Taking Your Concept Art to the Next Level | MAGES Institute
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Taking Your Concept Art to the Next Level

You need a solid grasp of the fundamentals which we will help you with, in our Diploma of Concept Art program & taking your Concept Art to the next level!

Concept art is a foundational skill for anyone working in the creative industries, from video games and animation to film and toy making. It’s the visual language used to communicate ideas and bring imaginary worlds to life. But before you can unleash your creativity and develop unique characters or environments, you need a solid grasp of the fundamentals which we will help you with, in our Diploma in Concept Art program.

This article dives into valuable tips and techniques from various sources to help you elevate your concept art skills at every step. Taking you from the importance of reference images to creating art on the go with your mobile device. So let’s get started!

Tips To Mastering Proportion

The journey towards mastering proportion begins with using high-quality reference images. These can be photographs or even real-life objects. The key is to have a visual source you can rely on to compare your drawing and ensure the relative sizes of different elements are correct. By constantly referencing your chosen image, you train your eye to identify and replicate proportions.

Breaking Down the Subject: Building Blocks of Proportion

Instead of diving headfirst into intricate details, focus on the bigger picture first. The recommended approach is to start by sketching the basic shapes that make up your subject. These fundamental shapes can be anything from circles and squares to cylinders and triangles. By deconstructing your subject into these simple building blocks, you can ensure the overall proportions are accurate before getting bogged down in details.

The Ruler Trick: Maintaining Consistency

Accuracy is key in concept art, and that’s where the concept of using an imaginary ruler comes in. This technique involves establishing a unit of measurement system within your drawing to guarantee consistent proportions throughout. Here’s how it works:

choose a unit, such as the height of your subject, and then subdivide it into fractions to measure smaller parts. For example, if your character is three units tall, you might use one unit to measure the head and another unit for the torso. This method ensures that all the elements of your drawing are in proportion to each other.

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The Art of Negative Space: Seeing What’s Not There

Negative space refers to the empty areas surrounding your subject in the reference image. By paying close attention to this negative space, you can gain valuable insights into the proportions of your drawing. There are two methods for leveraging negative space: shading in the negative shapes or simply marking them out around your subject.  This technique helps you visualize the placement and relative size of everything in your drawing.

3D Drawing for Concept Art: Beyond Flat Images

In this section we would like to highlight the importance of developing a three-dimensional mindset when approaching concept art. While observational drawing is a valuable skill, for concept art, you need to go a step further and understand the underlying 3D structure of your subject. This allows you to visualize and draw the object from any angle.

Thinking in Three Dimensions

Here are five steps to elevate your concept art by incorporating a 3D approach:

  1. Gather Inspiration: Don’t rely on a single reference image. Instead, create a reference board with multiple images to extract details and inspire your concept.
  2. Start with Basic Shapes: Break down your subject into fundamental 3D forms like cubes, spheres, and cylinders. This step establishes the core structure.
  3. Refine the Forms: Use your reference images to add details and textures to each basic form, demonstrating your understanding of its 3D structure.
  4. Layering Details: Once the proportions are on point, it’s time to add details on top of the basic shapes. Focus on creating a visual hierarchy, placing the most detail in the focal point of your image.
  5. Line Weights: Thicker lines for overlapping areas and thinner lines for textures create depth and a more polished look in your final artwork.

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Drawing Mindset for Concept Art

Concept art isn’t limited to just objects and environments. Many artists specialize in creating creatures and characters. This section provides valuable tips for those who want to learn how to draw a variety of creatures.

      Challenge Yourself with Live Observation: Observing live animals forces you to capture their movement and form quickly. This is essential for concept artists who need to depict many different creatures in dynamic poses.

      Essence over Details: Don’t get bogged down in details.The most important aspect is capturing the overall form and posture of the animal.

      Gesture Drawing for Movement: Mastering gesture drawing, a quick sketching technique, allows you to capture the essence of an animal’s movement.

      Walk Around Your Subject: By moving around the animal you’re observing, you gain a deeper understanding of its 3D structure, leading to a more accurate drawing.

      Embrace Experimentation: Zoos are the best place for inspiration and experimentation. Use this environment to try out new techniques and develop your own unique style.

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Stop Drawing Perspective The Old Way

While mastering perspective is a subject in itself, this section offers some practical tips to simplify the process for concept artists:

Focus on Design First: Don’t get bogged down in perfect perspective when sketching initial ideas. As long as your perspective is clear enough to avoid logical errors, you can focus on refining the design later. In the early stages, focus on getting the core concept across – you can fine-tune the perspective later.

Use Center Lines and Contour Lines: This technique helps you establish the 3D form of your object. The center line indicates the length of the object, while contour lines define its curves and silhouette. Imagine the center line as the spine of your object, and the contour lines as the muscles that define its shape.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to perspective. Experiment with different techniques like one-point perspective, two-point perspective, and isometric perspective to find what works best for your concept. Each perspective offers a unique way of conveying space and depth.

Simplify or Expand as Needed: Sometimes simplifying your initial shapes can make your drawing more effective. In other cases, adding detail can bring depth and complexity. Use your judgment to decide how much detail is necessary to convey your concept effectively.

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Practice Concept Art on Mobile Devices 

Last but not least, if you need to get some fresh air and draw inspiration from outside, let us explore how we can create concept art with our mobile devices.

You don’t need a fancy computer or traditional art supplies. Most people have a phone or tablet that can be used for digital art creation.

Focus on Fundamentals: Artistic ability comes from a strong understanding of fundamental art principles like form, value, and composition. You can practice these fundamentals using any drawing app on your mobile device. By mastering these core concepts, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle concept art creation, regardless of the platform.

Mobile Apps Offer Powerful Tools: There are many free and paid mobile drawing apps available that offer a variety of brushes, textures, and other features that can help you create professional-looking concept art. Explore the available options and find an app that suits your needs and budget.

The Workflow is Similar to Traditional Art: You can sketch, block in shapes, refine details, and add color using a mobile device, just like you would with traditional media. The basic steps of concept art creation remain the same, regardless of the tools you use.

Practice Makes Perfect: The more you use your mobile device for concept art, the better you will become. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun! Embrace the portability and convenience of mobile devices to create concept art anytime, anywhere.

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By incorporating these valuable techniques and embracing a dedication to practice, you can elevate your concept art skills to new heights. Remember, mastering proportion and developing a three-dimensional mindset are foundational aspects of concept art. With dedication and a passion for creating captivating visuals, you can translate your ideas into stunning artworks that bring imaginary worlds to life.


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