Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The power of a workflow


One of the most interesting areas of focus for me when drawing is on finding a powerful workflow for asset creation, that exists in the form of a deliberately delineated series of steps which I do to completion before moving onto the next stage. My idea is that each stage should address a specific problem, and solve it to full satisfaction, before progressing. That way I'm not thinking about colour when I'm trying to paint light, I'm not adding lightsources when trying to paint texture, etc. For an artist who is easily distracted this helps to maintain focus, and also stops me from being overwhelmed. The image above is an example of me trying to refine my workflow for background painting for Old Skies. While it's not quite indicative of the process that I use now, it was a vital step in finding that process, and you can see my basic notes that helped me to remember what I did when.

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?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sounds very much like you slipped into discovery, which is more random and undirected, before resolving all the unknowns and going back to define the process. I see this paralleled in other practices, and I know of no other way.