Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back from Illustration Grad School Bootcamp: Week 1

Two weeks ago I set off for Hartford, CT to begin an intense two week contact period for the Low Residency MFA in Illustration program that I am enrolled in. What is a Low Residency MFA in Illustration program? Well, it's a graduate program designed for working professionals that allows one to earn an MFA in a timely manner without the need to relocate or put jobs/life on hold. Check out details here if you wish to learn more.

Today I'm going to focus on our first week of class in the program. The main assignment for the week was the "Dream Assignment" -or- come up with absolutely anything you'd ever want to illustrate....For someone who's used to, and prefers constraints, not an easy task.

After several days of flip flopping around about what I would possibly want to do as the ONE thing. I finally settled on a series of short stories that I had read some time ago and have stuck in my mind ever since. Ill Met in Lankhmar. I compilation of stories written by Fritz Leiber chronicling the adventures of Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser. I've always found the stories and characters to be interesting for their quirkiness. They aren't simply brutes running around destroying everything in their paths (though that's cool too), but they are human and make mistakes and poor decisions, and get into trouble, but they stick it out as comrades no matter what. Anyway, without getting into their whole back story and why I like them, lets talk about the process of said class.

So day one we show up to class and are promptly told to present our ideas. This is both nerve-wracking and exciting for the reasons that it's been a while since i've been in the classroom environment and i'm feeling terribly unsure about my level of preparedness (it was low). 
Soon after presenting our ideas and proving why our idea was a good one (I suppose I convinced them enough) things got a little least on the not-knowing-what-the-hell-to-expect level. 

Our task was to take whatever ideas and sketches we came to class with and elaborate on them. By elaborate, I mean we had to do 50 new thumbnails for every 1 of our six initial images. So 300 thumbnails. And 50 thumbnails of one idea from someone who usually finds it a stretch to do 10 was definitely a learning experience. For the sake of all of you, I've just taken a photo of all my thumbnail pages laid out on my floor.

I think it was a great process to completely break all of our pre-made boundaries that we've set for ourselves. I know for myself, thumbnailing has always been a difficult part of any project. Mostly because I think too technically about the given idea to let myself be free and go with whatever comes to mind. This has definitely helped to make that process much smoother and less painful. It was also surprising to see how many thumbnails I would choose for refining well after the 20 thumbnail mark. I think one idea even came at thumbnail #50...Definitely an eye-opener for one accustomed to marrying the first idea I throw down.

If I haven't mentioned it before, we had to create six comp sketches by the end of the week. 
After narrowing down my tiny images and picking one for each idea here's the thumbnails  I chose: 

Each one serves as an illustration for a different short story. In retrospect, I think as I move forward with this project I would like to focus a series of images based just on one story. But for the sake of our time and the project I did these. And here's how my rough comps of each turned out: 

These were all done in photoshop for the sake of time and ease. I think the main focus for all of these and for me is that I want to try and create work that has a bit more feeling to it. I'm trying to subdue the colors to unify the images a bit more. Obviously these are just quick comps and will need a lot of work, but I hope to bring a few if not all of them to finish over the next several months. 

Next up: Week Two!