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:
Autodesk 3DS Max
Autodesk Sketchbook Pro
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
Drawing Scenery: Landscapes and Seascapes
Mechanika: Creating the Art of Science Fiction with Doug Chiang