Any artistic challenge I come across, the first thing I do is push even harder through it as best as I can. If that doesn't work, then I take a step back, clear my head (whatever works for you, for me its usually taking a walk or a drive WITHOUT thinking about the challenge). Come back to it with a clear head and start asking questions regarding the challenge; what am I trying to say here? What's the emotional tone of this scene? What is the character thinking/feeling? What kind of mood or atmosphere is best for this scene/illustration (if working on background)? If I'm working on a character design and I'm stuck, one thing that always helps is character symbolism: think about your characters personality, their flaws, their strengths, etc... it wouldn't hurt to even interview your characters and imagine their appropriate response. Let them tell you about themselves....(this one is kind of weird because at first it will seem like you're having a conversation with yourself, but how's that any different than a normal day? You talk to yourself too right? Right? Cause I know I'm not the only one that does that.... am I? guys? anybody?).
Moving on, Character symbolism: What shapes best describe your characters personality? What details show his/her demeanor? For example, if a character is very uptight or strict, or a control freak, their clothing might be very tightly wrapped around them, or tailored to fit them just so; everything in the right place. While a character who is completely laid back and carefree might have very loose clothing and unkempt hair, etc... you get the idea.
Point being that there really is "no easy way out" and "no shortcuts". You can't just give a half-effort attempt to something and expect great results... nothing will ever beat hard work.
When you put hard work into something, you will always be rewarded for it, either by experience, by future success, financial success, growing as an artist/storyteller, etc... Hard work will NEVER fail you & it is NEVER a waste of time. You can always look back on it proudly and say I did ...
I don't mean to sound too preachy or anything, but the truth is there's already so much negative crap out there & it honestly wouldn't hurt to hear something positive for a change.
So, I hope this was encouraging and helpful to anyone out there reading and please don't hesitate to comment or ask any questions.
Long Live Pencil & Paper!
- Sam Lotfi