This chapter is about the importance of developing a 'working method,' a series of steps you use to help organize the way you get a job done. You can benefit from defining a working method for every task that you may be asked to accomplish. Character design is no exception. If you are paddling a canoe without direction and a method, you may end up paddling in a circle and never get anywhere. So it is with character design. If you
For some reason,
There is a better way. Having a specific plan of how to approach the work will not only increase your productivity but will also lower your level of frustration. The following tasks, if you follow them in an orderly progression, will help you organize your thoughts and ideas. Then it will be easier to draw and paint a cohesive form as well as objectively gauge the success of your effort.
The first and most important thing to do when trying to solve any problem is to identify and understand the problem at hand. While that may sound obvious, most of us are sometimes guilty of rushing headfirst into the unknown ill prepared. Here we'll assume that your job is to design some sort of character. It does not matter who the character is for; if you don't clearly know what you're trying to accomplish, you will not be successful.
The first and sometimes hardest task to accomplish when you're identifying the problem is to make sure that both client and artist are visualizing the same thing. When a client and artist are discussing ideas, their different backgrounds can be a major
A typical scenario that an artist will face as a character designer might be the following:
The initial meeting between Sally, the artist, and Mr. Smith, the client, is going well, and both parties are excited about the scope of the project. The client
Once back at the studio, Sally starts drawing immediately, and the results are fantastic. This is quite possibly the finest sketch she has ever produced in such a limited amount of time, and she cannot wait to take it to Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith's reaction is not what Sally expects; he casually tosses the sketch on the desk and tells her to try again. The rest of the meeting is a blur as she
The problem in this scenario is that while the artist thought she
When presented with such a description, an artist must find out exactly what is
Can you see the problem? It's easy to see the same problem with the other descriptive words. What is meant by 'ugly' and 'hairy'? You can almost be certain that Sally's understanding is not the same as the client's.
So, how does an artist identify the problem so that everyone involved has the same understanding of what is being described? It is really very simple. Ask lots of questions. When you are told to make a character 'big,' respond with something like this: 'You mean as big as an elephant?' Quite quickly, both you and the client will start to
When you have arrived back at your studio or desk, it is a very good idea to follow up the conversation with a written recap of the discussion. Write a memo or letter
When you initially analyze the problem or end goal, you will look at the whole and start breaking it into manageable sections that are easily resolved. Most of these manageable sections are questions that you must answer before proceeding with the design phase.
For the majority of artists, this is one of the best
When you have
This is the tricky part. How do you tell what the best idea is? To a large degree, you will know simply by looking at your work. Some of your ideas will obviously be bad, and they will be easy to spot. After you have picked a few of the best, turn to a fresh eye so that you can narrow down the field of potential solutions. A coworker, friend, or even the art director will have a fresh perspective and should be able to give you good advice. Make sure that whoever you
Remember that the first idea is not usually the best; it is usually the most obvious one. Yet, if after much work, the first idea still seems to be the best, do not hesitate to go back to it.
This is the best part. Most artists find that there is nothing better than sitting down and drawing the day away. This is the reward for all of your hard preliminary work, and if you have successfully followed the first steps outlined earlier, you will know right where to go with the drawing.
If all goes well, here is where you get the compliments and inflated ego. Your work will be loved, appreciated, and pivotal to the success of the project. If things do not go as well, don't be disheartened; sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. This final evaluation of your work is often the hardest part.
Have no doubt that the client will evaluate if you succeeded. Do not be afraid of failure, and do not take failure