Concept design is 100% creative thought and 100% executing that thought. This means you are working twice as hard and as a result you should be mentally exhausted by the end of the day. However, your mind will still stay active even when your body is resting. When you're in a creative zone for a long period of time you start experiencing “Creative Dreams” when you sleep. When I'm asleep I can play the piano and compose music on string instruments though when I'm awake I can't read a single music note. Why? The mind is complicated but it does appear that whether your awake or asleep if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything. The trick is how to remember your dream talents when your awake and apply them to your daily artistic skills. A concept artist has the ability to do so if they put their mind to it. I play the violin not by reading music but through hearing the sound of the strings very much on how I draw a line to compose an illustration. Music when accompanied by a film and theater brings out emotion on the viewer. As a concept artist music is the foundation to my art before it even gets to far into pre-production.
Research Know Your World: Your environment is a secondary character. Know your world as you know yourself and be the expert of your ideas.
Here are a few key points: library, taking digital photos, textures, research, be familiar with your surroundings, knowing basic physics & engineering
A character is a product of their environment as an environment is a product of it’s characters. Every place is different in so many ways. The more you research and familiar with your world the more convincing your concepts will be. After all you are telling a story.
Story Teller: Don’t look for the best idea look for the right idea to tell a compelling story.
Your images will then bring forth the best idea through your story telling. Even though you only show a window of your ideas on paper. You should know the whole story and so draw it! Ether on paper or in your mind you should have the answers for past, present and future details of the world you conceptualize. When asked you should be able to describe and draw on demand the whole world as you know it.