Concept Artist

entertainment artist 2D artist
Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for concept artist

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

Concept artists visualise early ideas for films, videogames, animation, and advertising. Your work will be crucial in achieving consistency in the early stages of a creative project. And it will guide the outputs of other creatives – from 3D modelers and VFX teams to animators and set designers.  

Your concept art needs to capture the atmosphere, mood and fine detail that will be vital when the project moves into production. This means you need to be a great artist first and foremost, able to take other people’s ideas and visualise them quickly and accurately. You could be asked to draw characters, props, vehicles, buildings or creatures. Sometimes all five, and more. 

Artists now often mix digital and traditional approaches, so a knowledge of digital painting software like Photoshop, Corel Painter, and Maya is a must. You’ll need to be able to listen well, interpret complex briefs, and take feedback on your work.  


What you’ll do 


  • Take a brief to understand the creative team’s vision for the project 
  • Create and present sketches of your initial ideas – on paper or in digital drawing software like Corel Painter 
  • Consider how your designs will be created by the production team and what techniques they’ll need to use 
  • Refine your sketches – often using digital tools like Photoshop – based on the team’s feedback to establish the final style 
  • Create a comprehensive digital database of visuals – showcasing different angles, perspectives, actions and environments 
  • Create realistic visuals at speed – your work can’t hold up production 
  • Keep a portfolio of work that shows your skills   

Working conditions


You might work full-time for a creative studio or freelance, choosing the contracts that suit your style and workload. Flexible working schedules are common in full-time roles, so you may find yourself working long hours during busy periods of project development.


You’ll most likely be working from a creative studio, or from home if you’re a freelancer.


UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Adaptability
  • Verbal communication
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Time management

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need. 

You can develop the necessary skills for this role through a variety of routes.

There are no set entry routes but many entrants will have qualifications that demonstrate their artistic skills as well as up to date knowledge of creative software packages such as:
•    Illustration
•    Animation
•    Graphic design

As part of your application, you will normally be asked to provide a portfolio  detailing your skills and experience through any work or projects you have done – this is to showcase your skills and creativity – include your best work and keep it up to date. You might also want to consider having a digital portfolio – this will allow you to upload videos, photos and links to different online platforms such as YouTube and Flickr.




You can gain skills and qualifications in the workplace through options such as:

Foundation Apprenticeships (FA’s) are chosen as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 but include hands-on learning at a local employer or college. They are the same level as a Higher.

You might want to consider an FA in areas such as:
•    Creative and digital media

Modern Apprenticeships (MA’s) mean you learn on the job. You get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider an MA in areas such as:
•    Creative and digital media

Graduate Apprenticeships (GA’s) are designed for industry and you'll spend most of your time learning on the job but you'll also go to uni or college. You'll get a job, get paid and work towards a qualification at the same time.

You might want to consider a GA in areas such as:
•    IT: Software development

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Look at individual institution websites for specific entry information.  

Useful subjects for this job would be:

  • Art & Design
  • Graphic design/communication
  • Computer science

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.

Gaining relevant work experience would allow you to continue to build your portfolio as well as meet others already working within the industry to improve your knowledge and network.

After gaining experience, some concept artists become freelancers.  Most freelancers have built up a wide range of experience and established networks to help them connect to jobs and projects. You could consider using a project recruitment platform, such as Upwork, to connect with businesses seeking specialised talent.

Business start-up information and support is available from a number of sources such as Business Gateway (

Students and recent graduates at college or university may also have access to business start-up advice, support and funding through their learning institution.

See ‘Be Your Own Boss’ for further details (