Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Lessons Learned, #4: Getting Ideas Down on Paper (Part One)

Hi all, just a quick note to let you know that I am SWAMPED with work. I may not be doing Illustration Friday quite as much (sniff) but I'll still be posting on Wednesdays. I hope to be back to IF soon. I miss it already. Now, on to the topic of the week:

People tend to be curious about my process and whether I begin with words or images. In my case, both are woven together. Most projects begin with a spark of inspiration—usually a character idea or an observation of a quirk that develops into a character. After that initial spark, I do rough sketches of the character. I keep them very loose and try various poses and expressions. This helps me get to know the character.

I also begin to consider dialogue: what does the character think or say? This guides me into the story. I try to envision the character’s environment and how the character exists within that environment. I also begin to envision the other players in the story and their relationship to the main character.

Next, I like to think about spreads. What are the moments of action in the story? I jot down notes about various scenes, sometimes with sketchy thumbnails in my notebook. I brainstorm and put as many possibilities down on paper as I can. This stage is not about the plot. It is about getting to know the character(s) and key interactions. I am drawn to humor so this is often about the moments—either visual or written—that make me chuckle.

After some time has passed, I review the scenes with a fresh perspective. I circle the most cohesive parts. Often an order begins to suggest itself. At this stage, I like to do thumbnails of the whole book. In art school, I didn’t understand thumbnails. It frustrated me that I couldn’t put any detail into those little squares. It wasn’t until I began to work as a designer that I came to value them. Now, I love thumbnails for their ability to show size relationships, positive/negative space and pacing at a quick glance. In my studio, there is a drawer full of legal sized sheets, each printed with thumbnail rectangles. There’s no need to mess with rulers or drawing rectangles or anything else that might distract me. I write. I sketch. I write. I sketch.

(Part two will be posted next week!)

3 comments:

Christy Farneth-Kerr said...

It's really nice to see someone else method. Can't wait to read more. thank you for sharing!!

Jane said...

I am delighted that you are swamped with work Bethanie, that is a plus for you but a minus that I will miss seeing your IFs!

It was very interesting to hear your thought/writing process.
It must be much easier for you as an illustrator AND writer that you can put both these parts together and work them through. You can control the whole book, you are not just coming up with a story or just illustrating someone else's plot. I am sure that is what makes your work so tangible and brings it to life. Harking back to your "kill the babies" post...you conceive AND give birth, you are not just a surrogate mother-LOL!
Jane x

Bethanie Murguia said...

Yes, LOL!! Great analogy. Thank you both for checking in...