I would say that my methodology has changed from when I first started. I still look at YouTube videos and Digital Tutors first and follow along until I get an idea and feel confident with the programs I am using. My focus is primarily learning since I am new to this and have a lot to learn.
Nowadays, however I have become a bit more selective; I have an idea first then look up the relevant tutorials in order to create it. I have mostly been using Maya, Photoshop and Flash for my work and these are all applications that I have had little experience with previously. I had used Blender and 3DS Max before.
I tend to sketch out ideas in a sketchbook, or note it down so I can look at it when I get home or get some time to myself. A lot of my inspiration tends to come from other games or animated films. Sometimes it might be a piece of artwork. Then I work out what specific topics I need to learn in order to bring my ideas to life. I also borrow relevant books from the library and read up on them.
If I am using Maya then I look at modelling, UV unwrapping and textures. When I finish that process, I look at lighting and rendering the scene. Then I try and refine the scene, improve it further or change the camera angle. If I am using Unreal Engine then I am looking at the landscape tutorials, looking to import Maya models into them. Photoshop is used to enhance final image renders, by doing colour corrections, etc. Before I would just use the rendered image from Maya, I didn’t know that I could Photoshop to improve the image further.
Of course then I had to go and learn Photoshop properly in order to learn how to do that, as well as how to clean up scanned pencil sketches for use in Flash. Then I had to learn how to paint in Photoshop all over again since my places of the mind painting didn’t go as well as I had hoped.
I know that I am “finished” when the final result matches or is as close as possible to the vision in my head or in my sketchbook. Sometimes it works out better than originally planned.
I also want to have a go at everything, because I am not sure yet what I want to specialise in. So that’s why I have been trying out 2D as well as 3D. In the future I would like to try making a character, but for now my focus is on landscapes and environments.
I would say that my methodology could be improved further, once I learn how to do all these processes I can improve my speed and concentrate on efficiency and planning things ahead. I don’t plan ahead that much because I don’t know exactly what I am capable of and what I cannot do. I focus on simpler ideas that I know I definitely can do and try and do it well.
On a more personal note, I need to improve my confidence a bit since I find myself comparing my work a lot to others, which is not exactly fair on myself as they have far more experience than me.