Portfolio of Karsten Mehnert

Portfolio of Karsten Mehnert

Art Direction

My process.

“Projects start for one of two reasons, something is wrong, or something doesn’t exist.”

“Working for more than 10 years in the video games and film industry, I perfectly combine the best things from both worlds to craft something innovative.”

“I specialized in designing <<imaginative worlds>> for interactive productions and the film industry.”

“As a side product, I continuously inspire internal tool development teams to program software for artists and pipeline processes manageable for the individual.”

It is very important for me to understand the target audience and be sure the team does as well.
Before the preproduction even starts, I begin to look at inspirational images and a collection of great third party concept art with high production values to get the ball rolling and the creative team exited.
It is a must to take a look at the competitors in the market and analyze what they DO, what they do NOT do and why.

Within a small group the creative process is efficient and flexible. Find a way to cut through the noise. For video games the creative team has agreed on a certain setting, which includes the technology, the time, the mood, the characters, and the look and feel, everything that creates the IP.

At this stage everything is still done as 2d sketches, rough drawings, or speed 3d blockings to keep the experimental process at speed.
During the process of “Visual Target” creation, the most promising ideas are getting explored. It’s a true nuts-and-bolts process to prove if game design and art support each other perfectly. I make sure the quality bar is set high already and take care of the commination to the team on how the vision evolves.

The next goal is to create “Visual Target Shots” aka “Production Images” as well as “Style Guides” in preparation for the production.

For the team, it is very helpful to have a first version of the “Key Artwork” ready.
This image portrays the entire product.
The “Art Bible” and “UI/UX Bible” are the fundamental workbooks nailing down the “Vision” and visual benchmarks. For video games the core loop and game mechanics are driving and informing the art. Readability through a clear shape language and balanced values are key to make images work.


General Concepts

Establishing shots, or a well-chosen level entry spots are widely used mechanics to set the scene for the audience. Entering a scenery or a screen in a plausible way is the most important part. A strong desire for the consumer to continue, is set up by already presenting a glimpse of the objective or goal.

When designing fictional assets and props for games and film, I get inspired by real world references in order to let these look as functional as possible.
Fundamental concepts of industrial design are a great way of creating a great level of realistic looking technology. “Form follows function.”

It is very important to me to work with a playable prototype of a game in early stages of visual development to define camera angles and asset specs. Whereas in movies a lot of 3d work can be faked to work in certain angles, in video games assets have to work from all angles.
When it comes to animated movies and commercials, storyboarding is the first tool of choice. I also like to refine sequences with the help of an “Animatic”.

Selling a visual idea of an assets is successful, when it’s done in its context.

Shapes can be repeated in a modular way, to nail down a consistent visual language.
I often make use of gradients for grounding assets.

Drawing, sketching and painting in 2D is a great way of bringing ideas to paper.
I’ve extensively used 3D in various disciplines to enhance my 2D concept art.

For me shot and level lighting is much more important for movies and games, than texturing every nut, bolt and screw, because light is able to clarify the fundamental mood“Lighting a scene is the most powerful tool!”

“Epic Scale” Experiences:
Scale charts have been proven to be an extremely efficient way to match the level of detail of various assets in different sizes.

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