Need Some Inspiration For Your Next Design?

Don’t Know What To Draw?

Free Unique Creature Descriptions Tool [coming soon - its being rewritten!]

Design Challenges

There is a phenomenon known as ‘Writers Block’, It describes the state of mind that an author gets into when faced with a totally blank page. For some, this can be overwhelming and result in stifling the creative flow. For others it can be liberating, having complete freedom to go in any direction, to explore avenues that other authors might not have thought of.

5 tips for Instant Inspiration

There are many approaches to driving creativity and removing the shackles of ‘lack of inspiration’. Below I have listed my top 5 tips for finding instant inspiration. Each technique is so simple and easy to do that you might find yourself with too many ideas!

Each tip takes only a minute or two to complete, but feel free to set aside a period of time to really explore each approach. One essential tip that is very important is this: Keep a notebook for ideas. Ideas can come thick and fast, and you do not want to lose that gem of a concept. So keep a small 6″ notebook in your bag or pocket, and when inspiration strikes jot it down. That way you can come back to it later and explore the idea more fully.

Tip #1: Word Games

Divide your notebook page into two by drawing a line down the center. You will now have two columns. Title the left hand column “Positive” and the right hand column “Negative”. You can do this in reverse if your mind works better by thinking of zombies, monsters, blood and guts. But I have found that by starting with a positive idea, then imagery can be more powerful, and identifying its compliment becomes easier.

Take a word, any word, and write it down on the left hand side of the page. On the right hand side, write its complement, or Opposite word. For example, if your first word is “Good” then write this down on the left. On the right hand side write the word “Evil”. Now repeat this a number of times, choosing a different word each time and write it down below the last. You should end up with a list of two words.

For a few examples you might consider:
    • Good : Evil
    • Angel : Devil
    • Young : Old
    • Happy : Sad
    • Small : Huge
    • Smooth : Slimy
    • Healthy : Decaying
    • etc…

Once you have filled the page with two columns of words, the fun can now begin. place you pencil anywhere on the page, close your eyes and bounce around the page in straight angular motions, be sure to move from left to right and back again, repeat this until you have been to the left 3 times and the right 3 times. You can do more, but I have found 3 to be the magic number. Now open your eyes and look at the mess!

At first glance, it might not make sense, but try this. Make a note of each point where the line changed direction, circle the word that lies beneath each point <image>. You will end up with six words. Read them from left to right, not as a sentence per-se but more as a description of a creature. Now you start doodling, influenced by the choices you have just made.

To make this exercise more challenging, get someone else to write the list of words and draw the angular lines. Then get them to hand it to you and attempt to take the words you have been given and create a concept. You may find this challenging at first, but once you have completed this a few times, you will be amazed at how easily your mind starts to engage when prompted with a phrase like “Good, Old, Small, Slimy, Decaying critter!”

    Check out my new Creature Idea Generator for a helping hand in coming up with a starting point.

Tip #2: Combinations
Pick two animals and trace an outline of each. Overlay the images and draw the intermediate outline. Add anatomy + details etc [link to new article on basic anatomy].

Tip #3: Scribbles
Close your eyes and scribble. Then after a number of attempts, open your eyes and see what you can see, its like looking at clouds. [link to article] overlay the scribble and trace a line, then fill it in.

Tip #4: Reference
    Take these ‘tid-bits’ and apply them to your monster!
Find an image you like online and analyze it, don’t copy the image directly but work out what appeals to you, what caught your eye. Then try to recreate the essence of the image using a different subject matter…. For example, you might find an interesting image of a wolf growling, and decide to create an alien creature in the same pose. There is no rule that say only wolves can snarl! Take the essence of the expression and apply it to your design. Notice how the mouth opens and exposes the teeth, notice the wrinkles that form above the nose, and how the eyes half close to afford some protection. Take these ‘tid-bits’ and apply them to your monster!

Tip #5: Reflections
This technique is great for sparking the imagination. Take a small purse mirror [insert image] and an existing drawing, stand the mirror at 90 degrees in the middle of your image and look at the reflection, notice that now you have a symmetrical design. Move the mirror around until you ‘see’ an interesting pattern or design. Now holding the mirror in place, jot down a thumbnail in your sketchbook. put the mirror away and evolve []link to article] you design, using the thumb as a starting point.
This list of techniques will become your best friends, when you find yourself lacking in inspiration.
Happy Drawing!

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