Concept Art Guidelines
Tamriel Rebuilt and Project Tamriel uses concept art to visualize our ideas before and during the design and implementation process. If you’re a concept artist, the following guide will be helpful to you.
The projects need drawings, paintings, sketches, and other images of new ideas, places, or things that could be used in the game. Concept art does not include models and textures, which are posted in the asset browser.
Anyone can make and post concept art, artist or not, developer or not! Unlike developer roles that deal with the TES Construction Set, there is no need for a showcase; you can start contributing your art right away!
What to Draw
If you have an idea yourself – ideally rooted in TES III canon or the projects' in-house lore – feel free to draw it!
Otherwise, if you are searching for ideas, feel free to browse our asset browser. We post requests for new assets there, and any new asset needs illustrations first. Assets that are in the process of being developed also go there and may need concept art. Also look at the project-specific pages on this wiki (such as the Tamriel Rebuilt region pages), to search for ideas that are not already sketched out, or which you feel you can improve or build upon.
Most useful to the projects, however, is if you go to the respective Discord channels (Tamriel Rebuilt, Project Tamriel) and ask what sort of concept art is needed. Sometimes the channels will have pins listing the concept art we would like, but those are most commonly outdated. It is safest to just ask.
You can also take a look a the Inspirational Resources section below.
How to Make Useful Art
Concept art does not really have to meet any high artistic standard to be useful – anything from quick sketches up to completed masterpieces can be important.
What makes it useful is when it accurately conveys its message. A neater, cleaner image may convey the idea better, but sketches are useful, too. Generally, your artwork should convey some combination of the following: the shape and contours of the item, the color, the texture, the size, and where it lives or is used.
Concepts usually fall into the three broad categories:
- Conceptual artwork introduces a new idea, and varies widely from quick sketches to more developed art. The most important thing here is to get the idea across.
- Atmospheric art generally portrays landscapes, environments, cities, and conveys how it feels or looks to be in a certain place. Atmospheric art is generally looser, as it does not get used as a strict reference image. It is still very important for asset developers to get the "vibe" right and for developers of more specific concept art.
- Functional art portrays objects as they would actually be seen in game, and covers all possible types of objects, from rocks to mushrooms, plants, people, hats, houses, and anything else that would be modeled. Functional art tends to be tighter and more representative, as some of it will be used as direct reference material for developers to make models from.
If you have been asked to make functional art specifically as a reference for a modeler, please make your artwork neat and clean, and provide planar views, such as top, bottom, front, back, left side and right side. Otherwise, do as much as you need to get your idea across, but don't worry about making each image a masterpiece.
Uploading Concept Art
For more prolific concept artists, it's best to keep an archive of your concept art in one thread on the respective Concept Art Forum (Tamriel Rebuilt, Project Tamriel). Keep updating it when you make new art.
Ideally, if your concept art fits our needs, we will upload it to relevant pages on this wiki or an asset browser page. Sometimes we forget to do that; if so, feel free to remind us on Discord.
You can upload your art to an external image hosting services, but don't rely on these for long-term strorage. Our projects are decades-long endeavours and in that time we have seen reams and reams of invaluable art get lost to imageshack, photobucket, and imgur purges. The website is really the only reliable long-term repository for art related to the projects.
We strive to be respectful to other people's art, no matter their skill level, and ask you to do the same.
That being said, these projects have their own needs and styles rooted in the vanilla game, and the artwork that is most useful to us is grounded in vanilla TES III and our own in-house lore. Hence, we may not use your concepts, if they don't fit our needs, or may suggest you tweak them. Be prepared to receive some constructive criticism and don't take it personally! Keep in mind that you are under no obligation to follow up with your concepts.
Even if we don't end up using your art, any and all concepts are helpful to us and help inspire us to keep making Tamriel Rebuilt and develop new assets. Even if your piece of art is never "used," it will still have helped.
Copyright and Caveats
If you post your own concept art on our Discord servers or forums, we will by default assume that you give us right to redistribute and modify said art, or use it to our liking (non-commercially and with attribution, of course). Generally, only concept art that comes without any strings attached is useful to us.
Do not use copyrighted artwork as your own! Plagiarism is not okay. AI-generated images can be used to sketch out ideas, if no alternative exists, but we prefer drawn art.
When posting artwork that has nudity or sexual content, use common sense; if it's thematic and fits in with TES III, we might use it. If it's gratuitous, we probably don't need it.
Promotion to Developer
There is no special showcase procedure for concept artists. Just make art! Keep in mind that being promoted for concept art is almost entirely aesthetic. (If you want to participate in interior level design, for example, you still have to make a showcase for that.)
Generally there are two milestones where we typically promote concept artists:
- If two of your concepts have been turned into reviewed assets by asset developers.
- If you have produced five concepts that have received generally positive feedback.
Very good sources of inspiration are the concept art made by Bethesda itself for its games:
- The Art of Morrowind – Artbook from the Collector's Edition of TES III: Morrowind, containing examples of the concept art of the game.
- Concept art and assets in TESA: Redguard, TEST: Shadowkey, AESL: Battlespire, TES II: Daggerfall, TES I: Arena, and even the concepts (and very occasionally, assets) made for TES IV: Oblivion and TES V: Skyrim.
- TR Hammerfell Artbook – compiled from the plethora of concept art made for Tamriel Rebuilt's old Hammerfell mod project, it has been quite universally praised among modern Project Tamriel and Tamriel Rebuilt developers.
Check local museums! Local gardens, places like art museums, or local little historical museums. Check out local parks for plant ideas, bring a microscope to look at tiny things. Have a community nearby that is different than yours? Go browse their stores and markets. Especially if you can find handmade objects, or communities that use less technology (like the Amish).
Books of antiques and old items often have great ideas in them in the form of pictures and diagrams. Here are a few books which might be useful. Look for used copies, or check your local library system for these or similar books. You can also check antiques websites or do google searches. If you’re affiliated with a public, private, or university/college/school library they may be able to retrieve these books for you from other libraries. Also, remember that your library probably has access to online resources and databases, some of which are probably related to antiques or art history. Good words to use in search are things like “art history,” “antiques encyclopedia,” “ceramic,” “historic,” and so on. Many of these books are gigantic and would be shelved in the oversize section.
- Kitchen Things, by Richard Snodgrass, 2013 ISBN 9781626360365 – A book of recipes and photographs of ancient and antique kitchen utensils. E.g., forks, whisks, peelers, choppers, grinders. Plus, photographs of actual recipes written down. Recommended.
- An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration, by Mario Praz, 1983. ISBN 0500233586 – A book of history and pictures of how people decorated their homes, “from Pompeii to Art Nouveau.” Mainly black and white pictures, focuses mainly on nobles and upper class people. Heavier on text and lighter on pictures.
- The Victorian Pattern Glass and China Book, 1990, ISBN 0517030454 – A fantastic collection of photographs and drawings of glass and ceramic objects from the Victorian era on, European and American mainly. Stuffed full of pictures and diagrams! Incudes objects like dinner/dessert/drink/serving things, pottery, toilet items, jewelry, furniture, art, mirrors, lamps, chandeliers, vases, etc. Highly recommended.
- Miller’s Antiques Encyclopedia, ed. By Judith Miller, 2013, ISBN 9781845337698 – A collection of photographs and information on antiques of all kinds. Includes furniture, ceramics, silver, jewelry, rugs, textiles, clocks, toys, dolls and more. Focuses on objects from the last 300 years or so, since these are all actual antiques in collections. Has diagrams of variations in things like drawer pull knobs and spoon handle styles. Highly Recommended.
- The History of Furniture, by John Morley, 1999, ISBN 082122624X – A history book with pictures and text about furniture, focusing on Western (Mediterranean, European, American) styles. Heavier on text and lighter on pictures.
- Ornamental Ironwork, ed. by Carol Belanger Grafton, 1998, ISBN 0486298116 – A book composed entirely of drawings of ornamental wrought iron fences, railings, doors, bars, etc. Fascinating! Recommended. (Similarly, Ornamental Ironwork by Susan and Michael Southworth, 1978, ISBN 0879232331)
- Kitchenalia, by Vinny Lee, 2014, ISBN 9781909342491 – A book on decorating your kitchen with flea-market type items. Definitely a modern book about modern kitchens, but as it shows different ways to arrange a kitchen and also old fashioned items, could be helpful, especially in interior design.
- Curtains and Draperies, by Jenny Gibbs, 1994, ISBN 0879515392 – A book of curtains, draperies, blinds, and other hanging fabrics. Mainly European designs. Many drawing and pictures.
- Jewelry, Ancient to Modern, ed. by Anne Garside, 1979, ISBN 067040697x – A book of jewelry and all kinds, including things like buckles and clasps. Western/European jewelry from ancient Egypt on. Many pictures, though most are black and white.
- The Encyclopedia of Furniture, ed. by Hermann Schmitz, 1957, LOC catalog # 57-9791 – An excellent resource. A few pages of explanation in front, then the remainder of the book is detailed black and white plates of Western/European furniture from ancient Rome and Egypt and on. Also includes a few eastern styles from the 1800s on.
- The Grammar of Ornament, by Owen Jones, first pub 1856, current ed 1986, ISBN 0517624869 – European and Asian ornamentation, designs, and images used on cups, bowls, clothes, tapestries, carvings, etc. Almost entirely drawings. Recommended.
- Oriental Carpet Design, by P.R.J Ford, 1989, ISBN 9780500276648 – A book of history and designs, and includes how rugs are made. Traditional borders, motifs, and plenty of photographs of completed rugs.
- The Fashion Encyclopedia, by Angus, Baudis, and Woodcock, 2015, isbn 9780764167676 – A book about modern fashion, including terminology and fabric designs and production methods. Mainly focuses on fashion from the 1920’s on, with an emphasis on runway-type clothing rather than everyday clothes. Worth a look for ideas on unusual clothes and fabrics and cuts.
- The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes, by Albert Racinet, orig pub in 1888, repub in 1988. ISBN 0816019762 – Truly encyclopedic and includes clothing and fashions from around the world, from ancient to modern times. (This includes African, Asian, American, etc, not just Mediterranean and European.) Many color plates and excellent diagrams. Highly recommended.
- The Encyclopedia of World Costume, by Doreen Yarwood. 1986, ISBN 0517619431 – Also truly encyclopedic, mainly Mediterranean and European styles. Has an incredible number of ink drawings and includes diagrams of things like boot cuff variations, sewing machines, wig types, etc. Though everything is black and white, the drawings are so well done it doesn’t matter. Includes lots of text as well for extra information and historical context. Highly recommended.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Costume and Fashion, 2006, ISBN, 9781844034833 – A simpler text than the other examples on this page. Includes colorful drawings, a few representative of each era and fashion. Excellent for a first start in looking at clothing, but lacks the depth and detail of some of the other books.
- Flowers and Herbs of Early America, Lawrence D Griffith. 2008 ISBN 9780879352387 – A listing of the flowers and herbs grown and used in early America for cooking, medicine, etc. Plenty of writing and historical data and large beautiful pictures of flowers. Excellent visual resource.
- The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Chronicles: Art and Design, 2014, 9780062265715 – Great explanations of how the various armors were designed, chock full of concept art. The other movies also have similar books.