Monday, June 16, 2008

Creating tutorials

Glass tutorial update
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I think I must either have too much going around in my brain or not enough as I can't seem to keep going to the end of a project without another one sneaking in beside the first. Tutorials seems to be rather like that with me, maybe because they take up so much left brain and right brain activity and the switch between activities is quite difficult to master well.

My tutorials are a combination of drawings in progress and explanations of techniques and processes to get to the final image. It is a lot more difficult than I had ever imagined it would be. Drawing is something that I do without consciously thinking about how I'm doing it. It just 'happens'. I need to make a very conscious effort to articulate just what I am doing with a pencil. Pressure, softness or hardness of the lead, what I am observing, what lines I am placing, all these things come into play.

The drawing part of a tutorial is easy. However, it is punctuated frequently by stops to take progress photos and that is fraught with problems. I prefer digital images rather than scans so my images are only useable in daylight hours. In winter I end up using the scanner as I am mostly able to draw in early morning or evening when its dark. I have to make myself stop and take a photo when often I'd much rather keep on drawing. It really does break my concentration from drawing, having to take a photo or scan, upload it, tweak it, resize it, etc. That can take 10 minutes or more away from drawing and its difficult to get back into the drawing zone again sometimes.

The other end of the scale is when I get so involved in the drawing that I forget to take progress shots then realize I've gone too far, then have to redo a step. That's probably more frustrating than stopping to take an image.

Once drawings are complete, the real challenge comes. How to write the information that guides the person through the piece? I aim at a beginner audience, explaining each step as I go, trying to remember that what is simple or common to me, may be totally new to someone reading the tutorial. I used to think, before I did any tutorials, 'how hard can this be?' Pretty hard. Try describing exactly how you draw something or build values. In a live class I can demonstrate what I'm trying to explain. On paper or online I can only use words and images to get that technique across.

Finally, formatting needs to be complete to ensure everything looks the way it should and images are labelled in sequence. I seem to swear a lot when I'm formatting tutorials. You put an image in place, add words and everything moves, no matter how you lock down things. Yes, formatting....sigh.

The headaches and angst of creating a piece seem to disappear once it is complete. It sits in my binder of tutorials and I leaf through it, still marvelling that anyone would want to read it, let alone learn from it.

I have another layer or two to add to the glass before its complete but above is the piece to date from line drawing to its current state. Drawing glass is like putting together a puzzle for me. All those little shards of light and shade and the subtle changes in values that go along with it are such fun to draw!


Michael said...

Hi Jeanette,
I have been wanting to write this exact post for a while now. You have completely expressed the problems that I have been having. I hope you don't mind, but I have placed a link to this post on my own blog so that I would not have to re-write everything that you expressed so well.

Jeanette said...

I'm glad it helped Michael. :)

visioneerwindows said...

Why not use a 'full-spectrum' light in the times when sunlight is not there?