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  • Writer's pictureRichard Allport

Concept art/ visual problem solving/ concept illustration…?

Somebody in the annals of history once said “Suggestion is more expressive than precision”.

This was a good point, well made and especially so in the area of concept art, or where concept art blurs its way into “concept illustration”.

As most of us will already know, in 2D, 3D design and build, code and QA, there are many iterations and corrections as the development process rolls along and we find ourselves in 2D spending most of our time in a visual problem solving situation. The images created within this large section can range from rough but expressive scribbles through to clearer color high quality images but ones that we wouldn’t class as illustrative.

What can make the beginnings of these stages where concepting starts to become a bit more complicated, is the not so obvious balance between concept art and “doing” illustration. This illustrative stage may be called “key art” or “game in a frame” art, whatever way you put it, there is a traditional leaning toward having more finished, polished imagery. These sort of images often make up the majority of someone’s folio or gallery but often fail to show how the artist was thinking or why?

The concern is that for the many hundred or thousand versions of something that most well-rounded concept bods have iterated upon in their careers, it would be impossible to have all or even most of these images turn out polished or “illustrative”. There just aren’t enough hours in the day no matter how dedicated someone is.

To go one step further as well as back to the first sentence, why does a piece of even “key” art have to be precise? Understandable? Yes. Conveying clear imagery? Yes…but the nuances and imagining that happen in our brain in the “suggested” and not so precise and clear areas of a well-executed piece of concept art can convey more than any illustrative, 8k, HD, eye popping attempt at a piece of soul less clarity and the pursuit of showing everything could ever hope to. The things we see in the shadowed or blurred areas of an image can often add so much more to a picture than one where everything is perfectly visible.

Compare Blade Runner and Avatar.

Concept art should only be partially prescriptive, it should be very descriptive, and allow for enough wiggle room in the following stages of production so as not to constrain development but give the 3D department ideas to springboard off and enhance.

This clip on YouTube makes some very valid points.


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