Fallout Wiki
Fallout Wiki

Adam Adamowicz (March 9, 1968 – February 9, 2012) was a concept artist at Bethesda Game Studios and the only concept artist to work on Fallout 3. He also did preproduction work on Fallout 4 prior to his passing in 2012.[1] His work appears in The Art of Fallout 3 and The Art of Fallout 4.


Visualizing all of the aspects of a make believe world is quite an educational experience. On any given day I could be simultaneously learning about multiple topics, from motorcycle engines to 50's fashion design. It's kind of like writing and filming a National Geographic documentary film for an actual sci-fi world. For this job, I think the more you read on a wide variety of subjects, the better equipped you are to create depth and realism, especially for a fantasy setting. The fantastic that's grounded in real world elements and then elaborated and exaggerated upon, seem to work the best, and create a solid jumping off point. This often creates fertile ground for generating additional story elements that can influence costumes, machines, and even motives for the various personalities inhabiting a made up worldConceptual Design

An American artist of Polish descent, Adamowicz did freelance work for Dark Horse (New Recruits), Fantagraphics Books (Duplex Planet), cover art for Malibu Graphics, and did a variety of odd jobs, including driving an ice cream truck, haunted house construction, apprentice tattooing, and decorating cakes for an erotic cake bakery.[2] He started work at Bethesda in 2005, at 37, and became the mind behind the aesthetic of Fallout 3 and further helped influence the art direction for Fallout 4 and beyond. Working together with other developers, he drew on a broad range of sources, from role and personal experiences playing the original games to the art and culture of the fifties, black comedy, and vintage works of science fiction. Syd Mead, the visionary behind Blade Runner and Aliens, was a great influence on his work: During Mead's lecture at San Francisco, he learned that his principle was "to design with the story in mind and stay consistent with it" (for example, the USS Sulaco was designed as a huge space gun with a nuclear reactor, to fit the theme of Aliens). It freed him from obsessing over minutiae, instead focusing on broad strokes that propel the story onwards.[3]

Adamowicz on a boat

While he was the only concept artist working directly on the game, Adamowicz consistently emphasized the collaborative nature of work at Bethesda Game Studios, noting that the end product is the result of hours of debate and work that are nonetheless fun and exciting. Designs evolved through contributions from everyone on the team, with Adam likening his role to an instigator: He starts the creation process with a cool drawing that inspires everyone else to make something even cooler.[3]

The philosophy translated into the way he designed everything. The super mutants' look was inspired by the character Mongo from Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles: "Don't shoot him, you'll just make him mad." They were made to look like they'd step into a tree shredder for relaxation, while their armor was salvaged junk resourcefully hammered into chest plates and pauldrons or crudely welded onto helmets. He also drew on his own experiences and past, for example, when creating the various homemade weapons or the look for the characters that inhabit the world. He summarized the idea behind wasteland looks as "a statement on scavenging the remains of the past in a way that would combine civilian garb with a more warlike, survivalist sensibility", while the Vault jumpsuit was specifically designed to blend the retro 1950s flavor with a dystopian, Orwellian feel for the environment.[3]

Adamowicz's industrial design was meant to capture Fallout society's enthusiasm for atomics and future technologies, while preserving the retrofuturistic aesthetic with superfluous fins, chrome, and vents. He was conscious of the limitations dictated by Leonard Boyarsky's concept of the vacuum tube being the dominant form of electronics, and combined it with other retro materials, such as bakelite. Terry Gilliam's films were a key inspiration in this aspect, in particular the richness of detail and sight gags that he included. In architecture, he combined Art Deco, Googie, Streamline Moderne, and other historic architectural styles to create the distinct Fallout look. He deliberately contrasted the looks, from bunker-like civic structures to streamlined, zippier hotels and entertainment venues, and residential buildings inspired by utopian designs like Le Corbusier's. Adamowicz avoided veering and crashing into a campy Jetsons style look, preferring a more grounded approach full of small details.[3]

Robots populating the world were a twisted version of Robbie the Robot from the iconic Forbidden Planet combined with vintage sci-fi spaceships. Adamowicz was particularly inspired by what is now called greebling, the addition of miscellaneous details, designed to suggest a mysterious and sinister purpose of the machine. The goal of the design was to make it retro, hostile, and at the same time just a tad goofy. Biological creatures received a similar treatment, with Adamowicz treating anatomy as a Lego set, adding tumors, growths, discolorations, and extra appendages. He created creatures that were creepy and deadly, yet functional. He preserved the old predator vs. prey relationships to create a twisted ecosystem, imagining Marlin Perkins Mutated Wasteland Kingdom Presents as he worked.[3]

Humans were left unchanged, explored through the aforementioned outfits and equipment, in a manner Adamowicz compared to "David Lynch designing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3000". When designing the look for characters, especially villains, Adamowicz anticipated their personalities and fleshed out their persona through costume, personal effects, and weathering. He meticulously documented their evolution under his stylus, in order to note any unexpected "mutations" and communicate them to the rest of the team. Meetings, as mentioned earlier, were common, and his designs elicited a variety of reactions when presented, even those he considered strongest. Not all of the designs he liked were accepted - those that didn't wind up reworked were relegated "to the Island Of Rejected Misfit Monsters That Might Find Another Use Someday." Adamowicz wasn't annoyed by it, as he believed "No design is ever a waste of time, even if it only serves to points you towards another possibility."[3]

Adam passed away from complications with lung cancer on February 9, 2012, at the age of 43. In tribute to his work, Bethesda released a collection of hundreds of Adam's conceptual drawings in high resolution on Flickr. Other creators created their own tributes, like in the Fallout 4 Creation Club content Capital Wasteland Mercenaries: A room of the GNR building is a recreation of Adam's workspace and decorated with various pieces of his Fallout 3 concept art.

His work also lives on. Apart from defining the look of the Fallout series under Bethesda in the 21st century in a broad sense (with some works remaining virtually unchanged, such as Adamowicz's favorite weapon designs: the Shishkebab and the AER-9 laser rifle[2]), his concept art would continue to be used directly. For example, when modeling Vault infrastructure, Josh Jay drew on Adam's detailed Vault concepts, with the living quarters lights based directly on Adamowicz's concepts.[4]

Employment history[]

20022003Jaleco Entertainment, Inc.Artist
20052012Bethesda Game StudiosArtist


Fallout series[]

YearTitleCredited as/for
2008Fallout 3Concept Artist
2015Fallout 4Concept Artist

Other work[]

YearTitleCredited as/for
2001Nightcaster: Defeat the DarknessArtist
2002Nightcaster II: EquinoxArtist
2003Goblin Commander: Unleash the HordeConcept Artist
2006The Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionConcept Artist
2011The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimConcept Artist


Due to the sheer amount of work created by Adamowicz, all concept art is available in the following category. The following is a brief selection of Adamowicz's works.


External links[]

Bethesda Blog Flickr archives