Mech Retriever Dev Blog
Iterative refinement is a big concept in Agile Development and I’ve thought a lot looking for ways to apply the concept to Art. Artists already use the concept of drawing a rough sketch, stick figure, or shapes, and then refining it, but it’s not quite as dramatic as iterations in Software Development.
The problem is that Software, properly written and unit-tested, is extremely malleable and can be tweaked or heavily changed endlessly. On the other hand, redrawing/painting large sections of an artwork can be painful, since there’s no automated shortcuts or refactoring patterns established.
There are a few partial solutions to this–learning to stay loose longer, to render pictures more quickly, to put off details, or some photo-editing in digital canvases if you’re working digitally. Most of these only apply to a point though.
Lately I’ve been working with “Rule of 3″ sketches as I call them though. First I draw at least three roughly 1/2″ to 3/4″ thumbnail pose sketches off to the side for an artwork. Then I pick one I like and draw it larger, like 2” tall. Then I draw the main figure at whatever normal size in the upper center of the page. From there, as I want to come up with details like boots, pants, face, anything, I draw at least three thumbnail sketches of different designs for that element. Then I pick what I like, sometimes mixing or changing the designs, and draw it on the main figure.
It kind of turns the page into a worktable, and it’s like having legos in art. It’s been leading to better designs and is really fun besides. If you’re drawing a full scene, you may want to do the sketches on separate pages–or you can edit them out later digitally or by painting over them.