Game Asset Creation Workflow: Process, Tools, and Problems
Wondering what the typical game asset creation workflow looks like? A team’s game art process depends on several factors. Some of these include the type of game development studio they are a part of, the type of game being created, how many team members there are, and more. Read on to learn about the game art creation process, tools used in creating game art, and problems that can arise in creative workflows.
What is Game Asset Workflow?
Game asset workflow refers to the stages of work involved in creating an asset for a video game. A game asset is any piece of content that goes into a video game, such as a character, sound, animation, texture, or object.
Tools Used in Game Asset Workflow
Some of the tools used in game art creation include:
- Art Programs: Tools like Photoshop are used to create concept art, textures, and more.
- 3D Modeling Programs: These tools are used to create the 3D shape of a game asset. Examples of 3D modeling programs include Maya, 3DS Max Design, Modo, and Zbrush.
- Game Asset Management Software: These tools are used to store, organize, and search for assets to maximize game asset reuse.
How Do You Create a Game Asset?
The game asset workflow typically goes as follows:
The first stage, concepting, is when the artist illustrates the asset based on descriptions provided to them. This stage starts with quick sketches or models to decide on general characteristics of the asset, and goes all the way to creating a detailed illustration of the asset. It involves a lot of back and forth between artists and creative leadership to ensure everyone agrees on what the asset should look like. This process can be even slower if a studio outsources is concept art.
This is the beginning of the 3D modeling process. The asset is first roughly sculpted in a 3D modeling program such as Maya or Blender. At this point, the asset may need to be handed off to creative leadership for approval before moving forward. Once the general shape or form are approved, then the details are sculpted. This is where a high-poly (polygon) mesh and a low-poly mesh are created that textures can be placed on.
This is the stage where texture coordinates are placed on the low-poly mesh.
Baking and Texturing
In this stage, details from the high-poly model are transferred to the low-poly model. Then it is textured, adding color and other details that turn it from a sculpture to a more realistic-looking object.
Lighting & Editing
Once finalized, models and textures are uploaded to the editor where lighting can be applied to make them look more realistic. In this stage, the asset can be added to the team’s asset library using their game asset management software, if they have it.
Common Problems in the Game Asset Creation Workflow
There is a lot of back and forth involved in the average game asset creation workflow. Leadership will provide direction, then artists will create drafts and send it back to leadership for review, then get more feedback, and so on until the asset is ready. All this reviewing and revision can pose a handful of issues:
Sending Assets Takes Too Long
Many teams resort to sending their assets to each other via email, other messaging services, or through file transferring services. Art files tend to be very large binary files, so sending them this way tends to take a long time, slowing down the review and revision process.
Assets Are Not Secure
In addition to being slow, sending files via email or transferring services is not as secure as keeping them in one secure location only the team has access to. Art assets are valuable, so it’s risky to send them in places where they could be intercepted and leaked or stolen.
The Review Process is Messy
Exchanging files this way can also make the review process messy and confusing. A lot of teams send feedback on an asset via message or email. Creative leadership may send the artist a list of changes, which the artist then has to make sense of. It can take several more rounds of edits when it is unclear to the artist what exactly needs to be changed.
Another common problem in game art creation is having to remake assets that already exist. For example, leadership might want to reuse a tree they had an artist create several months ago. The artist may have to dig through their email or files to try to find it. Often times, they can’t find it, so they have to remake it. This time-wasting problem can be solved with good game asset management software.
The Perforce Solution: Helix DAM (Digital Asset Management)
Helix DAM — now in beta, with the official launch slated for Summer 2022 — is game asset management software made specifically for designers and artists. It is built on top of Perforce Helix Core, the version control system trusted by 19/20 top AAA game development studios because of its ability to manage the large, complex binary files with the speed teams need.
Helix DAM builds on Perforce’s industry-leading version control tool and makes versioning simple for designers and artists. It allows creative teams to:
- Easily store, find, use, and share all art assets.
- Track the evolution of every art asset & find the version they need.
- Provide in-context feedback on assets for a faster review & revision process.
- Streamline the creative workflow and eliminate bottlenecks.
- Keep all creative IP in one secure, single source of truth.
Improve Your Game Asset Creation Workflow
Perforce Helix Core is the trusted version control tool for designers and developers alike. The full version is free for up to five users and 20 workspaces. Try it out today, and stay tuned for Helix DAM, launching Summer 2022.