Special shout out to the several design schools, students and instructors I have been in contact with this month. The curriculum and student samples are very promising for the toy industry. I'm also very excited to see young designers so committed to improving their ideation and visual communication skills which is a never ending creative journey. I will certainly try to address your key questions about industry specific techniques in future posts.
It’s amazing how one image can have so many different variations depending on the cropping of key areas. The overall visual composition and emotional impact of the image featured in this post is primarily designed for a fine art audience, but when cropped makes for an even more intense visual interpretation for other commercial applications such as book covers, packaging or even online articles. Unnecessary details can be played down or totally eliminated as the new composition brings you closer to the area of highest emotional impact.
Now, keep in mind, with tighter compositions it is extremely important to leave in enough visual cues so the viewer can still identify key elements that set the mood and tell the story, such as the gas mask and the overall emotional tone of the image. All in all, you are moved in closer to the action creating a more intimate moment.
The entire range of emotional feelings is intensified as you focus on what is most important. This works just as effectively in commercial design regardless of the licensed brand or toy line. Utilizing all of the visual cues at your disposal will serve to strengthen any ideation sketch whether it is a rough or finished concept, and sell your idea in with greater impact and structured flow of ideas.
Every line should be identified as an intrinsic design element used to point toward your main focal point, which defines your key objective. In this example, the many lines forming the gas mask, shadow pattern and cloth hanging down from the chin, shoulder indications and misc. tonal shading patterns all point toward the intended focal point which is designed to elicit the emotional connection.
The term “line” should be defined here. A line can obviously be just that, an actual outline worked into the style of the concept art, or in a broader sense, it can be a line of movement formed through elements that have no outlines at all such as a shadow pattern simply pointing toward the intended focal point. So, linear cues are any design element that forms a line of movement such as an actual line, tonal pattern or color ramp that makes your eye move along the compositional path you designed.
You may not think your design cues or drawing skills are very strong, but in spite of that don't lose heart and just have fun playing around with some of the ideas presented in this post—I'm sure you will see imrovement if you don't give up and stay the course. Remember, any advancement to your current skill set just might give your portfolio the edge to make it stand out from the rest.
To make your toy ideation sketches more effective, even in rough ideation stages, the implementation of these visual cues will bring life, depth and dynamic energy to your golden idea. Who knows, one day that golden idea you are doodling on a scrap of paper just might be the next big thing that turns the toy industry upside down. Until then, dream big and play hard my friend.