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  • Steve Argyle

Draw way too much, like you're a crazy person.

If you don't know what Mission to Zyxx is: I'm so sorry you've suffered the weight of this existence so long without it.

Last week, I started posting quick sketches on artist proofs, and I'm surprised and delighted how many questions I got about process. I don't post much in the way of concept art, mostly because there is a lot more NDA red tape when it comes to sharing that stuff. But this here is some concept art I did for funzies I did a couple of years ago, for one of my all-time favorite podcasts.

I always do an imperial ton of variations. That shouldn't be a surprise, it's the bread, butter, and cheap beer of concepting. For clients, it gives you common references to talk about. And that conversation is more comfortable, because the more options there are, the more likely there are bits they will like - and the less attached you get to your first idea.

And that first idea is very rarely the best one. So just one of my personal rules is that I do at least six sketches. Often it's more like thirty. Even -no, especially- if I think the first one is perfect. Because even if I come back to the first one, I'll have things from the others I can incorporate to make it better.

For most illustration jobs, (as opposed to concept design) I still do an unhealthy amount of sketches, but I cut the options way, way down before presenting any. I know, I know, you want to show your client how much effort you've already put in. But too much to talk about can make both of your jobs harder. I only send what is working best, and only what I'm having a hard time deciding between. So it's not uncommon at all that I'll do 30 character designs, and 30 composition thumbnails, but send only two or three sketches.

On a philosophical note, part of why I do this is to keep exploring and challenging myself. It's too easy to fall into a comfortable routine. So I don't stop at "this works" or "good enough." I try to exhaust myself of ideas, then force a few more. Keeps me growing, makes the process itself more valuable than the end result, and makes that result all the better. The cost is mostly time, and of course when you push yourself, you are going to get frustrated and/or exhausted. But the benefit is worth it. I see it like physical exercise. The exhaustion is the signal that you've done what it takes to improve.

So I guess the TLDR is: Draw way too much, like you're a crazy person.

And the fun P.S. is that when I posted my fan-concepts to the Mission to Zyxx Discord channel, they hired me! It's so awesome to get to contribute to stuff you love. Art is pretty great, you guys.

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