After a period of slacking off, you might start thinking: “What’s the point in picking back up again?” It’s easy at this point to begin forgetting how much you already know. Even if you’re not ready to go directly after your career goals just yet, you might, after picking up the tools once again, discover that you’re not as bad as you thought.
And, in fact, even if you have made a mess of your page, it has not leaped up to murder you. So do another one, and another, and maybe see some improvement.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
The biggest enemy here is the idea that you have to dive into pure study until you ‘get good.’ This is a momentum-killer because it turns art into a chore, and it denies you permission to engage in the projects you enjoy. It makes you feel like a yawning chasm has been placed between where you are and where you want to be.
I have found an interesting solution to this. First, it’s important to alternate fun pieces with study pieces, or else all you’re going to be thinking about is the Chasm. The question is, where do you allow yourself to make a mess? That’s what sketchbooks are for, right? A sketchbook is for all sorts of practice drawings of whatever quality.
I have a problem with using my sketchbooks sometimes because once I get something better than average out, I start to feel like the bar has been raised. And at that point, a messy practice piece will ruin it, so I start to filter what I continue putting in until I avoid drawing in it altogether. So, the solution I found, is to get a sketchbook, and deliberately stick to a crude medium. Don’t let the bar be raised. Now, Crayola makes decent quality materials. But this set of ColorWave markers places some interesting constraints on the palette, having only 6 basic colors to work with.
By ‘interesting’ I mean ‘probably looks like crap’. But, it’s a justification to keep pouring out ideas without filtering them. This also works as a diagnostic tool to decide what subject matter should be studied. This project is a story about a colony in another star system, on a relatively Earthlike planet, so there’s a considerable amount of alien wildlife that has to be designed. For instance, here, I’m working with the idea that all or at least most of the foliage is orange. An important note here is that on Earth, there is a huge range of different hues and shades of green, so when refining the designs for the vegetation on Fortuna, I should make a point of using different oranges.
The other detail worth noting is that one of the predominant forms of plant life is some kind of bamboo, which points to a topic of study. Now, this is alien bamboo so there’s no reason to duplicate any Earth species exactly, but Earth bamboo is the obvious starting point I would want to use as a foundation. In addition to biological reference, I’d also want to learn something about construction techniques, since this bamboo is going to be the principal building material for the colony.
Just in terms of the information content here, that isn’t bad for a mess.
Now, this space station turned out considerably better, perhaps because the colors were used relatively sparingly. But mainly, I’m using this book to lay down ideas and mine them for information. One good detail here is the idea that it’s being expanded, adding wedge sections until presumably someday they form a solid wheel. This could be used to indicate the passage of time. Another important detail might be the exterior markings, some of which could be standardized. The yellow squares, for instance, mark clearance zones for a particular size category of space shuttle, so that feature might reappear on other structures.
And along with the good details I’ve noted things I’d like to change for an updated design. I think it needs somewhat larger solar panels, if it’s going to have them. Considering it further, the station ought to have only one pair of wedges under construction at a time, and I need to look into the relative scale of the station to the shuttles and the colony ships
Now, the real task that I find myself avoiding so far is that I’m going to need to study a lot of weird animals to get ready to design the wildlife of Fortuna. Next time I’ll be taking care of that.