Stop looking at her actual thumbnails. I mean thumbnail sketches.
Okay, so this isn't exactly a journal entry. But since I can't be bothered to figure out how to post inline images in the commentary section of regular image posts, you're getting this. Deal with it.
In my perpetual state of ultimate lazyness, this image has been bouncing around for a while, and I'm just now getting around to posting it. And I've had a fair number of questions. So, I think I'll take this opportunity to walk you through some of the happy accidents that fill the days of us artists. That's right, Bob Ross may be the only one who owns up to it, but we all have them.
To me, the most important thing in art is making decisions. In fact, you can break my art philosophy into a tidy little three step triad. Observations -> evaluations -> decisions. That's the important stuff. Everything else is just about informing and fueling those steps. Almost all of that is done in the thumbnail stage. Which is why even if they seem totally gnawing-on-furniture boring sometimes, they're vital.
Rough thumbnails are your no-holds-barred brainstorming. Do at least a dozen to start. Then evaluate them, and start to pick out things that you like. Then more thumbnails, refining and incorporating ideas. You're looking for compelling composition, gesture, flow, rhythm; you know, all those words that arty people use, but can't ever actually explain.
For this piece, I picked out these thumbnails out of about twenty to move on to stage two:
So, this was my first sketch. And it pretty much does the job, gets the idea across. But, resist the temptation to go on with your first sketch. No matter how perfect you think it is, do a few more. Looking at it now, the snakes aren't really very cool. They feel a little like they were just thrown in. So I'm glad I kept going.
The second sketch has some interesting things going on. I like the vantage, and I like that the snakes become more of a mass, and dominating visual element. I also like how they blend together in her hair. But it's not quite got that "come hither, it's worth the horrible death." feeling that I'm going for.
The thing that I like here, is the ambiguity between her and the snakey shapes. There are no heads besides hers, and that adds an interesting feeling to the piece. You wonder a little bit if that's all part of her, and she becomes potentially supernatural, instead of just a hot girl playing with pythons. Happy accident.
And here is the example of just plain going turbonuts overboard with the concept. A cram-packed harem of sex and danger. There's pretty much no room for thinking that you'll make it out alive, or unsmiling.
I took the things I liked from these thumbnails, and incorporated them in to a final drawing. I took some of the happy accident ideas, like maybe she's part of the snake, and reinforced it with her outfit and her gesture. Unfortunately, I painted over that drawing, so I don't have it to show anymore. Sorry. How anti-climactic of me.
So anyway, the lesson here: Do thumbnails until you can't stand it anymore. Exhaust your ideas, then go steal some and do more. Then do a few more. Then start combining them into your awesome masterwork of incredibility!