Toy Tech: Cultivating A Strategic Mindset (Part 1)



Close-up: Digital art using thick and thin illustrative freehand & pen tool techniques in Adobe Photoshop. 


The challenge of concept art is to convey your new, glorious, never been done before idea in a visually impactful way, while clearly indicating important design specifications and annotations. This, of course, is all done under the unrelenting pressures of tight corporate deadlines. As I’m sure you are well aware, this is a very tall task to say the least.

To keep your work fresh, especially you young design students living off double-shot espressos, avoid the static look of a technical rendering to allow your personalized human touch to show through.

Free flowing line work, with illustrative tonal or color rendering really adds impact to your presentations. The standard use of digital gradients is one thing, but personalized brush strokes give a unique signature to your work regardless of media or style used.

To stay in the game, make sure you have the mindset to constantly push the limits of design and learn new digital techniques to make your ideation sketches the best they can be. My sincere advise for young designers is to avoid the status quo at all cost.

Gold medals aren’t given away at the Olympic games for running last year’s pace and the business world isn’t like that either—you always have to run faster and jump higher than your competition each and every year. If you aim for less you'll hit it every time. 

Cultivating a strategic mindset is very important to your level of personal and corporate success. The following guidelines will help students bring their work to the next level, and also serve to build streamlined workflows for professional design teams:

Controlled Mindset:

Control every phase of your work by breaking down the complexity of the process into bite-sized portions. This simplifies the tasks into organized stages allowing you to focus on those unique challenges individually, such as; ideation annotations, line art, tonal shading and color rendering. 

Every stage will have multiple Photoshop layers, so consolidating those layers into groups will bring organization to your documents for streamlined hand-offs to other team members—locally and globally.

Control your digital tools as well, have your own customized brushes and rendering strategies built into your muscle memory so the concept art flows freely from your sub-conscious mind. Trying out new tips and techniques for the first time on a real job may not be the smartest thing to do—work it all out beforehand so you are more than ready when the time comes.

Effective Mindset:

Your process must produce the same level of professional quality every time you are tasked with an assignment, whether you are under an extremely tight deadline or just not functioning at 100% due to battling a cold. Whatever the case may be, for your process to be effective under any circumstance, you must be using the proper digital steps to produce the most consistent, streamlined results.

These steps should also be as simple and direct as possible, because complex steps cost additional time and are much easier to mess up during the stress of deadlines. Be open minded to constantly learning the latest tip and technique to make sure you and your team are using the best way possible.


Continued Next Week . . .


One thought

  1. Joseph,
    Nice article and an exceptional sketch. Your presentation illustrates how effective Photoshop can be at making renderings look like they were produced by the old tools of the Designer. This gives the drawing significant life and spirit that is sometimes lacking in digital rendering.
    All the Best,
    Peter Santaw

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