Fish Tanks Devlog: Bringing the Characters to Life

So you’ve decided on a game concept based on a pun after being relentlessly pitched it by your game designer – what’s next? A vital part of the game-making process is creating characters that your audience will want to interact with… when it comes to Fish Tanks, that’s where our artist Em comes in 

Whether you’re a veteran like her or just starting out in the game-art sector, SockMonkey’s premier Warhammer cosplayer and Fish Tanks artist is here with some advice on what it takes to be a drawer of game things.  

Do your characters have personalities as you draw them? 

“Honestly, their personalities kind of emerge as I start sketching. I’ll have a rough idea of what I’m aiming for in mind, but a lot of it becomes more solid as I’m drawing. So, if you ever see me drawing and pulling strange faces, that’s probably what’s happening.”  

Fish Tanks Piranha Character Kissing Starfish


What’s a lesson you’ve learned in game art design?  

“Always be thinking about your character’s function and be mindful of scope. Sure, you can go all out and design the wildest, weirdest and coolest looking critter, but if that concept ends up being too expensive to implement, then you’re pretty much back at square one. Sometimes the simplest characters are the most effective – look at Pacman.” 


What kind of brief do you usually receive when asked to design a character? What was the brief for Fish Tanks? 

When it came to Fish Tanks the brief was pretty much: We need characters, that are fish… and they’re in tanks, and then I was set loose to design away. But generally, on most projects I’ll sit down for a chat with a designer/producer about what’s needed from a particular character. We’ll spit-ball a bit to get a rough idea of what the game needs, and then take it from there.” 


Who’s your favourite Fish Tanks character and why? 

“Probably the starfish. I just did a sketch one day with a little silly face on as a joke… and now it’s in the game.” 


Starfish character drawings from the game Fish Tanks


 What have you learned from working on Fish Tanks? 

“Even the smallest, daftest sounding idea can end up being something cool.” 

Fish Tanks Character Admiral Waving



What advice would you give to an artist new to the gaming industry? 

“There’s two things I would probably say about working in the gaming industry:

1)Don’t be an arse. It’s a small industry and people talk. Even if you’re one of the most skilled, talented artists in the biz, if you’re not great to work with, you won’t get anywhere.  

2) There’s ALWAYS going to be someone better than you. And that’s okay. A lot of what makes jobs happen is being around at the right place at the right time. Keep working, keep growing, and don’t stop learning. You’ll be okay.” 


Anything Else? 

 “I really want to build a remote controlled Fish Tank…” 

Draft of concept art from Fish Tanks game


Can’t wait to take Em’s fishy characters for a spin? Wishlist Fish Tanks on Steam to be the first fish in a tank! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date on all things Fish Tanks and keep an eye on our blog for more SockMonkey shenanigans.

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