Intro to Concept Art Unit Plan

For full context, see the description of my Art Home School Curriculum.

This month I’m going to try something completely different from the previous month. With Bargue drawing I was focused on slow, precise drawing and rendering with graphite. This month I’ll focus on quicker sketches and compositional thumbnails using a digital drawing tablet. This unit will serve as a crash course in many concepts that I haven’t yet studied:

  • Digital drawing and painting
  • Photoshop (or Krita)
  • Environments and landscapes
  • Composition

I know Photoshop is the industry standard, but it’s expensive, and since I don’t know how much I’ll use it, I’m going to start with Krita, which is a free digital painting program that contains much of the functionality of Photoshop. If I really get into digital art, then I’ll think about paying for a year of Photoshop.

To keep myself from getting overwhelmed by too many new concepts, I’m going to restrict my learning materials to just three videos.

Resources

Art Parents

  • Feng Zhu — Concept artist and founder of one of the leading concept art schools. He was a concept artist on the Wing Commander and Privateer games, which I enjoyed as a kid.
  • Andreas Rocha — Illustrated several Magic: The Gathering cards

Inspiration

  • The Simple Secret to Better Painting. This book explains one rule of composition: never make any two intervals the same. An “interval” can be a proportion, a value, a shape, a color, or any other element of a picture. Basically, variety makes a composition more interesting.

Exercises

My exercises will fall into two categories

  1. painting digital environments
  2. digital line drawings of objects

Envrionment painting

  • Environment thumbnails — small, quick, digitally painted, grayscale compositions based on landscape photos taken from screenshots of youtube videos like this.
  • Environment thumbnails from imagination.
  • Environment paintings — the process described in FZD Design Cinema episode 102.
  • Environment master study — reproduce one of Andreas Rocha’s environments. His youtube channel has several videos of his complete process.

Line drawing

  • Digital sketching — process described in FZD Design Cinema episodes 89 and 101.
  • Digital sketching from imagination. I will attempt to recreate something from memory that I recently drew.

Schedule

I haven’t decided what to do on Sundays yet. I might continue doing portraits in gouache.

Week 1

  • M/W/F
    - Sketching organic, non-symmetrical forms from reference (rocks, trees)
    - Sketching organic, non-symmetrical forms from imagination
  • T/Th/Sa
    - Environment thumbnails
    - Environment thumbnails from imagination
    - Environment paintings

Week 2

  • M/W/F
    - Sketching skulls and skeletons from reference (animal skeletons)
    - Sketching skulls and skeletons from imagination
  • T/Th/Sa
    - Environment thumbnails
    - Environment thumbnails from imagination
    - Environment paintings

Week 3

  • M/W/F
    - Sketching insects and mammals from reference
    - Sketching insects and mammals from imagination
  • T/Th/Sa
    - Environment thumbnails
    - Environment thumbnails from imagination
    - Environment paintings

Week 4

  • M/W/F
    - Sketching somewhat-organic hard surfaces from reference (huts, medieval structures)
    - Sketching somewhat-organic hard surfaces from imagination
  • T/Th/Sa
    - Environment thumbnails
    - Environment thumbnails from imagination
    - Environment master study

The length and detail of this post tells me that I’m extremely excited for this unit!

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