How to imagine worlds that have never existed

The secret to deepening your imagination and finding your creative spark.

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As an art director in the world of video game design, it is essential to have an open and active creative mind. The ability to imagine new worlds that do not yet exist is the foundation of our craft. However, sometimes the daily grind can make it difficult to tap into that boundless imagination. In this blog post, I want to share some tips and techniques that I have found helpful in increasing my creative output and visualizing unique concepts for games.

First and foremost, collaboration with other creatives is vital. Whether it be bouncing ideas off a colleague, or working with a team of writers, designers, and artists, there is immense value in sharing ideas and perspectives. Collaboration can help to break up the monotony of working alone and can lead to breakthroughs that would not have been possible otherwise. Additionally, by working with people from different backgrounds and disciplines, you can gain new perspectives and insights that can help to expand your creative horizons.

Another great way to open your creative mind is to gather inspiration from the world around you. Observe the natural world, travel to different places, and immerse yourself in different cultures. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places, and by keeping an open mind and being willing to explore new things, you may be surprised by what you find. Additionally, try to be mindful of your surroundings and pay attention to the small details, such as the way light falls on a building, or the way a leaf floats in the wind. These details can be the seed that grows into a fully-realized game world.

In addition to gathering inspiration, it is also important to combine concepts in new ways. Take inspiration from multiple sources and try to merge them in a unique way. For example, Let's say I am tasked with creating a new alien species. I might start with the idea that this should be an insectoid species. Perhaps they are villainous and we want the player to feel fearful of these creatures. I could combine insectoid features with a head shape that resembled a skull. If we want to further invoke a feeling of mystique, we could dress the species in robes. Below you can see an example of what combining those concepts may look like. The result is something entirely new and original. Try to be open to unconventional combinations and don't be afraid to take risks.

Another tip for increasing your creative output is to set aside dedicated time for brainstorming and idea generation. This can be as simple as setting aside 30 minutes every day to just let your mind wander and jot down any ideas that come to you. I try to approach these brainstorming sessions with a sense of playfulness and experimentation. Don't be afraid to come up with wild and far-fetched ideas; even if they seem too strange at first, the idea may only need slight refinement to work. To maximize these brainstorming sessions, practice mindfulness, meditation, and balance in your life. This can help to clear your mind and reduce stress, which can be a major block to creativity. By taking time to focus on the present moment and to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can create the mental space needed for new ideas to arise.

Finally, one of the most important things to remember is that the creative process is not a linear one. It can be messy, and it can take time. Don't be discouraged if you hit a roadblock or if your ideas don't immediately come to fruition. Instead, try to approach the process with a sense of enthusiastic optimism, always expecting an idea to be around the bend. The more you practice and the more you work, the more you will find yourself able to access and deepen your imagination.

It is a requirement of being a creative professional that you have a constant flow of new ideas and concepts. This is a difficult thing to do, and the job is not for the faint of heart. However, by collaborating with other creatives and combining inspiration in new ways, you can create stunning original visuals. If you set aside dedicated time for brainstorming and practicing mindfulness, you'll keep your creative mind open and active, allowing you to visualize what has never been seen before. Remember, the key is to be open to new possibilities and to never stop learning and experimenting. Keep a curious mind, always be on the lookout for new inspiration, and don't be afraid to take risks and try new things. That is often where the most exciting and innovative ideas come from.

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