Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Concept Design: It is NOT about rendering

concept•1550s, from M.L. conceptum "draft, abstract," in L. "(a thing) conceived,"

design•1540s, from L. designare "mark out, devise," from de- "out" + signare "to mark," from signum "a mark, sign."

The illustration featured above was created by George Lucas in November of 1974* as a way of illustrating to artist Ralph McQuarrie the formal qualities he desired in the universe of Star Wars. In this simple sketch are some of the most iconic designs of the film saga that would later be translated across countless different media.

This simple doodle is a perfect example of the visual immediacy great concept design should possess. This is not to undermine the extraordinary contributions McQuarrie made to the visual aesthetic of the Star Wars universe or in any way minimize his abilities as a designer. However, the lesson here is that concept art is not about rendering or style, but about the manifestation and communication of ideas.

There is a reason why the Star Wars universe can both communicate with adults and be depicted in crayon by young children. The wholeness of great design can be understood easily, assimilated instantly, and retransmitted persuasively.

*J. W. Rinzler, “The Making of Star Wars” New York: Ballantine Books, 2007

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