Oct 4, 2011

Concept to Completion: Part 1 - Concept - 'Finding Inspiration'

Concept to Completion: Table of Contents -> (Link)

Concept - 'Finding Inspiration'

 What you'll need:
-Something to draw on
-Something to draw with
-Ur noggin

 ( (c) givetake (Link) )

The first step of any artistic project is coming up with an idea.  Literally anything can be your source of inspiration; a doodle in your sketchbook, a photograph you took, a scary dream you had, or a funny story that a friend told you about.  Anything.  The only limitation is your own mind, so dive deep into your imagination and see what you come up with.  Every facet of life, be it biology, personality, society, music, technology, comedy, history, fiction, philosophy, nature, the future, and the cosmos is at your disposal as an artist.  Think about the things you like, the things you don't like, strong emotions you've felt, places you've visited.  There are so many things to do and say and think and feel in this world, be a sponge and soak it all in since everything you learn will feed into your personality and make you a better artist.  Be honest and don't hold back.  This is your chance to shine.

For me personally I find that I do my best thinking when I keep active.  Going for a walk or a run, playing with my dog, working out; it all serves to clear my mind.  It raises my mood and gives me time to organize the thoughts running through my head.  Channel your inner philosopher.  Whenever I think up something that I'm fond of, I'll write it down or thumbnail it out.  That way, I no longer have to juggle that idea around in my head; the idea has been said and I can always refer to it and improve upon it later.  Try to make this a habit for yourself.  Eventually you'll have a pool of ideas that you can tap into at any time.

Feed your brain with knowledge.  One website in particular that I find very inspiring is ted.com (Link).  The site has hundreds of short presentations each around 20 minutes in length, given by the world's leading intellectuals in every field imaginable.  Did you know that the technology exists for a real life working kidney to be fabricated with a 3D printer that prints cells?  Or that exoskeleton suits are in development that can be worn by paraplegics, allowing them to walk again?  Mind blowing stuff.

Now, in my particular case, and in the case of the workflow I'm discussing, I want to be able to create usable assets (props, buildings, characters, etc.) that are suitable for a 'triple A' grade videogame (the best of the best) since that is the type of job I am applying for right now, so, I thought it might be cool to take an item from a pre-existing game and put my own spin on it.  I give you 'Project Up-Rez':

This is what would qualify as a 'Written Proposal'.  It could be more complex, or it could be more brief; it all depends on the particular project that you have in mind.  I find it's helpful since it establishes what my intention with the project is, the end goal that all my decisions following will be directed towards realizing.  Oftentimes in a studio setting, you'll be told what it is they want you to do (ie. your assignment may be to 'design a series of medieval props for a television show'), so the skill of 'drawing with intention' becomes an incredible asset.  The more planning you do early on, the easier it will be for you down the road, since all the important decisions have already been made, leaving you to focus on the task of achieving them.

(image of original blue shell design, (c) Nintendo)

For this project, I decided to go with my first example, that being the winged blue shell from Mario Kart.  For those familiar with the series, this item can often make or break a race for you in the game, since it directly targets whoever is in 1st place.  I figured that taking something iconic that other game developers would recognize would be a nice way to show off my own skills, as well pay homage to a series that has brought me much enjoyment throughout the years.

After I established what my purpose for this project was, I immediately grabbed my stack of cue cards and scribbled out a few thumbnails.  I'm a fan of having cue cards on hand to draw on since they're portable, they can easily be taped to a monitor, and their size prevents me from getting too elaborate during these planning stages.  As you can see, this drawing is pretty ugly, but that's perfectly fine.  This was maybe 20-30 seconds worth of work.  As I said earlier, after you 'record the idea' you can always fix things later.  Nothing is set in stone.

(This is really expensive on Amazon, try your local art store.)

For those of you who are just starting to learn to draw, or if you're an artist looking to brush up on your fundamentals, I recommend this book.  The Vilppu drawing manual will teach you how to draw structural, 3D objects in 3D space.  While I'm not writing a 'drawing tutorial' per-say, being able to take an idea or image in your head and quickly put it on paper is incredibly important in a studio environment since it will give your director an immediate basis to work from.  In some studios, 'nothing' gets made in 3D unless it has first been designed on paper, simply because it is way faster to output a 2D image over a 3D one.  Plus, drawing is a lot of fun.  It's entirely ennobling being able to project your imagination to a medium that everyone can see; it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.  So even if you think you're not great at it now, get rid of that negativity and recognize that you can always improve.

This concludes the 'Concept' stage.  As always, your feedback is much appreciated.


Concept to Completion: Table of Contents -> (Link)

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