Today I was working on character design, and I realized that I have not delineated my workflow here sufficiently. I have it well defined for the stages of creating a final drawing - lines, colour, shadows, etc, and have very clear notes, palettes and brushes created for this section of the work. What I'm missing, though, is the construction phase.
The issue is that when constructing my characters, I'm still relying on a lot of guesswork. I should know how many heads my character's proportions are - if not from memory, from a set of notes that I can check. I should be able to break the process of drawing a character's line art down into a series of constructive steps that solve things like posture, proportion, volume and silhouette. I do not currently have this in place. That meant that today was a poorly directed series of re-drawings, never quite focusing on a single element at a time. To have a carefully designed dynamic silhouette that is badly proportioned is not very useful. The same applies to spending a lot of time detailing overlapping volumes over a stiff or awkward pose. Said pose should be completely solved before I even begin to think about those volumes - just as the proportions should be measured and decided before working on the silhouette.
Happily, well documented processes for constructing figures exist in bountiful quantities, are well described, and quite sensibly illustrated with examples. My issues lies simply in my inexperience drawing in this style, and my focus has been largely on trying to figure out what the style actually is. Now that I have a good understanding of that, I need to go back to the basics of how to reach it from a blank page. I should have kept this in focus from the beginning, but being foolish and lazy has served me reasonably well to date, and therefore it takes days full of poorly directed efforts like today in order to be motivated enough to alter my methods and do things right.
For me, though, this is one of the best things about being a working illustrator. Art isn't a magic skill. You don't have to be born with it to succeed. You just need to learn the steps, one by one, and practice them. How hard can it be, right?