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  1. #1
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    When does concept art become Illustration?

    I see many many works on this forum, and quite a few are refered to as concept art by the author. Now, I would hate to disagree, but the way they label these 'illustrations' as concept is beyond me.

    So, how can one define what is a concept art, and what is illustrative.


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  3. #2
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    Read the first line of this, or better yet the whole thing. =)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_art

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    Last edited by Koh; October 22nd, 2006 at 09:28 AM.

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    I was on that website just yesturday...

    Hmm, I think I mean, when people show a poster they have made, and call of concept design, is it really , or is it not...


    ...well a poster is a finished product, while a design on a sheet of paper is a process during development.

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    Concept art is a subset of illustration. The only thing that sets concept art apart from illustration is that the primary audience of concept art is other artists, who will be using the concept artisy's work as guidelines or blueprints.

    It would be silly to forbid non-concept art illustration from this forum, because one can't become a concept artist without developing illustration skills. Furthermore, this site is a great resource for those interested in related fields, such as 3D art for games; and for many people interested in becoming concept artists, the only way in to the narrow niche of concept art is through freelance illustration or through a 3D graphics job.
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    Imho, my arguably narrow definition:

    Concept art is focused on the design of things that are made up. For a character you might skip things like gesture and background setting in order to put emphasis on the design. For an environment you can pick an angle and light setting that best describes it. You may draw the design from multiple angles to further define it. Rendering is there to define things, not to make it look pretty (that's just a bonus). Of course there are exceptions where you might need to concept a moody setting or body language of a character.

    Illustration doesn't focus on design in the same way, it can be more about mood, gesture, decoration. It can be some girl in a dress with autumn leafs scattered around her. It can be a picture of a guy buying a hot dog. There can possibly be design elements, like a sky-car flying in the background, but there's no focus at displaying that design prominently and clearly.
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    Prometheus: Thats possibly the best decription I have read on the too so far

    I guess sometimes when I see work that has been noted as concept art, but portrays the design badly, is bad concept art, but is likely to be better noted as illustration.

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    Illustration doesn't focus on design in the same way, it can be more about mood, gesture, decoration. It can be some girl in a dress with autumn leafs scattered around her. It can be a picture of a guy buying a hot dog. There can possibly be design elements, like a sky-car flying in the background, but there's no focus at displaying that design prominently and clearly.
    to clarify that a bit, I'd say that illustration is artwork created for the chief purpose of telling, aiding, or suggesting a story. If it doesn't do one of these things, it's not illustration. This being the case, I don't think either group is mutually exclusive.
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    This is a question that confuses me a lot, too. I'm not entirely sure on the semantics of it all. I like Prom's definition, but the way I see art around here a lot it seems that there's a large division between concept artists and concept designers. ...Even though designers are artists.

    So would the proper division be between individuals who set moods for other artists more than design, which would be concept (specific, different from regular,) illustrators, and folks who spend their time designing and maximizing those aspects for other artists, concept designers? And then folks who paint beautiful scenes for mass consumption would be considered traditional illustrators?

    I know top level concept artists are usually great at both, but I've seen a lot of mid level artists advance quickly in one field while not even realizing the other actually takes practice as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuggles
    ...Even though designers are artists.
    Ick, don't drag in a discussion on the word "designer"! ;-) In the games industry, a designer is NOT an artist! Er, except for me. But I'm an oddball and my boss tells me about three times a week that I should paint less and play games more. ;-)
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  12. #10
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    But I'm an oddball and my boss tells me about three times a week that I should paint less and play games more.
    In the words of Ren & Stimpy, in Ren voice: "Your Boss is an eeeeeeeeeidiot!"
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  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling
    Ick, don't drag in a discussion on the word "designer"! ;-) In the games industry, a designer is NOT an artist! Er, except for me. But I'm an oddball and my boss tells me about three times a week that I should paint less and play games more. ;-)
    Minus the humour, why isn't a designer an artist? To be a designer, most of the time they studied in an art college, or atleast did art related things. Just a little confused by your statement.

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    I would argue that concept art is the intersection of Illustration and Design rather than a subset of illustration. Work tends to skew one way or the other and meets different needs of whoever lies further down the pipeline. Most of the time concept art is only a small part in producing a finished product(a video game, a movie, etc) whereas an illustration is the finished product, be it for a book cover, a magazine article, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fl3wk
    Minus the humour, why isn't a designer an artist? To be a designer, most of the time they studied in an art college, or atleast did art related things. Just a little confused by your statement.
    A “game designer” is someone whose job at a game company is to make the game fun, whereas the artists make the game look pretty. Design includes writing the rules and stories of the game. A large part of this work is done in spreadsheets and word documents. The only crossover is in level building – assembling the playable areas out of assets made by the artists - which is what I now do.

    Most game designers that I know come from entirely non-art fields of study.

    An equivalent would be that the designer of chess established what pieces were involved and what moves each could make, whereas the artist who makes a chess set could make the pieces look like anything, so long as they conform to the rules established by the designer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fl3wk
    I guess sometimes when I see work that has been noted as concept art, but portrays the design badly, is bad concept art, but is likely to be better noted as illustration.
    Ugh, I can't stand this opinion

    The deffinition comes in the purpose of intent. As indicated in the word; "Illustration" usually refers to art that illustrates. This can include conceptual art, but in popular opinion not fine art (not my opinion). Concept art's intent is design and creation for a means. It can be illustrative, but the primary function is the idea that created for clients to work off.
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    Designer:–noun
    1. a person who devises or executes designs, esp. one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for works of art or machines.
    2. a schemer, intriguer, or plotter.

    Artist:–noun
    1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.
    2. a person who practices one of the fine arts, esp. a painter or sculptor.
    3. a person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting, etc.: a commercial artist.
    4. a person who works in one of the performing arts, as an actor, musician, or singer; a public performer: a mime artist; an artist of the dance.
    5. a person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.
    6. a person who is expert at trickery or deceit: He's an artist with cards.
    7. Obsolete. an artisan.

    id have to say a designer lays out a subject.. explains how it will or should go together.. to explain the idea or concept.

    an artist SHOWS it to you in all its possible or intended glory..

    2 different things i think, distinguished by a blurred line. to be both would be ideal, and that doesnt really seem to be a problem around here.. - JAG
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling
    A “game designer” is someone whose job at a game company is to make the game fun, whereas the artists make the game look pretty.
    I was more speaking in terms of visual designers, Seedling-sensei. Characters and props shouldn't be just thrown together and rendered out the wazzoo, they really should be designed using the principles and elements of design and color theory. I realize this is a non-issue in most game development, as the person who designs the characters and the person who then illustrates them to look cool is usually one in the same, but the two tasks of designing and illustrating are seperate tasks that require semi-seperate skills.

    I know what you're going for here, JAG, though I'd like to note I think somebody who can arrange visual elements to produce something visually communicative and pleasing is technically an artist...though this is something that could really lead to pointless arguments. But, creating character concepts that look good requires design, whether you can then render them or not.

    I think it would be better to say a designer creates a character that's attractive, in theme, and evokes the perfect response, and then an illustrator (or someone doing the job of an illustrator for the time being, anyway,) takes that character and renders them in a scene that catches the imagination and makes the design shine. But ultimately both are artists. Even though usually it's one person doing both jobs.

  19. #17
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    An illustration is a final visualisation, a piece of concept art is not.

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  20. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snuggles
    I was more speaking in terms of visual designers, Seedling-sensei. Characters and props shouldn't be just thrown together and rendered out the wazzoo, they really should be designed using the principles and elements of design and color theory. I realize this is a non-issue in most game development, as the person who designs the characters and the person who then illustrates them to look cool is usually one in the same, but the two tasks of designing and illustrating are seperate tasks that require semi-seperate skills.
    You misunderstand. . . the job that you describe exists, but in order to reduce confusion, they are called "lead artists" or "art directors" or "concept artists". That, and it's not nearly such a production line that you make it sound like. Nobody in any of those positions gets to call all of the shots, and those who make the final art aren't without say in the creative process.

    . . .sensei?
    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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  21. #19
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    Too true, Seedling. (Sensei because of your insightful threads on breaking into the gaming industry, and I didn't want to sound disrespectful at the time, considering you DO know what you're talking about.) I suppose I just have this concern that many people think that good drawing skills take years to perfect, but all you need to make a cool character is to throw some crap onto a template pulled out of your ass and then render it to hell. I have a friend in the industry, and I've heard talks about how open the design and production phases are at their company, and it makes me glad to think that it's not just some boring, mechanical process. I just wanted to illustrate that the building and designing of characters plays a big role in concept art, too.

  22. #20
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    An illustration is a final visualisation,
    often, but not always

    a piece of concept art is not
    often, but not always
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    good grief

    of course the words mean different things in different Arenas

    a concept is an idea, conceptart is the illustration of that idea to communicate that Idea to others...the amount of finish is directly relate able to how much you want to communicate

    an illustration is image(s) telling a story (in the broadest sense) that story can and often does contain a crap load of concepts. (ideas)

    art can be all or none of the above. although the end result of any art piece is to comunicate..something to someone

    so lets just do what we do to the best of our abilities to doit ,.. and not worry so much about the words..we are all Visual Artists

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    words , words, words.....

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