Game Arts graduate Jack Eaves is a Concept Artist at Rebellion, one of Europe's leading games developers, where he has worked on games including Battlezone VR for PS4.
His most recent work was on Sniper Elite 4 – the fourth game in the award-winning series – set to release later this month. Previously, he also worked on the PS4 survival horror game Until Dawn during an internship at Supermassive Games.
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Jack visited the college to give BA (Hons) Game Arts and BA (Hons) Animation students tips on how to succeed as a concept artist and a peek into his day-to-day life at the studio behind hit games such as Sniper Elite 3, Sniper Elite V2 and the Nazi Zombie Army series.
Hi Jack, can you tell us a little about your role at Rebellion?
I am currently working as a Concept Artist, my role usually comes into play at the start of our pre-production period, this means that it's my task to visualise what the game could look like based on a few simple descriptions.
"Have passion for what you do. Don’t just enjoy playing games, enjoy the whole creative process." — Jack Eaves
Using Battlezone as an example, this meant defining the potential style that the game could use – how realistic will it be, or how simple? Is it colourful? Will it use textures or flat colours? What will the tanks look like? Do they hover?
Early concept art can help to provide some of these answers and help to determine a direction that can then be worked on by the rest of the team.
What happens when a game goes into production?
This is when the full team start working on a project and my job is to continue solving any visual issues.
For example, a tank that I had designed might not work as well once we put it into the game. Perhaps it doesn't look as interesting when viewed from the cockpit, so I need to adjust the design to look interesting from the outside and also from the player’s perspective.
"...concept art is used by others as a guide or inspiration to create elements that go into the game." — Jack Eaves
At this stage, I’ll also start making more specific assets for levels – the game designers will have a better idea of the necessary game mechanics and need these visualised so that they can be handed to 3D artists to create them for the game. This could include enemy turrets, bosses and support buildings.
So do you work solely on concept art?
No, once the game is nearer the end of development my job becomes more of an illustrator or graphic designer.
I’ll paint things like parallax images to be used for intro cinematics, or elements like header images for tutorial screens and icons for the user interface.
These are different to normal concept art as they are used directly in the game, whereas concept art is used by others as a guide or inspiration to create elements that go into the game.
"Early concept art can help to provide some of these answers and help to determine a direction that can then be worked on by the rest of the team." — Jack Eaves
What would a normal day at work look like for you?
I am part of the 2D team that includes Concept Artists, GUI Artists + Programmers, Graphic Designers and Marketing Artists.
Every Monday morning we have a team meeting, where we’ll talk about what might be coming over the horizon and our studio Art Director assigns tasks to everyone.
Following the meeting colleagues might send me screenshots of the level in the game I need to work on if it has already been blocked out, or I might go into the game engine to see for myself.
Then it’s time to get started. I use a lot of Photoshop and normally have a lot of tabs open on my web browser, gathering reference material. I also listen to a lot of music to help me keep focused on the task at hand.
What's been your favourite game to work on so far and why?
From the games that I can discuss publicly, Battlezone has been my favourite but also the most challenging.
It was the first project I worked on and my work evolved a lot as I went from drawing and painting to working fully in 3D.
This really took me out of my comfort zone and taught me what concept art is really about, other than just being an illustrator.
The fact that it is in VR makes a big difference to the things you need to focus on and think about when designing for it. It was great fun getting to try out PlayStation VR before the public!
What advice would you give to anybody thinking about studying Game Arts or wanting to go onto a career as a concept artist in games?
Have passion for what you do. Don’t just enjoy playing games, enjoy the whole creative process.
Enjoy the process of learning, creating 3D models, drawing characters, environments and props.
It is a tough job to get into but keep your passion for the subject, seek help when you need it and actively search for answers to your questions.
It's much easier and quicker to improve if you have ideas about HOW to improve. If somebody advises you to improve your perspective and anatomy then Google it and figure out how you can do this.
Ask your teachers, find online communities – this is better than waiting in the dark.