What does a concept artist do?
Concept artists create artwork to inspire the look of the visual effects (VFX) in a film or TV production.
They draw the characters or creatures and environments as well as vehicles, props and buildings. They begin with a brief, which might be a script, or the original concept of a film as told by its filmmaker. They carry out research and create mood boards, which they use as a starting point to create lots of versions of their designs. The artwork that concept artists create helps other members of a production, or in the VFX pipeline, to have a shared vision.
Concept artists use digital and traditional drawing and painting to create their work. A lot of the work they produce is in the form of still 2D images; however, concept artists can also produce work using 3D software to create 3D wireframe computer-generated images (CG). This can help speed up the VFX production pipeline.
Concept artists typically work on a freelance basis, and their job role is highly specialised. They may grow to be associated with a particular VFX company. On large-scale movie productions, concept artists can work in a film’s art department or costume department. They act as the point of contact between the film departments and the VFX team.
What's a concept artist good at?
- Illustration: have a great ability to create inspirational art, understand image form, colour, composition and lighting
- Interpretation: understand the key aspects of the source material, translate into artwork
- Design appreciation: have a general cultural interest in design, architecture and film
- Software knowledge: be able to use computer illustration software and 3D VFX software to create concept art
- Flexibility: respond well to notes from senior creative production members and adapt and update artwork accordingly