Think of any video game or movie you have seen so far that has become your favorite. Why do you remember that movie or video game, though? Whether because of the astonishingly realistic alien planets, futuristic machinery, or unique creatures and characters. Ever ponder who designs and produces those elements? It is a concept artist’s responsibility. The entire artistic vision for a project is expressed through concept art.
Do you want to pursue concept art? In this article, we will be explaining concept art history, styles, and everything that will help you get started, whether you’re interested in creating fantastical character concept art or otherworldly settings.
So, let’s begin!
What Is Concept Art?
Other forms of visual expertise are not like this sort of art. The key purpose of concept art is to communicate an idea for a visual project and serves as a point of reference for illustrators and animators before it takes its final form and appearance.
Every day, a considerable number of sketches and mockups are made and approved before going into production. There is no requirement for such concept art to be slick and finished. Later, these images are transformed by other artists into models, objects, and settings. Since conceptual art has become an essential component of creative projects, its significance cannot be understated.
Now that you know what is concept art, it’s time to delve into its history.
History of Concept Art
One of the first producers to consistently employ concept artists was Walt Disney. Disney commissioned Mary Blair to do concept artwork for “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Peter Pan” in the 1950s. Over the years, various creative artists worked on Disney films, creating vibrant, fantastical settings and characters for which the franchise is known.
Projects that aren’t precisely animated but have fantasy features that don’t exist in reality also use concept art. For instance, George Lucas employed concept artist Ralph McQuarrie to produce the paintings of robots, spaceships, and other worlds that eventually inspired “Star Wars.” Fantasy characters and cartoon concept art were essential for this massive franchise to produce the wonderful films that so many people have grown to love.
Concept Artists and Their Role
So far, you understand what concept art is and its history; you might be wondering what is concept artist or what they do.
Well, a concept artist is a designer who conceptualizes and creates artwork for creatures, people, objects, situations, and other types of innovative materials. Concept art helps teams of modelers, animators, and VFX teams to conceptualize ideas for production. The artist’s work must bring these concept art ideas to life.
Concept artists must comprehend the design and apply it to all their creative endeavors. A concept artist who works for Pokémon will have a very distinct design aesthetic from a concept artist who works for Blizzard.
The fundamental process stays the same, however. Various characters, creatures, and other production props can be designed due to the concept artist’s creativity and attention to detail. They frequently need to come up with original concepts rapidly based on detailed creative requirements.
A concept artist also separates the object into different sections and sketches the overall layout and vital iconic components. For instance, the character’s shoulders would be covered by a short jacket or a long winter storm coat? How about hair: is it long, short, or even bald? This all is the responsibility of a concept artist.
Why Concept Art Is Important
When discussing projects like animated films or video games, numerous artists must collaborate to produce a masterpiece as a final product. Creating animation concept art or concept game art ensures that the artists working on a single project falls on the same page.
If you overlook this essential part, you may risk making inconsistencies within the project. Think for a while, a script can describe a character’s physical look and appearance, so maybe two artists would have different ideas or concepts to interpret that idea. If they move forward independently, they might end up creating two completely different characters. This may require you to go back to your concept art drawing board to create consistent characters – it can be a costly mistake to fix. One coherent artistic vision can ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
The Different Styles of Concept Art to Create
The creation of environments, characters, creatures, vehicles, and other imaginative components by a concept artist serves as the basis for the finished work. It’s like putting the client’s instructions into design form. Many concept art styles are used to achieve this.
1. Character Concept Art
To keep the audience interested, any concept art animation expert needs engaging characters and monsters. An extensive knowledge of both human and animal anatomy is required. The concept artists are familiar with defining the actions and personalities of characters while constructing complementing and opposing different characters. They create fantastical or frightening creatures with realistic body types and dress them in costumes to fit their roles better.
2. Environment Concept Art
The plot’s characters must be given environments where the action can occur. This includes natural vistas, structures, cities, and landscapes. The scenes can be in the fantasy or out-of-this-world genres if the plot demands it. A great sense of perspective, composition, and architectural design is required of the concept artist. They use a profound comprehension of color to produce a thematic impression.
3. Prop Concept Art
Every excellent story has inventive and intriguing props. The main focus of this kind of concept art is the creation of designs for the tools, weapons, and other props the characters would employ to carry out their activities. These are the accessories that make up the setting in which the characters are present. Concept art animation experts must possess a high level of expertise in the formulation techniques used in industrial design.
4. Vehicle Concept Art
In concept art, designing a vehicle is analogous to designing a weapon. The artist needs to be knowledgeable about the equipment and procedures needed for conventional car and aircraft design. Beyond that, they frequently go beyond the constraints of traditional design to create spaceships, flying automobiles, and other imaginatively created vehicles.
Where Is Concept Art Used?
Some of the areas where concept art is commonly used are:
- Film & TV
Everything from the 3D animation movie The Lion King to The Sea Beast – each movie has used concept art.
The Concept Art Process
Every movie, game, or television show has a story at its core. Concept artists follow a script, an outline, or a pitch in person. Their objective is to give the writers a preview of how their story might look and feel before they invest millions of dollars in production. So, here we have defined a process of concept art within the animation pipeline to help you understand its steps.
At the start of a project, there is typically a briefing process between the concept artist and the director or art director. The artist should take advantage of this opportunity to learn as much as they can to make incredible and detailed concept designs. It resembles detective work mixed with the game 20 Questions, with a dash of archaeology for good measure.
To bring a story to life, concept artists need to be aware of the following:
- Where is the story located, for instance, the environment, city or village, another planet, or maybe the Eiffel tower.
- Who involves all the characters, or if the character is alone – it can comprise animals too, like a pet or any human enemies.
- What can be the mood? Is the character anxious or carefree, or the summer day will be filled with possibility and hope? Children are playing in the park, or is everyone fighting in the street?
- When is it taking place? It can be a cloudy day, a period of history, a June monsoon, or any.
Afterward, concept artists develop numerous design and narrative solutions based on the types of concept art. They will be inspired by various sources, including historical examples of real-world architecture and style, fictional tales, and even other movies and animations that can be explainer, 3D, or even 2D animation.
Many concept artists adhere to the 80/20 rule: 80% known, 20% new. Even fictitious worlds require some relatable anchor point for the spectator; otherwise, it risks feeling too disjointed.
3. Review And Editing
The next department receives the final product after the artists make any necessary adjustments to their designs. Depending on the project, these might be forwarded to the animators, art department, production designer, or costume designer.
What Tools Do Concept Artists Use?
Tools artists usually use for concept art animation are:
You can use Photoshop to create art from scratch or to make any changes to any imported image. The tool, due to its adaptability, can assist you in creating textures for 3D models and design characters.
The method of classical sculpting is replicated by the sculpting tool ZBrush. You can create incredibly detailed models when you have billions of polygons at your disposal. Easily animate and render your previously made creations by importing them into ZBrush.
3. Sketchbook Pro
An excellent Photoshop substitute for concept art is Sketchbook Pro. It is less expensive and simpler to learn. Even while the application isn’t as well known, it nonetheless offers comparable tools for producing outstanding work. This tool is an excellent option for those just starting in the arts who don’t want to make significant financial commitments.
4. 3ds Max Design
Another dynamo in the realm of 3D modeling software is 3ds Max Design. The technology has demonstrated its effectiveness in developing expansive open worlds and environment design. Artists adore its potent 3D modeling features and rendering skills. They can easily construct intricate models with 3ds Max Design.
Maya is the most popular option for artists creating 3D models and animation for video game projects. This tool is best for different types of concept art. Although Maya is not simple to learn, its variety of features makes an effort worthwhile. Learning Maya should be a top priority if you want to work as a professional modeler.
How To Become a Professional Concept Artist?
While some concept artists are specialized, others are more all-encompassing. For instance, you might specialize as a concept artist in creating mechanical robots. Even if you are a talented mechanical robot artist, there might not be much employment available in the industry solely in that field. Your portfolio should have some variation while still retaining your unique style.
The human shape, animal forms, architectural design, color schemes, and the emotions they express, as well as light and shadow and how they might alter a scene’s atmosphere, are some areas to concentrate on mastering. Even if you don’t utilize all of the concepting tools (such as Photoshop and ZBrush), it is crucial to understand the differences between them.
In your portfolio, show your most excellent work. It is imperative to emphasize this. Keep your portfolio to only those two works if you have two that you are incredibly proud of. A prospective employer may want more work, so be prepared to provide your best work.
Get used to promoting yourself and putting yourself out there! Make connections; that’s what all the best concept artists do. Several meetups take place in person or online, and occasionally they feature industry guests who will answer your questions following a session.
Concept Art – The Spine of Animation
Concept art is the backbone of any animation. Discussing the original aesthetic concepts early in the project requires effective and clear communication between the design team, the artist, and the client. The animation aligned with the client’s expectations, and, more significantly, the final product captures the message they aim to convey thanks to high-quality concept art and open feedback.
Ready To Begin the Journey?
A career in concept art is fantastic since it gives an artist a real opportunity to influence a project. Their sketches serve as the benchmark that the other designers strive to meet. Concept artists work from the idea stage upwards to shape the animation. So, if you aim to become a successful concept artist, this guide is definitely a treasure for you.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for an animation studio for concept art or animation project, connect with Anideos now! Our concept art studio is known for its excellent digital solutions.
Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Adam