6 great concept game art tips

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept

KD reveals how he approaches a professional game concept commission

This concept art piece for Riot Games' League of Legends (opens in new tab) online battler is one of freelance artist, KD Stanton (opens in new tab)'s favourites. It was designed to demonstrate the teamwork behind the game's 2v2 mode.

"I picked Draven and Darius for team A, and Katarina and Hecarim for team B." KD explains of the characters featured in the image.
"I then did some sketches for the concept." He says the biggest challenge in this image was keeping the colour saturation high and having strong, contrasting colour tones.

He also added Riot Games' style, he says, using plenty of lighting effects to bring out the drama. "Along with the contrast of warm and cold colours, each character in my painting has a sharp contrast and reflects each others' personality. It also made a cool composition for the story. It's all about making my storytelling more interesting."

01. Initial composition

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 1

Block in your concept before adding any details

I start by drafting a fairly simple composition. Darius is attacking Katarina – Katarina, however, is cleverly dodging the attack – while Hecarim confronts Draven.

Darius is a strong character, a hero, so I have him waving his axe in order to make him look more powerful. It's a night-time scene, so I have to think about silhouettes.

02. The story emerges

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 2

Be in tune to the story - it's integral that you don't interpret it wrong!

I brighten the picture a little, then increase the saturation. Then I adjust the dynamism of the characters again, experimenting with special effects.

A plot emerges: Darius didn't hit Katarina but the brazier instead. Katarina dodged the attack and sneaked behind Draven. This makes
it feel more dynamic.

03. Getting into detail

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 3

Add those telling details for the fans, these will help sell your story!

Draven is crafty, he's a guilty hero, so I give him a exaggerated pose as he waves his axes, as well as a sinister smile to help his character resonate with fans and players.

With Hecarim, I let him have his shadows rush towards Draven. I add some background details at this stage too, and on the characters.

04. Background

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 4

Distinguish between primary and secondary characters in your scene using brightness

I join the fire up in the background and expand the scope of its impact. Again, I slightly adjust the dynamic levels and sense of volume.

The distinction between primary and secondary isn't an obvious adjustment, so I dim my screen and adjust the brightness, to make the composition feel a bit more complete.

05. More adjustments

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 5

Tweak any aspects you feel don't work, add and adjust as you see fit!

Now the background feels a bit too close, so I join the distance between the perspective, characters and background. I adjust the figures again to highlight details. To help make the screen feel like it's moving I add some flying stones.

06. Final tweaks

KD Stanton League of Legends Concept step 6

Add to the perspective - make sure your image is as dynamic as the game!

For better perspective I adjust some character sizes to form a clear hierarchy and add dynamism. And it's done!

For more information on becoming a game concept artist and for an exclusive look inside Riot Games (opens in new tab)' LA studios, pick up the latest games edition of Imagine FX issue 134. Get your copy today (opens in new tab)!

Words: Ed Ricketts

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX (opens in new tab) magazine issue 131.

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