Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Doug Chiang Process

Previously I looked at a range of tools and techniques from Professional Conceptual Designer Doug Chiang, in this post I'll be looking more indepth at the process he under takes when designing, from concept to final version. I'll be looking at his Comm Robot from Mechanika as it includes uses of both traditional and non-traditional tools.

Chiang first decides on traits he'd like to put in his design, "I wanted to create a communications robot that was friendly, functional and a dependable worker. The tutrle became my inspiration." He next starts out with his marker sketching technique using a Cool Grey 30% marker. He keeps the shapes soft and round "The large ball on the Robot's back releftcs the turtle-shell influence."

Next come the further shape refinements. Chiang continues using the Cool Grey 30% marker until "Interesting minor shapes emerge". He adds a large ring on the back to act as a satellite to draw attention to the fact that the robot's purpose is for communication. This also gives the design a very unique and recognisable silhouette.

Foundation lines come next. Using his pens and ellipse tool to fill in the larger round shapes and his trinagle to add the perspective and action lines. Here Chiang notes "The diagonal action line through the upper arm shows that the arm is being raised up and back, away from the vertical orientation of the legs."

Chiang also cites that he uses a triangle instead of a ruler as the shape of the triangle is easier to grip and maneuver around the paper, the inking edge also prevents bleed and smearing of the ink.

Moving on Chiang begins to define and refine the details of his design. He first begins with the ellipses and main areas of the design such as the head, he works downwards "Pulling out mechanical shapes" as he goes along and adding detail. Continuing with the pen work Chiang moves around the drawing adding in the detail. He states that "Sometimes coming back later to an arm or a leg allows you to see forms that weren't evident earlier".

As the line work nears completion, Chiang will look over the drawing to make sure the line work and form is balanced, he suggestes when it comes to your own work complement shapes in your design by "juxtaposing large areas with smaller detailed areas", Once you reach the right amount of detail, large shapes and detail will be well balanced giving the drawing a unified look.

This stage seems to be very critical to Chiang's work as he starts off with nothing but basic shapes and adds the detail as he goes along, this technique seems very beneficial and not to difficult to learn but I have a feeling it's fairly hard to master.

Next comes the tone markers. Chiang starts off by define the direction of the light source in the scene, then begins to block in the main tones, in this image he starts with the large turle-shelled back and moves forwards. This is because the markers dry quickly and it's easier to get larger sections done in one swoop rather than start with smaller details in the foregorund and work backwards.

The design is nearing completion, using White paint and a brush Chiang adds highlights to the robot. He cautions to "Avoid over working the drawing" and that highlights should be use sparingly. Still at this stage Chiang's adding detail, finally adding hanging cables between the legs to complement the satellite on top.

The tip of not going over board on highlights it a good one as I've personally had projects in which I've added far too many highlights to an image, ultimately ruining it.

Finally Chiang scans the design into Photoshop and adds a colour tint of a green-grey to both the image and the background. On a new layer he adds "abstract colour patterns and textures" mixing them into the drawing by changing the layer qualities to soft light mode. For his final touches he uses the colour dodge tool to enhance the highlights on the robot's belly.

This process is a great example of a professional at work who knows how to streamline his work load in that he can create a final design in just a few steps. Chiang's process is one that I feel I will emulate until I develop my own system to creating cocnept art, there are some truly innotive techniques here such as the use of foundation lines that I previously didn't know about and the several steps to using markers, whilst I had previously used markers before it wasn't until know that I was informed of the way to use them effectively.

I feel that Doug Chiang's Mechanika has already come in great use and is going to be a useful companion long into the practical side of this project.

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