What Is Concept Art?


If you have ever wondered ‘what is concept art’, we have an answer!

It all begins from conceptualizing an idea, which is the first phase in the design process. Concept art translates to bringing that idea to life through visual means.

It could be used to translate the idea, concept, mood, or design in games, videos, movies, animations, or comic books, to name a few. Involving the drawing of caricatures, the background environment, and the multiple props that are needed to build the mood, concept art is the bread and butter for the creative.

Concept art is mostly based on pure realism, but often you could let your imagination run wild if the worlds you are going to create digitally do not exist in reality. A very talented concept artist would be able to find the perfect balance between reality and fantasy to create an authentic imaginary world.

How to become a concept artist?

The job of a concept artist is to draw illustrations based on the client’s brief. It is synonymous with sketching out ideas and thoughts according to the concept that the client wants to create.

What Is Concept Art?

In the initial stage, these scribblings act as a blueprint, which is then shown to clients. The clients often suggest changes and edits, and once these are made, the artwork goes through a process of development.

The initial drawings are simple but specific and help to understand the preliminary idea. The sketches are then sent to be animated so as to match the client’s vision. The final product is then sent over by the designers who wait for feedback and approval from the client-side. 

The job of a concept artist is to weave new ideas that have never been thought of before and create projects based on those. The design of new ideas is a crucial task and may need a lot of research. It often takes a concept artist days to just look at inspirations and works of previous geniuses to come up with something unique.

Types of Concept Art

For a concept artist to do everything is impossible, and thus every artist usually specializes in one core area among the three – character designs, prop designs, and environmental designs. It is easier to concentrate on one specific subject matter to achieve better outcomes than to learn everything (thereby becoming a pro at none).

Character Design

Character design in the concept art world refers to the creation of characters that have a specific personality type, a particular background, and a few prominent design features. Though people have mostly gone the 2D route till now, today, as the world proceeds more towards animation, 3D is the way to go. 3D designs are demanded by both media houses as well as PR and event agencies, so proper visualization is possible.

In the case of character designs, video games require a lot of character animations. Also, while creating these personas, one can actually exit the world of realism and explore so much more.

If you want to pursue character art, you will have to dedicate hours to get the proportions right. They have to look realistic and should be able to play a part in a story. If stories excite you and you have always wanted to master the art of storytelling, this could be a great way to go about it.

There are several courses which will teach you how to design characters. You could also learn it by watching different videos and reading concept art books. Moreover, YouTube has a lot of tutorials to help you reach your goal.

Environment design

Another popular form of concept art is digital environment concept art. Every time you have played a video or a mobile game, you must have noticed the fantasy world in which the characters roam.

Be it a busy city landscape through which you are racing or wild terrains through which you are being chased, the environment is strikingly beautiful. This is what environment concept art entails.

To be a pro at designing environments, you have to be very careful about the necessary details. Developing the fundamentals is the biggest challenge here, and understanding the perspective is vital. The outlook has to be on point, and even a slight issue could spoil the whole painting.

What Is Concept Art?

A concept artist has to be extremely creative when it comes to building environments. Be it an alien world or a land of monsters; they should be able to visualize the world clearly and then bring it to reality.

Further, one needs to understand basic geology and nature, including animals, plants, tree varieties, and basic terrains so that one may replicate these easily without an image for guidance.

Concept artists do not usually get to decide what they will create, they can add elements and create a look of their own, but the brief will always come from the clients. Artists could sit with the client or the client servicing people to convey their vision and see if it matches that of the client’s.

Also, environment artists may also have to draw out characters in the scene and should have an idea about anatomy and gestures. One may seldom require adding shadows or humans standing at a distance.

Prop Design

Prop designing involves being able to draw any object from any angle. This is required for video games as well as some movies and videos too. One needs to practice a lot to be able to put in colors and tones in the perfect way to an object perceived from different angles. 

Also, props would be different for different generations and eras, and this has to be kept in mind while designing these. You can take trips to the nearest museums and exhibitions to master the style of making props from previous eras.

Drawing different styles of lamps, tables, beds, and stoves could be a great way to begin practicing if you want to build a portfolio. Some prop designers often focus on developing one or two styles and then make their portfolio accordingly. Weapons and vehicles are very common categories that are needed in most games and movies, and if your work shows perfection, you can rest assured that you would be hired. 

How to make concept art?

Start from the fundamentals and understand form, lighting, values, and perspectives because without these, a proper image will not be created. Start from what you see around you every day. Observe carefully the big trees that you pass, the scenes from the train that you catch, and the glories of everyday life in general. The streets are the best place to find inspiration, and artists thrive on it. See and then recreate it!

What Is Concept Art?

Once you have mastered the art of drawing anything in front of you, move to pull things from your head. Imaginative painting is the next thing on your list, and one can include characters, environments, vehicles, and other props slowly.

This will get you prepared for creating images in your head within a short time and then being able to represent it visually. There are tons of beginner concept art books on the internet, and all you need to do is download and skim through them. To add to it, there are apps that will help you draw out figures in proper proportion.

If you are wondering how to become a concept artist and you do not want to join a professional institute, Google will help you out. The only thing needed is pure dedication and a lot of discipline. Create a custom routine for yourself to practice daily, and you would not need to spend thousands of dollars to go to an institute.

Though if you join a school, you will get a skilled teacher and personal guidance. Working in a classroom setting is beneficial for some as they cannot replicate that level of discipline in their own lives. There are online courses too, which could help you a lot.


Pablo Picasso said, “everything you can imagine is real” and we abide by it! You can create the world of your dreams and earn money out of it too. Force yourself to follow a schedule, begin with half an hour, then increase it to an hour, and so on as you go forward.

If you are still reading this guide, I am sure you are keen on learning more about what is concept art. You will be surprised to see how much you could learn with proper practice, and today’s a great day to begin.

Get out your pencils, physical or virtual, and start sketching right now!