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I'm a traditional, realism artist and I'm looking to branch out and explore concept art. I absolutely LOVE the imagination of it and the fact that I'm not limited to what I see in photos or models.
I can draw what I see just fine (portraits are still a tad challenging). Here's some samples of my work for reference - http://www.aubreycampbell.weebly.com
But I have a slight problem in that I have issues when I try to draw from my imagination. As much as I would reeeeeeally love to do concept art, I feel like I can't do it because I MUST have a reference picture to work from. I HATE using the word "can't". I always want to scribble it out and challenge myself to get it out of my sight, specifically when it comes to art. I don't want to limit myself.
So how do I get started into concept art? How do I break free from using what I see in front of me, i.e. models, photographs, real life, etc. and start using my imagination without making everything look morphed, painfully amateurish and newbesque?
Thank you in advance!
"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." ~Georgia O'Keeffe
Unfortunately this is pretty much unavoidable. I mean really, when you start something new you're bound to do some stuff that looks like crap no matter what and it's not something you should even try to avoid.
Though, you seem to be operating under the impression that you don't use refs for concept art or imaginary drawing, which you in fact do, even if it's not just copying/drawing what you see directly in front of you (like a person designing a mecha can use photos of ships, cars, tanks etc and their construction as a help or shoot a pose ref that they'll use as a base ref). Personally I'd suggest starting to learn basic construction of things, like what basic blocks are people/animals/cars made of etc, that helps you to start doodling down thumbnails for ideas that you can work out and find refs for.
And I can't recommend James Gurney's Imaginative Realism enough: http://www.parkablogs.com/content/bo...t-doesnt-exist and FZD has lots of concept art related videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/fzdschool
Last edited by TinyBird; October 31st, 2012 at 04:49 AM.
What tiny said. (That was pretty much what I was gonna say...)
Also, I have to ask, but are you working from life much? Your gallery suggests a lot of work from photos... This is all very well, but practice from life can be extremely useful for understanding the basic structure and form of things, and how to edit and adapt what you see in order to turn it into something else. It's harder to wrap your head around these things using photos alone.
I just wanted to +1 the advice to get the James Gurney book, as he devotes a large section of it to explaining how illustrators and concepts artists use reference to construct imaginary scenes - although it might seem that way, drawing things from imagination doesn't mean you don't use reference, in fact the opposite is true. Professional artists who create realistic images of imaginary scenes/people/objects use reference far more heavily, and spend far more time seeking out the right reference materials to use, than someone who is painting what is directly in front of them. There are just some differences in the way you use it.
For example, Gurney, who paints dinosaurs a lot, buys and creates realistic models of dinosaurs and sets up complex rigs of the models with lighting and environment models to paint from (which is a pretty extreme example, as most will use photographs, but it really works!). If you look at the TAD instructional videos (click the big banner at the top) another great resource to understand the process of creation of concepts using reference is the video "The Mechanic" by Donato Giancola, who goes in detail through his process of taking photographs of his model for the painting, the references he uses for his environment and background, and even how he references the red shiny armour of the character by painting the surface of shiny christmas tree ornaments! And the painting is amazing.
I agree about learning construction techniques also. You will find a lot of people here recommending Loomis, Bridgeman, Hogarth etc as great books to learn about figure construction in order to learn to construct figures from imagination, but you will find that to create professional standard work you will probably need to use these techniques in addition to references, not by themselves.
Yeah, what Queen says. You need to work from life and learn to capture a sense of light and form. Go outside and paint or set up still life or other objects in your studio and try to draw and paint them without any photos. Also working as a concept artist requires a high degree of professionalism, not only do you have to be good at drawing and painting you have to be fast to work in a production cycle. The things on your website shouldn't take more than an hour or two to do start to finish.
I'm glad Feng Zhu was recommended, he's really great. And drawing from imagination pretty much requires that you have a good understanding of what you're drawing. Haha, you can't just hop into it. Draw and study different subject matters every week. Understand the functions that make the subject matter you're studying able to operate. Draw from life, like said before. Being a concept artist is not so much about rendering your drawing super-tight; in my opinion, it's about the idea.
You can get a sort of idea of the stuff you could do/study with the course outline for the feng zhu school of design.
You can simulate projects to work on using character/creature/scene generators
I'm nowhere near professional and I seem to echo what a lot of people here are saying, and I'll say it anyway -- from what I've seen, even very skilled artists heavily rely on a selection of references when drawing from imagination. I'd say they're skilled BECAUSE they're constantly using reference.
The goal isn't to draw well from imagination, it's to draw well. And that involves using reference. It's not cheating, don't worry.
You get started. If it looks noobish, put it down on paper anyway and then find ways to improve it. There's no rule that says that you're stuck with version 0.1 forever.
At least drawing the thing and then thinking about it will help narrow down your problem areas so you can study specific things from life or books. If you draw it then go "oh noes it's bad" and then put it away with embarrassment then you're not really learning much.
No you don't. That's just something you tell yourself so you don't have to risk failure. But if you're not failing and producing bad drawings, then chances are that you are sticking to things you already know and preventing yourself from improving. You need to separate failure from identity. Bad art doesn't mean bad artist.