Frequently Asked Questions regarding Entertainment Design and Concept Art
Note: This will be an ongoing work in progress and I'll need feedback to help answer the questions to fill this out because many of them I can't answer having never been hired as a concept artist. Feel free to add in questions you'd like answered too. If any info is wrong or could be worded better please let me know
What is Concept Art?
Concept art is a form of illustration where the main goal is to convey a visual representation of a design, idea, and/or mood for use in movies, video games, animation, or comic books before it is put into the final product. Concept art is also referred to as visual development and/or concept design. (From Wikipedia)
Also concept art for the Entertainment industry is a small part of the concept art field, at least compared to the concept art opportunities to be found in industrial design careers.
I am considering becoming a Concept Artist, what schooling do I need to help me get there?
In most cases you do not need a degree, it is your portfolio that will get your hired. However learning the basics is needed: Figure drawing, anatomy, perspective, color theory, lighting, and most of all imagination. (From what I'm told) Knowledge of software is not required because it can be taught but skill/quality is required however it is your imagination & creativity + quality that will get you hired.
What schools have programs majoring in Concept Art?
The Art Department - Location: TBD
Concept Design Academy - Location: Pasadena, CA
Gnomon School of Visual Effects - Location: Hollywood, CA & Online
Max the Mutt Animation School - Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Ringling College of Art & Design - Location: Sarasota, FL
Academy of Art University - Location: San Francisco, CA & Online
Art Center College of Design - Location: Pasadena, CA
What software programs are the most helpful to know as a Concept Artist?
Knowledge or use of software isn't required because concept artists are hired to develop concepts - they'll be hired on the strength of their work whether it be digital, traditional or 3D. However, these programs are useful to know:
Autodesk 3DS Max
Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
Know how to use a digital tablet
What is the pay range for a Concept Artist?
How do copyrights work regarding concepts or designs?
The client/ employer owns every design you give them. You can't use stuff again obviously since it doesn't belong to you, and most likely you will have signed an NDA which means you can't show any of your work outside the company that hired you, unless/ until you can get permission. (a lot of the time, you never get to show your work)
Generally, as an employee, they even own things you do on your own whether associated with a work project or not - but that may be negotiable. Usually before signing an NDA you can add in an IP brief which outlines high concepts for projects you own.
What are the top books I could buy to help me become a Concept Artist?
The Skillful Huntsman: Visual Development of a Grimm Tale at Art Center College of Design
Bold Visions: A Digital Painting Bible
Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes
Mechanika: Creating the Art of Science Fiction with Doug Chiang
Last edited by Amber Alexander; January 25th, 2010 at 07:02 PM.
Good thread Amber. I would only add that concept art for the Entertainment industry is a small part of the concept art field, at least compared to the concept art opportunities to be found in industrial design careers. But maybe it doesn't matter because most of the people here are interested in CA as it applies to Entertainment media.
Also I think Art Center in Pasadena is a good school.
Knowledge or use of software isn't required because concept artists are hired to develop concepts - they'll be hired on the strength of their work whether it be digital, traditional or 3D.
That's my two cents anyway. Thanks for getting this started!
Bold Visions is a fantastic book!!! ANd I have heard nothing but good things about Imaginative Realism....That's my next buy.
Thanks for the great thread.
Hey nice thread.
As for the copyrights question, the client/ employer owns every design you give them. You can't use stuff again obviously since it doesn't belong to you, and most likely you will have signed an NDA which means you can't show any of your work outside the company that hired you, unless/ until you can get permission. (a lot of the time, you never get to show your work)
Bear in mind that what I've mentioned here is not based on personal experience, it's just what I've come to understand is the case.
Hey Amber, thanks for helping get this new section going...and for the killer thread.
I would also recommend SketchUp as a very useful tool for concept artists. I use Maya right now, since that's what I learned first and am most comfortable with, but it's much harder to learn than SketcUp.
Thanks Liffey for the recommendation...I added The Skillful Huntsman to the top of my list of books I need to get soon!
I forgot an excellent book recommendation: "Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes" by Jack Hamm - best book I've seen on composition in general and environment design from the imagination. It isn't pretty so don't expect "The Skillful Huntsman" - it's just basic, fundamental environment design.
Billy is right on about copyright - I would add that generally, as an employee, they even own things you do on your own whether associated with a work project or not - but that may be negotiable. Usually before signing an NDA you can add in an IP brief which outlines high concepts for projects you own.
Some more programs that came to mind that may be useful for the concept artist, but not necessarily a requirement:
Sketchbook Pro (Autodesk) good for quick sketches
Zbrush...very rarely used by concept artists now, but as more and more concept artists start using 3D and the level of detail/complexity required increases, I think it may catch on. It wouldn't hurt to know just for the hell of it either, since it will make you that much more valuable to an employer.
As far as books go, I have quite a few I'd recommend that wouldn't necessarily make you a better artist, but they sure are great to look at and get inspired. At the the very top of the list for books that are chock full of mind blowing concept art would be Massive Black Vol. 1...hands down.
I would also recommend checking out the bargain book sections at any major book store. You'll find many of those big thick ass books that are full of images, history, specs, etc. of weapons, vehicles, aircraft, etc... with names like Weapons, Warriors (great book), etc. which are invaluable for character, weapon, vehicle, reference...especially at prices like $10 bucks a piece!
Last edited by neuroballistic; January 13th, 2010 at 03:09 PM.
Hmmm, can't seem to find anything out about Exogenesis on Google. Is it a concept art book? The name does sound familiar though. Exodessy (Steambot Studios) is a good book full of sci-fi art/concepts.
I have Mechanika, a good book to have for sures.
Just wanted to say how much I appreciate this community and Amber for mentioning the books that could help teach concept art .
Finished Concept Art: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...40#post2626740
Sculpting Identity: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=220560
The Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/CoryKanakis
The Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1306762143
The Blog thing:http://fineartofcorykanakis.blogspot.com/
I'm hoping to get into concept art when I'm done school. I'm currently trying to get into the illustration program at Sheridan (near Toronto). I hope this will be a good program for getting into the concept art business. Am I mistaken?
Thanks for the Alchemy link Ian! I downloaded it yesterday and it kept me up way past my bedtime!
Nicholas - any good illustration program will be good prep for concept art. They are very similar - just different goals - but the same basic processes and fundamentals apply.
There should be a film list on this thread as well, though I can imagine that will be a hotly debated topic!
Portfolio on CA.org:
Gallery on Deviantart
Nice helpful thread
Oh, I was actually thinking of films that were inspirational in terms of imaginative design. For the most part, I can forgive a mediocre script for beautiful visuals, so I'm not really referring to storyline . Or maybe I digress from this thread too much...
Portfolio on CA.org:
Gallery on Deviantart