I am embracing the quick stroke….ooh err, sounds a bit weird. But seriously, giving yourself an hour to complete a sketch is liberating….what am I talking about….speedpainting….a staple of the concept/environment artist working in the games industry. Speedpainting allows the artist to get that “feeling” or vision on the digital canvas a hell of a lot quicker than a full piece. In fact, the original vision is often lost when you try to polish it to the nth degree. The best ideas are often the freshest ones in your head…..let them develop and sometimes (but not always!) that vision is lost, and what you end up with is something rather lascklustre. I am working on a couple of projects for indy game studios and doing some concept work here and there. They need quick ideas, not polished pieces to be hung in the gallery. They want the artist to give the writer, 3d artists etc the vision to create further. Should they require a piece or vision to be worked on more, they will ask me to do so.
Icy View probably took around 45 minutes, although I can’t quite remember. What I do remember is that I just sketched my little heart out, laying colour over colour, not getting bogged down by the details. Don’t use the smudge or blend tools too much when speedpainting-you’ll only create areas that have too much detail, that in contrast will leave the other areas lacking. Paint with your arm, stand up, listen to music and sing-whatever is needed to relax your style!
Crystal Lake was a very quick piece, and again, what was the point in going overboard? The intention can be seen. Yes, with a critical eye there are lines overlapping, the odd random shadow, not a perfect composition etc, but imagine if the studio asked me to refine this further or create a view from a ship flying over the lake-not only have they got the idea to further their vision, but the artist does too. Already the creative thinking part of the brief is complete, leaving the artist with the best part-painting!
I will admit that the Mountains speedpainting took longer than intended. In fact, I started to polish this one up, only to rough out some of those smoothed lines! But again, approaching this with no detailed intention, I simply sketched a mountain. I didn’t even bother with reference-why would I? It would simply slow me down when it came to detail.
Ok, so you create your speedpainting, then what? You’re asked to refine it further…..and that is the best part, because you have your template. With Mountain Retreat, the basic sketch was completed in one hour. I then went back to it the next day and refined it-but again, not too much. Time in total? Probably about 3 hours. The crazy thing is, it could be pushed further, of course it could, but not only does it communicate what is needed to the development team, it also has enough to warrant being a stand alone piece of art.
Exodus is another example of a speedpainting that got refined. I was simply practicing desert terrain, and picked one out of my 5 or 6 pieces that I pushed further. Once the basics are there-the fundamentals if you like-the rest is easy.
Mountain Retreat and Exodus are more polished than the others. But they did start off as quick scribbles. In fact, other than knowing roughly what I wanted in terms of subject (castle and desert respectively) I had no idea of composition, mood, colour etc. I literally approached the canvas and attacked it with determination.
This isn’t a lesson into speedpainting, hell I have so much to learn with it myself. But if you’re stuck for ideas, or simply feel that you are lacking in the skills department, just throw down some random shapes on the canvas. go away, make a brew, then look at those shapes. If you see something emerge, go with it-a droid, a mountain, a gorilla, a spaceman in Mcdonalds…whatever! Don’t get bogged down with details, relax, enjoy, and be amazed at how good you are!