When Max the Mutt College first decided to develop a Concept Art Diploma Program, we sought advice from top Concept Artists within Canada and the USA about how we should structure the program, and what they felt we should include in our curriculum. We wanted to ensure we were preparing people for not just a job, but a full Career in Concept Art.
Meet Goran Bukvic
Goran Bukvic is an internationally recognized Senior Concept artist who has worked on major AAA titles as well as animation and film projects, including:
- Jurassic World 2 – 2018
- The Legend Of Tarzan – 2016
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – 2014
- Guardians of the Galaxy – 2014
- Gears Of War 5 – 2019
- Gears Of War 4 – 2016
- Halo 4 – 2012
- Tron: Evolution – 2010
- Tomb Raider
He has supported Max the Mutt from the start, including a visit earlier this year to speak with Max the Mutt Concept Art students about the industry and how he built his career in concept art.
He was part of our original consultation process in 2009. As part of our conversation, I asked how much our Concept Art students would need to learn about animation to be successful. Curious about whether he thought things had changed since then, I recently sent Goran a copy of the advice he gave me back in 2009 – and he confirmed that it is still exactly what he would say today! Check out Max the Mutt’s Concept Art Curriculum, and you’ll find that our program is still firmly rooted in traditional representational art skills.
Here’s my candid conversation with Goran. I hope you enjoy reading along and find it as insightful as I did!
What would you want a Concept Artist to understand about animation for classical, 2D computer & 3D animation?
It’s all about motion. Chances are that, if you are hired as a Concept Artist on a project, you will be involved in the very beginning, bringing ideas to the table; however, your work will not be the final product. The final product will be something that’s moving, one way or the other. In other words, your conceptual designs should inspire the animators down the pipeline, making sure that it stays consistent throughout the whole process.
Concept Art and Animation have a lot in common, especially when it comes to Character Design. A Concept Artist’s job is to take a particular character through a range of poses and emotions that best describe their personality and their role in the story/gameplay. In animation, “key poses” play a crucial role in “selling” the character, much the same as when designing it. You will want to make sure that it is as expressive as possible in the early stage, so the more familiar with animation you are, the more fluid and believable your designs will be.
Are there special concerns Concept Artists should consider when designing for 2D/3D games?
Not really. It’s more about the idea and concept, no matter what medium will be used for the final product.
How about when designing for animation versus designing for a game?
Animation is “set” and a game is interactive, however, the design approach is the same. They both contain animated assets as a final product. You will want to provide modellers, texture artists and animators with as much information as possible so that, when the initial design is approved, it will be easier for them to follow through and stay on the right track.
Anything to consider when designing for 2D versus designing for 3D?
Again, it is about the idea and concept first and foremost, however, designing for 2D may require a simplified design philosophy because each frame has to be drawn over and over by hand. This is in order to save production time and cost. In 3D, this process is much easier and more effective due to being able to build the model only once and have it rigged, textured and ready to be animated in any way needed.
The importance of storyboarding skills for Concept Art
Other than the above, I think it might be difficult to incorporate a “bit” of animation into the Concept Art program. As you know, learning to animate is a very long and hard process, and it probably should be exclusive. It starts with animating a simple bouncing ball, through flower sack and so on. By the time students get to learn something, the focus will shift away from Concept Art.
In terms of being trained as a concept artist and keeping the focus on that, I think Storyboarding courses would be much more fitting. They may actually have to do storyboarding at some point on a job. It can be structured so that exercises contain some principles of animation that are important in design, like key posing, heavy action scenes, exaggeration and so on.
What should Concept Art training focus on?
The most important part of Concept Art training is focusing on realistic drawing and painting, anatomy, architecture and colour theory.
Cool and original ideas won’t come until students acquire the skill to seamlessly project from the brain to the image. This will take a long time. I feel that the focus should strongly remain on that so that once they graduate, they can show enough “specific” potential to get hired in the industry.