My first rendered design was a simple square image of my Roblox avatar floating in space. Now, I’m designing graphics for the biggest studios on the platform. This artistic journey was no easy feat by any means and started in August of 2017. From that first piece onwards, I’ve learned numerous vital lessons through years’ worth of graphic design, marketing, 3D rendering, and other fields I’ve grown into.
Working as a 3D artist on the platform for about four years now, I’ve learned what clicks with an audience and what doesn’t within the realm of game graphics. It’s rare to see a popular game without some sort of art as it’s front face to entice players to join, but how are these created, and how do you, the designer, successfully grow and publicize your work?
As an artist in this field, you dance on the line between accuracy and false advertising. Players want to experience what’s displayed on the game’s page; thumbnail included. If such thumbnail lacks appeal, not only does the game risk losing players, but you risk losing potential client networking.
When designing a graphic to use as marketing, it’s important to keep in mind how exactly your work will function. Sure, you may not be building or programming the game itself it’ll display on, but your art piece still plays a key role in the game’s grand scheme of development. Whether thumbnail, advertisement, or icon, these graphics serve to invite users to not just click on the artwork but play the game itself. Ultimately, the design is meant to capture a snapshot of what they could experience.
How, though, does an art piece appeal to not only its client and creator, but an audience of potentially thousands or even millions of users? It’s not a simple science but learning key design and marketing elements will grant you the ability to grow as an artist and effectively communicate through your creations.
Not all art appeals to everyone, but there are methods to guide viewer’s eyes through a design. Learning how to convey a message beyond the assets you’ve been given is a skill that can only be honed with continuous practice. What are you capturing in this art piece? How does it pertain to the game or group it connects to? Are you designing around a story, event, or theme?
You’ll need to keep these questions in mind — after all, you’ve only got one limited image to do so.
I have personally always stuck with Blender and Photoshop as my primary programs for artwork, but any software of your choice will yield sufficient results with enough persistence and understanding of these design elements.
The layout of a design can either make or break a piece. Composition is defined as the arrangement of visual elements and how they work together within a piece of art.
Many artists follow a set of techniques and elements to bring their work together. Some of these compositional devices include certain layout frameworks, visual balance, movement, and use of color to ultimately convey a certain message.
What exactly are you aiming to visualize? An action scene? Combat? Adventure? Or perhaps showcasing a feature? You’ll need to understand what exactly you’re trying to convey. Planning with sketches and references can help you visualize a direction and layout to follow.
Compositional guides help to balance aspects of an image and often result in a more visually pleasing design. While some guides work well with certain compositions, it’s important to understand that these guides should be followed as a general rule of thumb. Rule of thirds, one of the more popular structures, consists of two horizontal and two vertical lines. Aligning important elements along the intersections provides a naturally balanced framework to design around. Creating leading lines additionally guides the viewer’s eyes to certain points of the image such as a specific character or action. Another tactic I’ve learned to unconsciously follow is avoiding tangents between objects, like adjusting a character so it doesn’t awkwardly intersect with the outline of another object or sit too close to a border.
Integrating deliberate color use into your designs can emphasize certain elements, create depth, and set an overall mood using vibrant or subtle colors or specific hues that complement each other.
Examples of color implementations include usage of color archetypes: red associating with evil and violence, green and yellow bringing positivity, black with mystery, white as innocence, and so on.
By following color theory, you can further control how your image is perceived with contrasting, complementary, and analogous colors. Most of my rendered graphics have some sort of warm to cool gradient since I find they can make subjects pop and bring out details that weren’t initially noticeable.
If you’re looking for something to push your artwork even further, I highly recommend learning more about composition and implementing these artistic elements into your work. With enough time and practice, you’ll notice yourself following these guidelines subconsciously and how they affect viewers.
Different artists learn at different paces, so don’t push yourself if you’re finding that you aren’t satisfied with your work. Learning through personal work alongside feedback from others is key to growth on the Roblox platform. When working for games, you’ll learn through trial and error on how to satisfy not only the client and audience but yourself with your artwork. Networking with other artists to learn different workflows can also help and bring sources of reliable constructive criticism. One of my biggest tips for learning a new creative field: learn something new with each piece. If you consistently pursue this path as an artist, you’ll learn what works for you and your workflow and what doesn’t, but you’ll need patience and an open mindset for growth.
Care for your wellbeing first and evolve at your own pace — art takes time.
Designing these thumbnails, icons, and advertisements to bring together an audience of millions to genres across the platform sounds like a daunting job, but it’s a rewarding artistry that is constantly evolving with the community and never fails to amaze me. With thousands of resources online, learning how to tackle such a unique field is possible for anyone with the drive to do so. By starting with a simple understanding of the science behind these designs, you too can create your own hand-crafted world captured in a single frame.
More about the author:
I’m 0Skyz, a deeply passionate 3D artist working on rendered graphics for dozens of games on the Roblox platform in addition to modeling within the UGC program. I love bringing ideas to life through technology and art and inspiring others through my work!
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