This is the second article about the three areas that I usually work within. Illustration (last month’s article) Concept art (this month) and next month I will look at the processes I use for my own work.

Whereas my narrative contract work is a decidedly planned attack, using fairly straightforward and generally typical processes, my concept work feels more like shooting from the hip and definitely seems more intuitive.

Whereas in narrative contract work it flows from thumbnail—>sketch—>more detailed drawing—->color rough/finish

Conceptual work tends to look like:    5 to 15  moderate sketches or 2 or 3 moderately detailed drawings per day with occasionally finished finals or 3d representations.

If I do thumbnails in concept work they only serve the purpose of personally figuring things out as there usually isn’t enough information in a thumbnail for an art director or production manager to work with. Typically with me I get asked to arrive at generally clean line art or spot rendered pieces to present to the show runners or director. Concept art for me is a great deal of fun in that I get to do the bits that I like and usually don’t have to worry about composition or environment.

Creature Designs for Amazon’s Carnival Row

Both of those things might come into play if I’m asked to do a specific scene or a keyframe piece (which is seen as an actual representation of a cinematic shot but not so far as a matte painting might be finished) I’ll add that keyframes, storyboarding and matte painting are all individual areas that can be focused on as a career and some people can do it all. That’s not me though. I’ve never done matte painting as it requires so much photo realism/ manipulation and color matching, nor storyboards as that is much closer to loose comic book sequential art, but I do marvel at and respect those who do those things as a focus.

Creature Design for Amazon’s Carnival Row


Still Frame from Carnival Row Season 1 Episode 8

When I do narrative contract work I may have at the end a handful of sketches and thumbnails (plus the final piece of course)

When I do concept work…well, at the end of my first concept job which was actually previs/preproduction for the film Monster Hunters (original released in China) I had roughly 200. Creature sketches done over (if I remember correctly) about a month.

Drawers full of NDA Concept Art work


The funny thing is the part I like… making tons of drawings and not having to worry about finishing them as final art (usually) eventually starts to drive me a bit nuts.


Allen Williams Creature Concept for Hellboy (2019)


Other Artist’s Creature Rendering for Hellboy (2019)


Still Frame of Creature from Hellboy (2019)


I like finishing pieces and having tangible work that exists at the end of it. It’s rare and I won’t know until the film comes out whether I had any lasting impact (most of the time things go through many, many changes and through many many different artists’ hands).

Allen Williams Creature Concept for Hellboy (2019)


Other Artist’s Creature Rendering for Hellboy (2019)


Hellboy Demon 03 Rendering by Alexander Stojanov

Another interesting note is that often I get many ideas for my personal work when I’m in the midst of concept (and narrative contract) work. I think it’s a mental defense mechanism in response to having to work within the concept brief or the narrative need.

Early Carnival Row Creature Design

But, of course, that’s what I have my personal work for 🙂