Jan 12, 2012

How to Come Up With Great Ideas & Make Them Happen

What do you do when you have no ideas?

This is something we will all Face from time to time, and today we are talking about some great techniques on how to come up with ideas, pre-visualize, make props, and work out the details of a shoot before a shoot happens.

Today’s Episode Timeline

  • 0:30 -Deciding what Amelia will be on Twitter
  • 0:40 – Shout Out to Chad North for sending my an awesome shirt
  • 1:30 – Going over everything we are going to be using for our new shoot
  • 2:30 – Sketching out a shoot idea
  • 4:20 – Great tips on how to make your sketch come to life
  • 9:00 – How to make a miniature for a photo shoot
  • 10:20 – The best ways to come up with ideas!
  • 12:10 – Time for the photo shoot!
  • 12:30 – Using a Gradient Map to Color Your Image
  • 13:40 – Extreme Power with the Channel Mixer
  • 17:30 – Showing Color Depth vs Hue/Sat
  • 18:30 – Everything Else!

Amelia Comes To Phlearn

We are really excited to have Amelia Fletcher on the Phlearn Team full time.  She will be working as our content coordinator, basically making sure that a lot more awesome happens.  This means photo shoots, videos, behind the scenes, production, tutorials, images, and more!

My Favorite Way To Come Up With Ideas

Everyone has their own ritual for coming up with ideas for photo shoots. They all seem to have something in common, you can’t force ideas.

I have a way of forcing myself that is not forcing myself. It always results in a plethora of ideas, and they are always fresh. Basically I just start drawing on paper, lines shapes, and with nothing in mind. In the same way that you can make familiar objects come to life in looking at clouds, your brain will try to make some sense of the madness.

In the process of making randomness, your brain adds order, and you will actually see something in the chaos. This is great because it is often VERY suprising what you see. It can be something you would have never thought of on your own.

How Do You Do It?

Amelia says the shower is the perfect time for ideas to come to her, what works for you??

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    James Warwood

    great episode. I always struggle with coming up with ideas for images. Will give your idea a try! Anything has to be better than staring at a blank piece of paper/screen!

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      Nick Bedford

      I’m the same! I need something to feed off, such as a band’s persona or something (in the case of a band portrait) but trying to think of ideas from scratch makes my head hurt.

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        James Warwood

        yup! need a packet of pain killers when trying to think of images. Sometimes i browse through shots on flickr for inspiration but always feel like its cheating! :-/

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    Jay Stebbins

    Phamelia or Phamilia : a play of “Familia” the latin word for the family. Glad to see Amelia back on the scene. She is a fantastic artist….

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    I listen to music in the midday sun for about 10 minutes. When it carries me, I start having images come to mind. 

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      That’s me. I listen to music all the time and listening to the lyrics I can “see” images. 

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    Katy Haupt

    I also brainstorm in the shower. Another idea creating technique that I’ve tried is similar to your drawing one, but to just write stuff down- anything and everything that comes to mind.. I believe it’s called free-writing. You can see where your thoughts go (especially if you make a map/spider web type deal). Thanks for the great episode! Can’t wait to see how the shoot went!

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    Nick Bedford

    I’ve never thought of simply “scribbling” until my brain connected some lines and squiggles into shapes to form ideas. The human brain, after all, is designed to connect dots that don’t mean anything in the real world! It’s why people called a particular hill in Cydonia on Mars, “the face on Mars”. It’s just a hill that conveniently casts shadows in the *pattern* of a human face.

    Going to have to give this a try/

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    Jenna Petrone

    I loved this episode!  The random sketching idea is pretty awesome, I’ll have to try it out for myself sometime.  I think that if you’re working with a group of people trying to brainstorm for a photo shoot and you sketch out randomness on a piece of paper then ask everyone what they see, they will all see something different.  Then you can take all of those different ideas and combine them, do one or the other, or do them all in separate shoots.  The possibilities are endless!

    As for me, I did share my brainstorming techniques in a video I made for a contest a few weeks ago.  But, I’ll just recap what I like to do while brainstorming.  My favorite times to think is right before I fall asleep and while I’m showering.  That’s when everyone’s mind wanders everywhere and so many crazy ideas can be thought up.  I also keep a dream journal, my own sketchbook, look at other artists work, reading a lot helps, and just write down anything that comes to mind. 

    Videos like these really inspire and motivate me, thank you for that : )

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    Mariah Texidor

    Aaron… you just I don’t know, scared the shit out of me like some weirdness. So if I took out all  my notebooks, you will see I have scribbles EVERYWHERE, I cannot draw for the life of me and i just like to scribble and see patterns. It really freaked me out seeing you do the same exact thing and making so many ideas out of it! I am like so stunned, honestly- I feel as if there was a point to my scribbling but never knew what. I want to go through the pages and see if I see anything. THANK YOU!!! 😀 *AND* I just started learning the studio today in school- SO EXCITED *jumps in circles* I have a studio on my residence floor and going crazy using it.

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    Stacey Portelly

    I think it may only be me who looks at the timeline you write (I don’t skip I promise! Just nice to know what to look forward to) but the episode is only 13 or so minutes long and I was so looking forward to the execution that was going to happen in the remaining 5 minutes! Where’d they go Aaron ? 🙁 Loving Amelia though! 

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    Ian Arneson

    Twitter: EMFletch 😛

    mine is similar to Katy’s, I just write things down. it could be just words or phrases, and most of the time it doest make sense, like I wont write in sentences or any kind of format. Its simply scribbling down random words or phrases they encompass one idea, or multiple ideas. Usually after the mess of words are exhausted, then it becomes a sketch.

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    Briedis K

    This looks like a lot of fun. Hope you will make like behind the sceens photo or something, to let us see what it looked like in real life 🙂

    I havent actualy though about how i get inspiration… always strugle with it i guess listening to diferent kind of music helps a bit.

    Thinking about ideas a lot of time they are wasted, even the good ones,only becouse someone told you that  that idea is bull*hit and you listen to their subjective opinion.

    This episode ispired me to do some collage for example 🙂

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    Dmitriy Elyazov

    Great idea, looking forward to see the final result (and the entire process of course)! BTW, check “Today’s episode timeline” block in decription, there are extra topics from last episode.

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    this is a great episode!!
    I do skitch all the time !! all my notebooks are filled with skitches and sometimes when I don’t have a notebook I skitch on anything!! a table, a wall or even my hand 😛
    I get alot of great ideas in the shower, while listening to a great song or that moment when I’m just about to go to sleep!
    can’t wait to see how you’re shoot is going 😀

    welcome back Amelia 🙂

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    Tavis Glover

    We must be on the same brain wave….kinda. I posted a video about sketching today as well 🙂 Kinda explaining how it’s very important and goes into storyboarding and such. Even your sketches have a lot of depth, you are definitely an artist! Glad Amelia is in Chicago to contribute to Phlearn!! 
    In the timeline it lists that there is over 18 minutes of video, but I can only view 13 minutes. Not sure if it’s my computer. Just a heads up, it would be cool to see the final image, sounds awesome! 🙂

    Here’s my video if you or anyone wanted to check it out:

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      Jay Stebbins


      Great video/share, nice collection of sketches. I have been sketching my ideas to index cards which I keep blanks in the car’s glovebox, camera bag and desk and living room. Besides acting as a roadmap or inspiration for when it it is needed. I like having my sketches on-hand to help give others a glimpse of what it rolling around in my head.  It makes working with others so much easier. 

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        Tavis Glover

        You are right, when they can see your sketches it allows them to visualize with you. Otherwise they kinda look at you like, huh?? 😀

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      Sebastian Ortiz

      Hey, Tavis, that was a great video showing your process from idea to finished work… enjoyed thoroughly… thanks for sharing. 

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    Matt Goslee

    My ideas my best craziest ideas come to me when i am at the club drinking and getting hammered and then an idea pops into my head. Then i go to a corner of the club and take napkins and pen and draw out my idea. All the while the dancers are asking me what my new idea is and i tell them and before I leave the club I normally will have my idea and crazy model that is so excited about my idea that she has volunteered for my craziness. one of my best ideas took then 5 hours in make up alone. i dont know how you feel about semi nudes being posted here so I have just posted the headshot of the idea. i call it my “stars and Stripes” and the stars go all the way down to her bikini line and it is an awesome pic please let me know if i can share the full photograph with the Phamily please! i have included just the headshot

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    Daniel Tuck

    Aaron, I’ve just tried your doodling idea and as I looked at it, I just couldn’t see anything, but then I turned the paper around and saw a bizarre concept I never would have thought of in a million years! Hopefully I’ll get around to doing the shoot some time soon, and I’ll post it if I manage it 🙂 Great tip!!

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    Chrstph Ekkobelli Meyer

    My mind usually works best when uncluttered of the everyday things.
    I tend to have the most ideas when I’m sitting in the metro, watching people or when I’m walking through the streets or when I’m riding my bike through the forest. Different places give diffrerent sorts of inspiration but I usually don’t find it too hard to get inspired for visual arts. It’s more difficult to get inspired for audible arts, at least for me. Shower is a good place to get in touch with audio, metro is a great place for video. Yeah, that must read weird…

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    You sketching idea is awesome.  I remember playing this game in high school where each person put a scribble on a paper until it started to look like something to someone and then they would finish drawing whatever it was they saw.

    I just tried it and came out with a frog wearing a baseball cap backwards and riding a snowmobile through a snowy tree covered path (or could be icy tunnel).  Since I live in Florida….that one might not be the one to shoot for LOL!

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    Michael Nightmare

    This was one of the most important aspects about creating art that I have learned. When I looked back at my pictures and found the ones that came out the best were the ones I either made a sketch of, found inspirational images, made a list, any type of pre planning made my photos better it was one of those light bulb moments… just don’t loose your sketch book like I did once it was very sad all those lost ideas lol

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    Michael Nightmare

    I find making a list of random words that just come to mind my can sometimes help as well and thinking in terms of writing stories which I know some other artist do as well. 

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    Mikael Wahlin

    Music and browsing through other peoples creation usually helps me get going. Tutorials can be a nice starting point, using the techniques used in the for example. 
    Like this picture I just did after seeing the video, started of trying the sketch technique you explained for example and it all exploded in a pretty nice little outlandish world. Got some extra inspiration from the fairy PRO tutorial also (amazing tutorial btw). 

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    Sebastian Ortiz

    Amelia, I think your Twitter should be “@fletched” … sounds pretty awesome… Big Hugs to Amelia, great addition! Awesome Show, great idea on getting ideas, Aaron.

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        Sebastian Ortiz

        You’re very welcome, Amelia, glad you love it! Add me when you get your Twitter… it’s [email protected]:twitter  … 

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    Karissa Hosek

    i love how your scribbles turn into this complex warrior image! awesome!  When I have no ideas I first stop thinking about it, go outside for fresh air or take a walk to be inspired by nature. Finally when my mind is off of it sometimes I will get an idea suddenly but if that never comes to me I sit with paper and write down key words and continue the list of words while doodling. By the time I’ve come up with something sketching always helps me get a clear idea of what i want the image to look like compositionally. I purchased a color wheel after I watched the phlearn episode where Aaron recommended one and WOW it helps so much to balance it all!!

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    The timeline is messed up. Look at the last 4 lines. They are from the previous episode 🙂

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    Just before you go to sleep, or when you are waking, become aware of the images your mind projects, and have a pen and paper by your bed to jot it down. The borderline between sleep and wakefulness is a fertile place. I find this very helpful, but not an aid to sleeping! :p

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    Brian Moore

    Aaron, I have been back tracking on some of your tutorials and came across this one this one about how to generate inspiration(s) for images.
    During your scribblings/doodling and commentary I suddenly had a thought:
    How could you composite an image of a stadium scene that had footballers (NFL) and spectators inside a stadium as if a match were taking place….BUT with the players in the seats and the spectators in the field…as if they were gladiators being gradually disposed of and the players in the seats leaning forwards enjoying the spectacle.
    Sort of like a reversal of the few American Football matches that I have seen….I am British and never actually found a good explanation of the rules except that it seems to require one team disabling the other teams players so they can finally get the ball between the opponents goal posts.

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    Trevor Good

    did you end up doing the shoot with Amelia? What did the final image look like?