Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Design is Time Consuming

As part of design month, I thought I would share randomly on random days random tidbits of information regarding my own design. Today I thought it would be nice to share exactly (or approximately) how much time I spend on a typical design. Each design is different and thus requires a different amount of time. Sometimes I get lucky and I get an idea right away that just needs to be refined. Other times I have to think long and hard about what I want to do and even then I might have a little idea and nothing major. Click the jump to find out how long it takes me to do a given project...There are many stages to a project and like I said before each stage takes a different amount of time depending on the project.  If the project is of my own (like art or a comic or t-shirt) then the project tends to move a little faster. If the project is a commission (invitation, logo, etc) then I spend more time on the planning phases and overall it is more time consuming. Once again this isn't always the case but it generally is. The reason is that my own ideas come to me randomly and I write those ideas down to save for later. If I'm commissioned then I have to think of everything from scratch.

Once I have an idea, which has taken me anywhere from a day or two up to a week to acquire, I go and research my idea. If I'm doing a logo, I'll read up on the company, the field, and look at competitors. I'll also look up possible references and gather photos. Typically I will search for ambiguous words in Google Image Search to try and get some outside the box ideas for facial expressions, gestures, interpretations, etc. Research and gathering stock photos generally takes a while on the order of about 3 days.

Once I get all the information I need I begin illustrating. I always do a black and white outline first and then color in the image once the outline is done. Outlining for me is generally quick (about 5 hours) and usually I do it all with a mouse or my trackpad. I recently bought a tablet, but that gets used only for tracing which isn't very frequent. That thing saved me a lot of time though.

Next comes coloring, which is something I haven't been very good at. I'm not very knowledgeable about color schemes, but have been putting in a ton of effort to improve that aspect of my design skills. Finding colors that work together and overall is very time consuming because there are lots of minute changes I make in colors to try and find something that works. Of course it doesn't take days, but it can take almost as long to color something as it did to draw. Generally by the end of it I've been staring at the computer for so long I don't even notice the color changes anymore.

Another time consuming part of the process is the typography which is something I never seriously considered until recently. If I have words on a piece I will make about 10 identical copies and give each set a different font and decide which font goes best with the image I've made. This can take a couple hours as well and usually I get down to two fonts to choose from and make Stef decide what she likes better because I've gone over all the pros and cons and still can't decide. 

The final step is sending the design out for approval/criticism and corrections. This generally takes a couple days depending on the design and the lines of communication. Then I put the design here on the blog and that can take minutes to weeks depending on my level of motivation (but recently has been more in the minutes regime).

Well there you have it. As you can see there are many steps and I make sure to spend a lot of time on each phase to make sure the design comes out the way I want it. Sometimes it turns out that a project isn't so time consuming but I don't stop until I'm happy with results. Stop by on Friday to see the latest new designs and see all my hard work come to fruition.

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