Art direction in games is a critical stage in the production of game play, in today's market more than ever. Its the art directors job to ensure that all the in-game assets and artwork are made on time and are made to fit together in the game. The main idea is that the art director keeps up the consistent feel of the game and follows the theme, making sure other artists dont stray to far from it. The work along side the Project manager to set up briefs and task updates, making sure that the feedback is constantly being passed to the other sections of the game team in the pipeline.
The Art Director will also estimate the triangle count of each asset and how long the artist has to create the asset. This is to make sure that everything runs smoothly, the game cant be made if some assets are not made on schedule. If any major assets were delayed, this would have a ripple effect down the pipeline which would slow production as other artists try to find other work to do while they wait for the asset they wer supposed to be doing originally, or they wont do any work at all until they get it. It would seem Art direction is a creative role, however its more of a guide than the artist, the creativity seems to be channeled to the artists lower down the chain. That seems to be the role of the Art Director, to ensure that the art is tailored to fit the game and for it to be on schedule.
What's required to be a art director would seem to be vision and leadership skills. The lead artist would have to be able to pass his ideas onto others clearly and directly to get the results needed which would involve allot of mentoring to the artists. The Ard director would need to be a natural leader type, if the artists dont look up to the art director, they would believe that his feedback of their work is not correct, there needs to be this ladder making the artists look up the art director. The must be clear and precise about what they are saying in order to get their vision across to the artist, this position is not for the timid. Looking at the amount of people under you and the amount of work required, being shy about an idea could cause some serious problems down the pipeline if a problem is no corrected.
Looking through some job specifications, traditional skills is a must. Not only that they must have risen through the ranks by at least having 4 to 5 years experience in the gaming industry. This makes sense, if the art director was some random character who had no background in games, how could he direct artists? The art director must at some stage be an artist them self, this way they would know what is needed of a good Art Director, they would know first hand what is good management and what is bad.
What would I need to become an art director? Experience and knowledge of the industry. Simply, I can say at the moment my experience is little and my knowledge is sketchy. At the moment I can easily say I dont have the skills required. The real question is do I have what it takes to be an artist and the will to become an art director? It seems like allot of pressure.