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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Derwent Waterbrushes

While watching a video on YouTube recently, I saw someone use a brush-pen filled with water, a tool I’ve never before seen. I’ve been using a Cintiq now for a couple of years and have been out of the loop as far as traditional media goes. However, I thought the waterbrushes looked like fun, so I ordered a pack made by Derwent. It comes with three brushes, each with a different tip shape/size. They arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I only had a chance to sit down and noodle around with them.

Derwent_Waterbrushes

I have a Sheaffer White Dot Balance fountain pen with a lever-fill, like the kind you used to see in slapstick routines where someone uses a fountain pen to squirt ink into another person’s face. After watching too many Three-Stooges films as a kid, I had to track one of these pens down. Anyway, I like using it to doodle using coffee-brown ink by J.Herbin (the color name is “Cafe Des Iles”).

Waterbrush_Head-doodles

I don’t use these tools for finished work or any of my professional work. It’s just something for fun when I want to noodle around. Combining the water brushes with the ink pen has added another dimension to these doodling excursions. If you haven’t tried it yet, this Derwent pack is very affordable to experiment with and play around.

Anyone else out there using these brushes? If so, how’d you like them?

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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?

“Crime is a sucker’s road…”

“Crime is a sucker’s road. Those that travel it wind up in prison, the gutter, or the grave. There’s no other way. But they never learn.”

I’ve always enjoyed that opening line, read by Gerald Mohr in the old time radio (OTR) program, The Adventure’s of Philip Marlowe. I don’t know if that line was actually written by Chandler or not, but it sounds as if it could have been. In any case, I had doodled this while working and listening to some OTR detective program (I’m not sure if I was listening to Philip Marlowe, Richard Diamond, or Box 13, but it was something of that nature). I decided to take a break from my regular assignment and noodle around for fun.

I’m sure many of you have some sort of media playing while working on your art. Do you listen to music? OTR? Audio books? Sermons? Motivational tapes? Radio? Or perhaps you have a movie playing in the background, or, like I’ve done on occasion, have a movie playing on a second monitor (which slows down your computer considerably)? Or do you just prefer silence?