Concept Artist Guide – Creating stylized Environments

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Justin Baker stops by Stylized Station to provide a great guide on how to create Stylized Concept Art from start to finish. 

About the Artist:

Hey crew,
My name is Justin Baker and I’ve been working as independent freelance concept artist for over 2 years. 

Check me out at @jbakerconceptart on Instagram and on Artstation

As a freelancer I’ve worked on a wide range of projects including AAA titles, indie games, mobile games, board games, advertising campaigns, animations, and more.

In this art breakdown, I’m going to go over one of my personal artworks that I created to attract clients. 

People often say that your portfolio should consist of the type of work that you want to do, this is especially true for freelancers. In making this piece I was curating my portfolio towards the style of projects I am interested in.

Below I’m going to go over the entire process including:


-Thumbnail using photos

-pushing the design with clean line art

-laying out colors and lighting

-overpainting

-finishing touches

References

Once you have decided what you want to draw, it’s important to find reference images. 

I sort my reference into two categories: life and style. Life references are gathered from real life places and photography. 

Style reference is a compilation of pieces from artists I like, and influences the artwork’s final rendering style. It also acts as a quality goal for the final piece.

One technique I implemented on this project was photo-bashing in order to generate ideas. 

This process can help come up with a wide variety of ideas very quickly. I then sketched over these implementing my own design choices and ideas. 

In design I always try to implement the large, medium, small theory to create a visually interesting result. In stylized art it’s also good to establish how “chunky” you want the design to be. 

This refers to how pronounced small texture details are for each material. You can add more style to your drawings by sizing up and emphasizing the details in a texture. 

One last tip, when designing for a client it’s usually best to design in sets of 3 (in this example I decided to move forward with rendering the center option)

One technique I implemented on this project was photo-bashing in order to generate ideas. 

This process can help come up with a wide variety of ideas very quickly. 

I then sketched over these implementing my own design choices and ideas. In design I always try to implement the large, medium, small theory to create a visually interesting result. 

In stylized art it’s also good to establish how “chunky” you want the design to be. 

This refers to how pronounced small texture details are for each material. You can add more style to your drawings by sizing up and emphasizing the details in a texture. 

One last tip, when designing for a client it’s usually best to design in sets of 3 (in this example I decided to move forward with rendering the center option)

Color Pass

After that I created new layers underneath the lines to test out different color and lighting arrangements. 

personally was very messy at this stage because I like to see a lot of options very quickly, however if the lighting and materials were already decided I would be much cleaner in approaching this step. 

As you can see I tested out a few options with different colors for the tree and temple stones.

Rendering

After that I jumped into overpainting.

I trimmed down the piece so that it would be easier to showcase the parts that I wanted to focus on, such as the front buildings and the base of the tree. 

This section was the most time-consuming part of the entire process and boiled down to the design loop of: adding more details, stepping back and looking at the overall piece and asking questions like “is the silhouette good?” “is the color balance what I want?” “Does it need more/less atmosphere?” and so on. 

Then going back in and  adding details again. I find it best to start with your focal points and work outward, always coming back every now and then to refine your focal point even further. 

Having a few really detailed areas can often make a piece look professional even if there are some areas with very little detail.

Presentation

At this point in the drawing I was having some issues with how I was going to present the piece. 

I thought the piece itself was fine but the page as a whole just wasn’t appealing to me. I experimented with different background and found that a darker background really helped to pop the piece off the page. 

This goes to show the importance of framing your art with the best type of background specific to each piece.

Finishing Touches

The last stage of the process is adding some finishing touches. 

In this piece it meant adding more set dressing (jars, candles) and adding people to give the piece more character/storytelling. 

I also added a glowing bird spirit in the tree to round out the storytelling aspects of the piece. Small things like this reward the viewer who zooms in to take a closer look around your art.

Want to learn from the pros?

Come join our community! The World of Artcraft has tons of amazing artists who would love to critique and mentor you to become the best artist you can be, all totally free.
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