I love this video by Dan Mall, where he discusses his approach to taking on the “blank canvas” when designing. He learned from a former colleague of his, Jason Santa Maria, that “It's easier to revise than create.” He noticed that while he worked for hours on a single iteration of a concept, often not really feeling like the results weren't up to his standards, Jason would work very quickly through multiple iterations in the same amount of time. Often it would take Jason only an hour to finish one iteration and then he would make several more, ending up with multiple iterations and a more complete concept.
I was challenged by this, because I can often find myself using Dan's approach. It's easy to obsess over the details and whether or not everything on the screen is “good” at every step of the way. I know the merits of iterating quickly, but forcing myself into that habit can sometimes feel foreign. We all approach our work differently; I often am very cerebral, mulling every decision over in my mind before drawing or shifting an element on the page. This approach can still lead to great work, but often at the expense of time and the lost opportunity of discovering other, better solutions.
I'm planning to put the idea “It's easier to revise than create” into practice. I may even write it out and hang it near my desk as a reminder. It's good medicine to continually challenge and exercise our habits.
If you spent any time on Twitter this week you most likely heard the news about Dann Petty's latest design course: Stand Out as a Web Designer. Leveraging his 20+ years of experience, Dann walks through several real-world examples and speaks to the hows and whys of the success behind each design. Any seasoned designer will tell you that pretty mock-ups don't win-over clients. If you want to produce a concept that accomplishes goals, is more than skin deep and one you can confidently sell to a client then you need to have a keen understanding of specific design fundamentals…fundamentals like the ones Dann covers in his course. These include: ending your content with actions, teasing continuation, ensuring consistency throughout your design, and many other tiny details which build and support larger sections.
Dann is offering time-sensitive launch specials off the full price of the course. The current cost (as of this post) is $279 which is a bargain. He also offers Parity Pricing for those outside the US. Don't sleep on this one.
Twitter member @BatSoup_ tweeted at Visual Effects Supervisor and industry veteran Stephane Ceretti asking for any tips or advice on becoming a VFX artist. Stephane replied with this tweet full of nuggets of wisdom:
Learn how movies are made ! Learn how stories are told. Be curious of nature. Take time to look around and see how light behaves at any time of the day or night. Take some photos, look at paintings. Watch a lot of movies and work a lot ! The rest is just tech stuff….
Stephane's IMDB profile proves he knows a thing or two. Any one of the items he mentions in his reply has merit, but perhaps my favorite is to “Take time to look around and see how light behaves at any time of the day or night”. Studying light is an on-going pursuit: how it drapes itself across a room, dances across the surface of the water, how it wraps around and gives volume to an object, etc. Photographers will tell you taking a great photo has less to do with the gear and more to do with understanding how to manipulate light. CG artists can be masters at modelling, texturing and animating objects but if they don't have the right lighting everything falls apart.
The programs artists use can absolutely help speed up processes, but they have yet to replace the hours required to study the material world around us.