This is something I will admit that I was terrible at in high school. I try to teach my own students how to really plan their projects, but I know I am a hypocrite. When my art teacher told me to do research and create a thumbnail sketches I would roll my eyes. I didn't care about that part, I just wanted to jump right in! The idea was in my head, what more did I need? I find my own students are the exact same way and it is very frustrating.
Maybe it's a maturity thing, but I find much more joy in the process now than I did as a young sprout. The whole experience is amazing, not just the end. I get to look back at my original sketches and think, "Wow, this was just a tiny idea and now it has grown to be something real. It is amazing!" Now I am the teacher, trying to get my students to not roll their eyes at the planning, but to enjoy the whole process and grow from it.
Here are some examples of my own start to finish works of art.
During my printmaking class in college I put every effort in to make my ideas successful.
Thumbnail > Sketch > Digital Rendition > Final Print
This one started with a photograph, then a sketch, then drawing/painting.
I had many pages of sketches for these zoetropes I made. So much research was put into this project.
The phenakistascope was an addition to my zoetropes and I only did one page of thumbnails before building.
More sketches were made, but this was the one I worked off most. I even made a mini model before beginning the larger project.
A lot of trial and error was put into this tricycle project. I didn't know how to build this thing, but with many, many, MANY questions directed at my professor and wood shop supervisor, it was created. I laugh now because I had a peer tell me it was well done because I had talent. I was not born knowing how to woodwork and weld. No, I did not have talent, I had motivation, dedication, and the ability to ask for help.
This slide was a true testament of dedication. This was a very large project. Why I spent so much time, money, and effort on these huge ideas is beyond me.
This was an example for my students. I wanted to show how to create a proper sketchbook page for their mask ideas that included a drawing, written details, and questions.
That itty bitty drawing on the bottom right corner of the sketchbook page served as the final sketch for this comic page project. Sometimes you don't need to have the most detailed sketch before beginning, just something to get you started.
These are the steps I use for creating any kind of digital art project. Similar steps are used in traditional illustration as well. It's just fun to see how it starts and changes as it progresses, and through the magic of photoshop layers, you can always go back and view that.