Technical and Artistic Tips for Concept Artists

Bruce Yu shared some thoughts and a few tips for Concept Artists and told us how to develop skills in concept art.


My name is Bruce Yu, I'm a 23-year-old Concept Artist from China, currently working full-time at Sumo Digital. 

I've been studying Concept Art at university since 2020 but it turned out to be not exactly what I wanted. So, I started focusing on weapon design in 2021 and have made huge progress, getting an unexpected amount of likes and follows, which even made me confused. After that, job offers kept coming frequently. 

I grew up playing sci-fi FPS games like Halo, Doom, and Fallout and I always have been a huge fan of sci-fi movies, which fuels my passion for weapons and hard-surface design. Creating concepts for games and movies makes me really happy. 

I still consider myself a beginner as there’re so many amazing artists who I look up to. The tips I'm going to share here are highly personal, it works well on me but I hope it can help somebody else, too. 


When working in 2D, I prefer a flexible mix of silhouette, line art, and Photobashing, to test random results in a certain direction. 

In all 3D-based designs, I use 3DCoat. It has a unique voxel mode that works really fast to cut, hide, unhide, move and adjust objects, so you can rapidly test different solutions, and create amazing results. Its Smart Material also works well even while sculpting. 

Thanks to the unique voxel mode, it’s also fast in creating characters. I usually combine it with KeyShot and Photoshop to get final results.

By the way, I highly recommend Anton Tenitsky’s 3DCoat tutorials on his YouTube channel.

Design Tips for Beginners 

  • Visual library. The visual library is the key to creativity. I built my visual library by constantly playing FPS games, and watching movies, but mainly by observing designs in it. Doing research on existing weapons, mechanics, and creatures.
  • Learning from other artists. It takes time to blend all the information you learn from others together and build something you could use, but it's a great opportunity to learn, as the knowledge you obtain this way cannot be taught in any online class and cannot be skipped.
  • Visual language. Usually, a good design has unified visual language. For instance, it would be weird to see Master Chief wearing a helmet like in Doom. However, different visual languages could be blended together and work well, like a mix of smooth advanced tech and flesh.
  • Flexible workflow. I like to combine silhouette, line art, Photobashing, and paintover when concepting, each one of them has absolute power to push design forward. Also, using 3D can push the design and save time. But before using this stuff, a basic fundamental skill level is needed to be achieved.
  • Functions. Functions make a design operational.
  • Simple shapes. Combining highly recognizable shapes (circle, rectangle, hexagon, triangle, etc.) together in the right way can bring an amazing result.
  • Organizing details. Placing details in the right place means even more than adding new.
  • Connection. Every part in a design should be visually or functionally connected and affect each other. 

Texturing Tips for Beginners

I often get asked how to detail the concept. I worked fully 2D in the Mad Science weapon series, but the way I texture might also work in 3D texturing. It helps a lot to highlight design and showcasing.

Finding the Right Reference

The right reference can set the tune of design, existing textures are the best guide and save a lot of time while Photobashing.

Using Textures Correctly

In the pictures below, I marked different parts with different colors.

The green part has brighter scratches because it gets more touched. The parts where you hold the weapon look dirtier because it was touched a lot. 

In this piece, blue parts rust more because of material getting cut during usage, making it more vulnerable to corrosion. Also, it highlights structural details by placing the right textures next to them. The red rust also balances the overall color of this weapon, making it look more colorful and attractive.

However, different materials might work differently. 

Using Reference Images and Different Layer Modes in Photoshop

This helps add texture, and then erase unnecessary parts.  


I really enjoy the time spent creating concepts. As a Concept Artist, I believe the idea is a number one priority, but figuring out and learning the right techniques can boost our creativity and workflow. I hope you can get inspired. 

Bruce Yu, Concept Artist

Interview conducted by Theodore Nikitin

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