Not the Same: The Difference Between Concept Art and Illustration

Many are faced with certain questions when comparing these two concepts. It seems to be known that we are talking about different things (otherwise why would one have to invent two different words), but the very meaning of the difference is often lost. And this is very important to know since any game art company makes a clear separation of these two areas and different specialists are engaged in them.

That being said, the answer is pretty simple. Moreover, it is contained in the definitions themselves. In fact, it is on the surface. And we are going to logically and gracefully approach it with a firm and consistent step.

Building the Basics: Meet the Definitions

Without knowing the definitions, we will be forced to wallow in the same uncertainty that fills the rest of the discussion on this topic. In addition, we assure you: there will be no overly dry theory and boring terminology here.

What is Illustration?

The word illustration comes from the Latin illustratio, which means illumination or visualization. The modern illustration definition in art sounds like this: this is the final visual representation of the subject. The latter can be anything: a book, an article, a poem, a story, and in general any text. And the illustration itself does not necessarily have to be drawn by hand: it can be either a drawing or a photograph. The most important thing is that it fulfills its main function – to describe the subject so that there is no doubt about their associative connection. An illustration is a finished work of art that tells a story in itself. Therefore, it is also sometimes called a narrative image. Book covers are often given as an example of illustration.

What is Concept Art?

The word concept comes from the Latin conceptus, which means understanding or design. Hence, a modern interpretation of concept art follows: this is a direction in art, the purpose of which is to convey a general idea for the further implementation of its form. Do you get the essence? Concept art is not a final product, it is a way of intermediate visualization of an idea, which will be further represented in one way or another. For example, a 3D model of a character for a game can be created on the basis of a concept. The concept artist carefully draws the character from all sides, thinks over his or her features, clothes, equipment and passes the baton to the next art division.

Concept Art vs Illustration: The Main Difference

So what do we have from the definitions?

Illustration is a finished narrative drawing that tells a story to the end user.

Concept art is a drawing that visualizes the main aspects of an idea for its further representation in more advanced forms.

Concept art can serve as a base for illustration. Taking into account all the conceptual intent, mood and general thought, the illustrator creates a final product that can be presented to the public. But the reverse procedure is impossible: no one creates a concept from an illustration.

Illustrator vs Concept Artist: Tasks of Specialists

The illustrator is freer to interpret the idea. The work should be eye-catching, exciting, and appealing – it doesn’t really matter in what way it will be achieved. Since we are talking about the final product, which will not take part in other stages of development, the artist does not need to think about the accuracy of the location of buildings, trees and objects in the drawing. There is no need to pore over how the character looks from behind or in what weather conditions the action takes place.

The concept artist should be more pragmatic: his or her work is the basis for a large number of subsequent steps. The character or object must be depicted from all sides. Every detail of the interior must be in its place. The color scheme is important: if the game is made in dark colors, the drawing should not be replete with excessively bright shades. Only full observance of all ideological conditions is a guarantee of the success of creating a complete picture of the future game.

Is There Something In Common Between Concept Art and Illustration?

Sure. Experts in these areas should be equally proficient in all the skills required for high-quality painting. Knowledge of perspective, anatomy, composition, the use of colors, and the nuances of lighting are what both the concept of artists and illustrators have in common.

Nor does anyone divide software into different camps. Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, 3ds Max, ZBrush and others are common to everyone. Each artist uses the program in which it is convenient for them to work and the toolkit of which best suit the task at hand.

Summing Up

So, things really aren’t that hard, are they? An illustration is a finished product with a realized form that conveys a conceived idea. Concept art is an intermediate product containing all the necessary details of an idea for further implementation of the final form.

Thinking through the story, you can’t do without a good concept. This is the necessary filler or base, without which your story may be empty. In order not to miscalculate for sure, it is best to turn to the professionals from Kevuru Games at their art potential allowed them to inspire and ignite many first-class game projects.