Look to Your Favorite Video Game for Creative Inspiration

No matter what type of artist you are, inspiration is something that is often overlooked and even undervalued. Every artist knows that inspiration can be the secret sauce that takes your work from good to great. But where do we go to find this creative inspiration? In this world where we are assaulted by information in so many different forms at virtually every turn, where to look often becomes the question. In art school, a teacher may have told you that inspiration is everywhere in the world around you. While technically true, this doesn’t help to narrow your focus especially when a deadline is looming closer. So what can we do as artists to make sure that we are being efficient in looking for inspiration? After all, seeking out inspiration pushes us to grow, it motivates us and it may even prompt us to try something we hadn’t previously considered. A perfectly valid question that should be asked in beginning your search for inspiration is “What am I passionate about?” The things that naturally excite or stimulate us are great places to begin searching for inspiration simply because our minds are already receptive to them. Because so many of us here at Digital-Tutors are passionate about games, let's break down how one might look for inspiration in that area.

Games as Inspiration?

Most people take for granted the number of artists who work on a single game title. If that title is a AAA game, the number of artists involved will only increase. The reality is, the current generation of video games provide a wealth of opportunities for inspiration for both 2D and 3D artists alike. Some of these types of artists are expected. Concept artist, character artist, lighting and rendering artist and animator are roles that virtually every game has. Have you ever thought to look to a game for fashion inspiration though? If not, check out what Ubisoft has been able to accomplish with it’s Assassin’s Creed games. It might just surprise you. This is a perfect example of how games can be looked to for more non-traditional forms of inspiration. Maybe you're an architect, a graphic designer or even a landscape painter. As the line between games and Hollywood becomes thinner and thinner, the inspiration you seek could be in the code of your favorite game.
Finding inspiration in a game can begin the very first time you fire it up and there isn’t even a special code you have to enter. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, select, start, anyone? It begins with going into the experience with a different mindset. Find your area of focus, what you're looking for and identify the areas where you might find it. While things like lighting, texturing, level design and animation may show up in general game play, sometimes you may have to be a little more patient. As most gamers know, cut scenes are where games can truly shine. Often times a cut scene boarders on quality that rivals what can be seen in films. Naughty Dog’s refresh of The Last of Us for the PS4 is a perfect example of this. With cut scenes that are as near perfect as we’ve witnessed, everything from lighting to camera work have been polished to make for an amazing experience. Cut scenes aren’t always about creating a realistic and cinematic experience though. They can also be a way to showcase something different and creative. Many games have moved to cut scenes that border on motion graphics pieces. One in particular that stands out to us as an interesting mixture of illustration, 3D and motion can be found in Diablo 3. Whatever you are looking for inspiration on, it’s important to make a conscious effort to watch for it as you play.


Behind the Scenes Inspiration

Sometimes the act of simply playing a game can distract you from actually finding inspiration in it. Games are meant to be fun after all. One secret weapon you may not be aware of is that many times a game publisher will release an art book that coincides with the release of an anticipated title. These art books may be included as an upgraded package available if a title is pre-ordered, sometimes they're released and sold completely separate from the game. These art books can be worth their weight in gold to an artist looking for inspiration. As artists we know that the magic is often times the journey in getting to a successful end result and not necessarily the result itself. Process is something you don’t get to see when you play a game. This is what makes these art books rare gems in terms of inspiration. Time and effort have been put into creating an experience that allows you to see what happened on the journey to releasing the title. The process in developing the main characters or enemies. Clay renders of high resolution and game resolution character meshes. Concept art for various environments. Matte paintings that were used as backdrops. Sketches of various weapon and prop designs. Design work for way-finding iconography. These are simple examples of what you can expect to find when turning the pages of an art book. Each book is different and unique. Once you have a few in your library, you'll be surprised at how often they're referenced. Our collection here at Digital-Tutors is referred to for a number of different types of projects.


If you're a gamer at heart, like so many of us here, looking to games as a source of creative inspiration may be a no-brainer. Either way, it's hard to ignore the level of creativity and overall realism that can be exhibited through them using today’s technology. Artists have never had fewer limitations. With so many games being released on so many different platforms, how do you know which game to look to as a source of inspiration? Never fear, we here at Digital-Tutors are here for you. You may have noticed that this very blog features the occasional game review. In fact, the reviews you’ll see here are a little different than other sites. We focus on the technical aspects of each game so that you know exactly what you're getting into before putting down the money to purchase your next game. Make sure and check them out next time you're looking for a title to inspire you. Do you have a game(s) that inspire you? If so, be sure to share in the comment section below!