EA Tiburon’s Matthew Eng on His Role as Concept Artist

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“I help make things look good, that’s pretty much what we do,” says Matthew Eng, concept artist at EA Tiburon.

After more than half a decade at the studio Matthew has had an impact on the graphics for some of gaming’s most popular sports titles, including NCAA Football, Madden NFL, SSX, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour. It’s an impressive resume, and we’re excited to welcome him to campus today to give students insight into this field.

Speaking with us before his visit, we got a deeper understanding of a concept artist’s role in software development. Matthew starts a new project almost like a storyboard artist on a film, creating rough sketches to help developers determine the visual aesthetics of characters and environments. Those are later fleshed out and applied to the final models you see in a game.

“What we do here at this studio is a lot of varied tasks,” he says. “We design things, we help with color and the style of games. Then sometimes we work on specific features – the lighting, animation mocks – and help them look good.”

EA Sports MMA - UK Gym Development

EA Sports MMA – UK gym development

While the structure of the sports titles he works on tend to stay pretty similar from year to year, Matthew explained the challenges the art team has in trying to elevate the visual fidelity with the latest iterations of EA’s top franchises.

“Even though they’re simulations we still need to push the boundaries of that and help sell a certain visual aspect,” he says. “So they still need new concept art to help determine the feel of that year’s title. I was just recently doing a bunch of different drawings of logos for sports teams, and it was a lot of work.”

Part of Matthew’s role also includes instructing art training classes, as well as mentoring junior artists and students in the requirements of his position. Concept artists generally need a healthy range of attributes in order to be successful, rather than some of the more focused positions on a game’s art and design team.

NFL Blitz - FX Concept

NFL Blitz – FX concept

“This really does require a strong core set of art skills – perspective, layout and color, but also animation and design,” he says. “We look for an artist skilled in multiple areas, because having a strong overall foundation helps when you’re asked to take on things that you maybe haven’t done before. We do a lot throughout the week, and you need to be able to switch gears often and also be able to quickly adjust to the style that a project calls for.”

Matthew Eng will be speaking on campus today at 1:15 p.m. in Full Sail 3F, Room 111. Topics for discussion will include portfolio preparation, how to present yourself to employers, and Photoshop tips.