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Lesson 1 in Concept Art Hacks

Lesson Information

In this first Lesson, you will get a tour through Steve's Photoshop setup, his process for collecting and organizing references, and finally his style for sketching graphic thumbnails. These most basic sketches will only use two values: black and white. The goal is to create this preliminary content as quickly as possible, setting the stage for future artwork later in the Course with maximum efficiency.

Black & White Thumbnails

Collect a page of photo references based on your theme and inspiration of choice. Sketch out a page of environment/keyframe thumbnails. Aim for a minimum of 8-10 ideas.

Extra Credit

Organize extra pages of references by thinking and planning ahead. Self-critique and refine a few of your favorite thumbnails.


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I notice Steve collects refs on his pc. I have some stuff at my harddrive, but my pinterest holds some of the information as well. Is it important to get a better overview? Also can one somehow organize everything using like "hastags" or labels, mb something like a plugin to explorer (if such thing exists)

I like the flip view, which is way faster than the flip canvas : if you start working on large files with a lot of layers this is still instantaneous. Though it is good to know this is just a visual trick, not an actual flip : so you brushstrokes, custom shapes and so on will apply as if the canvas was not flipped.

Hey Magnus! You can do it by going into your brush settings > shape dynamics > Angle and change the control to rotation.  The other way is to get a wacom art pen, it has a Rotation: 0 - 360°. Hope it helped.

When you hit the download files option it will download a zip folder to your computer. Inside the folder, there is a .abr file that you can install in your photoshop version (depending on the version you have there are a couple of ways to install it. For cc you just hit the menu of the brushes panel on the top right corner, inside listed there is an install brush option). I know you did not have that option when the course started but might be useful for new people when they come to read these questions and replies.

Lesson Plan