Concept artist Fred Augis has worked in visual design for more than 10 years. He is currently senior concept artist at videogame developer Dontnod Entertainment, where he worked on the action-adventure title Remember Me, published by Capcom in 2013, and is currently working on new projects. He previously worked for Eugen Systems on the game RUSE, published by Ubisoft, and for Wizarbox as art director on Gray Matter, the point-and-click adventure game created by Jane Jensen, designer of the Gabriel Knight series. As a freelance illustrator, he was worked on numerous sci-fi book covers and licenses of Applibot games.
Tell us about your journey
I really liked to draw as a child. My passion was for cars and futuristic designs. My family created a lot of art, and my father threw himself into painting and sculpture when he was young, which I think was an important factor in my choice of career.
I went to a visual communication school where I learned drawing, painting and the history of art. After that, I did one year at [Lyon’s] Emile Cohl art college, then began to work freelance. When the first CG communities appeared online, I saw that videogame developers collaborated with concept artists, and realised that it was a way to make my childhood dreams come true. It was difficult to break into the field, but I found some people who were working on small projects who were interested in my work, and step by step, my skills progressed until studios trusted me on larger projects.
How do you want to impact the world?
I remember the CEO of a games studio where I worked told me that videogames aren’t ‘art’. I understand his opinion, but as a concept artist or an art director, I think I do add some ‘art’ to the game in which I’m participating. I see the word as meaning ‘creativity’, ‘originality’ or ‘passion’, so if we bring those qualities to a game, we can create a piece of art. We should take risks to raise the level of originality of our games, especially in big productions.
What are you passionate about?
I like learning about astronomy and astrophysics, in the same way that many people like science fiction. I’m not an technical expert in the subject but I like to imagine how people will be in the future and how human perception of our universe will be affected by scientific progress.
I also like to see exhibitions and visit museums as often as possible: it’s essential for me to keep in contact with other artistic cultures. I try to catch inspiration in the little things in my everyday life. Working in another medium is interesting, so I always keep a Moleskine notebook with me.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
It’s natural to want to make a beautiful picture but concept art is just that: a concept, not an illustration. It’s more important to include information that helps 3D modellers than to create a beauty shot. Videogames are a collaboration between game designers and 3D artists, so it’s essential to share your ideas with all the teams as quick sketches or key works.
Don’t just use Photoshop for concept art: it can be one of the different 2D approaches you take, but drawing on paper, photobashing or using 3D models for research will bring a new look to your work and help define your artistic DNA.
Finally, try to take an opposite view of your first design and put together discordant elements. Once you’ve polished up the result, it’s an easy way to create an original concept.