Invogames
 Game Art Styles: Which Works Best For Your Game?

Game Art Styles: Which Works Best For Your Game?

Invogames

Gaming Art

|

September 18, 2023

|

5 min read

Video game art styles play a crucial role in shaping the overall look, feel, and appeal of a game. Moreover, it helps game publishers and developers to target the specific gamers audience and achieve the goals by delivering what their audience wants. 

 

One thing that everyone considers but nobody talks about is the game visuals. Game visuals matter more than you know! It is factor that gamers lay their eyes on and form an impression of it. In fact, a gamer determines the game's success with its graphics and art styles at first sight. Therefore, before you start game art and animation for your project, it is essential to understand the art styles in video games. 

 

What are video game art styles?

 

The game art style is the aesthetic foundation upon which a game is built, encompassing color, texture, lighting, shapes, and other design choices to attract players with its singular vision and masterful execution. 

 

At its core, game art styles are a visual language that speaks to the players emotionally and draws them even deeper into the game's magical world. Video game styles greatly impact the enjoyment of the game as they bring the look of immersion and boosts players retention with the art and its features. 

 

Whether it's the whimsical cartoonishness of Super Mario, lush forests of The Legend of Zelda, hyper-realism of Call of Duty, or neon-lit streets of Cyberpunk 2077, you see that every game has the distinctive art style that makes it one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

 

video game art styles

 

Why Do Game Art Styles Matter The Most?

 

Art style in video games are one of the primary factors when it comes to game development. The main reasons to focus on the intricate details of the game style art:

 

  • Visual appeal of game

  • Game Storyboarding 

  • Player engagement 

  • Player retention

  • Gameplay Clarity

 

Imagine you are playing a horror game with bright colors, vibrant backgrounds, cartoonish characters, and lively music. Will it give you a horror game vibe? Of course not! 

 

But if you are playing a horror game with a dark background, unsettling music, and a scary narrative, it will ultimately create a sense of dread and tension as you uncover the horror mysteries in the game. That's exactly how graphic art styles set the tone for the entire game and keep you emotionally invested in the game.

 

So, when it comes to choosing the best game art style for your game, make sure it aligns with the game design and narrative to draw players into the game world. 

 

Point to Remember: An uninspiring game art style will turn off players in a second and hinders its potential success.

 

Explore The World Of Game Art Styles And Their Unique Characteristics

 

We're sure you must have agreed now that video games are more than just quick reflexes and button-smashing. The intricate and detailed visuals of the game are what transport you to a whole new world and immerse you into the gaming vibe. 

 

As the art styles in video games are the foundation of the visual experience, there are scores of video game art styles out there to make your game super iconic. But before jumping into making the final decision, first, you need to determine which art style you prefer. 

 

Is it a realistic or stylized look? Classic pixel? Hand-drawn or 3D? Retro or modern? Confused?

 

Don't fret! We've narrowed down the most popular game styles with the characteristics that define each style. 

 

 

Pixel Art

 

Pixel art is one of the most popular 2D art styles that incorporates small, square-shaped pixels to create images for 2D games. This art style is mostly seen in retro games and evokes a sense of nostalgia. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Blocky and pixelated graphics

  • Highly detailed despite its simplicity

  • Simple color palettes, mostly bright

  • Gives vintage feel

 

Examples:

 

  • Minecraft

  • Super Meat Boy

  • Stardew Valley

 

 

Vector Art

 

The vector art style in video games uses geometric shapes such as points, lines, and curves to create scalable art without losing quality. This art form uses mathematical equations rather than pixels to create images.

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Bold, bright colors

  • Highly scalable art form

  • Geometric shapes

  • Flat shading for a smooth appearance

  • Minimalist art style with simplified shapes

 

Examples:

 

  • The Witness

  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch

  • Race the Sun

 

 

Cel Shading Art Style

 

Cell shading is a popular art style used in 2D video games to create a cartoon-like appearance that simulates traditional hand-drawn animation. This art style creates a distinctive look of the game that makes the game accessible to players of all ages. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Flat, cartoon-like appearance

  • Bright and vivid colors with little to no shading or texturing

  • Bold and black outlines that defines the shapes of characters and objects

  • The light-hearted and comic tone

 

Examples:

 

  • Borderlands

  • Okami 

  • Jet Set Radio 

 

 

Realism Art Style

 

The realistic art style in video games has graphics that represent real-life characters, environments, and objects in the game. This art style gives the players an immersive experience with replicated real-world visuals.

 

Characteristics: 

 

  • Real depictions of real-world environments

  • High-quality textures and graphics

  • Advanced rendering techniques

  • Attention to detail in facial expressions, body language, and natural movements

  • Realistic character animations

 

Examples:

 

  • Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

  • Ghost of Tsushima

  • Resident Evil 2 

 

 

Fantasy Realism

 

Fantastic realism is popularly known as surrealist art that combines fantasy with realistic art. As the name suggests, it creates an atmosphere of surrealism by combining realistic details with imaginative elements. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • A blend of fantasy and realistic art style

  • Realistic textures and lighting

  • A mix of traditional art techniques and digital tools 

  • Vivid colors and exaggerated proportions

 

Examples:

 

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

  • Horizon Zero Dawn

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War 

 

 

Low-Poly Art Style

 

The low-poly art style is a minimalist game art design approach to creating an abstract or stylized art form. It uses a low number of polygons to create game assets with a unique angular appearance. Moreover, this video game art style is often associated with retro and nostalgic games. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Simplified geometry that gives a minimalist look

  • Limited texture with solid colors

  • Bright contrasting colors

  • Perfect for games with lower graphic requirements

  • Unique visual style 

 

Examples:

 

  • Monument Valley

  • Firewatch 

  • Poly Bridge

  • Untitled Goose Game

 

Now that you have discovered the most popular game art styles with their unique characteristics, the next most common question is, "how to choose the right game art style for the game?"

 

Read more on 3D game art:


3D Game Art: A complete Guide to Understanding 3D Digital Game Art 

 

Game Art Styles vs Game Graphics

 

Game art styles and game graphics are used interchangeably but they differ from each other. 

 

Game graphics focuses on technical aspects of adding and adjusting visuals of the game such as resolution, polygon count, texture, quality, rendering and so on. On the other hand, game art styles are more of a subjective aspect of a game visual. It refers to the visual appeal and appearance of the game that depends on the game genre and game storyline. 

 

How to Choose The Right Game Art Style For Your Gameplay?

 

Since choosing the right game art style is indispensable to game development for profoundly impacting the players, you need to pick the right one to make your game's visual appeal. 

 

We've compiled the three most common considerations for video games with unique art styles to help you make the right decision for choosing the suitable game art style. 

 

Consider your game’s genre and tone

Make sure that the chosen game art style aligns perfectly well with the game genre whether it is action, adventure, thrill, etc.

For instance, a cartoonish art style is a perfect choice for a lighthearted platformer but inappropriate for a dark-themed survival game.

Understand your target audience to connect with them on a deeper level. Different art styles appeal to different age groups, demographics, and cultural backgrounds. 


An anime-inspired style is more likely to resonate with younger players, while a retro, pixelated style evokes nostalgia in older players.

Think about your target audience

Consider the level of details

When you’re considering the choice for the right game art style, make sure to consider the level of detail you want to give to your game visuals. Some art styles prioritize intricate details and realism, while others favor simplicity and stylization. 


For instance, a hand-drawn, watercolor style conveys a sense of whimsy and playfulness.

 

Lastly! Don’t be afraid to experiment with video game art styles. You can try mixing and matching different styles to suit your needs. As long as your game art style complements your game's mechanics, narrative, and overall vision, you can't go wrong with the art style unless your game is 2D or 3D. 

 

2D vs 3D Game Art Style

 

The choice of games with unique art styles can decide between a smash hit and a flop game. 

 

Whether 2D or 3D, it all comes down to your game's needs. But the thing here is, what's the difference between the two, and what are their pros and cons?



Let’s find out!

 

Beginning with a 2D game art style.

 

The 2D game art style is flat with two-dimensional graphics focusing on the width and height of game characters, props, objects, and overall assets. 

 

While, on the other hand.

 

3D game art style offers great visual realism and immersion into the game. 3D games feature fully rendered, three-dimensional graphics that create a sense of depth and realism that are truly unmatched. In a nutshell, 3D games are ultra-realistic whereas 2D games are cartoonish and less lifelike. 


Speaking of differences between 2D and 3D game art styles, let’s take a look at their pros and cons. 

 

differences between 2D game art styles

 

3D game art styles

 

Create a Captivating Game Art Style with InvoGames 

 

So, if you want to create a captivating game art style that truly sets benchmarks, why not trust the experts?

 

At InvoGames, our team specializes in offering top-notch game art services. With our expertise in different game art styles, we help you bring your game vision to life. So, go ahead and make your game an artful masterpiece that players won't be able to resist. Happy Gaming!

Video game art styles play a crucial role in shaping the overall look, feel, and appeal of a game. Moreover, it helps game publishers and developers to target the specific gamers audience and achieve the goals by delivering what their audience wants. 

 

One thing that everyone considers but nobody talks about is the game visuals. Game visuals matter more than you know! It is factor that gamers lay their eyes on and form an impression of it. In fact, a gamer determines the game's success with its graphics and art styles at first sight. Therefore, before you start game art and animation for your project, it is essential to understand the art styles in video games. 

 

What are video game art styles?

 

The game art style is the aesthetic foundation upon which a game is built, encompassing color, texture, lighting, shapes, and other design choices to attract players with its singular vision and masterful execution. 

 

At its core, game art styles are a visual language that speaks to the players emotionally and draws them even deeper into the game's magical world. Video game styles greatly impact the enjoyment of the game as they bring the look of immersion and boosts players retention with the art and its features. 

 

Whether it's the whimsical cartoonishness of Super Mario, lush forests of The Legend of Zelda, hyper-realism of Call of Duty, or neon-lit streets of Cyberpunk 2077, you see that every game has the distinctive art style that makes it one-of-a-kind masterpieces.

 

video game art styles

 

Why Do Game Art Styles Matter The Most?

 

Art style in video games are one of the primary factors when it comes to game development. The main reasons to focus on the intricate details of the game style art:

 

  • Visual appeal of game

  • Game Storyboarding 

  • Player engagement 

  • Player retention

  • Gameplay Clarity

 

Imagine you are playing a horror game with bright colors, vibrant backgrounds, cartoonish characters, and lively music. Will it give you a horror game vibe? Of course not! 

 

But if you are playing a horror game with a dark background, unsettling music, and a scary narrative, it will ultimately create a sense of dread and tension as you uncover the horror mysteries in the game. That's exactly how graphic art styles set the tone for the entire game and keep you emotionally invested in the game.

 

So, when it comes to choosing the best game art style for your game, make sure it aligns with the game design and narrative to draw players into the game world. 

 

Point to Remember: An uninspiring game art style will turn off players in a second and hinders its potential success.

 

Explore The World Of Game Art Styles And Their Unique Characteristics

 

We're sure you must have agreed now that video games are more than just quick reflexes and button-smashing. The intricate and detailed visuals of the game are what transport you to a whole new world and immerse you into the gaming vibe. 

 

As the art styles in video games are the foundation of the visual experience, there are scores of video game art styles out there to make your game super iconic. But before jumping into making the final decision, first, you need to determine which art style you prefer. 

 

Is it a realistic or stylized look? Classic pixel? Hand-drawn or 3D? Retro or modern? Confused?

 

Don't fret! We've narrowed down the most popular game styles with the characteristics that define each style. 

 

 

Pixel Art

 

Pixel art is one of the most popular 2D art styles that incorporates small, square-shaped pixels to create images for 2D games. This art style is mostly seen in retro games and evokes a sense of nostalgia. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Blocky and pixelated graphics

  • Highly detailed despite its simplicity

  • Simple color palettes, mostly bright

  • Gives vintage feel

 

Examples:

 

  • Minecraft

  • Super Meat Boy

  • Stardew Valley

 

 

Vector Art

 

The vector art style in video games uses geometric shapes such as points, lines, and curves to create scalable art without losing quality. This art form uses mathematical equations rather than pixels to create images.

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Bold, bright colors

  • Highly scalable art form

  • Geometric shapes

  • Flat shading for a smooth appearance

  • Minimalist art style with simplified shapes

 

Examples:

 

  • The Witness

  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch

  • Race the Sun

 

 

Cel Shading Art Style

 

Cell shading is a popular art style used in 2D video games to create a cartoon-like appearance that simulates traditional hand-drawn animation. This art style creates a distinctive look of the game that makes the game accessible to players of all ages. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Flat, cartoon-like appearance

  • Bright and vivid colors with little to no shading or texturing

  • Bold and black outlines that defines the shapes of characters and objects

  • The light-hearted and comic tone

 

Examples:

 

  • Borderlands

  • Okami 

  • Jet Set Radio 

 

 

Realism Art Style

 

The realistic art style in video games has graphics that represent real-life characters, environments, and objects in the game. This art style gives the players an immersive experience with replicated real-world visuals.

 

Characteristics: 

 

  • Real depictions of real-world environments

  • High-quality textures and graphics

  • Advanced rendering techniques

  • Attention to detail in facial expressions, body language, and natural movements

  • Realistic character animations

 

Examples:

 

  • Red Dead Redemption 2

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

  • Ghost of Tsushima

  • Resident Evil 2 

 

 

Fantasy Realism

 

Fantastic realism is popularly known as surrealist art that combines fantasy with realistic art. As the name suggests, it creates an atmosphere of surrealism by combining realistic details with imaginative elements. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • A blend of fantasy and realistic art style

  • Realistic textures and lighting

  • A mix of traditional art techniques and digital tools 

  • Vivid colors and exaggerated proportions

 

Examples:

 

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

  • Horizon Zero Dawn

  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War 

 

 

Low-Poly Art Style

 

The low-poly art style is a minimalist game art design approach to creating an abstract or stylized art form. It uses a low number of polygons to create game assets with a unique angular appearance. Moreover, this video game art style is often associated with retro and nostalgic games. 

 

Characteristics:

 

  • Simplified geometry that gives a minimalist look

  • Limited texture with solid colors

  • Bright contrasting colors

  • Perfect for games with lower graphic requirements

  • Unique visual style 

 

Examples:

 

  • Monument Valley

  • Firewatch 

  • Poly Bridge

  • Untitled Goose Game

 

Now that you have discovered the most popular game art styles with their unique characteristics, the next most common question is, "how to choose the right game art style for the game?"

 

Read more on 3D game art:


3D Game Art: A complete Guide to Understanding 3D Digital Game Art 

 

Game Art Styles vs Game Graphics

 

Game art styles and game graphics are used interchangeably but they differ from each other. 

 

Game graphics focuses on technical aspects of adding and adjusting visuals of the game such as resolution, polygon count, texture, quality, rendering and so on. On the other hand, game art styles are more of a subjective aspect of a game visual. It refers to the visual appeal and appearance of the game that depends on the game genre and game storyline. 

 

How to Choose The Right Game Art Style For Your Gameplay?

 

Since choosing the right game art style is indispensable to game development for profoundly impacting the players, you need to pick the right one to make your game's visual appeal. 

 

We've compiled the three most common considerations for video games with unique art styles to help you make the right decision for choosing the suitable game art style. 

 

Consider your game’s genre and tone

Make sure that the chosen game art style aligns perfectly well with the game genre whether it is action, adventure, thrill, etc.

For instance, a cartoonish art style is a perfect choice for a lighthearted platformer but inappropriate for a dark-themed survival game.

Understand your target audience to connect with them on a deeper level. Different art styles appeal to different age groups, demographics, and cultural backgrounds. 


An anime-inspired style is more likely to resonate with younger players, while a retro, pixelated style evokes nostalgia in older players.

Think about your target audience

Consider the level of details

When you’re considering the choice for the right game art style, make sure to consider the level of detail you want to give to your game visuals. Some art styles prioritize intricate details and realism, while others favor simplicity and stylization. 


For instance, a hand-drawn, watercolor style conveys a sense of whimsy and playfulness.

 

Lastly! Don’t be afraid to experiment with video game art styles. You can try mixing and matching different styles to suit your needs. As long as your game art style complements your game's mechanics, narrative, and overall vision, you can't go wrong with the art style unless your game is 2D or 3D. 

 

2D vs 3D Game Art Style

 

The choice of games with unique art styles can decide between a smash hit and a flop game. 

 

Whether 2D or 3D, it all comes down to your game's needs. But the thing here is, what's the difference between the two, and what are their pros and cons?



Let’s find out!

 

Beginning with a 2D game art style.

 

The 2D game art style is flat with two-dimensional graphics focusing on the width and height of game characters, props, objects, and overall assets. 

 

While, on the other hand.

 

3D game art style offers great visual realism and immersion into the game. 3D games feature fully rendered, three-dimensional graphics that create a sense of depth and realism that are truly unmatched. In a nutshell, 3D games are ultra-realistic whereas 2D games are cartoonish and less lifelike. 


Speaking of differences between 2D and 3D game art styles, let’s take a look at their pros and cons. 

 

differences between 2D game art styles

 

3D game art styles

 

Create a Captivating Game Art Style with InvoGames 

 

So, if you want to create a captivating game art style that truly sets benchmarks, why not trust the experts?

 

At InvoGames, our team specializes in offering top-notch game art services. With our expertise in different game art styles, we help you bring your game vision to life. So, go ahead and make your game an artful masterpiece that players won't be able to resist. Happy Gaming!

frequently asked questions

The latest trends in game art styles are pixel art, vector art, and 3D realistic game art. 

The best tools and software for creating unique art styles in video games are Blender, Maya, RPG Maker, and Adobe Animate.

The main difference between the art style in video games depends on the genre of the game. For instance, the game art and design of an education game would be more cartoonish and learning oriented. Whereas, the game art style of an action adventure game would be based on 3D realism that matches the lifelike realistic environments and humanoid creatures. 

Following a consistent art for video games gives a cohesive gameplay to the uses that enable them to relate with the game plot, theme, mechanics, and narrative. Therefore, to build the game’s consistent look that stays with the players, it is essential to follow a consistent game art. 

Writer InvoGames

Written By:

Hareem Khalid
Senior Writer

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