Representational art quite simply ‘represents’ its subject in a way that most viewers can easily recognize. Traditional representational art uses perspective (including colour and atmospheric perspective) to present the illusion of three-dimensional reality on the paper or canvas. The knowledge and skills required to create realistic illusion grew slowly through the centuries.
Throughout history, most art, including paintings and sculptures, were representational. The earliest known examples of representational art are indeed the earliest known forms of art; cave paintings that date back up to 40,000 years ago.
The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Florentine architect Fillipo Brunelleshi (1377-1446). Painted in 1415, it depicted the Baptistery in Florence from the front gate of the unfinished cathedral. ( see A History of Perspective in Art – Op-Art.co.uk).
Although other basic types of art, including abstract and non-objective art, emerged in the 20th century, traditional, it is realistic representational art skills that are necessary for AAA video game and live action concept artists. Why? If your goal is to create realistic environments and the characters who inhabit them, you obviously need to understand how this illusion is achieved. Photoshop depends on your drawing and painting skills: you must first understand how to draw human beings, animals and creatures, locations and props that convince the viewer that he/she is looking at a real place before you can take those abilities into computer programs.
Representational art skills are core subjects in the Concept Art Diploma program at Max the Mutt.