3 min read


Want to speed up your artwork? Then the photo-bashing technique is for you! composite your references directly into your work and paint right over!

What is concept art?
t's a form of illustration used to convey an idea. You're telling a story with a picture, giving the user a feeling of what YOU want them to feel. 

Help im not a creative person.
Well worry not! Other people are! and you can use them to your advantage (with appropraite citation of course). Using references is a core fundamental of creating any kind of art. You literally do it in your sleep! Dreams use any sort of images you've seen yourself, you dont just create things out of thin air, you use references of people you've met, animals you've seen, objects you've touched.

Photobashing is the term given to the name of the photo shop technique of taking several found images, blending and painting over them to create a new image. 

NO! stop this! It is not cheating! In fact it is a standard technique used in the majority of western AAA game studios especially when they aim for realistic visuals. Some examples are games such as Assassin's Creed, The Last of Us and The Division. You're also not just making a collage, you're using these photos to your advantage, you still need some knowledge and skill to bring everything together and paint over them!

What's so good about using Photo-bashing?
Easy user recognition. Something that stands out to me is Tom Clancy's The Division. They take New York, a populated city, full of life, colour, bright lights and turn it into a deserted, post-apocalyptic and dark place. I could tell it was New York the moment I entered Times Square, but as I mentioned it was dark and ominous and it was inpirational and amazing that they were able to do that. I Am Legend is another prime example of this.

What else is a good use of this?
I'm glad you asked! I hope you have a camera, because any humanoid character concept you make is about to become a lot quicker, easier and look better. Most character concepts begin with sketches from either referenecs or using some sort of figure pose figurine. BUT WAIT, what if i told you, you no longer have to sketch these characters out. If you have a camera, not only can you take a picture of yourself to get in any pose, but you also have control over the camera, the position which you're looking at the pose! WOAH THATS AMAZING. Paint over yourself, have fun with it and make amazing work with your new learned tactic.

Overall, using references directly in your work isnt cheating as long as you reference it, and should help you speed up your concepts! Thanks for reading





Latest Jobs


Playa Vista, California
Audio Engineer

Digital Extremes

London, Ontario, Canada
Communications Director

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, California
Senior Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
Lead UI Programmer
More Jobs   


Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter


Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more