CONCEPT DESIGN TECHNIQUES
Armand Serrano on why a visual development artist is a developer, designer and draftsman, when creating believable worlds for animation
The main task of a visual development environment artist working in animation is to conceptualise, design and execute a believable world for characters to live in. But the success of these environment concepts doesn’t rely solely on the drafting skill level of the artist. It’s the whole package that makes the final product work effectively. I’d say the goal of the visual development artist is to become a developer first, a designer second, and a draftsman third. A developer is a thinking artist – an artist who can plant, cultivate and harvest an idea or concept that supports the visual foundation of a story. To become a dynamic designer is to cook those ideas and concepts until they become integral visual ingredients of the story. For the artist to become a prolific draftsman, one has to execute and flesh out those visual ingredients for public consumption.
Visual development is simply the visual design evolution, from an idea to the final product. It’s how the story is handled by the artist(s) working on the project, going from the initial preproduction stage to the breaking down of the environment into smaller parts for others to work on. So it’s crucial that the structural makeup of the artworks in development occur in this order – concept, design and technique – and not vice versa. To think technique is the key to the success of the artwork is totally missing the mark.
Here are my key tips that point towards a successful process in creating strong concepts and compositions for animation.