Developing a slick illustration workflow
#1
One of my goals over the next few months is to develop a slick illustration workflow so that I can reliably and rapidly produce quality artwork (relative to my own skill level of course).

I was wondering if any of you good folk had any thoughts on workflow?

Anyway here's my first attempt:
  1. Search for inspiration.
  2. Do thumbnails to brainstorm compositions.
  3. Select the best composition.
  4. Gather references related to the selected composition.
  5. Do art studies related to the selected composition.
  6. Do the gesture drawing.
  7. Do the construction drawing.
  8. Paint block-in of big shadows.
  9. Paint block-in of big full lights.
  10. Paint block-in of big mid tones.
  11. Add the darkest darks.
  12. Add the highlights.
  13. Blend.
  14. Paint details.
  15. Take a break.
  16. Final finishing details.
I'd really appreciate any thoughts, thanks in advance :).

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.



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#2
Hi Artloader,
Your list is a good start, however, I think the first item is going to be a problem. 'Searching for inspiration' seems to be too nebulous and open-ended. Often, an illustration begins with a specific visual or conceptual problem that must be solved. The illustration itself is only created to meet the demands of these problems(e.g. what does the inside of a heart look like, while filled with blood or if an ice-breathing dragon fought a band of gnomes, what would it look like?). That means, that for the most part, the approach to composition, gesture, lighting, color etc. is driven by the initial problem itself.

I think that if you made the first part of your workflow as specific as possible, it would make all the subsequent steps much more manageable and efficient. For example, you could start with something like: Interpret a scene from an exciting novel, or Create a brief for an image to be used by Magic the Gathering for promotional art etc. These are just wild examples, but they immediately set you on a path towards a clear goal, and I think that is important if you want to consistently make finished work. Hope this helps.

-Sketchbook-
"... for drawing is a thinking person's art." - Walt Stanchfield.
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#3
Hey Javier - thanks for the feedback :).

I think that's a great point about starting with understanding the problem that must be solved (the brief I guess).

So maybe point 1. should be:

1. Understand the brief.

Followed by:

2. Perform background research driven by the brief.
3. Do thumbnails etc ...

What do you reckon?

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.



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#4
Nice stuff! I'm curious, is this something you would plan on doing all in one sitting? I'm curious about "taking a break" being a step towards the very end. I'd recommend trying the pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break in between sessions to help you concentrate.

Otherwise, this seems like a cool idea. I'm looking forward to seeing what you're going to make, and eager to see the final products!

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#5
Quote:Nice stuff! I'm curious, is this something you would plan on doing all in one sitting? I'm curious about "taking a break" being a step towards the very end. I'd recommend trying the pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break in between sessions to help you concentrate.

Otherwise, this seems like a cool idea. I'm looking forward to seeing what you're going to make, and eager to see the final products!

Thanks ZombieChinchilla :).  Nope, I'm in a full time IT job so I would be doing this in my evenings over a couple of weeks or so. 
The "taking a break" was meant to be more along the lines of switching to another piece of work for a few days and then coming back with fresh eyes to do a quality pass.

Thanks for the tip-off on the promodoro technique - I keep seeing that being talked about in various places - I might look into it.

I'm trying to become more efficient since I have to complete 18 illustrations in the next 9 months for a short story collaboration with an author friend of mine.

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.



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#6
(01-04-2017, 12:09 AM)Artloader Wrote: Hey Javier - thanks for the feedback :).

I think that's a great point about starting with understanding the problem that must be solved (the brief I guess).

So maybe point 1. should be:

1. Understand the brief.

Followed by:

2. Perform background research driven by the brief.
3. Do thumbnails etc ...

What do you reckon?

Yeah, I think that revision is good. Research and reference gathering takes quite a bit of time as it is, so being efficient at that stage will help a lot.

-Sketchbook-
"... for drawing is a thinking person's art." - Walt Stanchfield.
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#7
Quick thoughts.
5 is redundant since you have already come up with your comp by then
8-11 are interchangeable in order depending on your preference or the piece
As with anything, but for workflow especially, trial and error is the way to adapt things into your own and will depend heavily on personal preference. This is the one thing where I would suggest looking at other artist's demos \tutorials to get a sense of what their workflow is and adapt what you like.
Different pieces might need different workflow as well.
Just get stuck into pieces, try new things regularly, learn as you go.

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#8
Thanks Amit, good points about remaining flexible - I will bear in mind and good tip about checking out other people's workflows.

On point 5 - what I meant was - do studies related to the various components of the compositions e.g. if the comp. has some animals in it, then study painting animals etc ...

Previously I was doing studies before I'd selected a comp. and found that I was doing stuff that I didn't end up needing for the final piece - which is good in the long run but is inefficient if there's a time constraint on the piece.

“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.



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