Should writers use concept art?

Working on a project like the Adrenaline series has made me think a little about concept art. When I’m writing a crime drama like A New Man or some of the other stories set in the Pine Bluff universe it is fairly easy for me to visualize what I want a character to look like. For the most part it is a “real world” story and I see folks like I picture in the stories on a daily basis.

However, with a story like the Adrenaline series and the Perfect 200 series I have a harder time keeping hold of an idea of what the characters should look like. I know how they act and their emotional drives and goals but their looks, which may or may not play a role in the story, seems slip away at times. That is why I decided to try something new for me as a writer. I wanted concept art of the characters near me when I’m writing so I can get a feel for the characters, or to get inside what they are thinking and I thought that a picture of the character would help.

But where do I get a photo of a vigilante super hero with tracking down an artist? Two problems, 1 I couldn’t afford to pay one if I found one, 2 what ever concept they came up would still be their vision.

I thought about trying it myself but I have NO artistic ability, I couldn’t draw a straight line if I had to. Then I thought about photoshop. However, I am on the go a lot and I only get time here and there to work on either stories or the artwork. I found two apps that work pretty well I think. Check out this concept art of Adrenaline.  I will show the progression and let me know what you think.

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First I found this picture on a free stock photo site, I do not advocate stealing artwork and they offer free stock photos for non commercial use as long as you manipulate it in some way, which I am doing. I am only posting the original to show the project from start to finish.

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Next I found this one.

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Next I cut around the mask to get rid of the black sheet on which the mask is laying.

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Then I brought the photo into an editing app and added shadows and dirt and a little more blood splatter and saved it.

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Next brought the first picture back into the same photo editing app.

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I double exposed the mask over the mans face, softened the edges, added a few more shadows and a key light, and finally added a hint of smoke. I wish I could have softened the edge on the bottom of the mask in the chin area, but it isn’t bad. (Note 100% of this project was done on my mobile phone)

All in all it took about 90 minutes of total time.

I haven’t tested it in the writing process yet. I have completed Adrenaline: Gold Rush (read part one if you havent, rest will be up soon), and at the moment I am working on a couple other projects but I have several more stories planned for that universe.

So please let me know what you think. Do you like it, not like it? Would this benefit you as a writer or is the 90 minutes better spent on actual writing?

Apps I used
*pixlr (photo editor)
*edge tracer (removes unwanted areas from photo)

A decent site of free photos is morguefile.com