At this stage in the course my learning of new techniques is fairly limited. I’ve taken the modules leading up to this one to hone new skills in software, in particular introducing and improving my proficiency with 3D tools in my workflow.
As such, I do not have a main goal with this module to learn, rather I see this as an opportunity to put those acquired skills to the test and push myself to achieve more and produce a higher level of quality work.
That said, there are some innate learning processes that as a concept artist one must keep up with.
There’s an old proverb about two lumberjacks – they both decide one day to have a wood-chopping competition and see who can collect the most wood. They both set out and the first lumberjack goes hell for leather, and keeps looking over his shoulder at the other one. Every now and again the second guy goes back to his camp for 10-15mins at a time. Surely, thinks the first lumberjack, I’m going to win this competition – I haven’t taken a single break all day, all I have done is work, and this guy keeps going backwards and forwards.
At the end of the day it is the second lumberjack who has much more wood in his pile. The first is dumbfounded – “what did you do? I kept seeing you going back to camp and taking breaks all day – how did you end up with more wood than me?”
The second man looks at him and says simply, “I was sharpening my axe”
Although it’s a cheesy metaphor, it does illustrate the point fairly neatly that it’s important to stay ‘sharp’, and for me, that means maintaining a few core principles:
- Keep studying – I’m constantly drawing, every single day I post an image on my Instagram account. This keeps my drawing skills honed, and also my knowledge of anatomy, perspective, colour, light and the rest of the fundamentals.
- Keep building my visual library – I could write a whole blog post on the visual library (and probably will), but I constantly have documentaries playing on a second monitor next to my work. Often times it’s about a related subject – so for this current project I’ve been watching a lot of medieval documentaries and talks about castle defense and weaponry, but it’s often unrelated information that my brain picks up interesting facts on. Recently I watched about 6hrs worth of videos about crustaceans – whilst not directly relevant, as a concept artist with a particular interest in creature design, that sort of information and learning picked up in the background is invaluable.
- Reading! This is one of the best ways to maintain an active visual imagination, as all of the effort that goes into reading is put (for me at least) into visualising the fictitious worlds that these stories are set in. I actually listen to a lot of audiobooks, so I can get through them at the same time as drawing, and I find this to be a great extra stimulant.
So for those last two points, my learning process is very much done via. osmosis almost. I surround myself with visual information and absorb much of it passively. This obviously doesn’t work for specific types of learning – e.g. learning new software skills, but for design and iteration where much of the work is left to your own imagination, it’s very good to have a big backup of all that ‘stuff’ in your head.
…plus, it comes in useful during a pub quiz!
The first point covers an active effort on my part to sit down and study a given topic – for example this post on 28th June where I just decided to study crows for an evening:
Looking at those forms and shapes gave rise to a more developed creature design. It’s not a crow, it’s based on a plague doctor from medieval times, but there are the same/similar ‘shapes’ – the talons and the beak.
So I think that’s a fairly concise look into what I consider my learning process – it’s a constant and ongoing quest for me that is not restricted to the technical skill of drawing/presentation of ideas, but rather the expanding of my overall knowledge to combine new shapes and forms into original designs.