Concept Art for Beginners

Concept Art for Beginners

Concept art is the stage of work when the idea described in words should be embodied visually by the artist. Simply put, draw or model. Quick sketches allow you to consider different options and cut off futile solutions at the earliest stages of production (pre-production) and determine which direction should be developed. The selected sketches will then be worked out, detailed and put into production.

Concept art is used in many branches of visual art: film industry, animation, game development, advertising comics and so on. 

This work is carried out at the very beginning of the project. But it is at this stage that images are created that, thanks to the work of the rest of the team, find life on the screen. The better the conceptor understands its tasks and owns the necessary tools, the more popular it becomes. 

The main directions of concept art

Character concept

The artist working in this direction searches for the visual image of the hero. This is true for children's cartoons, as well as for Hollywood blockbusters and AAA games.

The concept of the environment

Here the artist faces the tasks of creating individual interiors or buildings, as well as thinking through entire locations (city neighborhoods, islands, dungeons, castles, etc.). With which the atmosphere and mood of the picture is created.

Design of equipment

This is a direction typical primarily of the SCI-FI setting. The artist is required to have a very good understanding of transport and weapons, knowledge of perspective, and, as a rule, knowledge of 3D.

Design of props

Often it is this work that is trusted by less experienced concept artists on large projects.

More useful information you can learn on

Separately, I would like to highlight such a stage of the animated pipeline as a storyboard. Before you start shooting a film, you need to make a storyboard - small sketches of each scene, giving a general idea of the movement of the camera, the planning, location of the characters on the screen. Something like comics. Sometimes directors do it themselves, but more often this work is done by a separate artist.

Theoretically, all this can be done by one specialist, but this requires just a huge amount of knowledge and skills. 

It is worth noting that the requirements for detail and degree of study of the concept are different in different industries. More work is often done on game concepts, because the game has the opportunity to consider a character, location or weapon, not limited to screen time. In cinema, the result of the artist's hard work can take only a dozen frames.

What knowledge is required for work?

In concept art, it is very important to be able to show and explain not in words, but with the help of visual series to those who search a 2d animator for hire. Your ideas should be simultaneously clear to the customer, the art director and those specialists who will implement them in the future. The list of necessary knowledge strongly depends on the artist's specialization and the style of the project. However, the concept, like any artist, needs basic artistic knowledge.

I would divide knowledge into two categories. The first is universal. Knowledge of anatomy, spatial thinking, understanding of how light works (lighting in space and on an object), understanding at least the basic positions of color theory.

The second category is technical knowledge and knowledge of tools. They are rather secondary, but also very important. Knowledge of Photoshop, ability to draw with hands, knowledge of 3D. As a rule, the main tool of the concept artist is still Photoshop. But even for the entry level, they need to be owned very well. But the larger the list of technical capabilities of the artist, the greater his competitiveness.

Are there any special requirements for the computer?

Concept art is one of the most computer-intensive areas of graphics. You don't need the latest 20 Gbt GPUs with an RTX system. Almost any budget PC is able to support the stable operation of Photoshop. A processor with a frequency of at least 1.6 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, or better 8 GB and about 7 GB of free hard disk space is enough.

Which tablet to choose?

There are several main criteria by which you need to choose a graphics tablet. First of all, it is important to pay attention to the recognition of random touches of fingers and palms. The tablet should only respond to work with the pen. Also a plus will be the presence of express buttons, with the ability to configure unique functions for different applications and a pen that works on electromagnetic resonance technology. It does not require charging and has a low threshold for registering a press.

Other parameters, such as the size of the tablet and the presence of a display, are not so important for novice artists, and have a greater impact on the cost of the tool than on the usability of it.

The main idea here is that you do not need to buy an expensive and large tablet right away. To begin with, you should learn how to draw and make the most of the functionality of a simpler device. What matters here is not which tablet you draw on, but how much you do it and how carefully you analyze your mistakes. The tool is secondary.