2013 Darren Geers - Concept Artist  

by Susan Bonner

Darren Geers, Kendall Alum who graduated in 2010 is a concept artist and has worked as a lead Concept Artist for Lorean Games and Elliptic Games. He is currently working Full Time as a Concept Artist for a AAA Game for Studiovania, Westalke Village, CA. He freelanced for several years before landing this full time Concept Art job, which he is able to do from Grand Rapids, MI via skyping and email communications.

Find Darren's art on his site: http://www.darrengeers.com/

Darren came to Susan Bonner's class, Imaging for Game, Animation and Film, as a visiting Artist in 2012 and is mentoring students in Concept and Production Design on an Epic Survival Interactive Story in 2013.

 Industry Perspectives: 

Darren says you will have to do a lot of freelance work before you are able to get into the industry. It is very competitive and social networking sites are important way to get known. You will need a dedicated focused website specifically for concept art. This is a hard road ahead, but if you are dedicated and your work is more excellent then what is professional and work late hours and all your family think you are a little crazy you may make it. 

Darren's Sketches are what got his first AAA game. They are gestures in action poses. The characters had a lot of costume design, they were doing something instead of straight up studies. They move through the action that the character will perform in the game.

Studios like Valve look for that type of drawing 

• Understanding of Anatomy. 
• Line that moves through the form and is not just an outline
• Create a Move Set - Characters in the poses of one move (4-5 poses)
• Need drawings, they will look at traditional drawings and Figure Drawings (This drawing counts)

• Multiple styles are what the studios want Show that in your portfolio

Valve is Darren's dream job. He works at getting there with Videos like this:


Deviant Art not progressing towards employment - there are a lot of hits but they are from your peers and not employment opportunities.

Working as a Freelancer:

Your Staring point will most probably be freelance 

Write up a contract for Freelance Jobs.

There are a Large variety of client types

Freelancer.com is where he got the contract job for Loreoan.com which is a Browser based massive player game Micro transactions is the business mode They make money through character customs

Make a Game yourself and Self fund it


Working indie vs working at a big studio

Studios have very different ways of working


Pros: Intellectual property is yours - you have full creative control

Marketing through a publisher like Xbox live arcade, Steam Greenlight, mobile apps

You get decide when the game is finished

Stick to a schedule if you are releasing the game

Cons: No money in indie games, Very Competitive Market, Highly critical peers

Have to do a side job, High risk, long hours, Self Funded, Stressful working 

Studio Examples:

Braid, Super Meatboy, Fez, Minecraft

Watch Indiegame the movie

Gaia online flash based game online

Notch was the lead programmer for Mine Craft 

Look up the history of minecraft

What sells this game: Control that the player has is, You build a story line and give a sense of discovery

Building it for every age level made it more accessible

Larger Studios: Zynga, EA, Ubisoft, Valve, Blizzard, Behesda, etc

pros: - Money! Stability and security (most of the time) Notoriety, working with large creative teams with similar goals and interests, location and job perks (paintball, movies, food) AAA game titles (AAA = highest quality i.e. quality, broad market, high sales, tema, big budget, polished production quality, bug free, first place in marktets with great marketing and hype. ) Access to the latest and greatest.

cons - Corporate, You're a number in the larger scheme of things, very little creative control of the game itself. Long work hours, location (Coasts).

Valve Studio Tour:

Behesda Game Studios Tour:

EA Redwood Studio Tour:

Darren got started in the industry as a digital illustrator doing book covers, character commissions then got into browser based MMO's (Brunelleschi, Furzies, Loraon) creating Indie Game art assets.
Darren interned with a company Brunelleschi Facebook architect game failed due to lack of player base
They communicated over Weekly Skype meting updates from email. He did very little finished work - and submitted quick sketches.

Darren is currently working on:

Science fiction Intellectual Property for Studiovania.

Dave helverson his boss at Studiovania, he started Game fan magazine in 1992

Darren sketches in photoshop with tablet - Line work only

Character orthoscopic views in 2d

Character Movements are determined in 2d

He is also freelancing on a project that Noah Bradley is doing the Environments for Ferus, a John P. Thomas Game in Development


In Concept art there are 1000s of people to compete against

Most of them fail.

How can you succeed?

Go to conventions promote your work

Draw constantly

Super meat boy - has a great dialogue about starting in the industry

Courses in Digital Media that can do Concept Art:

Digital Imaging I
Digital Imaging II
Imaging for Game, Animation and Film - now Concept Art
Concept and Production Design
3D Character Modeling
Professional Studio
Thesis I
Thesis II

The Future of the Concept Art Industry:

Casual games are making all the money now 

Competitive games have a big learning curve because it takes so long to master for the audience.

Xenga grew to its size by either buying direct competition or copying the competitions games.

Character artist needs to be able to 3d model Draw and do 2d art

Character Art is moving towards 3d 

Another Kendall Alum- Jason Heuser works at Kicksi, In San Francisco

Doing promotional work for the mobile game industry

It's not just about networking any more , you have got to be really good too.

A Concept artist can make 50-70k$ per year in house

You can do a lot of online communication with clients - Darren did Meetings via Skype With Pezus games

Being a Concept Artist is 60-70 hour work week

You can find work in these sites:

Kickstarter or indi go go are places to find funding for self published jobs

Book covers is a growing industry with all of the self publishers

Get the Royalties only of it will be printing, otherwise you will not get enough money - Get the money up front

Deviant art jobs forum  You have to set the rules for them


Esign is an adobe site

Echo sign signed contract site

Use Paypal for payment options





3DSmax -  industry standard for film

etc, etc

Weebly site is free as a portfolio site


Darren Geers did a demo in our Imaging for Game, Animation and Film Class on creating a Character sketch, here are his techniques:

Size 4 brush

Flip the drawing - Command f set to flip image

Use arrows to move through the brushes

Vimeo Interview: http://vimeo.com/57175235