Concept Artists vs. Concept Designers
What’s the difference between a concept artist and a concept designer? Concept artists and concept designers share so many similarities, but there is a difference!
Character design by Jon Neimeister
What do Concept Artists do?
Let’s dive into the world of entertainment art, animation, video games, and graphic design to explore the different roles concept artists and concept designers inhabit. A professional concept artist creates the building blocks for creative projects from video games, animation studios, graphic design, and many more. Your job is to convey the tone and feeling of a creative concept. This can mean that you are working with art directors, 3D modeling experts, storyboard artists, or animators to create a 2D representation of a character, world, or costume.
A Concept artist at large production studios like Disney or Lucasfilm is responsible for pulling from storyboards and creating fully rendered representations of the look and feel the final product will contain. You’ll use Photoshop, fine art skills, thumbnail sketches, and go through multiple iterations of concept art before you match the tone and feeling your art directors and animators are happy with.
Animators will then use your concept to render scenes, characters, and build worlds based on what you have created. In the world of video games, your concept art will be applied about the same, but you will have the opportunity to design your own accessories for characters, the objects video game characters interact with.
The entertainment industry utilizes concept artists for every step of the creative process. From the poster and advertising to the way a director wants a scene lit. You will have the opportunity to influence and shape the final product because of your concept art and illustration skills! Within every creative industry process is an opportunity for a concept artist. This lucrative position is sought after by video game studios, comic book developers, animation studios, and many other parts of the entertainment industry.
To make sure your portfolio is ready for a career as a concept artist, start by meeting with professional concept artists as your mentors, create work based on real-world projects, and refine your skills with lots and lots of concept art and illustration practice. The best place to begin this journey is with Visual Arts Passage’s Concept Art Program. Our mentorships are centered around one-on-one instruction by industry pros, tons of live lectures and demonstrations, unique networking opportunities, and real world advice to gain access into the entertainment arts industry. Learn more about Intro. to Concept Design.
What do Concept Designers do?
A concept designer is in charge of creating detailed designs and renderings for video games, animators, graphic designers, and creative directors. As a concept designer, you are making sure everything is visually appealing, and is a correct visual representation of an idea or concept for the final product.
You might be focusing on specific details within a character design, game, or scene. For example, if you were designing at Disney, as a concept designer you might focus on the clothing and accessories for a specific character. If you were working on game art at a video game studio, you might be designing weapons and interactive items for a specific level of game play.
Real-world application of your fine art skills might take the form of storyboards, character design, or creative director. Be prepared for every aspect of the entertainment industry with a broad understanding of concept design. You will notice that successful concept designers are equipped with a diverse range of skills that aren’t always found in an art school. Visual development of video games and comic books relies heavily on concept designers to breathe life into rough sketches, vague ideas and descriptions to create the final product.
A concept designer focuses on the details of a creative project, while a concept artist will create the mood, tone, and broad feeling of a specific scene or character. Concept designers can wear many hats, including character design, graphic design, fine artist, visual effects specialists, or digital painting lead. The key to success as a concept artist or designer is to be flexible and confident in your basic illustration and digital media skills. The best way to build confidence is with lots of practice! Learn more about Intro. to Concept Design here.
Character design by Jon Neimeister
Want to prepare for a career in concept art?
Whether you’re interested in character design, environment, worldbuilding, and more, the entertainment and game arts industry is one of the fastest growing corners of the visual arts industry. As you pursue a career in concept art, it is important to find guidance and source your information from the most skilled and experience character designers, illustrators, and digital artists. Our Concept and Character Design Program provides access to the highest caliber instructors with powerful resources to take your work to the next level and build a competitive portfolio. If you’re considering a career in this field, you should definitely check out our Fundamentals of Character Design, instructed by Hi-Rez concept artists, Jon Neimeister.
More about the artist, Jon Neimeister
Jon is an illustrator / concept artist in the games industry specializing in highly polished marketing art. He is currently a senior artist on SMITE by Hi-Rez studios, and has worked on many iconic IPs such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, Pathfinder, Game of Thrones, Dragon Age, and more.
He is currently a Concept Art Mentor at Visual Arts Passage and instructs Intro. to Concept Design online. Learn more about attending a concept art mentorship with Jon.