Art Direction: Writing A Concept Brief
By Neil Blevins
Created On: Aug 27th 2020

This lesson is about how to make a "Concept Brief".

A Concept Brief is a document that a client / art director makes for the concept artist to explain what they'd like them to design. It includes information like what the object / character is, what format the art should take, reference images, etc.

You have two choices with this lesson, watch me discuss the issue in the video below, or read the full text.

So I've received many concept briefs over the last 20 years from Art Directors, and this has given me a general feel for what information helps the most inside a brief. And now that I've been art directing a few of my own projects these last few years, I decided a few months ago to make a formal Concept Brief template, so that the briefs I make in the future will follow a common format. So these briefs are a combination of some of the best briefs I've received from art directors in the past, along with a few of my own ideas on information I feel is helpful for an artist to have.

I hope this lesson can be helpful in two way, if you're an art director, you may want to use this template as a starting spot for your own briefs, or if you're an artist, this may give you a few ideas on extra details that might be worth asking of your art director when you receive a brief.

The Template

The most recent briefs I've made have been for my "Megastructures" Book Project, where I have a set of 6-7 artists helping me painting illustrations of enormous megastructures.

So I went and took one of my old briefs and redid it using my new format. You can see it below. So this would be what I would hand off to an artist who was working on the project.

Click either image to see a higher res one...

Breaking It Down

So let's discuss what each part does...
The Dyson Sphere Example

So now lets apply this to the Dyson Sphere Example.
Final Notes

The amount of detail you add to the brief will depend heavily on who the artist is, the needs and stage of the project, and how much of the artist's own creativity you want them to bring to the table. Frequently in the very early stages of say a film, you have the blue sky phase, where things are looser, it's more about exploration. This is an excellent time to give looser briefs to your artist to see what they come up with. But as the project goes further along the briefs become more specific because now everyone has a better idea of what does and does not fit into the world, and those rules need to be stuck with. So loose or detailed are both fine and have their place, the only bad situation is if there are very specific requirements, but the brief is too loose, that can lead to a lot of frustration for both the artist and client.

Anyways, that's it. Hopefully it inspires you to make your own custom brief template. The more precise the communication is between client and artist, I believe a better result can be achieved, and the process of getting that result will have far less drama or misunderstandings.

This site is ©2023 by Neil Blevins, All rights are reserved. Twitter Mastodon Bluesky Instagram Blogger Facebook LinkedIn ArtStation Kickstarter Gumroad YouTube IMDB