Planning Things Out

Typically, when a new idea pops into my head, i start with a thumbnail sketch. Thumbnail sketches are small, about an inch or two in height, and are drawn quickly without much editing. The purpose of these sketches is the same as the notes a student in class would take. It serves as a reminder of what we want to do as we flesh the project out over the course of development.

After the thumbnail sketch, refinement begins. A second thumbnail usually follows, more refined than the first time. Sometimes this happens immediately after the initial sketch and sometimes it doesn’t. Typically, the second sketch is more refined than the first and it focuses on tonal values rather than shape and line, but it’s not uncommon for there to be more than just the two sketches, as was the case for this concept I had for a shoot regarding the Allegory of Time & Truth: 

For me, sketching my ideas is beneficial because it lets me visualize what I’m imagining in a concrete form, and from there I can change what I don’t like in the initial idea. Sometimes things work in your head that don’t work on paper, literally. You can see some of the thought process changing in the example above. In the first sketch the figure leans on his elbow, but in the second sketch his arm is extended backwards and his hand rests on a globe. Below are some more examples of my process.

In this example, an old self portrait as the personification of sleep, the major inspiration was Caravaggio’s Conversion of St. Paul. At the beginning I wanted it to be a horizontal composition, but when it came time to shoot I realized a horizontal composition would be more dynamic. 

For the first time, color was a major factor in the planning process of my most recent work. Usually color is something I don’t bother using in my thumbnail sketches (I may make a note if it’s particularly significant), but for my Neoplastic piece color was the main subject so I did a quick mockup in photoshop of what my proposed still life set up would look like.

A lot of the time I find that the end product doesn’t reflect the initial sketches. Sometimes the difference between the concept and the final product are minor, but sometimes the image you create doesn’t look anything like what you envisioned, and that’s ok! Things just work differently on paper and in studio. The best part of sketching your ideas out is that even though you may not realize the final product now, you can always come back to your sketches for inspiration at any point in the near future. 

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