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Creating Ideal Concept Art in 3 Steps



You got the perfect drawing with all the details in front of you. It took you months to make it. And you are happy with how it came out...


Well, that is NOT concept art. Concept art is used to help teams solve problems by designing visual solutions.

Concept artists don’t have all the freedom to do whatever they want, they have a lot of constraints. Remember you are not here to explore, you are here to solve problems.



1. PROJECT PREP


First of all, you need to understand the problem and find a way how to solve it. Before you start drawing establish constraints. Something like drawing from a third-person perspective is going to be different from drawing from a first-person perspective.


Next up, do your research. Get references for the design to create a so-called mood board. If you are creating a shooter game, play other shooter games to get the idea and grab a lot of references from them, if you are creating a game in a forest get a bunch of references from forests, or even better go visit one.

Mood boards help with getting a lot of work done without actually working a lot. They are helpful in seeing if you are headed in the right direction.

Making the mood board too general is going to make it hard to stay focused and be confusing when you are drawing the concept.



2. GENERATING IDEAS


It can be hard to start drawing immediately once you get things set up. Creativity doesn’t just spring up when you want it to. So the best way is to draw for ideation. It means to draw sketchy, fast, loose, experiment, and a lot so you don’t get lost in the details. That is why a lot of concept artists usually draw in two tones.



Drawing fast and a lot can lead to toooo many ideas and this is the phase where we start to eliminate some of them.

One technique is called "closing doors". Make a broad approach to the first idea making all concepts different. Then when the team chooses an idea you expand on that one and draw more of that idea and the team picks the best one again and narrows it down each time.



3. NAVIGATE FEEDBACK


In order not to get lost even more in the ideas and to navigate feedback you need to ask specific questions. People can have different ideas about things so asking the right question is very important. If you ask questions like “Which one do you like best?”, you can end up with a lot of different opinions.


But if you ask something like “Which one is the cutest?” it can be much easier to decide.



Also don’t have grand reveals. Ask early and often so you can catch mistakes as soon as possible so that you can change them when it is in the making and not when it is finished.


When presenting your ideas and concepts do it with ambition and passion so they sound exciting and engaging. Care about your work. If you say something like “So this is a concept I made. It is a guy in normal clothes and white hair.” it doesn’t sound as good as “I made this cool looking monster slayer with two longswords one is for humans and the other is for monsters, beautiful white hair, he can cast some spells, and knows a lot about slaying monsters, and kills them very well.”




Let’s recap what we learned today.

  • First before drawing know what you are solving, set your constraints, and do your research.

  • Draw fast and loose have lots of ideas and go from broad to narrow.

  • When getting feedback ask specific questions, avoid grand reveals, and care about your work.


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