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Unlocking Advantages: Why Game Developers Outsource Art Production

Keeping up with the fast-paced game development industry requires effective resource management to remain innovative and competitive. Making the strategic choice to either handle or outsource art production greatly impacts a game studio's success. Although it is appealing to have total creative control over every facet of a game’s design, several advantages of art outsourcing can get a game from concept to market faster, more creatively, and with higher quality.

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Source: https://medium.com/mighty-bear-games/how-the-use-of-ai-evolved-our-art-production-pipelines-a335c8a257ce

Game Art Development: The Role of Outsourcing

In the context of creating game art, outsourcing is the process of assigning activities related to game art production to outside experts or studios instead of managing them in-house. This process might include everything from the first concept art creation to the end-to-end production of in-game assets. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to game art outsourcing; instead, it is usually divided into specialized fields like 2D and 3D art production, each serving a distinct set of requirements and stages in the game development cycle

Concept Art Outsourcing

Concept art is foundational in game development, setting the visual tone and style of the game. Outsourcing concept art creation can provide access to artists who specialize in visual storytelling and can translate abstract ideas into compelling visual forms. These artists help establish the look and feel of the game, character designs, environments, and key objects, providing a visual blueprint for further development.

2D Game Art Outsourcing

2D game art outsourcing focuses on the creation of flat images and visuals that are used in games. This includes:
  • character designs;
  • environments;
  • UI elements to textures and marketing materials.
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Source: https://www.rainbowacademy.it/en/master-rainbow-academy/game-production/

Designing 2D games also involves a lot of artistry. This encompasses anything from traditional drawing and digital illustration to vector and pixel art in more complex ways. Each of them can go a long way toward determining the general tone and feel of the game.

These assets are essential for games that rely on a two-dimensional perspective and require a distinctive artistic style and visual appeal. Through outsourcing this kind of creativity, the developers can source artists with the capacity to engage illustration and digital painting, along with vector art skills, to develop visuals that appeal to the players

3D Game Art Outsourcing

Conversely, 3D game art outsourcing involves the production of three-dimensional models, animations, and environments essential for immersive gameplay. This includes:
  • character modeling;
  • rigging;
  • texturing;
  • animation;
  • complex environments and props
Argentics X You
Source: https://www.rainbowacademy.it/en/master-rainbow-academy/game-production/

These elements are crucial in building a rich, interactive world players can explore and interact with. 3D art production involves sophisticated software and skilled artists who can bring depth, realism, and dynamism to the gaming experience. Each component, from the detailed texturing of surfaces to the fluid motion of characters, contributes to the game's overall aesthetic and functional quality.

By outsourcing these tasks, game developers can benefit from advanced technical expertise and state-of-the-art technology that might not be available in-house. This is particularly valuable for projects requiring high detail and realism or when the game targets cutting-edge platforms with high graphical standards.

Animation Outsourcing

Animation outsourcing involves hiring external professionals to create animations that bring the game’s characters and environments to life. This includes everything:
  • basic movements;
  • complex interactions;
  • cinematic sequences, etc.

Animation outsourcing is particularly beneficial for studios that require sophisticated, fluid animations that may require specialized software and skills.

UI/UX Design Outsourcing

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are crucial for making the game accessible and enjoyable. The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are essential to the game's accessibility and enjoyment. Outsourcing UI/UX design can bring studios such deliverables as a high-quality, user-friendly interface, which can boost player engagement. By outsourcing UI/UX design to external specialists, it is possible to get fresh looks at usability so that the game interfaces are appealing and easy to use.

Other Areas of Art Outsourcing

While technically part of the broader game development process rather than strictly art production, audio outsourcing is crucial for creating an immersive game experience. This includes the outsourcing of:
  • sound effects;
  • background scores;
  • voice acting.

External audio professionals can bring high-level expertise and specialized equipment to produce a rich auditory landscape that complements the game’s visual elements.

Localization could be defined as the adaption of a game's content elements, which could be text, images, or graphics, among others, for different regional specifications. In this context, art outsourcing would serve to customize graphics or icons, among other such visual elements, according to cultural references, which on the other side, would guarantee international diversity on the part of the audience.

Finally, technical art outsourcing brings the gap between art and programming. Technical artists are responsible for developing and managing tools that optimize the artistic workflow and ensure that the visuals integrate well with the game engine. They handle tasks like shader development, particle effects, and performance optimizations.

These specialized areas of game art outsourcing enable development teams to stay adaptable and agile, focusing on their core capabilities while leveraging global expertise for specific requirements. By collaborating with experts in many areas of game art production, studios can improve the quality and attractiveness of their games, personalizing each piece to create a unified and engaging user experience.

Workflow of Game Art Outsourcing Studio

Outsourcing art requires a well-defined workflow that provides efficiency and high-quality results. This process usually begins with the game developer's first contact with the art outsourcing studio and continues through various stages of production, feedback, and final delivery.

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Source: https://www.rit.edu/artdesign/game-arts

The art outsourcing estimation process is a critical initial phase in the outsourcing workflow. Here, the outsourcing studio assesses the scope of the required art assets and provides a detailed estimate of the time, costs, and resources needed to complete the project. This step involves detailed discussions regarding the game's genre, style, complexity of assets, and the total volume of work required. The art outsourcing estimation aims to align the expectations of the outsourcing studio and the client to prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth workflow.

  1. Requirements Gathering: It is the first and most important stage of understanding new requirements. This phase involves comprehensive discussions to fully understand the project's needs. The studio gathers information on what sort of art styles, asset types, and the overall volume of assets needed. This can range from specific color schemes and thematic elements to the level of detail required for each asset.
  2. Scope Definition: In this step, the project's scope is clearly defined to avoid scope creep and ensure all parties are aligned. This definition includes detailing the exact number of assets, the types of revisions allowed, and any milestones that need to be met. It's crucial to outline what deliverables are expected and when which helps manage expectations and ensure project alignment.
  3. Resource Allocation: Depending on the scope, the studio will determine how many artists are needed and what skills they should have. For example, the team might include more skilled character artists if the project involves complex character design work. This step ensures that enough resources are available on demand for the project. Under-resourcing or over-resourcing can harm both the budget and timeline.
  4. Timeline Estimation: This involves breaking down the project into phases and assigning durations for each phase based on the scope of work and resource availability.
  5. Cost Calculation: The cost plan includes estimating time and resource investment, plus any additional charges for urgent work submissions or changes to the initial scope. Transparent cost calculation prevents surprises, ensuring the client knows the financial commitment involved. This purpose is served by creating a line-by-line quote based on each cost component, providing clear financial expectations..

Once the estimation is approved, the production phase begins. This typically follows these steps:

  1. Concept Art Creation: Initial sketches and designs are created to establish the visual style.
  2. Asset Development: Detailed 3D models, textures, and animations are developed based on the approved concepts.
  3. Feedback and Revisions: The outsourcing studio submits interim deliveries for feedback and makes necessary adjustments based on the client's input.
  4. Final Delivery: The completed assets are delivered for integration into the game.

Throughout the manufacturing process, quality assurance is crucial. The outsourcing studio frequently uses internal review stages to ensure that each asset satisfies the established quality requirements while remaining true to the game's visual vision.

Short-Term Utility vs. Long-Term Aesthetics

In the context of game art production, a balance is often struck between the short-term utility of playable content and the long-term aesthetics of the game. Playable content must be produced quickly to meet development milestones, often focusing on functionality and technical performance. In contrast, long-term aesthetics involve a deeper focus on fine details, artistic coherence, and visual impact, which are essential for the game's marketability and player retention.

  1. Short-Term Utility: This involves creating assets that can be immediately used in the game, allowing developers to move forward with coding and testing. These assets must be optimized for performance while providing enough detail to fit their role in the game mechanics.
  2. Long-Term Aesthetics: This focuses on enhancing visual details and ensuring artistic consistency across all game assets. The goal is to improve the player's immersive experience and emotional connection to the game.
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Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/58938777/Preview-of-the-next-game-made-by-1D4

The workflow of a game art outsourcing studio is designed to be thorough and organized. It ensures that every piece of art meets the developers' needs and aligns with the project's overall aesthetic vision. By carefully planning and executing each phase, from estimation to final delivery, these studios are essential in game development, balancing efficiency with artistic excellence.

Game Art Outsourcing Services: Capitalizing on Strategic Outsourcing

Outsourcing game art production is increasingly seen as a strategic advantage in the game development industry. This approach streamlines operations and boosts the quality and innovation of game art.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Outsourcing significantly reduces costs. By outsourcing, companies can avoid the hefty expenses of maintaining an in-house team, like salaries, benefits, and the necessary technology. Finally, the outsourcing agency takes care of this set of costs and developers pay for what they use which makes it a cost-efficient strategy.
  2. Access to Specialized Talent: Game developers outsource illustration services to tap into various artistic styles and skills. By working with experienced artists from an outsourcing studio, developers can ensure their game visuals are unique and high-quality.
  3. Enhanced Production Efficiency: Outsourced teams can manage large volumes of assets more efficiently. They use the latest tools and technology, ensuring high-quality results that meet industry standards.
  4. Risk Mitigation: Outsourcing provides flexibility for dynamic resizing of the team to meet demands without enduring the long-term implications associated with hires. That kind of flexibility is invaluable for an industry dependent on project-based work and variable demand.
  5. Focus on Core Competencies: By outsourcing art design, game studios can focus more on key areas. This focus helps maintain competitiveness and drive innovation within the company.

The price of game art outsourcing can vary significantly depending on the complexity and scope of the project. Typically, outsourcing studios provide a detailed estimation process that includes time, resources, and overall cost. This estimation process helps developers manage their budgets more effectively by clearly showing the financial commitments involved.

Cost saving, convenience, and access to specialized skills are the most logical reasons to consider outsourcing game art services in general Understanding the process and leveraging the knowledge of specialist outsourcing studios allows game creators to improve the quality and efficiency of their art creation processes. This technique enables a flexible, scalable solution that accommodates the changing nature of game development, ensuring that both short- and long-term project objectives are achieved.

If you're considering outsourcing your game art, contact Argentics. With a strong portfolio and notable experience, game art outsourcing studio Argentics provides tailored solutions to meet your project's requirements. Visit our website today to learn more about how our experience may help you improve your game.

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