Think about all the movies that have aliens or robotic creatures in them. All these characters, who have occasionally dominated screens and captured the audience’s attention, were once just ideas on paper. Conceptualization in VFX is all about making characters, weapons, and assets that are as per the description given. It’s a fact that the best concept artists can be found in some of the best VFX studios in India.

Conceptualization in VFX is important to kickstart the visual effects pipeline. Concept art, as a field, deals with the power of imagination, incorporating design biology, and anatomy, and being able to go above and beyond to facilitate the creation of something extraordinary. What’s more, concept art is not limited to simple pen and paper. Concept artists are proficient in a host of software and can properly visualize and recreate their imagination in both 2D and 3D.


What Does a Concept Artist Do?

In short, concept artists use their imagination and visualization power to make different things based on specifications. Concept artists create characters, props, animals, weapons, vehicles, sets, and other types of assets that are added to the visual effects pipeline.

Concept art goes above and beyond just simple imagination. A person can read a script and understand the requirements and the limitations that they must adhere to. Concept artists also should have a sense of anatomy, and physics, they need to be proficient researchers and motivated to draw inspiration from multiple sources.

Concept artists need to be deep-rooted in understanding and combining design with behavior. In the VFX industry, concept art forms the base for all other production pipelines to be set in motion.


Steps to Creating Concept Art for VFX

All VFX work in the pipeline of creating a visual treat for audiences begins with the creation of concept art. Being one of the most critical steps in the industry, an overview of how a concept artist goes about making a concept is as follows:

  • The artist reads the script and understands the details and requirements of the asset that they have to make.
  • A short draft in terms of the asset limitations is created with a basic concept background of how the asset can be like.
  • Research is conducted to finalize the look, feel, and different properties of the assets. Usually, extensive research with proper referrals from movies, books, images, and other sources is carried out and an initial report for the same is made.
  • Initial designing takes place. Some concept artists prefer to first visualize their concepts on paper and then move to software to put in digital touchups. Some artists start directly on 3D or 2D digital art-making software and render results.
  • The final concept art is submitted for review and feedback. This marks one complete cycle of work by a concept artist. Post reviews, alterations, and other modifications are made to the concept art. Post this, the other visual effects.


Mood Boards & Conceptualization

Concept creation is a work of the imagination while understanding the basics of design and how design is supposed to behave. Concept art, when there were no software programs for rendering images on an artist’s behalf, was all visualized through pen and paper. Just like in the animation industry, some concepts were made, with basic information of the details, and a mood board was created.

A mood board is a visual representation of the colors and settings that will be used in a film. Consider the vibrant colors used in films such as La La Land and Avatar, as opposed to the dark colors used in all DC films such as The Dark Knight. Mood boards are a way for people in the film industry to understand the look and feel of a movie.

So, n concept art as well, mood boards are ways in which a concept can be expressed. It highlights the colors and what they represent, has details about the movement of an asset if there is any, and gives in-depth details about the types of anatomy or physics that are going to govern the asset.


Popular Software Used by Concept Artists

Since the advancement of better technology and software that makes working in the field of creativity more interesting, a plethora of software has been developed. In the visual effects industry, some of the best VFX studios around the world have a common set of software tools that are a must-know for those who apply for the role of a concept artist.

The following softwares are required for the job of a concept artist:


The most important of all softwares. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most in-demand software in the market. Used by artists not only in VFX, but in animation and gaming, architecture, marketing, and more industries. Photoshop offers several modern tools ranging from 2D, 3D, and animation features that form the base for concept artists to work.

As a concept artist,s one should be proficient with the user interface and the different tools that are listed in Photoshop to be able to create a piece of art effortlessly.



Tying in with Photoshop, Sketchbook is a software used for initial concept development and visualization. This software is used more for visualizing something in 2D as compared to 3D. Preferred by artists who are working on concepts and engineers who have to make prototypes. The software’s user-friendly interface and precision in making sketches are two reasons why it is preferred over others.


Maya / 3DS Max Design

When a concept art needs to be rendered into a 3D design for better visualization of everyone, the go-to 3D designing software is always Autodesk Maya. This software comes with all the tools and facilities to make a 3D design, texture, color it, and animate it if required. Furthermore, these 3D design softwares include a plethora of plug-ins for adding special effects, texturing, lighting, and even rendering the same design in multiple ways.



Considered to be time-saving software. Zbrush adds intricate details to 3D designs, which is a limitation for most 3D softwares. ZBrush provides designers with the ability to work with clay or stone. As a standalone software as well, it is the preferred software for many concept artists to get started on their 3D designs. A versatile, easy-to-use, and flawless interface makes developing different types of concept art easy for the visual effects industry.


In Conclusion,

Concept art is the base for any visual aspect that requires CGI or visual effects to be added. As one of the first steps to making characters, assets, props, or environments, conceptualization needs to be strong and according to the views or the imagination of what the film is going to be like.

As mentioned above, concept art is not only about imagination, but it is about knowing how design behaves. As a concept artist in VFX, one should be proficient with the user interface and the different tools that are available to them via different softwares. One should also be able to research and completely imagine their imagination to make it clear for the entire visual effects pipeline.

Conceptualization is a critical task that serves as the foundation for creating something spectacular.