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How can I develop some sort of a "process"?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by Armistice, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Armistice

    Armistice New Member

    I am currently developing my portfolio for art school. I've applied before but got rejected because my portfolio wasn't strong enough conceptually. They wanted to see more of my process, more of my thought process, but to be honest, most of my work starts off whenever I develop an idea for something. Instead of fully concentrating on attacking a specific problem, I find myself distracted by little projects with quick solutions, if that makes any sense. Therefore, I was wondering if anyone has any tips for those like me who jump straight into Photoshop on how to develop the process into creating a piece and how I can incorporate it in my portfolio but most importantly, in my overall work ethic.

  2. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    Sketch first. NEVER jump into Photoshop without a clear sketch at hand. They can probably tell you are jumping straight into Photoshop and not necessarily thinking about developing a solution through sketching (good, bad, toss what you don't like, then pull from what is good) and they're giving you a hint. In art school you're going to have to start out on paper. They won't let you do otherwise.
    Hope that helps!
    Armistice likes this.
  3. The Simulator

    The Simulator Active Member

    Going to have to disagree here. It annoyed me all the way through uni that all I got told was the value of sketching, and if I wasn't sketching I was doing it wrong.

    I never sketch first, i do my idea generation on-screen, always have, always will. I think it's hard to say that everyone should follow the same method of sketching first then taking the ideas to the computer. What works for one person doesn't always work for another.
    As long as you spend time doing research and you do spend time generating more than one idea and playing with them, I really don't think it matters what/how you do it.
  4. I would advise you to try out sketching first, really try the whole process out, and don't do it half heartedly because no matter what you're opinion on the subject, it works for a lot of people and just because it doesn't work for everyone, it's not a reason to not try it.
    When I first started out, I just went straight into Photoshop and played with my ideas directly. What I found was that actually, a lot of the time I would come up with similar, but slightly different looking designs as I'd become engrossed in a certain set of techniques in PS, and looking back it sort of felt like I was forcing the techniques into my designs, which wasn't a very good way to go about it all. After a while I thought I would take to sketching, I learnt the basics of drawing humans: hands, arms, legs, feet, faces, etc, just to get me over my delusions, that I would never be able to draw, I didn't have the talent. Turns out, after practising, I can draw/sketch quite well and I really enjoyed it.
    Ever since then I've sketched out everything I want to design first, on paper. I find it quicker and I can visualise the outcome of simple sketches without getting drawn into putting too much time into concept work, as I did on the PC. My designs have become much more unique, I'm running into a lot less design problems that need resolving and the results are much better.
    Perhaps this method isn't for you, but I'd definitely give it a try. If it does work for you, you won't have to deal with your teachers nagging either!
    As Simulator points out though, it's more about taking a concept and exploring its possibilities, rather than having to sketch something on paper first. If you do stick with using the computer, perhaps instead of launching straight into something, make it a two part process where you spend between 5 and 10 minutes working on different ideas, do not develop them into full designs, and just keep moving on to the next one after that time limit, or when you think it's done. Once you've finished exploring the concept, you'll have a single page containing lots of different concepts to show your teachers, clearly showing your process. You could even annotate it with thoughts or bits of detail.
    Armistice likes this.
  5. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    Ok, I can see your thinking there. I guess what we are both saying, though, is that there should be some sort of brainstorming process, regardless of where we start.
    Even my type illustrations start with several basic sketches on them. And then I resketch on the computer. Heck, I have resketched my current project about 10 times both on and off the computer.
    But university is going to want to see some thought put into the work. Once you graduate you can work however you want, but they're going to emphasize process and thinking.
  6. The Simulator

    The Simulator Active Member

    Totally agree that the development and thought process is equally, if not more, important as the execution. I just feel there are multiple ways of doing this. I was penalised throughout university for not sketching, even though I showed all my development through screenshots put together in a PDF presentation.
    There seems to be a habit in the design industry to instantly tell people that it all starts with sketching, and I think that's a bit misleading. As long as you start with ideas, research & development I really don't think it matters what your tools are during this process.
    fips likes this.
  7. shaunalynn

    shaunalynn Active Member

    In school, my teachers emphasized sketching so that you weren't immediately jumping to the computer. It was their way of showing us how to get rid of the bad ideas. I will admit to this day I go back and forth. If I see a piece in my head, I will just do a quick layout sketch on my doc in Photoshop rather than sketching it out. If I have 20 ideas hit me at once, I just do 20 mini sketches to get them on paper. But that's also me knowing my process and intuitively knowing what will look good, which came from doing 4 years of sketch process. :)
    Some people refused to do the sketching because it just did not work for them. They claimed they couldn't draw, and would do mediocre sketches just to get something on paper for a grade. When it came to the final, it was amazing. Regardless, you could tell thought went into it and that they went through several iterations before coming to the final. :)
    To each his own.
  8. Wardy

    Wardy Well-Known Member

    Hang on, we're talking ART school here, not graphic design school, aren't we? If it is art school, then Photoshop should
    be seen as just another tool along with pens, pencils and brushes.
    You MUST start out with pencil and paper. I'm guessing you don't even own a graphics tablet. How can you go straight into
    Photoshop copying online tutorials or whatever and produce art without it looking either very amateur or like clipart at best?
    It's just like doing maths without showing your workings - how does the tutor know that you haven't just copied from the net
    if you can't show concept sketches and ideas? Get sketching, find one that looks ok, and try paint it with more detail. Barring that,
    ink it up and scan in to Photoshop, and experiment with colour on the computer.
    In answer to your question, it is always hard to come up with ideas for self-promotional work. Try these:
    Find a piece of work (online, in a book or leaflet etc) that you don't feel has been done very well, and do it your own way or in a different style.
    Get a friend or colleague to set you a brief.
    Find a blog post or newspaper article and illustrate it yourself (if you're not great at drawing, just do it in cartoon style maybe. These often work just as well).
    Keep a daily sketch book and spend at least ten minutes on it every day, even if it's just doodles. Just sketch objects around you or friends/relatives.
    Armistice likes this.
  9. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Different field (product design) but same sort of issue as the op - well I'm assuming the op is not glossing over any lack of skills/talent etc getting in the way - would be nice to see the work you're producing so we can give honest feedback etc.
    My ideas don't always develop in a 'step by step' approach required by 90% of educational courses (typically my uni apparently changed this after my year left lol).
    What generally happens with me after the brainstorming stage is I have a couple of initial ideas and then the next thing I'm doing is seeing the merits from x and y designs and come up with a design that is in course terms about 10 steps further on as I've kind of thought about it in my head rather than on paper.
    The thing that I notice more now is that I just randomly put down ideas on paper, lots of random little sketches which are off shoots from the 'brief', I would guess this is likely what your courses are looking for.
    I'll give you an example (remember I'm not graphic I'm product design but the principles are the same really) of how I work(ed) based around my entry to the wolf soda comp (it's post number 2). Remember this doesn't always work, sometimes the idea is just there.
    1) analyse the brief, take out keywords, look at definitions etc
    2-4) these all happen at roughly the same time:
    brainstorming around those keywords, look at offshoots which might directly relate but may help later on
    highlight important elements of the brainstorming
    written and sketched initial idea
    5) break down the initial ideas, looking for parts which are good and bad - in my case two elements stood out - werewolf, silver bullet (it's explained on the entry) which led to the idea of a bullet
    6) look into 'bullet' designs to help with developing the idea - measurements, shapes, materials (in my case this was defined by silver)
    7-8) in my case model the idea in cad and evolve the idea to a functional product, this is where I often skip steps because I kind of fix issues on the fly, the tutors usually wanted to see the 'development process'...
    9) chose the materials
    10) sort out the 'presentation' layouts - I do a fair few quick sketches go for this stage
    11) do the renders for presentation
    12) post processing - adding text, finishing touches that sort of thing.
    edit: exactly what type of course are you applying for?
    Armistice likes this.
  10. Wardy

    Wardy Well-Known Member

  11. Armistice

    Armistice New Member

    Thank you for all your comments and Levi for taking the time to explain your process. They really do help.
    I want to apply to art school and major specifically in graphic design. I'm awful at drawing, but I'll definitely try to sketch more often.
    Unsure if this is against the rules, but since you asked for context Levi, here is some of my work:
  12. Leticia Wren

    Leticia Wren New Member

    Hello Everyone,
    I also agree that sketching is more important than just directly start your work because it gives you a clear picture of the end results rather than just directly starting your work and then realize that you have wasted so much time.
  13. fips

    fips Member

    I had a battle with my lecturers when i told them i never sketch ideas out, they eventually gave in and accepted it but i was told i would have to do sketches and plan ideas out for the final projects in my last year or the examining people would probably fail me for lack of thought process and idea generation so i would just do the ideas on screen finalise everything then strangely work backwards toward the initial sketches, obviously it worked as i got one of the highest degrees in my group.
    The simulator pretty much hits it on the head for me, if you do your research and development at the beginning to get to the final outcome it shouldnt / doesn't matter what tools you use

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