Art design from The Witcher 3. This depicts a witcher finding a lichten, a tree monster who calls on wolves for aid. The wolves are beside the tree monster, and the witcher holds a torch to see in the dark.

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of The Witcher 3, and have come away nothing less than inspired. Its art design is truly compelling. The world is immersive and the design work is second-to-none, making it one of the most satisfying video game worlds I’ve played in years.

I was looking for a great book on the game’s art when I stumbled on this blog post, which has some of the best concept images from the game I can find. It’s incredible the work that’s gone into this. What I was hoping for was a book in the Design Works series, which are known for their conceptual drawings, renderings, and detailed hand-written notes, but this might do in its stead. (That being said, this peek at what a book like that might have been filled with me makes me what it all the more.)

A number of things stand out to me with these images. Firstly, I love how detailed the art is — most of it is painted! It’s also fascinating to see how much, or how little, the game changed between these images and its final state. And of course, the monster designs are truly fabulous.

Art design for one of The Witcher 3's cities.

The other great thing about The Witcher 3 is that it was made in the era of the internet, so freelancers who worked on the project are sharing their in-progress material in their portfolios (often alongside images from the finished product). A quick Google search makes more material like this easy to find.

All of this has gotten me thinking: as UI and UX designers, I think we have a lot to learn from video games (and the people who make them). They’ve got a lot to tell us about experience design. It’s one of the reasons I admire UsTwo (the folks behind Monument Valley) as much as I do: they’re both digital designers and video game designers, and see the challenges and constraints in both as creative tools. Their work is fascinating, and they have a unique outlook on what games and design can do for us.

All that to say: a lot of ink has been spilled about how video games are destroying minds of generations, but I doubt that’s the case. If anything, video games have a lot to teach us yet — and they’re still in their creative infancy. Designers should watch this space closely.

Check out the original blog post about Witcher 3 here to see more images from this collection.