How do fantasy professional artists draw such original and complex pieces of artwork? They do something different from what other artists do. Successful professional fantasy artists do not obsess over drawing every piece of artwork perfectly from the very beginning. Instead, they make sure that their artwork is properly designed before trying to create the final artistic work. What that means is that professional artists are able to separate drawing into two phases: design and production.
Conceptual designs exist for one reason and one reason only: to communicate potential ideas. This is especially true when you are drawing concept art for a game, television show, movie or other type of media where you are not going to be creating the end product. Your job is to sketch and show off various ideas that might impress audiences in a visual manner. Focus too much on the details and you will end up leaving little room for ideas. Details can always be added later. Sketch a lot, avoid erasing, and just keep all the ideas on the page.
Originality vs. Synthesis
Should you draw a floating triangle pulsating weird swiggly lines and moving endlessly in a diagonal direction through a silvery thing? Really original drawings might help fight play upon the natural curiosity that all of us have, but if completely new visuals are impossible for viewers to identify with or understand, you will fail to communicate anything of real substance.
So what's the alternative? New elements can always be combined with traditional elements through a process called synthesis. Ever wonder why ancient monsters often had various familiar elements incorporated like gardener snakes and goats? People have always had a fascination with monstrous versions of familiar animals and objects. That doesn't mean that you can't have originality, but you will have to have some elements in your drawings that are familiar.
Design sketching is often similar to what writers do when they free write. Sketching is a form of exploration that can lead to fresh ideas. The results of design sketching will never be shown to the audience.
What if I can't draw anything?
There will be times when you will not be able to bring yourself to draw anything. In these cases, you will have to seek out inspiration. One of the best ways to do this is to seek out visual stimulus. You can get this from professional photography found on the web, traveling and odds and ends. What I mean by odds and ends is that you will have to practice looking at objects that you see everyday and seeing potential ideas. You will also want to be able to daydream and visualize. You might want to spend time simply day dreaming about potentially exciting images that you can pursue.
You should also get in touch with emotions and symbolism. Many great works of art are loaded with symbols that communicate to the viewer, subtly telling a story. Also, your understanding of emotions is necessary in order to create the right mood in your drawing. Without a mood, your drawing will seem dead.
Alex is an artist and blogger who co-owns http://sketchinghouse.com
Sketching House is an art blog that is 90% art tutorial and 7% art discussion with some rants thrown in. Though this is an ever-evolving website, the majority of the focus will always be on art tutorials.