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.

CD Sketchbook



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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.

CD Sketchbook



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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.

CD Sketchbook



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#9
A goal that is achieve alway leave the place to newer goal so i would like to add that optimisation of the process is key.I add my personal note those each point

1.Search for inspiration (base on the brief or you own goal).
(Set a limited time do avoid what i call over inspiration)(too much liberty to explore))
2.Do thumbnails (to brainstorm compositions.Set a decent amount of thumbnail to explore until satisfied,making sure to mix thumbnail together to increase the complexity of randomness and avoid simple repeatitive thumbmail.)(Possibly ask for a new imput )Get some other reference if the thumbnail don't get you inspired enought
3.Select the best composition.
(At this stage you could use a forum or a mentor to review what been done and comfirm what is wrong right)
4.Gather references related to the selected composition.
(Here the key is to have a some stocked reference of many subject you can pick from almost all the time to speed up this stage also it important that if you do research for reference you use either googleor something like pinterest.I Personally suggest pinterest because people create grouping of similar related reference to choose from.)
5.Do art studies related to the selected composition.
(Here the key is understanding clearly what you wish to focus the study on it can be a simple or more advance study mixing many fundamental but it need to be clearly define.)
6.Do the gesture drawing.
Simple CSI the line need to be expressive and energic.
7.Do the construction drawing.
(I advice starting to reduce what being seen as really the most simple geometric depending on the skill you have in construction you can either go straight to organic form or the big form first than adding ontop.)
8.Paint block-in of big shadows.
(I would also say here that you want to look at the intensity and the type of the shadow and the origin)(Working from big to small shadow or using shadow that connect together to avoid proportion error.) 
9.Paint block-in of big full lights.
(Direction,type of light,time of the day)
10.Paint block-in of big mid tones.
(This can be skipped by using the canva as the mid tone)
11.Add the darkest darks.
12.Add the highlights.
(Color temperature,reflectiness of the materiel,orgin and intensity of the light source)
13.Blend.
(I think here what important is the brush size and using every stroke with intelligence)
14.Paint details.
I think this is what really define and artist here you showcase what you observe and what you really want the viewer to look at.No amount of detail will fix a drawing base on poor Draftmanship)
15.Take a break.
(Use that time to experiment on a specific aspect you wish to refine or simple clear your mind(side note you can go do physical activity to focus the mind on the body or go you can do some meditation to clear the mind each one will adjust the energy depending on what should be clean before going back)(For example if you you need to strech you can go walk and get something to drink or eat to feel even more refreshed.You can meditate to understand what is going on inside yourself like what on your mind at that moment that doesn't help you focus on the work(this a subject itself)Having a clear mind make room for better answers and less distraction.

Will you take the break you can leave the work to someone so that when you come back he as a few thing for you to improve.

16.Finally finishing details.
(Flip the canva a last time and make sure to adjust the image contrast if need be and fix anything that need to be push or need to be reduce.

17.Study people work
18.Feedback!!!!!



My Sketchbook
The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from is own error.
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#10
Cool, thank you for the thoughts Darktiste :).

Having a ready built library of references sounds like a good idea - it takes me ages to track down the references I want for a given piece.

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

CD Sketchbook



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#11
(12-24-2017, 09:06 AM)Artloader Wrote: Cool, thank you for the thoughts Darktiste :).

Having a ready built library of references sounds like a good idea - it takes me ages to track down the references I want for a given piece.

The research phase of the workflow is one of the most easiest moment to procrastinate in.You do not need to be looking for a perfect reference because once you understand how to move a volume in 3d space you become free to represent what in the reference in any position you wish that why it also a good idea to have reference of the same subject in different angle.

A good way to start is to do a few gesture of the basic volume in different pose.This also help find interesting pose and composition.

I suggest you buy an external disk and put the reference in there so you can also use it everywhere if you need to work somewhere else.Here the kind of thing i collect Anatomy,weapon and armor,costume,animal anatomy,dinosaur,image for gesture,mechanical object,texture,Architecture,master study.Those or the main categorie subdivided by other folder.
Don't forget to name picture with keyword so there easier to search directly if you don't want to lose time.I heard some people use pinterest to save some disk space if you prefer that way.I personnaly prefer to have a back up of my reference if the internet as problem i am still safe.

My Sketchbook
The journey of an artist truly begin when he can learn from is own error.
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