A Deep-Dive into Marketing Art for Mobile Games

Hello, I’m Hazel, Marketing Artist at Mighty Bear Games, and I’m here to take you on a journey into the world of our craft!

Before that, a little bit about myself: I oversee marketing art tasks and ensure the timely delivery of essential assets for the studio’s marketing campaigns. Collaborating closely with our Art Director, I also play a role in shaping the visual design elements of our projects!

The Visual Gateway: Marketing Art’s Influence

In mobile gaming, the importance of marketing art assets cannot be overstated. These assets serve as the initial visual gateway for players, offering a glimpse into the essence of the game. When executed right, they can not only showcase the game’s narrative and technical excellence but also entice players to dive right in.

Whether it’s a static image or a dynamic trailer, what you actually see, is a collaboration among various departments to bring a single vision to life. In this article, I invite you to join me on a journey through the intricate workings of our marketing art pipeline, from the earliest stages of concept to the vivid realization of the marketing visuals for our game, Mighty Action Heroes!

In-Game vs. Marketing: The Dual Roles of 3D Assets

To start, I’d like to share the differences between in-game assets and marketing assets! Below is a compiled screenshot of one of our Heroes, Hideki Hitman, from the game menu and information page.

In-game characters in general have a low polygon count because it’s been optimized for better performance. This means it uses fewer computer resources, resulting in smoother graphics, faster loading times, and an overall improved gaming experience. This is especially important for mobile gaming.

Left: Low-poly model in wireframe mode, Middle: Menu, Right: Hero information page

However, in marketing art, our top priority is creating visually appealing content with high-resolution statics. This approach is crucial to make the product or concept truly stand out with the highest level of visual appeal. To achieve this, we rely on high-poly models. These models are exceptionally detailed and have the ability to showcase intricate elements like ornaments, design features, and other décor with precision.

Left: High-poly model in wireframe mode, Middle: Textured and prepared, Right: Rigged and posed

Hideki Hitman belongs to the speedster specialization class. Thus, we aim to convey his personality through a specific pose when introducing him. To achieve the desired pose on the right, the model is first transferred to Maya to add the necessary bones. Then, it is brought into Blender for the final steps, where we’ll pose and set the lighting for our character.

Mighty Action Heroes: Press Release Visuals

How does this translate into the actual process? Let’s delve into a recent project — processing a series of game screenshots to present Mighty Action Heroes in a public relations campaign. Specifically, I’d like to spotlight two key screenshots: the game lobby and an in-game match scene!

Press Release Visuals — The Game Lobby

Raw screen grab of the lobby scene in its early phases, prior to final quality enhancements.

With the game being in early access at the time of asset creation, our goal was to enhance the visuals, bringing them as close as possible to the high-quality standards envisioned for the official launch.

Step 1 — Ideation

We incorporated the eight Heroes that were featured in Early Access 3, since they were relevant to the timeframe required for these screenshots. With the above sketch, we were also able to give internal stakeholders such as Marketing, an idea of the poses and composition. It was designed such that characters would not be blocked by lobby UI elements and could convey a sense of fun, as if the characters were gathering for a relaxed group shot.

Step 2 —Posing EA3’s characters in Unity

Posing these characters was done on Unity, the same engine that the lobby environment was created on. This arrangement was skillfully balanced by our Animator, Quinnie, to ensure a diverse layout in terms of their color palette and genders. Following the initial pass on their poses, our Art Director conducted a quick review for final adjustments!

Step 3 — Final touches before rendering

Here’s a preview of the overall adjusted version, where we’ve rearranged some characters to tighten the composition. The lobby lighting was also enhanced by our Technical Artist, Dedrick, and the characters had mesh-smoothing applied to achieve their polished appearance!

Step 4 — Screen captures of individual assets for post-editing

The high-resolution screen captures were then rendered separately into as many individual assets as possible. This includes isolating the characters, foreground, middle ground, and background elements. Having this approach provides us with more flexibility to make specific adjustments to each component as needed.

Step 5 —After post-production editing

Post-production editing plays a crucial role in ensuring precise lighting and color representation, as well as in addressing any 3D model clipping issues.

We utilized software like Photoshop to meticulously enhance these visuals. The focal points of the lobby were strategically adjusted, with the lighting tuned to draw the viewer’s attention first to the characters in the midground, then gradually guiding their gaze towards the intricate details in the foreground and background. We also attended to various details, such as refining the contact shadows of the Heroes with the couch, and giving the pizza a freshly-baked appearance complete with smoke.

Additionally, we made adjustments to make Boss Bao’s dress folds appear more natural, increased the opacity of Sally Slayer’s sunglasses to reveal her gaze, and resized the Heroes positioned behind the couch.

Game Lobby — From Concept to Final (GIF)

Press Release Visuals — In-Game Match Scene

In-Game Match Scene — After post-editing

Here, I will showcase the centerpiece of our most epic and action-packed in-game match scene. This single frame displays the array of features in our game. We see the Heroes in action — using their hero class abilities, showing the explosive power of grenades, and also displaying a variety of weapons in their hands!

Step 1 — A stable game build for marketing art purposes

Mighty Action Heroes is a Web3 title, which means it’s accessible online and requires an internet connection to play. To start, the engineering team provides us with a web app link, where the game build has already been tested to ensure it’s stable and bug-free. This ensures a smooth gameplay experience for recording! In this game build’s match environment, shader, and lighting enhancements were also made. As a result, real-time shadows and sharp textures are particularly noticeable on the street-clutter props and vehicles.

Step 2 — Visual script for the team’s reference

Capturing a dynamic scene with multiple Heroes engaged in distinct actions simultaneously posed a logistical challenge. To overcome this, we adopted an approach involving the capture of various screenshots at different points within the scene. These screenshots would later be compiled during post-production, creating an epic ensemble of our Heroes in action.

This visual script was provided as a guide for team members who were both players and performers in this exercise, directing them on the required actions in specific areas of the game map. More detailed instructions were communicated during our organized recording sessions. The process provided clear objectives for each action and the ideal character positions for the screen grabs.

Step 3 — Recording session in progress

Each action typically requires three to five takes. This allows us to take multiple screen grabs, which increases our pool for selecting the best representation for post-editing. Screen grabs of the battle scenes were captured using the software Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).

Step 4 —Reviewing screengrabs to be used for compilation

This batch of screenshots were then reviewed to narrow the pool. Our main focus during this process was identifying the most suitable character positions and ensuring clear, distinct actions were captured.

Step 5 — Midjourney’s AI VFX explosions

AI-generated visual effects (VFX) created from Midjourney, were also implemented into our compilation to enhance the Grenades’ explosions.

In-game match scene — From raw screengrabs to final art (GIF)

And there you have it — the culmination of our post-editing efforts done in Photoshop, bringing to life the vibrant and action-packed world of Mighty Action Heroes!

Experience Mighty Action Heroes for Yourself

We’ve delved into the meticulous planning of creativity, collaboration, and technical precisions that breathe life into the game’s marketing visuals. But the real excitement unfolds in the game itself, where you get to experience the action-packed world of Mighty Action Heroes!

Dive in and explore this universe.

A Deep-Dive into Marketing Art for Mobile Games was originally published in Mighty Bear Games on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.