This morning I cleaned up all my January contest "tracks in the snow" files before putting everything on an external hard drive. Honestly, I was shocked at how many changes my contest piece went through, and how late some of them happened. And yet, I think some of those last minute changes really helped.
So I thought I would write down some notes and share them with you guys. What you get out of them--or not-- will obviously depend on your needs at the moment. I'm especially working on trying to get stylistically consistent and solidify my process so I can increase productivity and up the quality of concepts and technique as well. And I would be interested in hearing how your processes work as well, because that's not something we talk about that often.
First, a huge thank you!!! Because you guys really gave great critiques, I used pretty much all of your ideas, and they made the final drawing so much better! I just hope I can eventually internalize them.
Secondly, for whatever reason, I had nine different iterations, as in photoshop files, of this piece from the time I chose my thumbnail to posting on the contest thread. I find this is about average. It would be nice if I could get the number down, but generally either I get confused by all the options or the file just gets too unwieldy and I lack the confidence to eliminate previous versions. Hmm...
A couple of things stayed pretty much the same from start to finish, and I kept them because they were fresh looking. One of them was the drawing of the dog. A lot of the drawing on the trees stayed the same as well, though I changed their positions.
In summary, what I learned so far:
-The boards really help!!!
-Always, always get the compositional problems worked out first!!!
-Flipping the piece horizontally helps. I have a tendency to develop a directional slant, and while I never eliminated it completely, flipping did help.
-I'm going to try something else in this style
-Reference really does help, as does working out drawing problems just after the thumbnail stage
-Making animal people is fun! I still prefer drawing realistic-ish children, but I'm also starting to loosen up a bit by trying all these different things.
-Perspective study really helps just after the thumbnail stage
-You really can produce something personally satisfying from a prompt that doesn't inspire you at first glance
If you want to see the contest threads, I think you can find two or three of them under my profile.
What have you been learning in the contests and in your recent WIPs? I'd be interested to hear!