Why Concept Art is So Important

Have you wondered about the importance behind concept art? Read more about the process of here on Max the Mutt's blog post

Even if you’ve heard about concept art, it can still be difficult to understand why it’s so important for animation and video game projects.

What is Concept Art?

It might help to start with what concept art is not. It’s not a simple illustration of a concept. It’s not a sketch or layout of an illustration. It’s not a promotional illustration used to sell a video game or animated film.

Concept art helps to convey the look, feel and mood of a design idea. It is used to capture and convey the overall design vision of a project before anything goes into production, versus trying to express everything in specific terms at the very beginning of design development.

Concept art can be used in animated or even live-action films, video games and comic books. It is particularly helpful in introducing new ideas into existing projects, or even to help quickly convey the direction of an entirely new project.

Why is Concept Art so Important?

This is a great time for artists, animators and video game designers to be alive. Why? For the first time in history, just about anything you can imagine or envision can be expressed visually. Any new world, any re-imagination of the laws of physics, any lifeform; if you think it, you can probably create a visual representation of it.

But if you’ve ever had a hard time telling someone about one of your wildest creations, you can begin to get an idea of how and when concept art can help. Think about the tough time you’d have explaining your idea of a new world, it’s mood, and even potential story arcs that can take place in it, to your grandmother.

Now what if you could show her a single image that would express the thousand words needed to get her to really understand what you have in mnd.

That image would be a piece of concept art.

And its ability to give your grandmother a clear idea of your vision is why it’s so important.

And if your grandmother was the head of Disney Animation Studios, or Konami, well, it could just make you a rock star.

Is that All There is to Concept Art?

No. Concept art isn’t just about pitching overall concepts to grandma. Let’s say she really was the head of an animation studio and you got the gig. Now lots of cash gets plowed into getting hundreds, maybe even thousands of people, in locations around the world,  to make your idea come to life in a film or video game.

But your initial concept art only helps to convey the setting, mood and tone of the overall story. Typically, to help fill in the rest, you’d carefully create a game design document, including painstaking descriptions of characters, for the entire project. Cool. Now everyone has a single reference point for designing not just characters, but settings, features, gameplay elements and so on.

But any two people can read the same physical description of a character and develop two very different looking and functioning beings. If no one is able to capture what you mean from a written description, the development of your character goes back to square one and your project goes way over-budget. And then you’ve upset your grandma.

So concept art can be a mood shot, or the schematic of a vehicle, or any artwork created before the real work begins to make sure everyone works towards the same vision. It might be a single image, a series of images or a mosaic of images that will all together communicate ideas quickly and clearly.  

An increasing level of concept art proficiency is required in the video game and animation industry to help streamline the production process. To learn more about how you can earn your Diploma in Concept Art, get in touch with us here at Max the Mutt College of Animation & Design.

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