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SpiritWalker
07-11-2005, 01:51 PM
hi everybody, i have a question about concept art, i just hope its not too idiotic: something i want to be sure about

do concept artists use references? or do they only use their imagination? is concept art is both creating from imagination completely and devloping things from real life?

thanks

Atwooki
07-11-2005, 01:58 PM
Anything they can get their hands on!
Usually the job in hand will dictate the balance of photo/image ref V. ones own imagination; one thing's for sure tho'.... of the half dozen or so concept designers I know (from product design through character design) all have CDs, DVDs and their HDs packed with archived images

StylusMonkey
07-11-2005, 02:00 PM
hi everybody, i have a question about concept art, i just hope its not too idiotic: something i want to be sure about

do concept artists use references? or do they only use their imagination? is concept art is both creating from imagination completely and devloping things from real life?

thanks

You've pretty much answered your own questions, concept artists do not have hard and fast rules and they do not all work the same, most use references some don't, you'll inevitably come across subject matter you have not encountered before or are not familiar with and thus need research materials or references.

Of course to be a concept artist, you also need to posess a wide mental library in your head already, especially of the fundamentals like color theory, value, design aesthetics, proportion, anatomy, mechanics of how things work, perspective, ie a solid foundation from which new tangible ideas ca spring.

Conception projects can be based on or spun from real life or from pure imagination, however keep in mind that most concepts have a grounding in reality taken from our past/present and then extrapolated in order to lend a solid tangible grounding to the designs that we come up with, so that the audience can identify with it - if its too far out and abstract, people won't identify with it.

m

SpiritWalker
07-11-2005, 02:05 PM
thanks for the full answers guys, read them and understand much better :).

is it terribly hard to become a concept artist? this is what im going for. when do people start learning it?

StylusMonkey
07-11-2005, 02:31 PM
thanks for the full answers guys, read them and understand much better :).

is it terribly hard to become a concept artist? this is what im going for. when do people start learning it?

Well, thats a little like asking "How high is the sky?" ;)

It really does depend on a lot of factors such as, how many video game/animation studios there are in your area, how much work experience you've had with commercial projects, how wide your gamut of subject matter understanding is, how creative you are, and of course how impressive your artwork is to the person who makes decisions.

I will say that there are a shitload of people trying to become conceptual artists though, and I'll be honest, 95% of them wouldn't have much of a chance - the problem is because many of them think that because they can draw a few characters well, it means that they can become a concept artist.

Concept art entails a lot more than typically seen, there is the research work that takes up a LARGE percentage of your time, then the ability to take ideas and produce vast numbers of prelim sketches which are then whittled down and refined, you gotta understand color theory, perpective, value, mood, depth, etc as well as a technical inclination in understanding what limitations you should place on yor ideas to reduce render times - esp for vide games. You gotta be able to draw from all sorts of angle, as well as be consistent, both time wise and idea churning wise, you gotta maintain a high level of work which typically rushing against the clock while still being composed enough to come up with design after design, you then gotta translate them into orthorgraphic views, you gotta think about operational mechanics and how the item works how a creature moves, scale, all sorts of things.

Typically being a concept artist is a pretty high stress situation, that a lot of creative types just do no have the knack for, thats why people like Feng Zhu get paid so well and are never short of work, they are pretty much the driving force for the visual aspect of a game or film.

But apart from that, I'll say that it is for me personally the most rewarding profession I could think of - there are a lot of people gunning for the role of concept artist, so the barriers are high, but if you love it enough, nothing is too difficult.

Funny story, I remember my first day on the job, I could hardly believe I was actually being paid to draw, it was like living in a dream...then it turned into a nightmare, it was about 4:30 in the afternoon and all I had virtually nothing to show but a trash can full of half asses scribbles. I was scared shitless, I now had my dream job and ****, I couldn't produce shit! On the first day, I think I thought about quitting about 10 times lol.

I packed up for the day went home and immediately started working until i had something to show for the next day, i stayed up until 4am the next morning working on something, can't remember what, I think it was a Roman soldier. I tell you, its a scary feeling when you're being paid to do something you love and not being able to do anything decent that first day, its like all your fears come true.

After a week or so though, the butterflies are all gone and you can get down to business.

PerfectBlue
07-12-2005, 02:53 AM
do concept artists use references? or do they only use their imagination? is concept art is both creating from imagination completely and devloping things from real life?

A little from column A and a little from column B. :)


It depends on the artist really. I like to go 100% from imagination, but there are times when i need references to keep pace on a piece. The ultimate goal is to be able to draw anything from your head, though. You don't want to be stuck in a corner when you need to draw something from your head and can't because you have no reference. As a concept artist you should go without reference most of the time. The other artists down the pipeline use your work as a reference, and you being start of the chain don't usually have anything to work with.

tatiana
07-12-2005, 06:11 AM
...is it terribly hard to become a concept artist? this is what im going for. when do people start learning it?

There are concept artists in other industries besides games. What industry would you like to be a concept artist in? The answer to that question may help you gain the foundation you need to get the job you want.

When do people start learning it? The first time they think up an idea and attempt to make it real. Whether the concept is a character, machine, environment, or all of the above and something else. :)

I think if you check out successful CG concept artists, they frequently have degrees in industrial design or architecture or fine arts or similar. They are also very interested in learning how they can improve what they do, and how they can develop insights so that their concepts are always fresh for their industry. They look to other artists, they take classes or workshops, they read, they travel, they seek new experiences to enhance their imagination and grow their creative skills.

As far as references go, most artists (myself included) have a ton of handy references around (a morgue), whether that's on cd or in books or from online research. For a quick rough concept sketch and the initial idea, often that's taken from a combination of personal experience and imagination plus teamwork.

t

KOryH
07-14-2005, 03:00 AM
All very good answers.

I would also like to toss in that even the best artist in the world can only make a horrible idea look so good.
exercise your brain as much, if not more, than your hands.
What I am trying to say is go out and live life and read and devour your surroundings.
then use those in your concepts. I think a certain amount of real life influences adds believability to even the most outrageous designs.

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