Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to Become a Better Problem Solver

This is something that came across my mind and thought I'd just share on my blog...hope it helps!

 During my senior year in college, as many of my colleagues questioned what the future held for them, I too was perplexed at what successes and mistakes lied ahead of me. It was the final quarter of my senior year when my professor  had given us time during the class to ask anything about the animation industry and the transformation from student to professional. As I had buried myself under countless job applications with some similar requirements, there was one requirement that I for some reason couldn’t wrap my head around. So I stuck my hand up and asked, “How do you become a better ‘problem solver’?”
    I felt the naiveté of the question escalate as I said it and felt a bit embarrassed to ask such a question that seemed to have an obvious answer, but by the look of some of my classmates faces, they too were interested to hear what the answer had to be. At this point, being the final quarter of college, we all had to have experienced “problem solving” in some way, however we weren’t quite sure how to continue getting better at it for the rest of our lives. The answer he gave was informative, but before I give it away I’ll tell you a story that happen to me at an earlier time that could have probably helped me answer the question myself.

    During my sophomore year, I had been in the class Digital Form Space and Lighting, a class that taught students how to think and create using the realm of digital 3D space. Autodesk Maya was the main tool used in the class, and after two weeks my fellow classmates and I were slowly getting used to using the program. It was during this time the Professor decided to give us a challenge.
    “I’m going to give you an hour. And in that hour you have to build something in Maya based on the theme that I give you…THIS WILL BE GRADED and will count for 25% of your final grade” Many of us cringed; we’ve only been using this program for two weeks and many of us not yet comfortable with the maze-like interface it had. We all sat at our computers and waited for him to give us the theme. “Your must create a chair...that portrays ANGER! YOUHAVEONEHOURGO!”
    We all spastically went to work on this “Anger Chair”. Some of us, including myself, started with thumbnails, and others just jumped right into the program and started building the chair on the spot. I remember having trouble creating the chair that I had planned out, but for lack of time, continued to build anyway. A friend of mine who had been a great designer and fast learner had, in thirty minutes, built an extravagant looking death-chair, complete with spikes for the seat and lots of angry looking angles. It was near the thirty minute mark that one of my classmates finished her chair, shut-off her computer screen so no one could see it, and sat at the table in the middle of the room. I was astonished! What could she have done in thirty minutes that could have perfectly represented the theme? What did she do in half the time given that she was willing to bet her FINAL GRADE of the class on?
    I continued to add angry angles to my chair like my friend’s, until time was up and we all came to the middle of the classroom.
    “Alright, let see what you’ve all come up with.” We all got up and circled around the classroom and looked at each others chairs. Few of us, including my friend, had really impressive looking chairs. Most of us, myself included, had not so impressive chairs. But the one chair, that a lot of us were confused about, was the girl who had made her chair in less than thirty minutes.
    On her screen there had only been objects floating about in space. Four cylinders and a couple rectangles just freely floating on the computer screen. As we sat down at our seats the Professor continued to stare at her computer screen.
“ FUCKING AMAZING!” We were taken back a little by the Professor’s excitement for the what she’d done, but then the Professor explained: he asked us to build a chair that portrayed Anger and gave us a time limit, and just for additional stress told us that we’d be graded. While all of us chose function over design this student stopped and thought about what she knew about the program, what she could do with the theme, and how much she could do with this tool and theme during the time limit. She thought about Anger conceptually, and what might happen to a chair if someone were angry with it? They might throw and break the chair! And with that thought she quickly made a chair that looked like it was thrown across a room. SHE CREATIVELY SOLVED THE PROBLEM! She didn’t know much about the program so she wasn’t going to try to build something extravagant, and the Professor technically never said it had to be a working chair!
    With that story in mind I’ll tell you what the Professor had told us about how to become a better problem solver. Are you ready because this is going to blow your mind!...

    Practice. Yep, that’s right-- practice! I know it’s crazy, but conditioning your mind to be able to solve problems allows you to be able to become a better problem solver. Giving yourself vague themes/concepts and challenging yourself to create something in a limited amount of time allows you to learn to make decisions under pressure and think outside the box (speed painting). Playing party games such as Charades, Taboo, or Scattergories help to practice thinking unexpectedly to win the game. You can also practice by solving word problems and riddles. A lot of riddles tend to use word play, and requires outside-the-box thinking. Solving math problems can also be a great way to practice problem solving because it conditions your mind to not only think about a problem analytically, but also prepares your mind to think in general; allowing your brain to be strong enough to think in other situations. Ever try to watch a movie or TV show (or any type of story medium) and try to predict what happens next? That’s a good way to practice problem solving (and a little story structure) because you are thinking about the character, the setting, and the millions of ways the characters could possibly interact with each other and how the rest of the story could play out.
Problem-solving is basically the ability to think and rethink to find the solution to a problem set before you, whether technical, or creative. Sometimes not knowing the technical aspects of the problem, like the girl in the Anger Chair story, can allow you to think of more “outside-the-box” solutions to a problem.
The answer was simple and no one in the class jotted his answer down as they did with the other more complex questions. I still felt a little embarrassed to have ask the question at all, but I quickly scribbled “ better problem-solving = Practice” in my sketchbook.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Final Presentation for Concept Illustration

Here is my Final Presentation for my Concecpt Illustration class! There are many assets I still want to work on but I am quite proud of the result I have! :)  Wish you could be here for my pitch! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1st: Gesture with pals!

Happy March 1st Everyone!

This morning my roomates and I got up early and did a few gesture drawings to start the day. I wish we could make more time to hang out like this - sketching and making awesome poses. It was a blast!

Here are a few of my favorites results!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Master Study - Concept Illustration Class

Here is a study of Concept Art  from Bioshock I did for my Concept Illustration Class I am taking this quarter.

I learned a lot from this piece! It's not perfect but I still  would like to take what I learned and use it in my own work :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Revised BeatBoards

Here are some rough Beat Boards for the story I am working on in Concept Illustration at SCAD