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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Random Tip: Don’t finish today what you can leave for tomorrow

You're at the studio, working on your whateveritis. It's getting late and you're getting tired, but the work is almost done and you'd like to clear it already, so you can start fresh on Monday. You're going to stay an extra hour and finish up.

I have a better idea: go home NOW. Yes it feels weird, even wrong, to quit just before the "natural rest point"; but it's actually good for you, and for your work, to leave some loose ends. It helps to preserve some of the energy and flow of the work, so that when you come back to the studio, you get to slide right back into it. I find that it also helps dealing with procrastination.

This idea works especially well when working in stages. Suppose, for example, I'm
blocking in my ideas for a new blog post, and I don't have time to complete it in one go. I could intentionally leave the blocking stage unfinished, with some mistakes or vague areas left unresolved; then, when I get back to it, I would quickly fix these obvious things, and by the time I proceed to the fleshing out stage I'll already be completely connected and in the groove.

A word of caution: this is a cool trick to try if you're going to return to the work soon (within a few days at the most). If, however, you know you're going to be away from your work for such a long time that you might forget what you were planning to do, then in this case I would definitely recommend to do the responsible thing and neatly tie everything down before turning off the light.

"The Random Tip" posts are practical creative process ideas that come to mind every now and then. Usually these tips are NOT from the book. All random tips

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The many names of the rough vision sketch

Every deliberate artwork starts with a vision - and a sketch that captures it. I call it the "Proof of Concept", or POC for short(*). Different mediums have different names for the POC:

In writing of all sorts, the POC is called outline.
In film-making, the POC is called videoboard animatic.
In sculpting and architecture, the POC is called maquette.
In song-writing, the POC is called demo recording.
In game design, the POC is called mock-up level.
In web design, the POC is called wireframe.

All these names tell the same story, give the same advice, and represent the same tool: a quick sketch that captures our vision and enables us to test it, discuss it, judge it, and refer to it throughout our work.
(*) Help me get this right!

Is "Proof of Concept" really the best name for this tool? I'm not sure. I'm looking for a name that's catchy and easy to use, that isn't too identified with a specific medium, and that reflects what the vision sketch is - a quick yet clear version of the finished work. I've been thinking about several options, which one do you think works best? Also, feel free to suggest your own.

  • The Proof of Concept
  • The premake (this one is a good candidate, I think).
  • The vision sketch
  • The model
  • The guide
Waiting for your input . . . .