Creating from scratch
I know what you’re saying, “Duh!” However, coming up with an idea is usually one of the hardest parts. I usually start with an idea, and use the internet to find references to it. So if I wanted to create a chicken coop for a game, I would simply go to Pinterest, and look up chicken coops. Which usually brings me to step 2 pretty quickly, which is getting reference material.
Me getting ideas
When I go looking for stuff, I usually mash a lot of different ideas together I didn’t initially have. So I might find an image where I like the fence wire. Then another image where I like the latch on the gate. Maybe a few for the barn boards or the roof. Basically I grab anything that plays to the idea I have in my head. Then I use a nice little tool that a CG art friend of mine, Michael Pavlovich, turned me onto called Kudro. It allows me to take all those reference images and make a reference collage. I can do things like zoom in and crop around sections of interest. So if I have an image that I grabbed just because of the gate latch, I can simply zoom in on the latch, and crop out the rest of the picture. Notice in the feature image of this blog, that I created a reference collage for a space door. I made it from other CG artists work like Tor Frick and so on, so I could make something “similar”. Here is the resulting door. You can even save preset image layouts for different projects!
My simple space door
You can go to YouTube and listen to Michael Pavlovich tell you how to use this tool. It really is one of the most useful things I have come across for concept art, or any art for that matter. I can’t overstate that.
How to use Kuadro
Once I have the idea in my head, and my reference images up, I use another computer / monitor and a program called Making Mischief to draw out the sketch as fast as I possibly can. I try to be really quick and not stop. Usually some of my happy accidents turn out to be super good ideas. Drinking a lot of beer while doing this helps a lot too!