Concept art is an unsung hero in the game development process. It's often the first thing created for a video game and serves to direct the tone and style of the entire project. Before pressing the A button ever makes a character jump, or pushing the control stick makes a character move, concept art is in place pointing a game in the direction it is meant to go.

Despite establishing a solid stylistic groundwork with the 2013 Tomb Raider, Crystal Dynamics still needed to develop an artistic base for the new Lara Croft's second journey. We spoke with game director Brian Horton about what went into Rise of the Tomb Raider's initial artwork and how it is influencing the direction of the game.

"The concept art pieces that we do, generally have to accomplish a couple different things. They have to provide a sense of composition. You look at it and you go, 'Oh, I know where I am supposed to be looking. That is really interesting. I can’t wait to get over there.' You create that interest through lighting, through complimentary color schemes, things you can say like I am in a very cold place or there is a warm light, or vice versa."

"There is this sort of ominous beauty we put into our games that has an oppressive quality. There is always that feeling of something not quite being in focus. You don’t know what’s back there, but it’s got atmosphere across it. It’s intriguing, and at the same time we want to engender a bit of mystery and potentially even fear – the fear of the unknown."

"I’ve often said that the environment is the second most important character in the game. It is the adversary that Lara ultimately has to overcome. The weather and the danger of the traversal all have to come through in those concept pieces. A good concept for Tomb Raider tends to have those things: interesting composition, mood and atmosphere, and a sense of mystery and intrigue. There’s something over there I have to get there. How do I do that?"

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