Getting the Research Done

Getting Started. There isn't some secret, mystical ritual involved in getting a research project off the ground. You'd think that was the case sometimes. I hear so many people state that they don't know where to start. If you are at a loss of where to start, then give this a try. Write down you challenge. Whether the challenge is "to illustrate a massive medieval battle scene", "design a innovative corporate logo", "Create a highly detailed monster, a monster that can be produced in a medium poly model", or any other challenge that you can dream up. The purpose of writing down your challenge is to give yourself a bulls-eye, and a focus for your research. One hint you can follow! Be very specific with your goal. Don't go with a very generalized statement like "Paint an elf", instead refine the challenge more fully like"...

To develop an illustration of an elf in a very active and dynamic pose, and utilizing very distinctive armor and weapons in the style of wow." Now you've captured your challenge. Flesh It Out. Once you've got your challenge statement in place, flesh out the supporting details. Do you have restrictions to deal with (size, format, color palette, lines, shapes, etc.)? Do you have support data you need to consult or reference (demographics, market placement, sales channels, art descriptions, etc.)? Are there any other details or guidelines that you can write down to help keep your research focused and relevant? Research. You have you bulls-eye, and your supporting info, now comes the fun/hard work. Start pulling together your research material. Hit the web, the library, get out into the world and take photographs, do whatever it takes to give yourself as much information as you need, and a little bit more. 

Let's take my new product line investigation I mentioned earlier as an example. The concepting team and I had a nice chat to define the scope of our explorations, set some goals and milestones in place, and then we all dashed off. In this example, we will be gathering material to help us explore the market place, a demographic range, products and toys in that space, and potential "white space" in the market. So over the next two weeks (give yourself a timeline too!) the team will be pulling together materials, and start filling our "mood board". Unlike "reference material", the items on our mood board are not being used to create the final product, they are just an exploration of a concept or idea. The images / materials / items that end up on the board are used simply to help us focus and define our vision.