Progress Doodle #7 – Random Sketches

Before getting the Cintiq, I used to sit at my drawing board with a large stack of copy paper next to me and doodle away, tossing those drawings into the trash as I created them. I didn’t throw them away because they were bad. I threw them away because I created so much of it that it wasn’t feasible to keep and store a lot of nonsense sketches which served no purpose beyond my having some fun doodling.

After getting the Cintiq, however, I would do the same thing digitally. So basically, I’d create a Photoshop document, create a new layer, start doodling, delete the drawing, sketch something else, delete that, and so on. It just didn’t make sense to keep so many sketches, even digitally.

Then I decided I could keep the files if I just created one file, create a layer, sketch on it, lock the layer and turn it off, then start a new sketch on another layer, lock that and turn it off, and sketch again on yet another layer and so forth. This way I could have one layered document with 20 or 30 doodles on it. The problem, of course, is that the file thumbnail only shows the visible layers, so if I want to find a sketch among so many files, there’s no way to tell which file has the layer with the sketch I want. This really isn’t such a problem, because if I ever liked a sketch enough to go back to it, I’ll usually save a separate jpeg of it anyway.

These days, if I want to doodle digitally, I’ll create a Procreate file and just do different sketches on different layers. The nice thing about Procreate is the video feature, so instead of having to open a file and look through so many layers, I can just create a video of my sketch sessions and going through that video will show me what’s on a particular file.

So how do you doodle for fun?

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Concepts For Corporate

I was recently asked for help in designing a website and logo, and the client had a very definite style and look he wanted. Like most anything else, I began brainstorming for the website using small thumbnails. These are for layout purposes only, and they’re not meant to convey exact details or content. I thought perhaps you might find the process of brainstorming through thumbnails interesting.

Website concept thumbnails by Frank Grau Website concept thumbnails by Frank Grau Website concept thumbnails by Frank Grau

Below is how the final homepage turned out. The client really wanted an art deco feel and asked me to emulate the style of Robert Hoppe, an artist that was popular in the late 80’s.

Fire-Alliance_Homepage

And below is the logo image I completed which will accompany company ephemera, as well as set the style for the completed website.

Fire Alliance company logo by Frank GrauBe sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

How I Brainstorm With Doodles

For newer readers who missed this the first time around, I thought I’d repost this…

Few illustrations are done without preliminary brainstorming. Some begin as sloppy little doodles done on anything from napkins, to envelopes, to whatever scrap of paper is handy when an idea comes around.

On top is the thumbnail that served as the basis for the final drawing. below that is the final menu page illustration.

Sometimes I’ll spend time on a rough sketch, and other times I just want to come up with some very rough compositional idea, so I’ll noodle around with sloppy little thumbnails. These aren’t the kinds of things many artists want you to see, because they’re not pretty, and, in fact, are embarrassingly bad from a rendering point of view. But their purpose isn’t to look pretty, so don’t judge them too harshly.

Furthermore, when time is critical, I’m even less inclined to draw anything beyond chicken-scratches. Yes, many have been horrified to find, after selecting me to be on their Pictionary team (in hopes that having an artist on their team would ensure a landslide victory), that I draw sloppy little stick figures just like anyone else.

Around the beginning of May of 2012, because the current project at Ayars Animation was a bit ambitious and was taking far longer to finish than we had hoped, Frank Ayars and I discussed the idea of doing smaller projects. I suggested that I take a week or two off so that I might attempt to complete an entire picture book in that time. If you knew me, you’d know that’s pretty ambitious; not because I illustrate slowly, but because I tend to get bogged down in the minutiae of a picture, and I spend far too much time in details that can hardly be appreciated by anyone.

So I decided to do a book with, what would be for me, a rough illustrated style. Basically, this meant I’d do a fast color over an acceptably clean drawing. It’s actually what a lot of printed children’s books already look like, so we’re not talking about rushed or bad art. I just wouldn’t take the time to make it too polished. The irony is, I often tend to refine all the charm out of my looser drawings, so illustrating a book this way could actually render pretty good results.

Overall, I had to come up with a character, write the text, and illustrate it in a format which I could then hand over to Frank Ayars for implementation. I also put together a small pdf with storyboards and instructions on how the app-user interactions might work, how the articulated characters would move, etc. I also had to design any necessary navigation items and such. I think I spent a couple of days just thinking of what to write, bouncing ideas off my wife, and receiving creative input from my oldest daughter.

After that, I began noodling around with the design of the menu page. The thumbnails you see in this post were made while working out a composition for the menu page of the app. I designed the character of Retro loosely off of the two other characters you see here, which I had created around 2000 A.D. (I added “A.D.” so readers don’t confuse it with some other year 2000).  The one character on the left was a character called The Flooglemop, about which I had actually began writing a story way back, as well. I was writing that story all in verse, and I realized how stupid a decision I had made in attempting to write such a long story that way, so it never saw completion. The other character was just a doodle done for fun.

Though the entire book app is done in a very loose style, it actually turned out quite nice. For the record, from the decision to embark on the project to the time I handed off all the completed assets to Frank Ayars, it was about ten days. It was nonstop work, and I felt like I had given birth, only without the resulting stretch marks.

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Thumbnails: An Economic Approach To Design

I did a previous post about how I brainstorm with doodles, and it was such a big hit with all three of my readers that I decided to revisit the topic.

The purpose of thumbnails is to work out ideas in an economical fashion. There’s no point in wasting time with an elaborate drawing, only to find out the composition doesn’t work. So what are the uses of a thumbnail?

Point-Of-View (POV): There are a lot of ways to view a scene, and a lot of different camera angles from which to choose.

If you look at the first thumbnail for the scene above, it was a straight-on POV. We see the same thing on stage, because a live performance pretty much only allows for that perspective. Because artists are not limited to this, it’s sometimes thought too simplistic a POV, but many artists use it successfully. Illustrators like John Bauer or Maurice Sendak pretty much used a straight-on POV, and they produced beautiful scenes. Basically, it’s okay just as long as the individual elements are still composed in an interesting way. In any case, I later used an overhead POV for the page above.

Relationships: Thumbnails can also help you determine relationships. In the scene above, I juxtaposed a close-up of the main character’s large head with little bees. Another effect was to bring the main character’s head through foliage, such that the daylight behind him produces a halo of light, further drawing the viewer’s attention to him. I used this same halo effect below.

Viewer’s Eye Flow: You can use thumbnails to determine how you want the viewer’s eyes to move across an image. In the illustration above, the viewer is first drawn to the main character (halo effect, remember? It says, “Look at ME”). From the starting point of the main character, your eyes drop straight down, working your way to the larger crabs on either side, flowing up the seaweed, back toward the main character. Guiding the viewer’s eyes this way can help them see things in a certain sequence, perhaps from most important element to least important.

Composition: Another principle used above is the rule of thirds. If you slice the image horizontally into thirds, you’ll note the sand occupies the bottom third, while the water fills the rest. This principle is also present in the illustration below. In this case, the image is sliced vertically into thirds, with the main character occupying the far right third, and the bright flamingos occupying the rest.

Another way to slice things up is to divide the image diagonally, and in this case, doing so causes the elements to flow toward our main character. In the scene below, the large branch slices across diagonally. The background tree-line also serve to reinforce that diagonal flow, again leading the viewer’s eye where we want it to go.Below are more thumbnails used to work out composition or character designs. Of course there are many other ways to work out designs, like digitally drawing, slicing, resizing, and moving things around.

Perhaps some of you would like to share different time-saving techniques which economize your workflow?

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Getting Ahead

I’ve noted in the past how much I prefer character design to anything else. Actually, the best part of character design are the faces. It’s often what conveys a character’s personality more so than even a costume or wardrobe.

Anyhow, here’s a page of quick head doodles I did just for fun.

Frank_Grauy_Head_Doodles

Anyone out there got a favorite thing you prefer to draw?