Snow days and Art Direction

Hello All.

We got snowed up on Friday and I had a deadline of Friday for the concept art for Agents of Oblivion. I had sketched out what I wanted, but I wanted to refine it and have a better go at it. I’ve learned the more comprehensive the directions you give to your artist, the better the chance it looks integral and cohesive rather than tacked on. I also know that my approach to direction is more esoteric than some folks and leans more to the comic book authors I’ve admired, Neil Gaiman chiefly among them.

You see, when I first wanted to write, I wanted to write comics. Not a great novel or a movie or a screenplay, but comics. The thing was, I had no clue how to do it, so I ended up getting some poetry published here and there and had a story placed for pay in a magazine called Dark Regions: Weird West Edition. If you run across it, let me know, I’ll wince when I reread it, but I’d like to find a copy. Life sidetracked me from writing anymore and when I returned, I wanted to check out that comic thing again. The thing was, there were more books on HTML than comic book writing, so I ended up being a web developer or, as I posited myself in the day, a webmonkey. (Wired had this site called webmonkey back in the day. Man, Wired rocked.)

Anyway, I finally got exposed to Gaiman when I found out Dream Country had a script in the back. An actual friggin’ comic book script, so I ended up snagging it so I could see how to write comics. The comic I studied and it wasn’t bad. In fact, Gaiman’s work was amazing and still is amazing. I’ve since gone on to read everything he’s published, except The Anansi Boys, but still haven’t had a comic written. Well, I’m not dead yet.

At any rate, what I did learn is that it’s okay to send pictures and photographs and references and whatever to your artists. They won’t get mad. Artistic freedoms are all well and good, but your sensibilities may not mesh with the artists and you may well lose time and patience awaiting reworks or settle for something not quite what you were envisioning. I especially like art that captures the composition I want in the illustration and then use that as a base from which to direct my artists.

Is this the norm? I doubt it. Am I happy with the subsequent art? More often than when I give NO direction at all. Additionally, the artists work more rapidly and with more confidence with this little trick.

So, at any rate, the way I spent the snow day and evening was putting together my art directions and finally eating dinner and getting a good night’s sleep. Is it satisfying? Well, I won’t lie and say it’s my favorite part of the whole process, but I will admit that every time I get the first wave of art in on a project, it’s very exciting, especially since, more often than not now, it’s usually right on track with what I’m looking for.

This ended up being more of a diatribe on the process of developing art directions than what I did this past week. Probably because theory tumbles around my head every Monday now and it’s a bit more exciting than telling you about my assorted complaints, concerns, and random maladies.

Maybe I’ll play hookey from work the next snow day and crank up the PS2. :)

See ya next time.



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