Concept art

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Example of concept design workflow (blue) followed by 3D modeling (red), reference and inspiration for 3D modeling is a common use of concept art

Concept art is a form of illustration used to convey an idea for use in films, video games, animation, comic books or other media before it is put into the final product.[1] Concept art is also referred to as visual development and/or concept design.[2] This term can also be applied to retail, set, fashion, architectural and industrial design.[3]

Concept art is developed in several iterations. Artists try several designs to achieve the desired result for the work, or sometimes searching for an interesting result. Designs are filtered and refined in stages to narrow down the options. Concept art is not only used to develop the work, but also to show the project's progress to directors, clients and investors. Once the development of the work is complete, advertising materials often resemble concept art, although these are typically made specifically for this purposed, based on final work.


Who popularized or even invented the term "concept art" in reference to pre-production design is perhaps ambiguous, although references to the term can be found being used by Disney as early as the 1930s.[4] It may have also come about as part of automotive design for concept cars.

Concept artists

A concept artist is an individual who generates a visual design for an item, character, or area that does not yet exist. This includes, but is not limited to, film, animation, and more recently video game production. A concept artist may be required for nothing more than preliminary artwork, or may be part of a creative team until a project reaches fruition. While it is necessary to have the skills of a fine artist, a concept artist must also be able to work to strict deadlines in the capacity of a graphic designer. Some concept artists may start as fine artists, industrial designers, animators, or even special effects artists. Interpretation of ideas and how they are realized is where the concept artist's individual creativity is most evident, as subject matter is often beyond their control.


Concept art has embraced the use of digital technology. Raster graphics editors for digital painting have become more easily available, as well as hardware such as graphics tablets, enabling more efficient working methods. Prior to this (and still to this day) any number of traditional mediums such as oil paints, acrylic paints, markers and pencils were used. Owing to this, many modern paint packages are programmed to simulate the blending of color in the same way paint would blend on a canvas; proficiency with traditional media is often paramount to a concept artist's ability to use painting software.


Concept art has always had to cover many subjects, being the primary medium in film poster design since the early days of Hollywood, but the two most widely-covered themes are science fiction and fantasy.[citation needed]. However, since the recent rise of its use in video game production, concept art has expanded to cover genres from football to the mafia and beyond.[5]


Concept art ranges from the stylized to the photorealistic. This is facilitated by the use of special software by which an artist is able to fill in even small details pixel by pixel, or utilise the natural paint settings to imitate real paint. When commissioning work, a company will often require a large amount of preliminary work to be produced. Artists working on a project often produce a large turnover in the early stages to provide a broad range of interpretations, most of this being in the form of sketches, speed paints, and 3D overpaints. Later pieces of concept art, like matte paintings, are produced as realistically as required.

See also


  1. Archived February 22, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Tengrenn, Gustaf. "1930 / 1940 Disney Concept Art by par Gustaf Tenggren". Fabien Bouchard. pp. Retrieved 25 September 2014. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. niellmo, Kalam (2013). "Evaluating Content Based Animation through Concept Art". International Journal of Trends in Computer Science. 2 (11): |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>