What does a Concept Artist do?
A Concept artist essentially creates ideas and images for visual mediums such as animation, movies, comic books, illustrations, games, advertising, print and more.
They can work in 2D or 3D software packages but a Concept Artist is usually expected to be able to execute their ideas in both. The Conceptual Artist will collaborate with other departments and is usually the first role in the pipeline to execute the brief. It’s their job to find the right visual style and design idea to reflected the overall brief for anything ranging from Character Designs, Environments to Vehicles, Props or even costumes.
Designs need to be inspiring and engaging so a Concept Artist must take an active interest in things that will fuel their imagination. Most concept artists use Digital based software such as Photoshop with graphic tablets or drawing screens. Some concept artists still work traditionally, but digital is the most preferred method of working due to it’s speed and forgiving nature, especially with tight deadlines and the production pipeline.
A concept artist usually works in house for a studio but will often work on a freelance basis too.
What does an Illustrator do?
Illustrators are commissioned to produced a wide variety of visual images based on a specific requirements.
These images can be polished or highly stylized depending on the client and target audience. An illustrator can expect to produce artworks and drawings to be used for magazines, book covers, advertisements, games, packaging and more.
An illustrator usually has a particular style that they’re commissioned for. They usually work freelance as opposed to in house so they need to be highly self motivated. A typical process for an illustrator would be to create some initial sketch based ideas to send off to the client, before going on to finalise and render out the final image ready for production.
Illustrators need to have better drawing and painting skills than a concept artist. The end product is what they produce, whereas a concept artist is mostly focuses on the design and idea which can change multiple times through the production process.
The illustrator is usually at the very end of the production pipeline when it comes to marketing the concepts and ideas initially created by the Concept Artist.
How can I get experience?
Your experience within either of these professions mostly comes from all the practice you have done in your own time.
Draw, Design and create as much as you can to master your craft. The surge in technology has boosted the entertainment industry which makes games, films and the general need for visual media required more than ever before. Because of this, the barrier to entry is very high so you need to get good, really really good!
But, because you LOVE drawing and painting this should be enough to carry you through, along with some grit and determination.
You should do the type of work you want to get hired for. So if you like to do really cool and realistic fantasy work like Magic the Gathering, then practice replicated those artists and fill up your portfolio with pieces that demonstrate your potential for employment from that type of client. If you want to work for Disney, then you’re most likely going to have to do lots of expressive character designs and showcase engaging character development process, with plenty of facial expressions to really convey the character’s personality.
In house work experience or placements is quite common but usually reserved for graduates. You could consider going to an Art school, or getting a Degree in a related field but in all honesty, the only requirement for ANY creative industry is a good, if not great portfolio! A degree or high level qualification will only really help you if you intended to migrate for work, and possibly open doors if you went to a school with lots of connections.
The best advice would be to make sure you do work that you love. Working as a Concept Artist or Illustrator is really a dream job, so it shouldn't’ really feel like a chore. If you’re looking to break into to it, you may as well start off on the right foot and tap right into what you want to get paid to draw, design or paint.
Another thing to mention would be to get really good at one ONE thing! If you try to get good at everything at once, that once will turn into a long time! So find out specifically what type of job role want to do and get attain the skill set required, e.g For a Character Concept Artist, it would be ideal to focus on anatomy, practicing poses over and over, as well as learning fundamental design principles.
How can this website help me?
ConceptStart's Art Idea Generator simulates art ideas that you can expect to get in the Concept Art and Illustration industry, so it’s a great way to practice, prepare and improve.
If you stick to these briefs you can expect to achieve the following:
- Experience sticking to set criteria
- Practice executing a blueprint for engaging visuals
- Improving your time management
- Create fresh pool of artworks and ideas inspired by unique briefs
- A helping hand creating ideas tailored to specific client types e.g Game Workshop
- Helps speed up your process
It's FREE to use the awesome Art Idea Brief Generator for Characters, Creatures, Environments and Easy things to draw, but you should consider purchasing a membership package which will give you added functionality and access to a broader range of Ideas and briefs to inspire your artwork.
The Art Resource is a really useful tool and comes with the Art Resource Membership (currently being redeveloped). You can access Character Poses which will assist your Character Designs and Illustrations. There's also a Still Life Gallery with unique images geared towards enhancing your knowledge and understanding the relationships between Colours, Light, Shadow, Materials and Forms.
The Mood Board Generator is part of the Tier 2 Membership and this will automatically generate a mood board for instant reference based on any of your saved ideas!