How can I get started?
Keen to become professional video game concept artist? Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Study art - whether that’s an art degree, online courses or video tutorials. Practice and hone your art skills and develop your own unique style.
Research video game concept art. Get an idea of techniques and styles that you love. Start building a bank of images you can use for inspiration.
Practice using design software and start creating fan art. Watch online tutorials to master digital art skills.
Make a digital art portfolio of your work to showcase your abilities.
Build an online presence. Social media channels to promote your artwork and even your own website can help you gain exposure.
Build your professional network. Follow video game artists on social media and start keeping in touch to them for advice and guidance.
Apply for jobs. Search for vacancies through online job boards and directly on video game companies’ websites.
How to create game concept art: essential tips and masterclass.
1. Start with a simple sketch.
Start with a simple line drawing of a landscape or character. Think about the composition and proportions. It’s good to think about the light source within the image at this point, but you don’t need to worry about adding it in yet. You can build on your initial sketches by adding detail and colour later.
2. Think about the tone and aesthetic you want to capture.
Futuristic universe? War-torn wasteland? Or fantastical wonderland? Think about how you can convey the look and feel of the world you’re creating through shapes, colour, texture and lighting. Environment concept design artists draw on inspiration from the world around them to help create immersive and authentic landscapes in video games.
3. Make sure character poses, expressions and style reflect their personality.
A character concept artist will use model sheets to draw up a wide range of facial expressions and poses for their characters to help bring them to life. Whether your main protagonist is a fierce warrior, a crafty trickster or an unlikely hero, think about how you can bring their personality to life through their facial expressions, poses and style.
- When it comes to poses, do they stand proud and tall or are they light on their feet - ready to spring to attack? As for expressions, have they got a trusting smile, a sly leer or are they more reserved and serious?
- Consider their proportions: a battle-worn traveller will be muscular and toned - like Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher - while video games set in futuristic sci-fi worlds might be part robot part human, like Samus Aran in Metroid.
- Also think about their costume - are they wearing fine garments fit for a medieval lord, armour to protect them from attack or lightweight and practical gear to help them move swiftly?
4. Build depth with colour and lighting.
Colour plays a big part in concept art. It can help to convey danger, bring the focus on to specific elements and depict characters’ personalities. Consider the landscape and use appropriate colours to reflect the climate, location and scale. Use contrasting colours if you want to draw attention to MacGuffins or dynamic props at this point.
Light also helps to emphasise the focus of the image. Think about where the light is coming from - the sun, a torch, a spaceship’s light beam or the reflection of fire on water - and how it illuminates key elements in your image.
5. Add detail, texture and shading.
Now it’s time to add details and really bring your image to life. Cascading water, smooth marble, rough tree bark, thick fur coats or shining steel can elevate your image from a 2D landscape to a three-dimensional world.
Check out how the professionals approach creating concept art on Adobe Photoshop by watching YouTube tutorials.