How to be a Freelance Concept Artist

Freelance Concept Artist

Concept art is as it sounds ‘art for a concept’. It is an illustrative practice, a newer form, used to convey ideas in films, video games, animation, or comic books before the final printing, or unveiling. As a freelance concept artist, there will be many concepts you will help sketch, literally and figuratively. Technology has only brought about certain revolutions to its practices and tools; faster graphics and graphics tablets have replaced the paintbrush and the pencils.

Why you chose to freelance is a question best answered by self-introspection. Of course, there are other reasons like freedom, independence, and convenience; your reason  might be an optimal mix of, a combination of, or simply one of the three. However, the amount of money you can make as a freelance concept artist can make it a viable and comfortable option for you.

Freelance Concept Artist Job Duties:

As a concept artist, you will be required to essay many roles in your organisation, or in your work engagement. The term concept art is a relatively new designation popularized by artists working in the automobile, video games and animation industries. Your duties as a concept artist will include:

  • Second to none concept skills
  • Create accurate, visually interesting, functional, stylistically accurate asset sheets for all levels.
  • Create colour moods that capture the feel of the locations.
  • Paint master concepts that not only show a general feel of a location, but also describe enough detail to inform an asset list. To be able to paint these master concepts quickly.
  • Able to work with level teams to help illustrator any areas that require development.
  • Work closely with the Art Director and Lead Artist to maintain aesthetic continuity across the levels.
  • Masterly colour awareness.
  • Excellent spatial awareness.
  • Wild imagination capable of visualizing the fantastic to the everyday, giving equal importance, flair and aesthetics to either.
  • Fluent with either Photoshop or Painter.
  • Passion for the craft, able to revisit work without being too precious.
  • Solid understanding of all the different surface treatments one would expect to see in a detailed world and the ability to depict them accurately.
  • Passion for conceptual tasks.
  • Strong traditional art skills and good knowledge of human anatomy.
  • Excellent technical drawing and vector art work skills
  • Flexible with art style and can work in multiple genres.
  • Ability to take direction well
  • Motivated and driven to face challenges.
  • Ability to hit tight schedules as required
  • Ability to create detailed and believable visuals based on real world settings.
  • Produce art ranging from rough thumbnails to print quality images.
  • Strong focus on character concepts.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with member of all teams (design, programming, and art).


To be a good freelance concept artist, you must develop many skills, some of them a bit more intricate than sketching, and colour schemes. You will be responsible for coming up with innovative, eye-catching art for video games, comics, books, and even stand-alone art, continually liaising with the creative team to aid in visual development.  Some of the skills you must develop include:

  • Anatomy
  • Perspective
  • Life/Still-Life Drawing
  • Drawing & Painting w/Reference
  • Colour Theory
  • Light Theory
  • Drawing & Painting from Imagination

Conceptartworld, blenderartists, Conceptart forum, and offer many resources for you.  You can develop and hone your concept art skills by logging on and learning from the comfort of your couch.

Being Successful As A Freelance Concept Artist:

More often than not, talent does not singly determine success in any sphere. It is possibly truer for animation concept art, with the freelance market insisting that talent combined with the relevant experience attracts generous prospective employers.

Hence, to be successful initially, you could:

  • Offer to do projects for minimum fees, sometimes for free
  • Bid the lowest for a project on freelancer portals
  • Get good testimonials for guest blogs, recommendations for work
  • Start a blog, back link it to more visible blogs
  • Create a website, or at the very least, a web page
  • Advertise your services on social media platforms
  • Understand the product or service intimately
  • Be able to sketch simple and even overly complex designs

Most of the revenue generated by you will depend solely on your ability to market your services and your credibility with previous employees.

Concept Artist Salary:

Usually freelance portals offer various kinds of payment models. In the fixed-price model, the price is usually pre-determined. The hourly model is the most popular and employers usually pay a predetermined sum per hour. Finally, in the project-budget based model, you often need to auction for such projects. Usually a fixed price model may range from $20- $200 and upwards, while you have to pitch for hourly projects, and budget payments, which usually range from $5- $35 an hour. As a freelance concept artist, you can usually earn around $22 an hour.

Finding Work:

It is not tough to find work as a freelance concept artist. There are jobs aplenty for concept artists like you. However, the best course of action is to take the extra pain, go the extra mile, at the start of your career, at the least. It is important to remember that you are entering a market, as a freshman and thus, you must be willing to put extra efforts.

Websites like Odesk, Elance, Guru and Peopleperhour offer many jobs to freelance concept artists like you. Therefore, if you have been thinking of where to find work, rest assured that there is an abundance of work online.


There is an abundance of resources to learn online. Conceptartworld, blenderartists, Conceptart forum, and offer many resources for you.  You can develop and hone your concept art skills by logging on and learning from the comfort of your couch.

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