Yesterday, while doing my maya tutorials, I decided to switch on a Gnomon Workshop DVD, to inspire me when doing my own little work.
The choice of the day was the James Hawkins DVD, where he shows his process when doing character design. I found fascinating the overall process.
For someone who doesn't know, James Hawkins has been in the Concept Art industry for over 8 years, specialising in characters, weaponry, and veihcle design for many companies.
His process starts with Photoshop, where he sketches out ideas quickly, by using photoshop he alters the sketch over and over again in different layers and when satisfied with the outcome he merges the layer. this technique never occured me but I'm willing to try, as it is a easier way to come up with different variations of the same sketch.
In the DVD, it also shows him struggling with the design, frustated with small bits, etc, which relates to any concept artist. When having a good sillhoutteted character, he sends to his art director, who points out any changes or not.
When the overall design is correct, he begins to add details and more details into the sketch, I found that he is crazy about detail, and that only favours his designs making them unique.
When a few hours of details are done, he uses a technique that he developed called "dirty modelling", mentioning that he didn't have any course in architectural drawing, he uses 3DS Max to create the different views of the character by using the same technique, dirty modelling means blocking out the shapes not worrying about geometry, or memory comsumption by Max. Although this same models may not be used by the modellers in the companies, they help visualise the character much better.
After a few hours of modelling, adding details, and adding spikes :), 'because spikes are cool'. he has the model pretty much in a final stage, after it takes a few renders, sends them back into photoshop, and starts to add even more detail on the renders, until he gets to a final stage, where he is happy with the drawing/model.
This seems a pretty straightforward tutorial, but what blew me away, is as he explains all the technical tools he uses either in photoshop and 3DS Max, he also gives an insight about his career, and how difficult can be to enter a company, he mentions how to start to publish your work either in Concept Art or CG Communiy forums, the importance of making contacts and how to develop your own style.
Truly a insightful DVD, which will inspire and open people's eyes about the industry out there, echoing what Alan is often saying to us.