How can I paint something that looks professional with a minimal amount of detail?
David Charles, US
Every once in a while, I’ll receive an emergency email from a client asking if I can paint something for them in a day or two. It can be difficult to squeeze these assignments into my schedule, but over time I’ve developed a shorthand that can shave hours off of my process for just such a situation. So whether it’s for an online contest that ends this week, or an assignment for school or college, these tips should help you meet that deadline with (a bit of) time to spare.
Everything from thumbnails to sketch stays relatively the same, but you need to be even more mindful of silhouettes than normal. Condensing your story or portrait into a handful of descriptive shapes is your first step in cutting down on drawing time.
A well-painted centre of interest can carry an entire composition, so don’t skimp on whatever is your most important element. In this piece it’s the woman in the centre, so she’s receiving more attention than any other area. Consider pulling back on interior details as you move away from the focal point.
Colour is a complex beast, but if you go into a painting with the goal of only using a small slice of the colour wheel, this will save time. You may notice that the background structures in my illustration are all connected into one large shape, as are the leaves on each side. As always, save your highest contrasting shapes and values for the main focus.
Your overall aim is to create fewer options for yourself. If you can streamline the thinking process, less time will be spent debating what needs to be done next. While the idea for the piece in general is to minimise drawing, you’re still going to want to describe the focal point.