Visual Arts - Illustration 494 - Concept Art

Fall Semester 2011
Instructor: Jake Parker
Cell Phone: 469.426.6919

Course Information

Students will develop the fundamental techniques and a creative process concept artists use to visually develop a story.

Students will learn how to work professionally by having the class function as if it were an art department for a studio. 

Students will demonstrate proficiency in defining the look of characters, locations, set pieces, and a visual language for the production.

Students work on creating unique and memorable concept designs that elicit an emotional response from the viewer.  

Students become familiar with other professional concept artists and how they work.

Students complete 10 different assignments that train them how to create artwork that captures the feeling and look of the production suitable for a presentation to a studio executive.

A 350-400     B 300-350    C 250-300    D 200-250    E 199 and lower

Grading Policies
In preparation for BFA review, and ultimately a profession, it is of primary importance that your work be as good as possible. That being said, any project that has been submitted on time COMPLETED may be redone for a better grade at any point in the term. It may be improved or solved in an entirely different manner as long as it still fulfills the assignment. A late project may be redone but the final grade will be no more than 70%. If redos are done poorly, the grade received will count. Projects should be reworked based on the critique comments until they are as strong as possible. Doing this is a very important way to improve your skills, focus your creativity, and resolve visual problems. It is also the reality of the creative industry.

When grading projects, my personal experience and aesthetic preferences influence my response.
When I review students projects, I consider the following:


Ordinary solutions are not only dull, but they are not competitive. They do not challenge nor improve the students skill. Solutions should be exciting, innovative and interesting.


Regardless of your discipline, skillful and creative use of design principles and elements are essential to communication with an audience, remember we are visual communicators. While most viewers cannot identify what may be right or wrong with an image, they sense when something isn’t communicating well due to poor design. Design is important as content in the process of communication.


Skill with media is necessary to success. A good idea fails to communicate if worked poorly. I realize most of you have limited media experience, and I will take that into account. Work that we do in class is designed to develop some degree of comfort with the medium.


All projects have goals and specifications that need to be accomplished and followed. It is expected that these will be met through your solutions. The industry requires this, as will I.

Most of the work will be done in class and our time is extremely limited. So attendance during the semester is critical and required. Attendance and promptness is also an essential professional attribute. After three absences I feel it will be impossible to “catch up” the lost time and you will fail the course.  Attendance is worth 75 points.

Projects will be due at a specific date and time. Work will be presented and critiqued during class whether  completed or not. Late projects will automatically lose 30% of the total points. Late projects not in by the beginning of the next class period will not be accepted. A late project is anything presented to myself or the class 10 min. or later on the date due in class.

Sketchbooks and whatever you use to draw in your sketchbooks.  Pen and ink. Pencil and paper.  Working digitally for color is recommended.

Dream Worlds by Hans Bacher

Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Design by Disney Editions

All work must be submitted and presented digitally on the class blog.


We will be taking the characters, locations, and story moments from the 1940 Disney film Pinocchio and re-imagining it in a completely different genre.  Much like Disney did with changing Treasure Island into  Treasure Planet.  Possible ideas:

Each student will be responsible for Ten finished designs.  Each design is worth 20 points. Here is the breakdown of what will be due:
  • 3 Characters
  • 3 Sets/Environments
  • 2 Props
  • 2 Story Moments

Each student it to make a list of the characters, sets, props, and story moments they will be designing. For example:
01. Character 1 - Hero
02. Character 2 - Sidekick
03. Character 3 - Villain
04. Sets/Environment 1 - Exterior
05. Sets/Environment 2 - Interior
06. Sets/Environment 3 - Landscape
07. Prop 1 - Weapon
08. Prop 2 - Vehicle
09. Story Moment 1 - The Escape 
10. Story Moment 2 - The Showdown

Assignments will be completed in a total of FOUR passes.  The passes are outlined as such:

First Pass: Loose, exploratory, and sketchy, an all out brainstorm where no idea is wrong.

Character Designs
10 Head shots
10 Full Character Sketches

10 Individual Building (Exterior of a lone building i.e. Jack's House)
5 Environments (A full surrounding of an area i.e. a forest, or farmland)
5 Interiors

20 Prop explorations

Story Moments
10 Thumbnails

Second Pass: Pick one or two of your first pass to focus on.  Still exploratory and loose.
Character Designs
5 Head shots
5 Full Character Sketches

5 Individual Building
3 Environments
3 Interiors

10 Prop explorations

Story Moments
5 Sketched Layouts

Third Pass: Start figuring out details and begin nailing things down. Should start to look finished.
Character Designs
1 Head from a few angles
1 Full character in different poses

1 Individual Building
1 Environments
1 Interior

1 Prop

Story Moments
1 Solid Layout

Fourth Pass: Your design is finished and should be colored. Could also have call-outs to show details like textures and materials.
Character Designs
1 Head Shot
1 Full character (Pick one of the poses from phase 3 and color it)

1 Individual Building
1 Environments
1 Interior

1 Prop

Story Moments
1 Finished

Course Schedule

Date           Topics                                                       
08-29         Introduction, watch "Pinocchio"
08-31       Assignment Lists due,                                    
09-05       Class Work       
09-07       1st and 2nd Pass Environments due
09-12       Class Work
09-14       3rd Pass Environments due
09-19       Class Work
09-21       Final Pass Environments due,
09-26       Class work
09-28       First Pass Characters due
10-03       Class Work
10-05       2nd Pass Characters due,
10-10       Class Work
10-12       3rd Pass Characters due
10-17       Class Work
10-19       Final Pass Characters due,
10-24       Class Work
10-26       1st and 2nd pass Props due
10-31       Class Work
11-02       3rd and 4th Pass Props due
11-07       Class Work
11-09       1st Pass Story Moments due
11-14       Class Work
11-16       2nd Pass Story Moments due
11-21       Class Work
11-23       Class Work
11-29       3rd Pass Story Moments due
11-30       Class Work
12-05       Class Work
12-07       Final Pass Story Moments due
12-14       Revisions, Redos, and Make Up due

University Policies

BYU Honor Code
In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university's expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.

Preventing Sexual Discrimination and Harassment
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU's policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university, but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 422- 2847.

Students with Disabilities
Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (422-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified, documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the SSD Office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures by contacting the Equal Employment Office at 422-5895, D-285 ASB.

Academic Honesty Policy
The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to be honest. Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. President David O. McKay taught that 'character is the highest aim of education' (The Aims of a BYU Education, p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim. BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct.