One or many at a time?

  • maybe a silly question, but I'm curious to know how you work:
    do you work on a single illustration and move on to the next one when it's finished? or do you work on a few at the same time?

    I do the latter, as I can get bored or frustrated easily so it allows me to do something else when an illustration doesn't inspire me. But the bad side to that is that I tend to not finish what I'm working on quick enough (or not finish at all 😕 )

  • @audrey-dowling I sketch like a mad man with no direction or order, but when it comes to an illustration, I get a bit OCD and once I've started one I can't rest until it's done. The thought of starting multiple will give me haunted compulsive nightmares tonight, so thanks for that 😛


  • SVS OG

    I hate having unfinished pieces lying bugs me till it's my preference is to work on one thing at a time. But while I'm doing that piece, ideas will make a queue in my head saying, 'me next, me next!' So I'm often thinking of how to approach the next piece, while working on the existing one.

    Also yes if you're hitting a brick wall it can be really useful to switch to something else and let your subconscious figure it out 🙂

  • I wish I was like that, I would get more done! I think I need to get more disciplined... but the "I can't rest until it's done" is not an option in my house at the moment unfortunately, my kids won't allow it ^^

  • @audrey-dowling I feel your pain - my daughter's a bigtime Daddy's girl haha.


  • I generally thumbnail or plan multiple pieces at a time, but when I shift into working on a piece, I then focus on that one piece until it is finished. I don't get too many pieces to the focused stages all that often, unfortunately. I think I can get away with the one piece because I currently work pretty small and don't have pieces with much complexity or detail.

  • When I am doing a polished illustration like for 3rd thursday I have to finish it before moving on, because I would just never return to it. If I let it sit around for some time I start to hate the drawing and feel like there is no point in finishing it. And it is really frustrating and hard to force myself to finish it.

    But this is so personal, that I dont see anything wrong with your approach.

  • SVS OG

    I tend to finish one illustration before moving on to the next one. If I leave an illustration before finishing it, the chances of me going back to the illustration is pretty low.

    However, in the future I plan to change my work process to allow for multiple pieces to be worked on at the same time. I think it would allow me to take on a workload that is more akin to the workload of a professional illustrator. And if I were to do a series of illustrations for the same project, it would probably help to keep a sense of unity running through all the images.

  • I've learned to use procrastination as a tool for productivity. I always try to have one project i don't want to do even more than the one that needs to be done. that way i can put off doing the one while still being productive with the other. so yes, irresponsible, but multiple projects at once works for me.

  • yeah I have to finish one illustration before I proceed to the next. I only put it aside if I really got frustrated and about to pull my hair out like a girl fight right outside my high school.

  • ok you've convinced me to stop flitting from one thing to another, at least until I'm finished the current work! ^^
    thanks for your answers!

  • @audrey-dowling No way is the right way - I guess it is just different people's brains. I'd go insane and probably end up like the Joker if I did it your way, but if it works for you, then it's definitely the right way for you.


  • well I can't say it really works because I have enough not finishing things or when they take too long...
    I think I will try to find a balance between the 2 ways

  • I like to work on several things at once because it allows me to "step away" from an illustration for a time (several days usually). That way, when I come back I'm able to see it with fresh eyes. Helps catch issues.

  • I always have several things on the go at the same time. Coming back to a painting or drawing a few days later allows me to take a fresh view of that work in progress. It also keeps me from overworking my work. Sadly I still manage to do that : ).

  • hi Audrey, For me it works best if I finish up before starting another, however, my mind keeps telling me new stories or images to illustrate, witch bothers me a lot, because I need to finish stuff. I also like to draw different styles what makes it even harder. At this moment I work on three books, and have four other illustrating assignments. My head is cracking up, but then I wake up thinking that I can start another project, silly huh? This week is closing time for the regulair assignments and December I finish up the first book, so I hope that christmas time is giving me some peace. So, now my advice to you, ehh to me is don't start up a new one before you have finished another unless you really have to. XD

  • Same here but I am getting better. One tip I have in order to complete a image is have it part of a project.

  • I have the same working style, though I wish I could just sit and finish one all at once. When I'm working on others' projects I have to have something going on for myself that inspires me, but sometimes that's how to get really good work!

  • SVS OG

    For me, it's kinda both. I usually only have one image that I am actively taking through to finish, but before finishing I have other ideas being worked through in my sketchbook so hopefully I have something new ready to go when I finish whatever it is I'm working on. So basically I do multiple ideas at once, but usually only one that is past the sketching stage.

  • You're a creative person, so do what comes naturally and makes you feel good! Many fine artist work on several pieces at a time, not only to give their work time to dry between layers (depending on the media of course!), but to go back to it later with an objective eye. Luckily digital artists don't have that problem! I don't believe there's a right or wrong way. I think also that the more art you make, the easier it is to envision where you're going and what the final outcome will be. To see a professional 'in action', watch Will Terry's newest video, and you can actually understand his thinking progress as he works! It's another great video by him! I looked up your work and I think it's charming. Really nice characters! Have you put your paintings up on Etsy?

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