Creating for Client vs for Yourself

Jim Moore
Lucas Film

A lot of artists who don’t have a lot of experience in the industry tend to focus only on creating beautiful art, but when you’re part of a production pipeline you realize that you’re one piece of a greater whole, whether it’s for a feature or video game or other types of project. That means in addition to looking good, your work has to show other departments everything about the final product the layout, the colors, textures, lighting, and scale. Instead of a single beautiful image, you may have to create several smaller works that are more like blueprints. In the end, everything we do is in service of the big picture which is the final product!

In order to be able to collaborate with others, consider outlining a plan of your design process in steps, which ensure that your progress in time is manageable for others to achieve the best and approved result along the way and together.

For example, start with RESEARCH, which can be broken down to sub-steps such as 1. proportions, 2. style and 3. render/color. You start with very many choices and then narrow the range to a few images which will represent the work. For the research, tools such as Google and Pinterest work great. Just look for what you like and/or what you think your client expects. The presentation should put everybody on the same board.

Then follow with EXPLORATION, which can be broken down to few rounds such as 1. loose sketches, 2. refined sketches, and 3. final sketches. Each round lessens the number of sketches, from a lot of variations to get a general direction to which are more focused with an emphasis on defining specific direction regarding proportion, color palette, etc, until you arrive with the final round with a very narrow focus aimed at finalizing all aspects of the character.

And the FINALIZATION, which is the easiest to quantify, since the design phase should be done by this point. Here you produce outputs such as turnaround sheets, expression/pose sheets and finally posed render, a 3D asset if desired.

Such a plan of your process, which you can set up in any way you like, can help you collaborate with clients, directors and other artists as a team. Team collaboration is the essence of working on an animated film, and planning your process is the way to get to the final product together.

I had a great time working with the ANOMALIA Concept Art Lab! The environment in Litomyšl is fantastic for tuning out distractions and focusing on your project! The town is small but beautiful, and we get to work in a former monastery which is pretty cool! Even though it’s just a two-week lab, we had some really great ideas coming out of our sessions!

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