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Hi guys, I wanted to ask a question or two with relation to Art Direction. While we here at cA mostly focus on actual rendering technique and things related to the process of making art work, not very much is said about what goes on one level above that. Deciding what to make, and why.
I am on a small team doing a student animation, and we have experienced overseers but they aren't going to be directing, just assisting where we lack experienced or knowledgeable people. So I've sort of been left to head up the concept area. I decided the premise of the story, and I'm letting the story development team handle that on their own.
But as the make-shift AD, I have to decide our visual style, but I'm not sure exactly how to go about that, I have been gathering some all sorts of reference images from other successful titles with similar subject matter. But that's where it ends.
Any ideas from any of you have ever been an AD or a lead in any department?
Well throw out all the ref you've collected and let your team have a go at concept roughs. I was an AD for five years for Totally Games and the best thing you can do is start in a room and brainstorm and come up with ideas and draw while you are talking about it. Stay off the internet. Otherwise it will just be derivative crap. No artist wants to be a wrist for someone else.
A good AD should encourage the art team to come up wth ideas. Let everyone explore things visually. Visual ideas first, reference second.
Good for you for taking lead. You do want to research similar properties but, that is after you've decided a genre, time period, style, etc. as dpaint mentioned - brainstorm first - reference second. Also try to avoid referencing other creative work - be aware of it but try to seek out fresh reference and go back to primary sources, cultures, etc. rather than using hand-me-down styles.
The more conceptualizing early, without "style" reference the better - then it is your job as AD to bring it all togehter under one stylistic umbrella that holds together. This is not to say that figure reference, vehicle refernce, environment reference shouldn't be used - just try to allow yourself and team to own as much of the creative inspiration as possible.