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Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 15 🎨

28 March 2021 - Reading time: 7 minutes

The IN/BREAK: Transept 2021 exhibit continues, and my art series has already debuted there.  Unfortunately I've been quite swamped IRL this week so I'm still writing my reflection of the experience.  I hope to post it within the next few days, before the exhibit closes on 2nd April.

In the meantime, this is my Transept exhibit page with my series of four artworks.  I also posted them on Instagram and Tumblr.

Concept (Study) Art

I continued what I began last week, in dispatch #14, and dove back into the concept art/character design process.

I already had a project in mind: this bunch of original characters (OCs) who are kicking around in my head.  I know they're loosely associated with each other, but I don't know them terribly well, nor do I have a clear "story" or "theme" for them.  I want to pull them all together into a coherent ensemble cast and develop a consistent and distinctive visual theme for them.  That was easy to figure out!

The fun thing about concept art is that it brings together a lot of creative processes I enjoy: drawing, world-building, writing stories, and making up characters.  I've done a lot of fiction-writing (fanfic and original novels) and world-building in the past, so I'm pretty good at generating ideas and writing them down.  Now is the chance to learn how to turn those written ideas into visual forms, and develop a visual library that still fits with the written story/world-building.

I actually had to use a kind of ideation/theme-development process while doing the Transept 2021 series, so this was a chance to use it again and establish a workflow going forward.

I started out by watching a few concept art videos from FZDSCHOOL to get myself in the headspace... but that "study" got completely sidelined by the art itself!

Concept (Fun) Art

Step 1: brainstorming.

Step 1 was brainstorming ideas at the "high concept" level.  I brainstorm best through writing and mind-maps/flow charts, so I got all the ideas down, picked out "keywords", and then tried to figure out how they would look visually at basic, fundamental levels.  Many of these keywords will also help with my personal world-building/character development down the track.

Step 2: developing designs.

Step 2 was taking the fundamental designs of Step 1 and developing things from them -- weapons, in this case (left).  Trying to bridge the abstract and concrete, but staying with the themes I developed previously.

I was also designing clothing for a specific character (top right), and head profile for my squad of six OCs (bottom right).  I think I succeeded in giving them different hairstyles and distinct silhouettes.

I expect that a lot of my "concept art" will look like this page -- iterations of designs, based on themes developed from Step 1, in order to find a specific design that I want for a particular character.

Something that's glaringly missing from this process is colour.  It's a symptom of never having worked in colour at any point in my entire art "career", so it doesn't even cross my mind to think about colour schemes.  Big omission, and something I hope to learn and fill in soon.

Step 3: specific subject design - in this case, a character.

Step 3 gets even more specific yet, and is my end goal for all the previous steps.  This one is a character reference sheet for Rann, whom I drew last week in dispatch #14, incorporating the overall design from that first drawing while fitting it into my overall theme from Steps 1 and 2.  You probably can see that some details from the first drawing have already changed.  I still need to work on a bunch of other details, but this will be my reference for whenever I draw Rann again.

I've forgotten how much I love doing this kind of art design.  I'm not sure if it's actually Concept Art as the professional artists define it, but I guess it's a form of ideation, iteration, and execution.  There's a lot more to learn about concept art, and I have to watch more of the FZDSCHOOL playlist!

No full illustrations this week, but I did more character development on my OCs and got to know them better -- enough to draw portraits of four of them.

Clockwise from top left: Vega, Zhael, Rann, and Faiye.

Next week's topics...

My reflection on Transept 2021 -- for real this time.

And, believe it or not, Q1 2021 is almost over.  So I'll have to write my first Quarterly Art Dispatch!  I posted about this back in dispatch #5 as one of my big personal art goals for 2021.  It's definitely been an eventful three months full of art, with a lot to reflect on.

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