Working with Intention - Explorations on Game Art.

Article / 04 June 2023

TL;DR: In the following text I analyse a few simple decisions I made to become a better artist. The importance of intention in art and design is emphasized, realizing that successful designs are not arbitrary but purposeful, while discussing the significance of intention in choosing portfolio pieces and improving workflows, highlighting the need to understand the goals and purpose behind artistic decisions to achieve consistent high-quality work. I hope this helps someone out there! 😊


Working with Intention

My wife and I often talk about art and design. She’s finishing up her studies in Interior Design, and we often come together to feedback on each other’s work. One of the words we use more when asking each other about how we ended up making a specific design decision is intention.

What was your intention when doing this? Did it just look good, or is there a meaning behind it? At first, it wasn’t rare that the answers to this question end up being a 50/50 mix of an “I don’t know, it just worked” and a “Because I wanted to portray this or that.” In one of those moments where a lightbulb turns on, we came to the now obvious realisation that the things that “just worked” weren’t easy to, first of all, justify as a design, and second, learn what worked and why so that we could repeat this in other areas of our projects.


A few days ago I came across a YouTube video by Marco Bucci titled “I became a PRO ARTIST with NO art school and NO talent”. At first, the title caught my eye. I started my journey to pursue a career in games at 17, and had very little idea of art. My drawing abilities hadn’t really progressed since I was about 7-8 years old, it was really that bad. Altogether, the experiences that Marco Bucci describe in this video would fit my story if only he was talking about a 3D art career, which kept me watching.

Soon, the video started to turn technical (at least for my still 8 year old like drawing abilities) but I was able to pick a pattern, there was a purpose for every move, every stroke, and every decision made at all times when developing a piece. “A curved line can do many things, but this one will represent a quick movement” is what someone drawing with intention would say based on my experience watching this video. (Really basic, I know, but wait, it will all make sense in a second)

This really resonated with my then dormant idea that, in order to achieve the highest quality work consistently, it’s crucial to deeply and consciously understand what you do, and this is what I’m today calling intention.


The concept of intention can be extrapolated to many different areas of our lives as artists, but there’s two key areas that I’d like to focus on, choosing a portfolio piece, and paying attention to the way you work.

When it comes to choosing portfolio pieces, it’s crucial to understand what you are trying to cover with it. Back in the day it was normal for me to see a nice looking object and wanting to replicate it in the 3D space. This is great for learning how to problem solve in many different scenarios, but I could have gone a few steps further to ensure my time was well spent. Understanding what exactly you can cover with a portfolio piece is a great way to get started. Things like demonstrating your skills and learning are obviously in the mix, but if we add getting out of our comfort zone, seek technical challenges that will result in a good breakdown post, and trying to stand out from the crowd, we start to generate a challenge when deciding what piece to make.

To overcome this challenge, I did a bit of research on work of the referential game artists from the last decade, and started to notice a few patterns in their choices for portfolio pieces, it was almost always one or more of the following:

  • They show a strongly developed personal style and look, and explore new areas to push it further.
  • Their storytelling and presentation skills are impeccable, both having the strongest effect in their work.
  • They are constantly pushing the artistic boundaries and testing new software and techniques that are later adopted by the wider art community.
  • They have a commitment to spread their knowledge, and actively seek to do so by posting tutorials, breakdown articles, and workshops.

This small 4 point list was enough for me to understand there was a very simple way to decide if an idea for a portfolio piece was good or not. I had developed intention in my work delivery, and this made me achieve more than I could have anticipated.

The second key area I wanted to explore is paying attention to the way you work. On Marco Bucci’s video we can see how mostly all lines drawn mean something. With a bit of imagination, we can translate this to our 3D pipelines by understanding the purpose of our every move. At first, this may look tedious, maybe even ridiculous, like thinking about breathing, but funny enough, it was my biggest challenge when becoming an art lecturer. I wasn’t used to thinking about my actions, I just did what worked, as after many years working a certain way, I was subconsciously making many decisions that heavily impacted my work.

What helped me the most was analysing what worked best for me and aligned with my artistic vision, from which I learned to optimize my workflow and save time. Starting with simple actions like identifying how many times I repeated a process, and create tools and scripts to automate it, and continuing with testing a few different ways to achieve the same result made me a much faster artist, decision maker and problem solver.

Very quickly I started to notice how students of mine applying the same concepts became much more self sufficient, their quality improved and became consistent, no matter what challenge they were facing.

Overall, pausing myself, taking my time to think about my reasons, my intentions, note down my processes and thoughts, and spend less time worrying about being fast, and more about being mindful of my work has been the single biggest step forward in my working processes as an artist.

– My thoughts on Art, Intention and Conscious Working. Javier Benitez, May 29th, 2023