How can you become an excellent concept designer?

Nov 12,2019 PM 12:39



To be an excellent concept designer, or any kind of designer for that matter, you must be willing to do a lot of hard work. It’s vital to be willing to keep learning as you go, since that is what you’ll be doing daily. As you start your journey on becoming a better concept designer, I hope these books will help you and teach you something you never knew before about the field.

Let’s get started.

#1: Visual Theory

Principles of Gestalt Psychology and Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye are very hardcore texts that are fairly difficult to read, but they are the foundations and truly worth putting in the time and effort for.

Should icons be big or small? Should buttons be on the left or right? What are the proper proportions for garment cutting? What about the proportions of the human body?

You will find the answers to these questions in those two books. They each summarize all aspects of visual perception theory and include large amounts of experiments to prove that “aesthetics” is, in fact, a science.


When learning perspective, Scot Robertson’s How To Draw is perfect. This book is a guide for industrial design majors, teaching them how to do 3DSmax rendering by hand and it can be used to show people how to use all kinds of auxiliary lines to achieve complex surface perceptive drawing. Since industrial design requires a very high standard for perspective, this is the only book you will ever need.

For physical-based rendering, Robertson’s other book, How To Render, is also terrific. This book is meant for industrial design students as well, and as such, it thoroughly explains the ins and outs of the theory of light, shadow, and rendering. If you want to learn rendering in a scientific way, this book is the perfect teacher. It’ll also serve as a good dictionary.

To learn about body structure, I recommend Michael Hampton‘s Figure Drawing: Design and Invention, a book that is very friendly for beginners. It dissects every bone and muscle and explains their relationships as along with how muscles change based on various positions.

Real Action Pose Collection 01 is a book for practicing drawing positions. It provides all kinds of spirited poses and angles, and is very suitable for practicing.

#3: Art History

A concept designer often needs to create characters and scenes based on a specific worldview. These worldviews are typically based on a large amount of real-world references. Therefore, it is quite important to learn about all different kinds of art styles; after all, only by knowing the historical background and style can one create the appropriate corresponding design.

Design Museum: A-Z of Design & Designers is an illustrated handbook for modern designs and artwork. It covers all aspects of design, from automotive design to packaging and graphic design. It also covers key styles, movements, technologies, and materials.

If you like the classic style, don’t miss this one: The Language of Ornament. This book is fairly small, making it suitable to read while on a subway or bus. The content is very rich and clear-cut and it displays large amounts of ornaments from ancient to post-modern times, telling the reader the stories behind these ornaments.

For architecture reference, Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed is a very interesting book. German photographer Frédéric Chaubin took pictures of about 90 buildings in 14 former Soviet nations. These Soviet-style buildings are mainly office buildings and worker culture halls that were built between 1970 to 1990. Many of them, in fact, appear quite surreal and look like the buildings in Red Alert 2.

As a concept designer, you sometimes need to come up with varying worldviews and contexts. From scenes to garments, all of these need a vast store of knowledge based on reading, watching movies, and playing tons of games. Additionally, you need to know how to write a story. In that case, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting may help you do this very thing more easily. This book introduces a lot of script-writing theories from various Hollywood movies and provides many unique tips to help you get some great ideas.

As a designer (regardless of your specialty in this field), you may often ask yourself “Does my design correspond to aesthetic perceptions? Will my design be accepted by the market? What’s the value of my work in the industry?” It’s difficult to find answers for these questions from one’s own working experience. But in an attempt to help answer them, we recommend two books: Lectures on Aesthetics and The Philosophy Of Art. These two books may help you find solutions to some of your problems.

I sincerely hope you enjoy these books listed here and that they help you become a better concept designer. Good luck with your career path and happy reading!

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