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    Concept Art FAQ

    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:

    Adobe Photoshop
    Corel Painter
    Adobe Illustrator
    Autodesk Maya
    Autodesk 3DS Max
    Google SketchUp
    Alchemy
    Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
    Pixologic Zbrush
    GIMP
    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
    Imaginative Realism
    Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes
    Mechanika: Creating the Art of Science Fiction with Doug Chiang

    Last edited by Amber Alexander; January 25th, 2010 at 06:02 PM.
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    For books I highly recommend The Skillful Huntsman and Bold Visions: Digital Painting Bible.

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    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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Liffey View Post
    For books I highly recommend The Skillful Huntsman and Bold Visions: Digital Painting Bible.
    Also Imaginative Realism by Gurney, forgot about that one

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    Awesome, thanks guys, Its updated. Got any useful questions that I could add in that any young student might want/need to know before getting into this career?

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    Some more programs that came to mind that may be useful for the concept artist, but not necessarily a requirement:

    Alchemy
    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 02:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by neuroballistic View Post
    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.
    Exogenesis is another very cool one that is more for inspiration.

    For drawing machinery, I recommend Mechanika: Creating the Art of Science Fiction with Doug Chiang

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber Alexander View Post
    Frequently Asked Questions regarding Entertainment Design and Concept Art

    Adobe Photoshop
    Corel Painter
    Adobe Illustrator
    Autodesk Maya
    Autodesk 3DS Max
    Google SketchUp
    Know how to use a digital tablet

    GIMP anyone? lolz. poor mans photoshop, unless youre that pirate

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    Quote Originally Posted by neuroballistic View Post
    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.
    crap, that's what i meant to say, but accidentally wrote the name of the Muse song instead >_<

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    hehe, the name just reminded me of the book, had no idea that's what you meant. I have one of their albums, maybe that's where I heard the name

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    Appreciation

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciate this community and Amber for mentioning the books that could help teach concept art .

    Thank YOU!

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    Awesome thanks for the info guys, main post is update. What is Alchemy? Anyone got a link for it? Ive never heard of it.

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    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?

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    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.

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    There should be a film list on this thread as well, though I can imagine that will be a hotly debated topic!

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    Nice helpful thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by jubjubjedi View Post
    There should be a film list on this thread as well, though I can imagine that will be a hotly debated topic!
    What do you mean film list? Like tutorials?

    I'm looking for things that would help an art student get started in the right direction. If there are videos or tutorial type films then I could add those but I wouldn't add films that are just good concept art examples.

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    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...

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    Quote Originally Posted by jubjubjedi View Post
    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...
    I immediately thought "Oh, how about Avatar for a start"? While the designs for the humans weren't particularly mind blowing (but perhaps that was the beauty of it), I thought that the environments, creatures, and plants that they crafted for Pandora were utterly stunning. I think most people will agree.

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