I’m biased. My first professional experience was working as a digital color artist in the comic book industry. That role is all about using color as an emotive tool, influencing the audience while communicating story or product message. I’m certain that a vast majority of concept artists would provide lip service to the notion that color is important in their work, but I frequently witness it being underutilized in the concept artist’s arsenal of visual communication tools.
As a writer finds finds their voice, carefully choosing the words to communicate that precise message they wish to convey, an artist should similarly use their color choices to say something in their work. Color can be an extremely powerful tool that appeals to a viewer on a core, innately visceral level.
Colors make you feel. They can soothe, they can sing, and they can smash! Each one has a voice that says something just by being themselves. Multiple colors in a scheme can unite and harmonize. By contrast, they can also separate and push things apart. It’s amazing what you can say just through your color choices. Does your night time concept painting have to be a dark blue, starry night? Is it set on an otherworldly planet? What type of planet is it? Who lives there? Is it toxic or welcoming? What color is the light source? How does that color reflect in the environment? You are likely already asking yourself these questions from the design context, but really take a moment and think deeply about color, what hues, shifts and transitions will really help to convey your overall message.
In my view, use of color is a component that often separates good concept artists from the really outstanding ones. The good news is that with a little bit of extra thought and planning, you too can take that piece you’re working on to the next level!