How to gel with your 2D Artist

I’m not a gamer. I like it, I’ll encourage others to play in my company but I’ve never been a gamer myself. I’m a reader and a researcher, that’s where I get my daily serotonin. Coming on as a writer to a gaming crew really appealed to me but I was cautious about all the holes in my knowledge. However there was one aspect in which I needn’t have worried and that was working with the 2D Artist.

Being a visual artist myself probably helped but I’m not an illustrator by any means! I’ve been able to ascertain these helpful points so far. (I think having a naturally talented person to work with was also a huge bonus.)

bartender concept

Give and Take

Now while this seems like a given, when you begin if you’re not already prepped with this thought, there are a lot of communications in which the writer could turn squirrely as the artist doesn’t ‘get’ their vision immediately.

I would suggest one of two options for the writer, either go in loosey goosey for a lookey loo at what the artist reckons without adulteration, or think and write (and perhaps embarrassingly and lamely sketch) more detail. If you go with this option make sure you send it to the artist before you start working together and perhaps even find similar visual cues, like making a mood board.


Develop a Language

There is a psychological theory that the person you label your ‘best friend’ is the person you communicate with the easiest. What they mean by easy is someone you can communicate your ideas and feelings to in incrementally shorter periods every time you share.

Now let’s remember this is two creatives talking together, even if you’re never going to be besties you can quite quickly organize a lexicon of project specific language. Don’t be afraid to use your weird, non-word words! Get into onomatopoeias (words that sound like what they describe). If you both come to the conclusion that Dave the barista downstairs has the particular facial expression you’re looking for then get into short cuts like grump coffee frown. I’m sure you will find an endless stream of this short cut wisdom that makes the process even more fun.

banana language

Educate Yo’self

If you are a straight up words on paper (screen obvs) guy then do your artist a favour and read some graphic novels or play a few games. Annoy everyone around you by loudly identifying it as research.

Girl in VR

Start how you mean to finish

Don’t bottle it up baby! If you’re not happy with the direction then be brave and say so from the beginning. It will save you both extra work. Be open to letting them do their thang because you might love it but also represent your vision.


Everybody works differently so find your unique combo. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find it straight away. Maybe you need to open a live portal or get together as close as social distancing lets you and work through details together or maybe hit your artist with descriptions and let them go for it by themselves and send you options. It’s a completely surreal and pleasant experience to be able to look at a page of quick sketches and pick the nose from number three with the hair from eight and the grump coffee face from two.

This has got to be one of my favourite ways to collaborate so far and is a completely different skill set to writing by myself.


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