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5 Key Differences Between Concept Art And Illustration

MAGESJune 12 , 2021

Concept art as a term is perhaps more widely used than illustration. The key difference between the two is that- Concept art is all about conveying a broader idea of a fantasy world or a gaming scene. It is used to conceptualize an idea visually before any further work is done. On the other hand, an illustration is the actual implementation of the concept in some concrete form that may turn into an actual set of sequences in a film/game title.

Yet, the lines get blurred more often than not due to the nature of today’s ever-evolving world. Technology makes things easier for people but at the same time makes it harder sometimes to understand the basics. Let’s get some clarity-

  1. Concept art is more likely to be an early sketch, illustration is the complete drawing

As the word concept entails a mere awakening of an idea from nothing, concept art encompasses a minimal structuring of an overall model for the design to take place. It’s the birth stage. An illustration is the full-bodied drawing or a complete piece of work that could be considered artwork by itself or used in a project like a game.

Artwork by Buren Erdene A.

  1. Concept artists bring ideas to life

The concept artist brings the idea into the world, while the illustrator works with finalized concepts and briefs to create illustrations. Concept art may often take a director or design’s vision and showcase how a final scene for a movie or game may look.

  1. Big-picture thinking Vs Intricate artistry

Typically, concept artists need to be great at big-picture thinking more than illustrators. Because the creation of the concept requires a certain sense of intuition and a bird’s eye-view way of imagination. Details are often less important as the concept artwork is not directly used in finish products. However, the final product i.e. the illustration demands a level of artistry that is second nature to the illustrator who has practiced a lot of designs.

Artwork by Gaurav Kumar

  1. Dreamer Vs Visualiser

Concept art is all about dreaming & coming up with multiple possibilities and ideas that could work out for a specific gaming title or film. Illustrator is the one you go to when you know what you want the game to look like. For obvious reasons, most game and film studios hire both of them. A solid game title or filmography requires the clarity of concept art as well as the final product of illustrations to bring it into reality through visualization.

  1. Functional Integrity leads to technical beauty

The most underrated quality of a good design is its functionality. Concept artists work, research, brainstorm, and create ideas that fulfill a certain function that the game or film genre plans to fulfill. Illustrators then are handed a detailed list of traits and achievable tasks while working on a design. The finished illustration is one that is a result of the gross technical prowess of the illustrator which leads to beautiful illustrations & designs.

Where do you belong?

So, after all these differences & nuances that make these two roles stand out- which is the one you should pick? That’s one of the most common questions faced by those who are planning to get into design as a career in the gaming or film-arts industry.

There is no one answer. But by reading through job roles, prospects, real-life people, work on display, and many other outlets, you’ll know there is a line that differs between the two. And you will be suitable in one more than the other. Concept artists will likely need powerful creative and visualization skills to conceptualize what a scene will look like visually. Illustrators will often have clear briefs to deliver on but require attention to detail and the ability to create realistic or stylized visuals.

Head over to our program section or send us a message and we’ll help you decide. Kick-start your journey now with industry-level support, guidance and a healthy, exciting networking environment!



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