Concept Design Workflow Vol 1
Think you’ve got thumbnails figured out? Aaron Limonick shows how your first sketches can make or break your painting
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you start with a blank sheet, whether it’s in Photoshop or a sketchbook, and the sense of discovery as you work out how to make the idea in your head come to life in two dimensions.
We’ve seen many training videos in which the artist glosses over the thumbnail stage, spending perhaps 10 minutes developing a composition before focusing on rendering the image. In this first video of a two-part series, Aaron Limonick redresses the balance by spending four hours fiddling with his thumbs.
Aaron’s mission is to get you thinking about the earliest stages of creating a composition, so that each of your thumbnails or sketches takes you closer to your goal of an awesome image. In a lengthy early chapter lasting over an hour and a half, he iterates a basic concept of a future cityscape, experimenting with angles and shapes until he finds the composition he wants to take forward.
Rather than use a single toolset during this session, Aaron switches freely between different techniques – using pure line or blocking in with a brush, for example. With his role of a concept artist who’s contributing to a team effort in mind, Aaron explains how choosing a specific technique will make the sketch more useful for different team members, such as 3D modellers or lighting artists.
With a composition in place, Aaron shows the crucial stages of developing your image: first a value study, then a colour key. For the latter stage in particular, he can’t resist adding more detail than is necessary, taking the chance to show some cool rendering techniques, such as the use of alpha channels in Photoshop to paint in realistic detail. But you’ll also gather plenty of design tips, such as repeating shapes across elements to make them feel part of the same scene.
Aaron takes his colour key further than he needs to, so he can show techniques such as painting in alpha channels.
In Concept Design Workflow Vol 1, Aaron delves deep into the
earliest stages of creating an image.