discord: https://discord.com/invite/5mjbs6D
TikTok: @italicpig

And don’t forget to add Paleo Pines to your Steam Wishlist!