How I get more from my old reference photos for better concept art

video game concept art tutorial; a video game character design
(Image credit: Future / Anna Hollinrake)

My video game concept art tutorial will reveal how to reuse old photo reference you've discarded to create something new and inventive. This tutorial was inspired by a visit to the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco. I was not prepared for the abject beauty and craftsmanship on display at Guo Pei's Couture Fantasy exhibition. So much so that I spent three hours moving from dress to suit to wearable sculpture, drawing frantically until my iPad battery died.

I wanted to do a fully fledged illustration inspired by what I'd seen, but crucially though: they weren't my designs. However, it wasn't like I was lacking in reference. One tumble into my Google Photos led to a wealth of potential directions that came with lived personal experience, I just needed a solid shove to actually use them. (This tutorial uses Photoshop, read our Photoshop tutorials roundup for similar training.)

Start a game studio, Anna Hollinrake; a photo of a female game developer
Anna Hollinrake

Anna Hollinrake is an award-winning creative director, BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, and now co-founder and Creative Director of her own indie video game studio Electric Saint. With nine years in video games and animation, she have worked as an Art Lead on Fall Guys, building the Creative Services team from the ground up to support a 50 million player free-to-play-launch.

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Anna is a concept and environment artist at Climax Studios, specialising in designing for VR, low poly modelling, talking about mental health in games, and excessive whimsy.
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