Concept Art Styles & ideas - CLIP STUDIO PAINT
Concept art varies with the direction of work. This introduces building concept art, environmental concept art, weapon and prop design, character concept art, and their processes.
concept art, Building Concept Art, Environmental Concept Art, Weapon and Prop Design, Character Concept Art

Concept Art Styles & ideas


The type of concept art required for video games, films, and animated film varies greatly. The processes and required tools differ depending on the type of concept art, such as that for characters, structures, environment, and weapons. And all usually become easier to create with digital art. This is because all concept art has in common trial and error with thumbnail sketches and working toward completion with multiple patterns.
With digital art, you can take a variety of approaches, such as using brushes and textures to easily express texture or using 3D materials and perspective rulers to make perspective more accurate.
Although concept art is not material used in the final product, it is the foundation for the creative team’s production tasks. To create high quality concept art in a short period of time, incorporating digital art is the best option.

The sections below introduce the following types of concept art and their production processes.

The types of concept art used are as noted above. Depending on the work, concept art that combines several types may be needed. Creation of all of these are important tasks necessary in the early stages of the production process that will form the basis of the final product.

It is important to draw well in order to share the design with the creative team members in an easy-to-understand manner. And it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of perspective and the ability to draw. However, if you collect reference materials accurately, you can use photobashing techniques, and if you communicate smoothly, you can make marked responses, leading to speedy completion. Knowing how to “guide” is as important as the ability to draw. Use this article as reference in creating concept art.

Building Concept Art

Example of building concept art

When creating video games and films, structures such as buildings, ruins, archaeological sites, and fantastical castles that fit the style of the game or film are essential. Concept art that visualizes interiors and exteriors is an important step in sharing the worldview with members involved in the video games or films.

1. Reference material gathering

Gathering reference materials is important for defining the final product. The images gathered will be used as reference for the atmosphere of buildings, props, surrounding scenery, and hues. The key is to keep it to a maximum of 10 to 15 images without spending too much time on it.

2. Thumbnail creation

Start with a small black and white sketch. Use of digital painting software is recommended. Clip Studio Paint has a Perspective ruler function where you can easily change vanishing point and eye level, super convenient for setting the perspective.
Instead of starting with line drawings, begin with simple black shapes. This will be useful later as a placeholder for light and shadow and shapes of the structures. Once a general shape is determined, add details and objects to enhance realism.

3. Drawing in high resolution

Once the thumbnails are complete, import them into a new high-resolution file. Make adjustments such as correcting perspective and adding contrast between light and dark areas. Overlay the exterior wall texture on the black and white sketch and fill in the white areas. Fill in details such as dirt, decay, and rust. Reduce the uniformity of the building’s exterior walls to make them look more realistic.

4. Finishing

Draw the bright areas illuminated by light and the dark areas such as doors and windows in such a way that the difference between the light and dark areas is accentuated.
With the Decoration brushes pre-installed in Clip Studio Paint, you can recreate depictions such as grass, trees, flowers, ground, and debris with a few brush strokes. The situation can be depicted in more detail with surrounding items to define whether the place is organic, uninhabited, or futuristic. Follow these steps to output the structures in your work.

Character Concept Art

Example of character concept art

In video games and films, characters are the most important element that catch the end user’s eye. Concept art for character design is an important step in designing characters for video games and films. Based on the director’s or scriptwriter’s description, an illustration should be created that reflects the character’s personality and characteristics.
This includes whether the characters are heroes or villains, what quirks they have, how will they act in work, and whether the work is intended for children or adults. Ideas are given shape so that the character design will evoke these ideas.

1. Sketching

First, find an example to help guide the process based on the character’s personality and circumstances as conceived by the producer or director. Sub-character backgrounds may be rough. In this case, concept artists are free to expand character design ideas.
Once you have come up with inspiration, begin the initial design. You may start with paper and pencil, but you can easily make revisions using digital painting software.

2. Brushing up

Create multiple patterns for the character’s hair, facial features, clothing, accessories, and the like. Do not just focus on the details, but make sure the character concept is expressed in the silhouette. If the final stage is 3D, it is necessary to digitally sculpt the character or prepare a three-side view to easily communicate the concept to the designer.

3. Design

After checking different variations and determining the direction of the character, you are ready to start the final design term.
With Clip Studio Paint, you can easily try various tonal corrections with Gradient maps. You can also experiment with a wide range of poses using the pre-installed 3D drawing figures as reference.
The character concept art is complete when the posture and coloring represent the character’s essence.

Environment Concept Art

Example of environment concept art

Environment concept art is an important flow that creates realistic landscapes for films and video games as well as fictional worlds in which characters travel.
Structures and landscapes, such as those for fantasy, horror, and science fiction, need to be communicated visually to convey the vision of the script. The illustrations must be detailed and have a clear perspective to be easily communicated to the creative team that is producing based on the concept art.

1. Information gathering and thumbnail creation

Once you have collected reference materials, draw thumbnails of objects, floors, and entire landscapes. It is also useful to make a list of elements to be included in the final stage. Repeat the process of checking reference materials and creating thumbnails to visualize ideas.

2. Drafting

Output camera angles in multiple patterns, the overall structure, silhouettes, and details, and then work out how to combine them to get closer to the intended image. Clip Studio Paint With Clip Studio Paint, you can easily add more objects using 3D materials or create a stage set by combining the Panorama function and 3D.

3. Line drawing

Once you have a clear image, use digital paint software to draw line drawings. Clip Studio Paint has a pre-installed Perspective ruler, which allows you to depict the scenery with a sense of perspective, even by freehand.

4. Colorizing and finishing

Once the light source is determined, colorize the work. Using the abundant layer modes and Gradient map you can easily make tonal corrections. By trying many patterns one after another, you will be able to find the perfect hues. There are also filter functions such as Gaussian blur to accentuate the focal point.

The contents depicted in concept art are environments that do not actually exist. Because they range from natural objects such as plants to the interior and exterior of buildings, it is necessary to cover a wide range of art fundamentals such as perspective, anatomy, and composition. However, digital paint software will assist you with the majority of the workload.

Weapon and Prop Design

Example of Weapon and Prop Design

The role of weapon and prop design is to visualize the idea of weapons, bombs, and tools in video games and films. The weapon and prop design will vary depending on the era and country of the work, as well as the purpose for which the characters in the work will use the weapons.
With animated films and comic books, it is also important to effectively deform rather than pursue realism.
The concept artist will perform concept design based on the medium of the work and the intentions of the director and screenwriter.

1. Sketching

It is essential in weapon and prop design that the materials and functions are reflected in the visuals.
In recent video games and films, it has become important for weapons be realistic enough for the player or viewer to be immersed in the work. You need to consider whether they are made of materials that are physically portable, they are consistent in form and function, and they are detailed enough to allow the character to operate them. Repeat the output to give shape to your image.

2. Line drawing/colorizing

Concept art for weapon and prop design is often depicted by 2D or 3D digital painting.
Based on sketches, digital painting software is used to brush up and visualize the weapons in detail in three-side views and the like. Colorization may be done based on actual weapons, or in the case of weapons from fantasy works, it may be harmonized with the character’s clothing.

3. Finishing

Lighting effects are also important. Set the light source to match the scene in which the weapon will be used, and add the necessary shadows and scratches.

Clip Studio Assets has a large volume of 3D materials for weapons, which will help you in creating your work.

Mech/vehicle concept design

Example of mech/  vehicle concept design

Mech/vehicle concept designers who visualize ideas for cars, airplanes, ships, and the like must pursue functional design.
It is important to have a design that doesn’t just look cool. For example, the vehicle must be sturdy if is to navigate rough seas or rugged mountain roads, and it should be sharp enough to withstand the atmosphere if speed is emphasized. The concept artist needs to demonstrate the base design for production by 3D artists and animators.

1. Reference material gathering

Look at the history of the mech/vehicles to be designed, such as cars, submarines, and space ships. You will find that designs have changed over the years. Sketch out the ideas that the art director will envision, using actual mech/vehicles and classic films as references.

2. Selection of functions and textures

Consider aspects such as whether the design is wasteful in relation to its function, whether the thickness of the armor is appropriate, and where the ammunition units and fuel tanks should be placed Organize the technologies and functions you want to design, and repeat trial and error.
Clip Studio Assets has a wide variety of textures and some 3D materials for mech/vehicles, which will help you realize your ideas.

3. Finishing

Once the concept design is complete, see if it can be simplified more. Continue to refine the design to see if you can make it more stylish without sacrificing functionality. Also try different camera angles to make the mech/vehicle stand out. Find an angle with a cool shape where it is easy to see the functions, and add the character piloting or maintaining the vehicle or a background of the place where the vehicle will be used.

You can perform mech/vehicle concept design drawing from scratch, modeling in 3D, or using photobashing for quick drawing.

Animation Concept Art

Example of animation concept art

Character designers for animated films and comic books are responsible for outputting visual ideas that focus mainly on the core characters of the work.
In production at an animation studio, the concept art of the animated characters is the base that is referred to throughout the project. It is thus necessary to show visual ideas in a simple and concrete manner.

1. Sketching

You can either draw by pencil on paper or express with digital art. Using digital paint software will make it easier to create differences and submit multiple patterns.
The settings of cartoon characters often change during the stages of production. The age of the characters may increase or decrease, their personalities may change, and so on. It is important to show visual ideas for each stage, but creating a variety of sketches and showing multiple visions will make production go smoother.
Incorporating signature poses that represent the character is also effective. Clip Studio Paint’s 3D drawing figures make it easy to draw even the most challenging poses.

2. Line drawing/colorizing

With Clip Studio Paint’s vector lines, you can change the thickness and shape of the lines after drawing. It is also easy to change silhouettes. Furthermore, after creating contrast between light and dark in grayscale, you can easily create a coloring pattern using the Overlay layer mode or the tonal correction function of the Gradient map.

3. Sharing and discussion

Share and exchange ideas to see if the cartoon concept art you are producing matches the director’s ideas.
The concept artist’s duties are at the beginning of the production process. The concept art produced serves as the heart of the creative team. Incorporate the words of opinions you receive to provide high quality concept art and bring it to completion.