Jason Scheier: the Art of Sacred Spaces

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jason scheier concept art

Jason Scheier is a concept artist who helps create visual styles and language for properties like Kung Fu Panda, The Croods, and Scared Shrekless. You’ve probably seen the results of his work, although most of that work is done well before a single frame of a movie has been filmed. It’s his job to take a screenplay and raw ideas and flesh out a world the characters will live in. You might think this is only necessary for animation, video games, and comics, but it’s also an essential process for some genre films (e.g., science fiction, mystery, fantasy).

Jason’s first SketchBook Pro demo (ever)

Jason sat down recently with the folks from ArtStation to demo SketchBook Pro, and he created some spectacular art. What’s even more impressive about what he’s made in this video is that this was his first time using the app. If you’re at all curious about how concept artists go from blank page to epic work of art, this is the video for you.

The job of concept artist

Concept artists have a huge task. They have to create epic landscapes that are well composed, but they also have to iterate using their skills with color, lighting, and effects — creating version after version after version for weeks on end until all of the input from the team has been incorporated. Although it’s a lot of work with a lot of creative pressure to perform, for the right kind of artist this as to be a real joy. Based on the commentary in the video from Jason in the video, it definitely seems that way for him.

jason scheier concept art examples
Jason is a master of scale, which you need to be to create epic, cinematic landscapes to stoke the imagination of the people creating the film or game.

Concept art fans: the hipsters of fandom?

Concept art has its own type of fan. I sometimes think of them as the hipsters of the fan art world. Just like a music-nerd hipster might like a particular band’s “early work” (I’m that guy, I admit it), so too do concept art fans revere original pieces of concept art. Although these are often unfinished versions of characters, they’re usually way more imaginative and creatively drawn than the final, highly edited characters. They may carry bad-ass weapons that never made it into the movie, or the art may be of an otherworldly landscape that only exists in this singular painting.

The art of sacred spaces

The thing I like best about Jason’s video tutorial is the way he talks about creating sacred spaces. From a look at his ArtStation portfolio, it’s clear these kinds of environments imbued with feelings of mysticism and holiness are one of his specialties. He likes to let his imagination run wild and imagine he’s in the space he’s creating. He often creates a solitary figure in his paintings who is viewing the landscape just as we are for the first time. Jason imagines what it would really be like to be there in that solitary glen or lost kingdom or magical forest. This kind of real-time drawing and painting that populates on the page as his imagination gears up is a real pleasure to watch. I learned a lot from his video, and I think you will too.

One way to create a sacred space is to put a pilgrim or monk type at the center — but the little details of the sacred space (which you may not notice at first glance) are even more important.

More of Jason’s work

Jason has created art for luminaries like DreamWorks Animation SKG, Warner Brothers Feature Animation, and Walt Disney Imagineering, among many others. You can find a lot of wonderful concept art on his personal site, Parallax Infinite. He’s also taught at Art Center College of Design, Brainstorm School, Concept Design Academy, Laguna College of Art and Design, and Computer Graphics Masters Academy. And, of course, in this video!

Create your own concept art

If you’ve always wanted to make something like this, there’s only one way to know if you’ve got it in you. Try it. For this tutorial, Jason grabbed a copy of Shaun Mullen’s Environmental Textures Brush Set he found on our blog, which is probably a great place to start. Shaun is also a concept artist who makes epic landscapes, and he created this brush set exclusively for SketchBook Pro members. Not a SketchBook Pro member? Grab a free 15-day trial (no credit card required).