Talented concept artist Darek Zabrocki talked about concept art and its evolvement, techniques, his new school for illustrators Focal Point, and more.
In 2016 we had an interview with Darek Zabrocki, a talented concept artist who’s contributed to such titles as Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Destiny 2, Maze Runner: Death Cure, Halo Wars 2 and more. Today he talked about the changes in life, concept art and its evolvement, his new school Focal Point, and more. Darek also presented this topic at the recent conference CG Event.
I am still doing all the work remotely and lately contributing to some exciting things for Fox, Blur and some others! For me, it’s the best thing and suits me the best since I have my own company and I love freedom whilst juggling a few projects at the same time. Besides that, I still put the biggest focus on the quality over quantity. In order to be able handling more things these days, I always need to plan my schedule way ahead and do it smartly. It goes well along with the school Focal Point I founded a few months ago but yeah my schedule is pretty hectic. Anyway, I still love it and it gives me so much energy!
Concept Art Evolvement
Concept art is far from dead. It is still evolving with new techniques and technology that’s showing up on the market. There are always new projects on the horizon so the design work is in high demand and will be for quite a while. I think what’s changing is definitely the quality standards and requirements that concept designers need to deliver these days. With all the incredible tools and ways of doing concept art, we need to be fast, efficient and productive as ever before! Also the number of people who want to get into film or games industry as concept designers are still growing. And those numbers are big, believe me! I still believe the originality and quality are the most important things but it has to go well with how fast one can present them to the client. A good presentation won’t save bad ideas and vice versa.
Photobashing & Other Techniques/Tools
Photobashing is a huge thing these days while 5-10 years ago it was pretty new, it was a big deal and at the beginning very controversial. But we have to leave behind the way we look at concept art as a “pure art”. Because it was never a pure art in its form. It’s ideation, exploration, and design. No matter what tool you use you have to sell your idea to the client and convince them it’s the right option to go with. Of course, without proper art foundation or fundamentals of drawing and painting, it’s gonna be super hard for you. Even with all the fancy tools available on the market. I can spot it at the first glance by looking at some of my students work. When someone lacks proper foundations and is using all nice tools to have a nice presentation and contrary, someone who has great design abilities but cannot present it on the pro level yet. These days it is a mixture of things: 3D, photos, drawing, and painting. It is all allowed as long as your ideas communicate well with clients vision. I personally use a bit of everything, it’s like putting all ingredients into the soup you are preparing.
You don’t need to use all elements equally but if this texture or that 3D package helps me achieve my desired results faster – I go for it! How to approach it from the beginning? I don’t stress out about learning every single tool that’s available because it is not really that needed. I rather plan my work and think of the toolset I will be needing during the production. If there is something I need to learn I am spending some time after hours to get familiar with the tool I will find helpful. For instance lately, I got pretty haunted by the amazing World Creator because what I needed was creating fast and presentable 3D terrains. I wanted to use them for the further concept development and instead of spending hours of finding the right textures or painting things from scratch, I am able to design the terrain I need in real time, fast, with no restrictions. Then I can make some camera shots, pick up few angles and paint it up in Photoshop! That’s how I think and I perceive my work 90% of the time these days. It’s super exciting and I am never tired of learning new things!
Studying Concept Art
It’s an option to study online, yet learning face to face in a real school environment is something on another level. I really missed something like this a lot in my beginnings for sure. The knowledge wasn’t easily accessible back then and everything was far from my budget at the times.
With increasing amount of online platforms, I can’t forget here the Level Up! I co-founded back in 2014. I didn’t see any more potential to run another online course or what not, that’s why I felt it was a natural thing for me to move on and start something like this in Europe. Luckily my friend Michal Kus and I are able to handle a number of courses that supplement each other. It’s a really special thing.
Anyone interested can check our Focal Point school here.
I still have a lot of respect for what guys at Gnomon do. I remember a few years ago I was at their facility in LA and I was literally blown away by the quality of students’ work and also the way the staff teaches there. I am going to do my best to make Focal Point something like them here in Europe so we have it, too!