One of the fascinating things about concept art is the tension between restraint and imagination. On one hand, concept art is restrained by the set demands of the project, usually a movie or high end game for which specific scenes, settings, costumes, props and other elements must be designed. Within those restrictions, however, the goal is to be as imaginative as possible, all in search of the dazzling images and settings in the finished product that will help bring jaded audiences into the the theaters or game stores in search of a new visual high.
The best concept artists manage to be very imaginative in spite of the “creativity on demand” nature of their field, and occasionally step outside the restrictions to do personal work, like the pieces above from veteran concept artists James Clyne (left) and Feng Zhu (right).
I profiled James Clyne last September, and Feng Zhu in October. Both are in the top echelon of movie and gaming concept art and art direction. I just recently learned that they partnered last fall to form a conceptual design studio called Gamma Ray Studios.
Their combined histories have left them with an impressive client list, and a wonderfully imaginative body of work, some of which can be seen in the Gamma Ray Studios Gallery [Note: not anymore, see update below]. The amount of images there is limited, but both artists still maintain their individual portfolio sites, with more extensive galleries, information and tutorials. In addition, Feng Zhu has a new venture and website called SketchGirls.
In both cases, a walk through their galleries will show you something about high end concept art. The “restraint” aspect of the project requirements won’t be visible, but the “imagination” aspect certainly will.
Update: Gamma Ray Studios is no more, and the domain has been grabbed up by spammers. I’ve left the article in place but removed links to the domain. See the individual sites of James Clyne and Feng Zhu, below. – Charley 5/31/09