Developing your imagination
@demotlj This is a good question. I spend a lot of time listening to my kids and they keep me filled up with ideas. But, another thing I’ve seen a lot of professionals do is the double idea box. They keep ideas in boxes... one with characters and the other with settings or things. It forces you to think out of your normal And gets the creative juices flowing. If you pull “flamingo” and “arctic” out of the boxes, you’ve got some interesting material to try and sort out in a picture.
As for the Potter movies, yea, the imagination that went into that was unreal, but I think there is still a starting point. Hogwarts is based on an actual castle in Scotland or something, Hogsmead looks a lot like many of the little villages in the north of England but more... crooked... I think you can get a lot out of learning how to take real references and “crookeding” them a bit. If that makes sense. ️
@demotlj Hi! I would like to give you an advice that was given by concept artist and illustrator Noah Bradley, and also something that I discussed with some friends that are professional concept artists:
Learn something else - some knowledge based discipline. You have much more to tell when you know something. Study history of ancient civilizations, biology of animals and plants, quantum physics, robotics, Victorian literature... Whatever interests you. By doing this, you will know a lot of things, details, anatomies, events, that you will be able to use in your art. You can adapt and modify them, make microbes look cute, create planets and galaxies and so on.
Continuing on my advice. I am a biologist by academic formation. Spent about 6 years studying aracnhids (mainly spiders) and 6 years studying insects (mainly flies and wasps). I learned a lot about animal anatomy, behaviour, biomechanics, evolution and so on. Most important, as a scientist I've learned how to find information, ask questions and try things day(experiment). I use all if this knowledge and skills in my artwork. Even my way to learn new techniques feels experimental: I observe someone doing it (by reading, watching a video or seeung it in real life), I do some research about it, get the materials, try a basic practice, try a simple illutration and then progress to feel comfortable with the new stuff.
I am not saying I am doing great, there is always something else to fix and improve. But I am happy that every time I sit to do art, I have something in mind that I can translate into a picture with my skills on drawing, composition and rendering.
Art alone is just techiniques on drawing, painting, sculpting, composition, rendering and so on... Pretty much what a machine can do nowadays - as long as you know which buttom to press or they make a machine that can press itself. Art is complete whith the stories, events, knowledge and wisdom that you have to share!
Also, I watched a few Japanese masters, including Hayao Miyazaki, focusing on "world building" development as well as paying attention to small details that give life to your character or scenes. It's not about having epic experiences that no one else had, but about looking at things from a different angle. You can see more in a simple event such as a waiter serving a cup of coffee to someone, it can be the manner in which he/she holds the cup to serve (does it look clumsy or very refined?); is the table totally clean? Is the customer paying attention to the waiter or to the cup, or just reading a book? What is that book?
The answer to these questions rely on your imagination, your personal experiences. Maybe the waiter has OCD so he/she is very meticulous in his manners. Maybe the customer is a medical student, so he/she is reading a medicine book... Apply the same idea to any story you are telling - make it feel like the things in there have a life of their own, an untold story - you don't need to illustrate that or spent days elaborating that, but it helps if you put some thought on it and let it appear in your illustration!
The video below has a quick fragment at the beginning where the artist share his thoughts. It is just one episode of a whole series, enjoy!
I've really enjoyed reading all of these suggestions. Thanks. As I've read people's comments, I realized that most of my sketch books are filled with sketches of faces, people, animals, and objects but only rarely do I do sketches of landscapes or complete rooms. That's partially a symptom of never having enough time to sketch -- it's faster to draw a person in a coffee house than the entire coffee house! -- but I'm going to try to be more deliberate about compiling landscape/setting sketches.
@diego_biosteam Great video! Thanks.
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@demotlj Good that you liked it!
Did you ever play tabletop Role Playing Games? The vary basic ones where you just need pen and paper to play. They are great in helping you develop your imagination! You need to create a world (can be an entire planet, a small city or just a library in a tower) and characters that will populate this world!
Here is a video looking at Ghibli animations from the point of view of world building: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Q6y4-qKac
Interesting discussion @demotlj
All suggestions are great. The one that works best for me is a bit like @carriecopa
ask questions and try making them more and more absurd (a fun exercise)
Start asking questions about everything! If you draw a person in a coffeeshop, ask yourself why is this person doing what he does? @Diego_BioSteam mentioned this too, but for me it works best by starting with the most simple question: why? And then more and more questions and answers will pop up.
@Diego_BioSteam thanks for sharing the video's!
@diego_biosteam I'm old enough that when I was a kid the only role playing games you could play were with pen and paper. It was in an age before computers when dinosaurs roamed the land. Unfortunately, it was also an age when only the boys played those games so no, I never did play them.
And I almost forgot: I highly recommend the Illustration 1, turbocharging your creativity class from David and Lee. They share great advice on how to come up with different ways to visualize your ideas and deciding what is the best one.
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@demotlj haha... I am old enough to have started with the pen and paper version of Dungeons & Dragons. Nowadays there are several simple tabletop RPGs available even for free. If you want, can recomend you some!