Visual Artists | Game Developers Conference | GDC

Visual Arts

Meet artists with various art styles and concepts, and explore the inspiration and process behind their work. Learn methods to create quality art and animations for all kinds of games under tight deadlines; from stellar concept art techniques to post production best practices and everything in between.

View all Visual Arts sessions

Visual Arts Track Conference Highlights (W-F)

All Access, GDC Conference+Summits, or GDC Conference Pass required.

Realistic Foliage Imposter and Forest Rendering in UE4
Ryan Brucks (Epic Games)
Come learn how efficient and accurate imposters can be used to render vast forest scenes in UE4. A hybrid combination of techniques will be employed to get high quality with high performance. An iterative method is used to add parallax for optical flow between frame captures. Advanced features such as pixel depth offset will be shown to match shadowing and geometry intersections. Additional methods such as converting masks to distance field will be employed to further smooth silhouette transitions and to optimize shadowing passes. In addition, this lecture will be looking at a higher quality control version that uses a more expensive ray marching approach.
Animating Quill: Creating an Emotional Experience
Richard Lico (Polyarc)
Quill, the protagonist from Polyarc's first game 'Moss', has quickly stolen the hearts of players worldwide. But how did Polyarc create such an endearing, popular character prior to the game's release? To answer this, Animation Director Richard Lico will demonstrate how VR breaks the 4th wall, elevating Quill beyond a simple player avatar. He'll detail the methods he uses to create honest performances, which in turn elevate the emotional bond between Quill and the player. Lastly, he will demonstrate the unique, efficient workflow and tools used to create animation in the world of 'Moss'. This talk, at its core, is about the animation direction driving this strong, emotional response to Quill.
Repopulating the Earth: Character Production on 'Horizon Zero Dawn'
Daniel Calvert (Guerrilla Games)
After 15 years of developing 'Killzone', Guerrilla Games made the bold decision to move in a new direction and focus on a brand new genre and IP, 'Horizon Zero Dawn'. To Guerrilla's character team, the massive open world of 'Horizon Zero Dawn' was a giant blank slate with unlimited potential, but from another perspective it provided a host of new challenges. How could they rise to the creative challenge of filling a world full of new and distinct peoples without second guessing themselves and succumbing to uncertainty? How could they build enough content to fill the massive open world without losing the small-team culture they spent years developing? How could they do useful work in an environment where everything, story, mechanics, world building, is constantly evolving? This lecture discusses how Guerrilla Games tackled these challenges, with honest reflection on their successes and mistakes.
Procedural World Generation of 'Far Cry 5'
Etienne Carrier (Ubisoft)
How do you fill up 10 square km of wilderness with a terrain changing every day? One of the challenges with a modern open world is its sheer size. Not every square meter of the world will receive the attention of a level artist or a level designer. Technical artists need to be able to fill up this world beautifully, quickly and with flexibility to support numerous iterations to keep the production cost low. They need tools that can automatically fill up a large space, as well as allow fine tuning of smaller locations. Yet while filling up empty space is easy, filling it up so it looks natural is a bigger challenge. Ubisoft's solution on 'Far Cry 5' was to develop a set of procedural tools to generate biomes, texture the terrain, setup freshwater networks, generate cliff rocks and more.
Expanding Animation and Design Capabilities in Post-Launch 'Battlefield 1'
Ryan Duffin (Electronic Arts DICE)
Games are transitioning from products to services but many big releases aren't necessarily designed with a full roadmap to continued expansion. Where the dev team launches the ship, the post-launch team not only has to keep it sailing but continually building upon it while at sea! While this may seem like a creative restriction, this session will demonstrate how this is a real opportunity. This talk will focus on two specific examples of taking the resources the animation team inherited in 'Battlefield 1': a rigid weapons system and a mounted solder and building upon them as content and gameplay systems that liberate animators and designers' creativity. The end result in 'Battlefield 1: Revolution', an enemy-impaling Hussar lancer, and one of the most powerful and flexible weapon handling systems of any first person shooter.
Developing the Art of 'Fortnite'
Peter Ellis (Epic Games)
This session will cover the evolution of art style used in 'Fornite' and best practices used to create a AAA quality free-to-play game with a small art team.

Related Summits & Tutorials (M-T)

All Access, GDC Conference+Summits, or GDC Summits Pass required.

Advanced Graphics Techniques (M)
Brought to you with the collaboration of the industry’s leading hardware and software vendors, the day-long Advanced Graphics Techniques Tutorial provides an in-depth look at how DirectX technologies can be applied to creating cutting-edge PC game graphics.
Animation Bootcamp (M)
Game animation has come into its own in recent years, forcing animators to wield a unique blend of art, design and technical prowess. The Animation Bootcamp is at the forefront of sharing that knowledge with developers everywhere. Bringing together a group of experienced and specialized animation experts, across AAA and Indie, this bootcamp is a daylong gathering to rally developers from all over the industry, with a focus on deeper discussions into the needs of strong character performances and player communication.

The day starts with more "traditional" focused talks on expected animation process but then throughout the day the focus will quickly transition into how to best apply that knowledge to game development. Through different tools and disciplines, the talks will show how the unique constraints and demands of games are creating the need for a new breed of animator.
Art Direction Bootcamp (M)
The Art Direction Bootcamp is a day-long event in the vein of GDC bootcamps, completely dedicated to art direction and broader artistic vision. Come see the leading artistic forces of the industry share their experience and raise the most important issues of the day. Learn a ton about what really matters in art, and how to build or support a vision and make friends doing it.

There will be a wealth of concentrated art-specific information from the top minds of the industry that should be interesting not just to newbies and students, but seasoned professionals who are concerned with pressing issues of the day and industry realities. New friends that are also passionate about game art are welcome.
Technical Artists Bootcamp (T)
Technical art is evolving rapidly. In many studios technical artists (TAs) play key roles in developing efficient tool pipelines, and ensuring art content is visually striking and optimized for performance. TAs bridge content and engineering, helping make both more successful. However, many studios have still not fully embraced the TA role. Their TAs are smart and eager to make an impact, but are not sure how to best prove their value, and be given key roles in development. A group of experienced, respected technical artists from across the industry would like to invite you to sit with them for a day and learn how to be a more effective TA. Speakers will focus on the tools and skills TAs can use to demonstrate their value, and further integrate technical art into their studios' pipelines and cultures. Find the worst development problems at your studio and show them what a TA can do!
Visual Effects Bootcamp (T)

In recent years the discipline of visual effects has emerged as one of the driving forces in game development. Visual effects tie together game experiences, breathe life into real time rendered worlds, and provide an all-important final layer of visual polish. What started as a few simple, and often painful, "tools of the trade" like flipbooks and additively blended sprites, has grown into a full-fledged art all its own involving subtle and precise mixtures of shaders, lighting, particles, materials, models and animation to name just a few.

However as this craft matures, it has become harder and harder to ignore the absence of shared information, books, tutorials and resources for newcomers to the field and for veterans trying to push the boundaries of what's possible.

In this bootcamp, a group of experienced visual effects artists from across the industry will share their best tips, tricks, anecdotes and inspiration in a day designed to help overcome those limitations and elevate visual effects to a new level.

Also, explosions. Lots and lots of explosions.

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