Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Skillful Huntsman

I found a book in the college's library: The Skillful Hunstman by Design Studio Press. I flicked through and was instantly drawn in by the stylised conceptual drawings, so decided to take it out for a better look.

Inspired by fairytales - in this case a tale from the Brothers Grimm - it follows the design process, from rough silhouette sketching to final rendered visions, of three talented students: Khang Le, Felix Yoon and Mike Yamada. It includes designs for an array of characters, environments, props and vehicles.

I really liked this book, for various reasons.

Firstly, the fact that it follows three artists under the judgement of their tutor, rather than just one artist, shows very interestingly how an artist has their own unique way of working; there are no set "rights" and "wrongs". For instance, some artists started off with very rough sketches that slowly became more refined, and others were quite intricate even early in the process. It also featured them describing their process and why they choose to work like that, which as a student is very helpful for me in showing how I should write my own analyses.

From a design perspective, it was a trove of inspiration and guidance. I'd never fully understood the importance of designing silhouettes, but now I'm aware of how significant an interesting silhouette is in creating a recognisable, unique character. It also emphasised how I should spend more time in the early stages of the design process experimenting with as many different looks as I can think of, as more often than not a more interesting design will pop up in your mind following experimentation. This was an error I made in my last character design project where I settled quite quickly with a look for my character.

For example, for the "vehicle", the artists looked at a wide range of options from motorcycles to great monsters with saddles across their backs, and even then there were many varieties of monsters. It really opened my eyes to delving into my imagination and creating truly unique ideas.

This book is the most helpful documentation of the creative process I've read so far. I'd certainly recommend it to anybody interested in character and concept design.

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