So you like drawing characters, and monsters, and swords and guns and space-ships. It has come to your attention that there are people who do this professionally for movies, television, and games. You’ve got a sketchbook in your hands, and you are wondering how to get from the sketchbook to the job. What sorts of things should you draw? What sorts of mediums should you learn? Should you draw from photos? From life? From other artist’s work? From imagination?
I can help you with these first steps. My name is Michelle Clay. I work at a company called Turbine, where I make 3D art assets for games, and (more recently) have been working as a designer building game levels. I’m not a concept artist, but I work with concept artists, and for a while in college it was my goal to become a concept artist. I graduated from RISD’s illustration department in 2000. So, I can’t tell you an awful lot about how to get a concept art job once your skills are ready for that, but I can tell you quite a bit about what you need to do to bring your skills up to that level.
This thread is a classroom. I will be posting information and assignments. As far as possible, I will assume that all you have at your disposal are a sketchbook and a pencil, but a few will involve color. The assignments won’t be any particular order. Feel free to skip to the assignments that will help you the most! If you want to participate, feel free to post your results here. Or post your questions or comments. Or, if you are a professional concept artist, feel free to share your knowledge!
For those interested, over in the Employment Discussion forum I have a similar thread on the games industry. The information there is more advanced and specialized, and includes assignments that require 2D and 3D art programs, but some of it is fairly low-tech, too.
Okay, here we go. . .
Table of Contents
What is Concept Art?
From Life to Imagination
Assignment #1: From Still-Life to Imagination
Assignment #2: From Self Portrait to Imagination
Assignment #3: Half-Imagined Environment
The Use of Photography in Illustration
Assignment #4: Concept Art from Found Photographs
Assignment #4: Concept Art from Your Own Photographs
Assignment #5: the Art Direction Game
Perspective, From the Beginning
Assignment #6: Cube Contortionism
Assignment #7: Cube in 3D
Assignment #8: Atmospheric Perspective Still-Life
Assignment #9: Atmospheric Perspective From Imagination
Perspective from Life
Assignment #10: Furniture from Observation
Assignment #11: the Back of the Building
Assignment #12: Night and Day from Observation
Assignment #13: Night and Day from Imagination
Assignment #14: Self Portrait in Arbitrary Colors
Assignment #15: Researching Anatomy
Assignment #16: Adding Bones to a Mastercopy
Assignment #17: Constructing Humans from Spare Parts
Still More about Drawing People
Assignment #18: Sniping
Assignment #19: Figure Drawing Class
Assignment #20: After Figure Drawing Class: Costumes
Assignment #21: After Figure Drawing Class: Spare Parts
Some Ideas for Still-Lifes
Power-Leveling for the Busy Artist
Assignment #22 - Studying Existing Compositions
More About Composition
Assignment #23 – Finding Compositions Within Compositions
Assignment #24 - Non-Representational Composition
Assignment #25 - Build a Composition with Perspective from Life
Assignment #26 - Build a Composition with Perspective from Imagination
Assignment #27 - Build a Composition with a Character from Imagination
Assignment #28 – Mood, Non-Representational
Assignment #29 – Mood, Representational
Assignment #29 – Acting, Facial Expression
Assignment #30 – Acting, Body Language
More on Perspective
Setting Goals for Yourself
Assignment #31 – Analyzing Art
What Should I Include in my College Portfolio?
Assignment #32 – Many Ways to Render Value
Assignment #33 – Making Value Decisions
Assignment #34 – Shading Non-White Objects
Assignment #35 – Fun With Value
Digital Painting Example
Acrylic Painting Example