Creative Chronicles: Character Art and Animation Pipeline

Creative Chronicles: Character Art and Animation Pipeline

October 30 2019 | Legacy Project

Creative Chronicles brings together key insights, information and statistics from the experts at Creative Assembly. We hope this will inspire students and those considering a career in game development.


While character artists will take a concept design and turn it into a 3D model, animators may come in a little later. Saying that, character artists and animators work closely together to translate the needs and unique personality of a character - for example, how it should move, or how large should it be in comparison to other characters?

Character artists will create a Proxy Mesh based on the concept art – essentially a simplified version of the final character. They ensure that the mesh is as proportionally close to the final character as possible so that the animation team can easily update the animation rig, if needed, once the textured asset is complete.

Animation will either work from the Proxy or from the finished character, depending on which asset is completed first. As both teams generally work in tandem it’s usually the former (as opposed to the animators having to wait for the final character to be delivered before they can start animating). Due to this, character artists need to ensure the Proxy represents enough about the character so there are no surprising changes in the final asset that may impact the animations already created. For example; if the character has a large helmet with horns in the final model, then it should be present in the proxy. The character artists also need to consider elements such as the characters joints, ensuring that there is enough fidelity there for the character to be able to move without any deformation.

A successful pipeline is about communication between teams and ensuring that all parties are aware of the character’s personality, translating that not only into how it looks but also how it moves. You need to tell its story and provide essential detail, for example; providing text reference within the concept art on why an accessory may be important and how it might be used.



At Creative Assembly we focus on having collaborative teams and open communication. Good ideas can come from anywhere and in our character art and animation pipeline, that’s especially true. Our artists collate a lot of reference material on the diverse range of characters they work on. A great idea can come from anyone or any source.

We have a range of specialisations within our art and animation disciplines with around 20% of the art team being Character Artists or Technical Artists and 17% being Animators or Technical Animators. However, we don't have dedicated texture artists, hair artists or sculptors. It’s crucial to us as a studio that our artists take creative ownership and accountability for each character they produce.

Read more about Character Art at CA HERE.

Read more about Motion Capture (and animation) at CA HERE.

Read more about our Art teams as a whole HERE.