Nekoz Custom Playmat (Or) Overcoming Mental Blocks


Some projects have you fired up and ready to go as soon as you hear their details, the flip side however is that sometimes you can find yourself lost on how to move things forward. In todays post I’m going to cover mental blocks or a lack of desire to create and then cover some ways in which you might overcome them.

Part 1: The Problem.

Two designs came in at almost the same time. The difference was that while I had a pretty good idea of how I was going to go about doing one the second just eluded me. As I worked on the first I mulled the problem over, why was it that I was putting off starting the second? What was it about the brief thats was leaving me cold?

There are any number of reasons why you might feel apathetic towards a project but as the first design drew to a close it became more and more obvious that the reason I wasn’t overly eager to start on the next was because I had absolutely no idea of what it should look like.

Drawing a blank so to speak.



Thats sorta an issue when your whole deal is drawing stuff. If it helps imagine it being in the same vein as writes block theres a blank sheet of paper staring up at you and you have to fill it with words or in this case an image but it just stays blank, a reflection of the lack of concepts in your mind.

We have to be professional about this though, theres no option not to do it, isn’t one of my sayings that I can and will draw anything? Just starting into the void isn’t going to get us anywhere its time to take the fight in other directions.

Part 2: Working Around the Block.

1. If we cant get over the problem its time for a flanking manoeuvre and in the case of drawing stuff that means, well just draw a load of stuff. It doesn’t matter so much about what your drawing as long as you start, although its probably useful if you start drawling things related to the topic your focussing on.

2. Do more research, find cool stuff on the internet or in books. We tend to limit ourselves to small islands of the internet, perhaps its time to follow a few links and wade out into new territory, let inspiring things you find and see refill your creative tanks.

3. Doing a large amount of anything can wear you down. perhaps you need to take a break. Or change mediums for a bit, assuming you don’t have writers block perhaps you should do some creative writing.

So lets see has any of that helped do I know what I’m going to do yet?


Dang it.

Part 3: Resolution.

In the end the solution hit me like a mortar while I wasn’t even looking for it. Which in many ways makes the previous section seem less than helpful, still I was doing something else entirely or rather sitting outside not really doing much of anything when it hit me so lets count that as number 3 and press on.

Part 4: The Hook.

That was it then, out of the blue I had the hook I needed to hang the whole thing on and we were off and motoring the brain flips back to ‘extremely interested in working on this’ mode and the mental block or whatever it was is routed.

Telling a story is just as important in images as it is through words, one of the big reasons I couldn’t decide where the design was going was because I couldn’t see the story. Why are the characters doing what they are doing how does that influence the composition, the poses or the choice background? I didn’t know, which creates concern or worry, in extreme cases you could stop being able to create at all having become so consumed by fear of the blank page.

Sitting there not really thinking about anything I finally realised what the hook was. These characters whole thing is the fact they are dressing up as other monsters the Yugioh worlds equivalent of cosplayers but what about the original creatures their costumes were based on what did they think of this? Where were they?

Well it could be that this is monster hunter and…

no no too depressing this needs to be a celebration of sorts lets go completely the other way how about super deformed mini versions of the creatures the characters costumes are based on?

Because theres nothing that screams insane anime excess quite like merchandising.

Or something, look I didn’t say the hook had to make sense it may not even be what the final designs story is about but having those five extra characters to work with opened up a wealth of design possibility’s and pushed the tone of the piece more towards a sense of fun.

From there all the research and sketching comes back into play and I realise I would quite like to make almost a logo out of the design, you know like one of those games with all the guys holding pointy weapons out of the design and various angles. Thats the second hook then and the block is well and truly obliterated. In the final part we will quickly cover the actual design process.

Part 5: Add Obligatory Spiral.

We are covering a lot of ground now its been a bumpy ride but the goal is in sight. Mostly because we have finished the sketch and its been approved so now we go into redraw and refine mode.

Flip the image, fix errors improve lines and the use of space, no pesky thinking about concepts to worry about here.

Transfer back to digital cut up, rearrange, flip push liquify and scale. Nope just good old fashioned learnt techniques.

Draw one final time and then again on the mat itself and then its on to the colouring.

I’ll going to be keeping the background simple for this one, theres quite a lot going on already so best not to distract from the foreground to much. If you squint theres a hint that the overall composition forms the shape of the factions mirror logo thing but its subtle and I gradually made it less of a thing as I made revisions.

We are also going to add a white outline to all the figures because thats something else thats a pretty traditional Yugioh styling choice. That said the characters themselves are going to lean towards the more realistic side of lighting, thats more a byproduct of where I currently am at with my art.

And we are done the victory is ours we have overcome the void won the day.

Until next time keep moving forward, sideways, or backwards if you have to, inspiration will hit you eventually.

Just not across roads, thats not inspiration, those are cars.


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