21 Sep Environment Art Style Test
The following is a video of a Hellblade pre-production Art Style Test:
Dan Attwell – Principal Environment Artist
What is an environment art style test?
An environment art style test is a way of getting a sense of what a finished level will look like, and is a way of helping an art team to find their feet in the terms of the overall style of the game. It generally takes the form of a vignette, or diorama of a small part of a level, and is presented as a fly though video, or a small, controlled playable demo. On Larger projects they are usually part of early milestone deliverables for the publisher. In very basic terms, you can think of them as in-game concept art.
In the case of Hellblade the art style tests have taken on a slightly different roll to what they have in previous games. In previous blog posts and dev diaries, we touched on our ethos for art creation. Because of the time scales, and lack of man power, I’m building the worlds with kit part props and with as few bespoke meshes as possible. In a traditional role style tests are about exploring ideas and seeing if they work in a game context. In production of Hellblade, they are more about being able to view the kit parts in context, which helps to maintain continuity and quality. As the levels are being designed in parallel to the art creations, we’re also using the style tests to feed back in to the design, and vice versa.
It’s worth noting that the style tests in the video are shown with first pass lighting and very minimal post production. It makes sense to keep everything as natural as possible during this early phase. This will give as more to play with when it comes to colour grading later on. As the name suggests, post production is the last thing we’ll want to add to the levels, and this can drastically alter the look, and mood of a level. It can be very easy to tie yourself in knots when it comes to colour balancing, and lighting when you rely on post too early on.