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Top 5 2D Art Drawing Pieces in Modern Gaming

Finding beautiful 2D art is easiest done in gaming. The gaming medium lends itself well to 2D art drawing in general, and finding beautiful artwork is simple online. Nonetheless, here are ten of some of the best 2D art drawings in gaming today which inspire artists around the world.

How To Rate 2D Art Drawing Pieces

Rating art is always difficult because of the subjective nature of such work, but some pieces do a great job of really showcasing the power of the medium. Besides the objective art technique, something that can bring power to 2D art is the context of the gameplay to the art, or the journey the player has gone through to see the art. These sorts of things will be assessed when deciding the top five as well.

Something also important in rating art in games is their purpose. Most often, art is used for some sort of reason in the game, and translating that meaning into a piece of art is difficult. People even outsource their art to professional artists to ensure that this translation of meaning to art happens smoothly. Thus, intention will be one of the important factors for rating art in this article as well.

Let it be said as well that these 2D art drawing masterpieces may feature spoilers for their respective games.

#5: Battleblock Theater

Another example of diverse types of 2D art would be Battleblock. The art in this game is not at a technical level a masterpiece, or something that evokes immense emotion in its players, but it is absolutely wonderful in its ability to make the player smile.
The 2D design art for this game is all smiles, covering an overt sinister undertone prevalent throughout the game. That being said, the game art does what it intends to: make the player laugh. It is common to appreciate the emotional depth of a game’s art, but sometimes the simplicity of setting out with a goal and achieving it can be more valuable than anything. The game itself features 2D art drawing pieces throughout its run-time that all accomplish the same thing, but this boat scene is the introduction to the game and sets the tone beautifully.

Throughout the game, the lighthearted tone is communicated in all kinds of art, and with this introduction, the player knows exactly what to expect, without feeling infantilized by the game. Despite the cheery atmosphere, the story in the game is sinister and evil, which the introduction to the game does well to communicate as well.

Communicating tone via art is often the simplest way to do it, but doing it as masterfully as Battleblock Theater is no easy task.

#4: Darkest Dungeon

A grueling game, which makes the player fight to the end through horrors and suffering, Darkest Dungeon is a slog for many gamers. Losing characters who they’ve named after their friends and losing hope, many players quit before they can reach the mind-boggling ending of the game. The Eldritch horror and cosmic existential themes come to a head in this amazing 2-dimensional drawing.
The bright color and deep purples on screen completely contrast the dark and dreary look of the entire game. The difficulty of the game finally breaks through to a beautiful image of the world ending. All of it, in the end, was just a trip to the end that the player orchestrates throughout their journey. This kind of 2D art is difficult to beat when placed in its context, but even without its context, the imagery and colors are gorgeous.

This piece, more than anything, however, is meant to show the meaninglessness of all the player’s work. The outcome of failure in Darkest Dungeon is a world-ending event, and the outcome of success is also a world-ending event, so what’s even the point? The final shot truly drives home the existentialist nightmare that is Darkest Dungeon.

The real question is whether or not all the suffering for the player is worth this singular image. That’s up to the player though, of course.

#3: Divinity Original Sin 2

This is an interesting choice, but one which should be more appreciated in the industry in general. Divinity Original Sin is not a 2D art game, but actually a 3D isometric game. There are, however, many different types of 2D art, including the humble loading screen.
Many games would lazily choose to use a black screen with a loading symbol for its transitional periods, but Larian studios decided to do something more, and it should be appreciated. Having something nice to look at during loading times is a great way to keep the player engaged when the game needs downtime for its technical processes, and the art of creating good loading screens is often overlooked.

If the purpose of loading screen art is to make waiting easier, then the game does a great job with this piece. Having something to look at throughout the perhaps hundreds of hours of gameplay is a wonderful addition. That being said, Divinity Original Sin 2 does not actually feature that many loading screens, so you might find yourself looking for them just to get a peek at this beautiful drawing.

That being said, whether a loading screen or not, the art is beautiful, showcasing personalities, and intended classes for each character.

#2: Hollow Knight

It’s rare that a game as traditionally cute as Hollow Knight can end up being so dark, without actually ever hiding that darkness. The game is filled with 2D design art that highlights its lowlights. The darks and deep colors are rarely swapped with anything bright, with the exception of fan favorite Hornet and her red outfit, and a few areas in the game with some stronger greens.
But then there’s this. The Radiance is the final boss of Hollow Knight, and after all the dreary underground life of Hollow Knight, the Radiance is a beautiful, yet terrifying contrast to that. The poor bug protagonist has spent all their life underground in the dark, and now it finally beholds the beauty of light; only for that light to be one of its greatest challenges yet. More than just a beauty to look at, the Radiance is also a deadly boss encounter that many have struggled to defeat, let alone actually get to.

In general, 2D design art has its strengths in being unified in style. It is easier to control all the elements of an image in 2D due to the ease of creating lighting and keeping color consistent. This principle in 2D art is somewhat broken by Hollow Knight, but in all the right ways. The Radiance is a departure from the game world into a higher plane, and so its art reflects that. It’s also a departure in the gameplay sense because the Radiance is the only boss in the game to make use of every skill the player has learned so far. All the game’s abilities and skills are used in this boss fight, unlike other fights that use one or two mechanics.

As a designer, learning when to switch palettes to contrast previous themes is a skill many find difficult to master, but Hollow Knight has pulled it off perfectly here.

#1: Disco Elysium

This beautiful game has one of the 2D design art of this generation, and a story to match. Every 2D art drawing in the game is a masterpiece, but there’s one in the game that particularly sticks with the player.
This beautiful oil painting is the player’s introduction to their avatar in the world who, at the time, is unnamed, and what an introduction. The game spends almost its entire play time ensuring that Harrier DuBois here is shown to be one of the most successful and elite detectives in all Revachol, yet this is his image. To say washed up, would be an understatement. Despite the character’s descent from greatness in the introduction, the game masterfully gives the player the opportunity to prove themselves as the detective Harrier once was, and people in the world will notice this too.

A video game that plays more like a book is certainly a hard sell. What the player actually does in Disco Elysium is very limited, with their influence in the world being channeled through Harrier. Despite that, the game does what it can to show the player that their persona in the world is actually a wreck and really should not have influence. That feeling is communicated in many ways throughout the game, but introducing the character in this way really sets the game up to take its first steps with a clear intention in mind.

What makes this 2D art drawing beautiful is how the player can refute its very purpose.

Why Even Rank Art?

Perhaps one of the most dubious activities out there; ranking art numerically is always a fool’s errand, but the ultimate purpose is to get the mind thinking. Hopefully, this article has got you thinking about art in general, and in particular, art in gaming and its unique connection to the medium of gaming.
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