Artists often create studies before beginning their artwork. A study can be a detailed drawing or painting that allows the artist to observe a subject thoroughly and learn more about it. Studies can also be quick, simple images that let the artist work through a variety of options before committing.
- Composition Studies focus on how different elements are placed within the boundaries of the artwork. There are many guidelines that can help you make strong compositions such as using the rule of thirds, a pyramid/triangle composition, "S" composition, circular path, etc.
- Value Studies help to plan a value map within your composition. This is an opportunity to group similar values to create larger unified shapes and create contrast in areas of interest. You can also establish a mood by exploring whether your artwork will have a high key (light value range), low key (dark value range) or whether it will will include a full range from dark to light.
- Color Studies should be based off of your value study. Experiment with a variety of color choices to see how they impact the overall feeling of your piece. Consider whether to use a limited or full color palette. You can also use color studies to create emphasis through color.
- Detailed Studies are often more about observation and accuracy. The purpose is to spend time with your subject and get to know the structure and form. Studies may be done from different perspectives either to consider which angle is preferred or simply to better understand the subject as a whole.
- Style/Technique Studies can be used to explore which techniques you want to use or what options you have to stylize, exaggerate form, introduce textures or patterns, etc.
- Choose your subject. Ask yourself what it is that drew you to it. Be specific. It will help in your decision-making.
- Select from the list of studies (composition, value, color, detailed observation, or style/technique).
- Explore your options. See how each decision you make affects the outcome.
- Choose the option that best communicates what you found most interesting about your subject.
Exploring your options through quick studies allows you to try things you wouldn't usually try. Some will work, and some won't. Learn from your successes and failures to determine what you want the piece to become. You can't fully know the potential for a piece without spending some time considering the many choices available to you.