To Degree or not to Degree, that is the question – Concept Artist Education
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So the simple answer is:
No, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to land a job in concept art.
But before you go, bear with me for a minute.
Let me tell you what you actually need to become one.
You’ll also know what is going to be expected of you as a professional concept artist.
Concept Artist vs. Illustrator – make sure that you’re not confusing these two
But first – let me explain something…
The Concept Artist IS NOT an Illustrator. These are two different roles. And yet, they’re often confused with each other.
The Concept Artist’s role is to visually present the ideas according to the brief. The key to understanding what a concept artist does is the word “concept.”
These guys and gals need to be creative as hell. They have an assignment to create appealing (and clear to read) designs for a bunch of monsters or characters or whatever they need to design. Their job is to think of images fitting the game vibe and meeting the brief.
Concept artists are not producing the finished artwork. Instead, they’re creating a design, a blueprint, or a guide for other team members (3d artists, animators – you name it) to work on.
Illustrators, on the other hand, create finished pieces of art. So their work you can admire on box arts or on loading screens or on posters.
Some guys think they want to be a concept artist while they actually lean towards being an Illustrator. So please, double-check what your expectations are.
Concept art made by Maciej Janaszek
Outriders Illustration made by Waldemar van Deurse
Types of concept art – choose your destiny
As an artist, you can pick your specialization. Here are the most common types of concept art:
- Environment Concept Art
- Character Concept Art
- Creature Concept Art
- Weapon and Asset Design
- Vehicle Design
- Props Design
You can either master one of them or pick a few. Big video games studios are looking for specialists in their field, while smaller indie studios are eager to hire jacks-of-all-trades. You’ll def don’t need to be a master in each type.
I know – sigh of relief.
How to become a concept artist? Spoiler alert: You need to spend hours on drawing.
Ok, so we established that no one cares about your degree.
Game studios don’t care about how you’ve learned what you know.
They want to have someone that can do the job.
So you need to level up your art skills.
That means hundreds of hours of drawing and painting.
Yeah… sorry, there is no other way.
Whether it’s watching tutorials, taking courses. It doesn’t matter where you get your concept artist training and education.
So you see – going to the art college is not totally pointless. You’ll definitely learn something from there. But it’s not mandatory. If you can learn this stuff somewhere else, that’s fine! As long as you bring in the goods.
Extra tip for you:
Research what your dream game studio produces. Check out the style of artists that are already working there. Thanks to this, you’ll know what kind of style this game studio is looking for. This will come in handy when it comes to building your portfolio. And your portfolio is your main weapon in a concept artist job hunt.
How concept artist education in college can help you in your game art career?
- You’ll obviously learn some art stuff. After all, you’ll have the whole faculty of artists at your service. Someone that you can directly learn from
- Networking – you’ll be surrounded by many artists from the industry. Trust me – this environment is reeeeeally small. An old Chinese proverb says that it’s good to know people.
Key requirements for a Concept Artist
- Create designs in 2D/3D. Sketch, draw, paint.
- Artistic basics – composition, and perspective, color and light theory, form, shape, and texture
- Know how to pitch your ideas to the team
- Work quickly. Cut corners where you can. No one has time to wait for a week for one drawing.
- Creating spec sheets. Know how to share all necessary details with your team
- You need to know how to read and interpret the brief and stick to it
- Team player. You must understand that your role is to support and aid your teammates. Create new cool concepts and illustrate the ideas of other people. Be a part of an art team.
Also, remember not to get too attached to your work. In a concept phase, you’ll be creating tons of artwork. However, the majority of it won’t be used in the finished game.
It’s never too late to start your Concept Artist education
You can begin learning concept art from tutorials and courses from a get-go. If you decide that you want to pursue a master’s degree in the world of concept art – you can do that whenever you want.
But ming that if you start with a college and decide to quit – you’ll probably have a loan to pay. So if we can give you an advice:
Start on your own. YouTube is filled with great art tutorials recorded by pros in the field. If you feel that you lack the discipline to manage your progress on your own or that you need to go with a classic-academic way – there’s never too late for that.
We hope that you’ll find our guide helpful. So drop us a note here in the comments or on our social media, or simply email us firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more tips for artist jobs.