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    artistic process?

    This is an attempt to articulate my question so it's more than a "just practice" answer.

    I really want to get into concept art, but it takes me soo long to develop how a character will look and how they'll pose. A lot of it is accidental - it's a stumbling, shambling process with no real method or technique. And when I think I have something, it's really not developed. I don't know what to add. Here's an example of one that I actually liked, but I still feel like I made it plain looking:
    http://mjhinrichs.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4kqp41
    Maybe I need to think of the mood or something more...the more I type, the more I feel like this really is just a "go practice" answer... so lets try to receive something more constructive from people:

    What's your artistic process especially for character development? Of course every time will vary, but lets hear some examples.

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    I dont do many characters, but I do a lot of cars, like 2 a week
    process is usually

    Research
    Sketching, simple 3d models
    Tighter, bigger more detailed sketches
    Sketching individual details
    Sketch renderings
    Glamour Renderings/ models
    Upgrade/power up variations
    Orthographics

    i might need to repeat steps till the AD is happy, so try and be really fast and loose at the start to maximise ideas while minimising time and cost to you.
    also I dont do the modelling I let someone else take over but you might also need to do that.

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; April 20th, 2012 at 05:26 AM.
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    I always have a separate sketch or at least a clear idea of the basic design of the character(s). That way I can consider the pose, mood etc later without having to think all of it at the same time. After that its thumbnails and so on.

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    One thing NOT to do is just start your final piece and make adjustments to it as you go along. It will take you forever as you keep backtracking.

    1) What is your goal? Write down at the top of an empty page what you are trying to achieve with this character. Eg: A monster which lives underwater and preys on fish, or a warrior from a tiny Japanese-style village, etc. Then brainstorm the kind of things this character will need. How old are they? What do they eat? What is their environment? What clothing will they wear or what evolutionary features will they need to survive in that environment? What kind of house do they live in? What kind of people/creatures are around them? You need to know your character inside out or they are going to remain two-dimensional and uninteresting. Get down as much information as you can. This probably only takes ten minutes but is incredibly helpful.
    2) Research: If your designs don't seem interesting then you need to do this more thoroughly. Use everything you came up with above to find exactly what you need. If you are drawing a monster-type character, find images of monsters - dinosaurs, giant squid, elephants, even insects you can look at up close, as well as the kind of things well-known concept artists have created for films and games. If you're drawing a human character, look up period costume, interesting or unusual fashion, clothing from different cultures. The same with hairstyles, weapons, armour, accessories, etc, and even facial features. You may want to print out a "mood board" of all the best bits of research you have done for this character to draw from.
    3) Development and thumbnails. Lots of small sketches, doesn't matter if they look terrible, you are just developing ideas. Borrow bits and pieces from all of your research items, try things out to see what works. Different combinations of all the above. Use photoshop or a fast traditional medium like markers or watercolour to add basic colour to these designs and find a good colour scheme. Then use the same process to test poses, compositions etc.
    4) Choose the best poses/compositions and develop this into your final piece. If you have done the other steps correctly, you shouldn't be challenged by anything except correct anatomy at this stage, because everything else is already done - you know exactly how they look, what pose they are in and what composition and colour scheme you are using. You should still be all over your references like a rash.

    You're right that you need more than "just practice" because there are good and bad ways to practice. ALWAYS collect and use references, they are your best friend.

    Now, just practice.

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    Lots and lots and lots of thumbnails, to start with...

    My pro jobs are usually cartoony characters, and usually I'm the one who's going to be drawing/animating them during production, so my process is pretty simple.

    1. Research if necessary (for instance if the character is from a specific historic period, or if I'm doing a cartoon version of a famous person...) This may include style research if the client wants a certain look, or if I'm trying to get a particular vibe (for instance, I had to design a cartoony Chinese dragon once, so before I started I soaked up a whole lot of traditional Chinese art to get the right cultural feel and to research traditional Chinese dragon designs.)

    2. Pages and pages of thumbnails to figure out body type, costume, shapes of body and face, face & hair... (If I'm animating it, shapes are especially important, because I have to consider how I'll animate them.)

    3. Depending on the scope of the project, I'll show a few possible designs to the client - either semi-tight sketches or finished drawings depending on the project (on really small projects, I'll go straight to one final sketch with potential revisions.)

    4. Based on the client's feedback, I'll then do a final color drawing of the character. There may be another round or two of revisions on that version. Since I'm usually the one drawing/animating, one or two poses to show the client is generally sufficient for a final design. If other people will need to draw the character, I'll do turnarounds and expressions and all that after a final design is approved.

    As for figuring out expressions and poses, it helps to get inside the character's head... Pretend you're the character, and see what they do. It's like acting on paper. (You'll probably make goofy faces while you draw, and people will look at you funny.)

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; April 20th, 2012 at 11:35 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjhinrichs View Post
    This is an attempt to articulate my question so it's more than a "just practice" answer.

    I really want to get into concept art, but it takes me soo long to develop how a character will look and how they'll pose. A lot of it is accidental - it's a stumbling, shambling process with no real method or technique. And when I think I have something, it's really not developed. I don't know what to add. Here's an example of one that I actually liked, but I still feel like I made it plain looking:
    http://mjhinrichs.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4kqp41
    Maybe I need to think of the mood or something more...the more I type, the more I feel like this really is just a "go practice" answer... so lets try to receive something more constructive from people:

    What's your artistic process especially for character development? Of course every time will vary, but lets hear some examples.
    I know you didn't want a practice answer but this really stuck out to me. With more practice drawing in general, good work will become less accidental and more intentional and consistent.

    Besides that I second everything that was said already by doing necessary research and prelim work before sitting down to flesh out your character. A character is more than just a design; a character is a person (at least convincing characters are) who has a place in a defined world.

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    Idea
    Exploration of idea via thumbnails to determine best POV and composition to communicate idea
    Value/lighting thumbnails (often just combined with above)
    More detailed/accurate value studies
    Variations on costume or creature anatomy and details
    Color exploration roughs
    Integration of characters into scene
    Final detailed drawing and values
    Painting

    Research and reference is a given at various points in the development.
    Sometimes modeling or sculpting and photoshoot has to happen along the way as well.

    I find that any of those steps I leave out, or shortcut, results in less than I had hoped (and we all do it occasionally, but it costs).

    Gurney's book, "Imaginitive Realism" is probably the best guide for understanding the process.

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    When creating an image from a story. I read all I can about the character or scene. I copy pages that have pertinent information and highlight passages and make notes to myself about mood, time of day or angle of view. Then I start sketching ideas using the notes. Thumbnails, then comps, then color studies. Then I shoot my reference or model it in Max and light it. Then I refine my drawings and then paint either digitally or traditionally. A major piece takes me about a week of time even though that week may be broken up over a month of other work. If I'm doing a piece for a client then I can block out the time because I know I'm being paid. The actual painting time is usually done in one day but the process to get to that takes time.

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    Just like writing.

    1)Who?
    Once you know, research-

    2)What?
    Once you know, research-

    3)Where?
    Once you know, research-

    4)When?
    Once you know, research-

    5)Why?
    Once you know, research-

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
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    1. Decide what you are going to draw.
    2. Do your research. Collect the information on the historical context, setting, characters, what have you.
    3. Experiment with thumbnail sketches to test the ways to convey it in drawing.
    4. Pick one composition and develop it into a rough sketch.
    4a. If it does not work, go back to 3.
    5. Gather reference if required.
    5a. If your reference contradicts what you had been sketching, you have been lazy doing research. Bad artist. Go back to 2.
    6. Make more sketches interpreting reference to match your rough, recording the tricky details, inventing characters and costumes and gadgets, lighting peculiarities, etc.
    7. Make even more sketches calculating perspective, lighting details, what have you.
    7a. Don't even think of shirking these stages. You'll fail at painting and will have to go back to 6, 5, 4 or even 3.
    8. Produce a clean drawing to the size you want the final painting in, and transfer it to the final painting support.
    9. Paint, going from big to small and from general to detail, while looking at all your sketches.
    10. Repeat.

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