1408720612"Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier". © 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved. Production concept art by Ryan Meinerding 2013

Concept Artist

Film | VFX
Personality type:
Art Department

The lowdown

  • producing the illustrations that help Production Designers realise their vision
  • making sure their drawings are accurate and clear and adapting them as necessary during filming
  • using computer illustration software packages

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have up-to-date knowledge of computer illustration software packages
  • be skilled in film imagery
  • understand what Directors, Directors of Photography and Editors require from a scene
  • have excellent illustration skills
  • be a strong communicator
  • visualise perspective and 3D space
  • have a keen interest in design, architecture and film
  • visually interpret other people's ideas
  • be flexible and adapt to change when asked
  • work as part of a team
  • know about relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Concept Artist do?

Concept Artists work on big budget sci-fi, fantasy or historical films where visual and special effects create design spectacles, fantastical creatures or other invented elements. There are usually a number of Concept Artists, each working on a specific element, e.g., a fantastical creature and/or scene.

Concept Artists start work at the beginning of pre-production, up to six months before filming is due to begin.

If the screenplay is an adaptation (for example, of a book), they analyse the descriptions in the original source material. They may work with Specialist Researchers who also help source and supply relevant information and materials.
Concept Artists work in the art department studio alongside Draughtsmen and Specialist Researchers and often produce their drawings on a computer using Painter or Photoshop software. After approval by the Production Designer, the drawings are presented to the Producer, Director and Visual Effects Co-ordinator.

Concept Artists must produce illustrations that are striking but also accurate and clear. They work on illustrations throughout the shoot and may often be required to change and adapt their original ideas as filming progresses.

They may also be involved in the development process, producing a series of illustrations that help to sell the film to potential Financiers and/or Distributors.

Concept Artists work on a freelance basis. Their role is highly specialised and there is a limited demand for this work.

Will I need a qualification?

You can study an arts school course with a focus on draughting skills, graphics and conceptualising ideas e.g., fine art, graphics, illustration etc. However, there is no formal training or qualification for this job.

What's the best route in?

There is no typical career route to becoming a Concept Artist. You could start off as a Graphic Artist, Illustrator or Graphic Novelist. Otherwise, you can work in special or visual effects or animation and make the transition to Concept Artist via storyboarding.

You could also apply to be a VFX Trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...



  • Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design
  • (Faber and Faber) by Christopher Frayling
  • Production Design and Art Direction (Focal Press) by Peter Ettedgui
  • By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers (Greenwood Press) by Vincent LoBrutto
  • Film Architecture: From Metropolis to Blade Runner (Prestel Publishing Ltd). Edited by D Neumann 2001
  • Filming the Future (Aurum Press Ltd) by Piers Bizony
  • The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matt Painting
  • (Chronicle Books) by M Cotta Vaz and C Barron


Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates from across the screen-based creative industries to help your career, project or company.

Sign up