Soused Mouse by Meg Lyman
9×12 gouache on Bristol
During my humbling “art-reaming” at Dragon*Con, I was given the same advice by several great artists: Tell a Story. Doesn’t matter if it’s an illustration or fine art or just a character pinup – it’ll be much more interesting and successful if it tells a story.
Tommy Castillo gave me a great set of guidelines to help with storytelling. Once you get an idea, ask yourself these questions:
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
Sitting down and writing out even quick, one-sentence answers to these helps immensely. The first four are pretty easy; usually you’ll have those answers in mind when you originally have the idea. The last two, however, can be tough. Those are the important ones. They can turn a viewer’s attitude from “So what?” to “Oh, that’s GREAT!”
I have about a zillion doodles in my sketchbook that I intend to turn into paintings. The first project I undertook after Dragon*Con started with this doodle:
Originally, I was going to ink and color him as-is. But after D*C, I answered those questions. I gave him a story. Instead of just an inebriated rodent, he became a drunk sot having trouble making his way back to his apartment after a late night out. The resulting painting was quick and messy, but I love it, because it tells a story. That makes it much more successful.
I highly recommend giving it a try next time you’re arting something from your imagination.