Concept artists turn a creative director's ideas into reality. They draw, model and digitally create characters for movies, games and other types of media. If you want to work in animation, the film industry or game design, concept art is a way to turn your artistic talent into a career. Refine your skills at a specialized school that features classes in graphic design, illustration and 3-D digital modeling.
Top Programs for Digital Designers
Although some concept artists hand-draw their creations, others need digital design training. If you plan on working in animation, you need to master the digital arts. The top digital concept arts program in the U.S. is the ConceptArt Atelier in San Francisco, California, according to the Fantasy and Sci-Fi Digital Art Imagine FX magazine. Unlike general design schools, this one focuses solely on concept art. Other top schools for digital concept art include the Ringling School of Arts and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Schools That Offer Certificate Degrees
While you do need technical training to become a concept artist, you don't necessarily need a bachelor's or master's degree. If you want to improve your technical know-how, practice under professionals and learn the basics, a certificate program is an option. This type of program features design coursework, but doesn't lead to a bachelor's degree. For example, the CGMA 2D Academy features a 12-course certificate foundation and design program for budding concept artists. Some two- and four-year colleges offer non-bachelor's certificate programs in the concept arts. The Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, has a 28-credit certificate program in game concept art. Classes in this and similar certificate programs include drawing, game design, modeling and rendering, character sculpting and interactive storyboarding.
Concentration in Video Game Art
Gaming concept art requires 2- and 3-D digital art and design skills. Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, offers a game art and animation major. This Bachelor of Science degree includes classes in digital design as well as digital sculpting and user interface design. In 2014, the top school for video game design -- at both the undergraduate and graduate levels -- is the University of Southern California, according to the Princeton Review. Other top-tier schools for concept art video game design are the University of Utah; Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington; Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts; Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts; and Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, according to the Princeton Review.
Graduate Programs for Concept Artists
If you have a bachelor's degree and want to further your education and career potential, a master's degree provides focused training. For example, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco offers a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Development. This program is designed for students who want to work in the film industry, visualizing what creatures and characters will look like before they hit the big screen. Other colleges also offer MFA programs that lead to studio careers in the concept arts. New York University's Steinhart school's MFA provides students with the freedom to pursue whichever media they choose. This program includes hands-on studio work along with critique and theory.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.