Once an idea has been flushed out using keywords, sketches and thumbnails, it is now time to start thinking about actual visuals. That doesn’t mean sitting in front of Photoshop and taking stabs at styles, it means doing a bit more research into how you want to portray your idea. This is important in saving you a lot of guess-work as you start to work on the piece.
Personally, I always start looking at what has been done, namely by my favorite artists. The styles they use appeal to me on an emotional level which draws me to them for whatever reason. They either use color palettes I like, styles I admire, or clever twists that I would never have thought of on my own. I have art books, magazines, CDs, many bookmarked art sites, posters, etc that I can look at while keeping my own project in mind. How did they execute what they did? What is the conveyed idea? Why do I find the imagery appealing? Who are their influences?
I don’t restrict myself to modern art. I constantly look to the pioneers who perfected techniques and styles hundreds of years ago which still hold importance today. DaVinci, Picasso, Rothko, Kline, Mondrian, Klimt and Braques are just a few examples of important artists who did ground-breaking work in their day. Check out Mark Harden’s Artchive for a nice big dump of the classics.
After going through a bunch of art and design examples, it is time to start doing some hands-on work. I like my textures, and to properly do my piece I will need a decent library of textures and things at my fingertips. Their are wonderful royalty-free websites online that help out in this area, such as Mayang, MorgueFile, and Stock.xchng, that help out immensely when you don’t have access to a rare texture. However, I like to create as many as I can by hand or photo to keep my pieces a bit more original. Plus it gives me a bit of an edge over, say, a splatter pattern used by 100 other artists. Just take an afternoon and snap some shots around your neighborhood of dirt, cement, bark, sidewalks or clouds. You will be surprised how many cool textures you can get that are all around you.
Also, don’t forget the traditional methods of making textures. I very much enjoy sitting at my dining table making splatters and paint strokes to scan in at high-res. A nice texture library is well worth the time when the art starts.
Once all, or most, of our resources are assembled we can start messing around on the computer. Next I’ll take a look at my creative process when I dive into the computer.