Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shadowrun: Stormfront, Lesson 4

And now it is crunch time. I've produced three illustrations, I've learned plenty of lessons, but now I have little time for the last illustration. It was supposed to be about five magic users in a basement who delve into dark magic with deadly results. There's a bang! A nearby shadowrunner rushes to see what is wrong, his hands up to defend. A few weeks earlier, I had sent my AD this sketch:

I thought it was kind of cool, but I was unprepared for how not cool it was: I'm showing only people's backs, the perspective is truncated, and the illustration should be about the aftermath not the explosion. I had to start over. But instead of redrawing way back then, I started on the other projects. Fast forward three weeks: now I had two days, no thumbnail, and no direction. I hastily scribbled this and sent it away: How does this look?

I get nothing back.

One of the reoccurring issues I have is the definition of thumbnail. My AD wants to see basically the finished piece minus the detail and extra busy work. On my end, I'm throwing out mind pictures. They're like dreams. The space is undefined, the characters are vague, but the feel is there.

Since I work realistically, I try to get a thumbnail approved, then I take reference of models (me, most times) in the various poses, and then I fill in the thumbnail. Sometimes I find that what looked good in my head simply doesn't work physically in real life, and so the composition has to change to accomodate. Many times I've sent in a thumbnail and get critiques on proportions, etc, things that would be ironed out in the final. So it is my responsibility to put in enough effort to get 'most' everything right, so that my AD doesn't have to trust me not to send him a guy with a tiny hand or a scribble face. But this time, I didn't have that luxury.

I wanted to get this piece to him with a full day to spare, so that he could mull it over and send me the final revisions. That meant, since it was due on Thursday, that at 10 in the morning on Tuesday I had 24 hours to shoot reference and finish an illustration. I knew there was probably just a little bit of panic on his end, seeing the scribbles I sent him, but I drove forward anyways.

I sent a goodbye to my friends on Facebook, taped my living will to the door, and dove in, shooting reference, cobbling it together, changing the composition as I needed on the fly. I drank coffee, guzzled water, and took breaks every two or three hours to stretch and pretend that everything was okay. Sure enough, 20 hours later, I sent him this:

He loved it. I really liked it, too. It showed me that I could take what was a weak illustration and turn it into a strong one. It also showed me what I was capable of come crunch time. It also told me that I didn't want to repeat this performance. But it took less than two months before I not only repeated this performance, I trumped it with double the time. That's a story for another day.

Until then, thanks for reading, and join me next time on David's Journey's in Professional Illustration: How to find the ladder to succes, and what to do with the rungs when you're on it.

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