Tips for Establishing Art Direction?

Hey fellow Blender-users! I’m new around here, but not new to Blender. I’ve used the program for several years, and I’d like to think that I’ve become relatively proficient–at least technically.

My question goes beyond strict “how-to” into the realm of “what to”. I’ve followed the work of several top-notch 3D artists from time-to-time, and I’ve been impressed with the importance of their pre-production (initial sketches, research, etc.). It seems that the biggest difference between an “okay” artist and an “earth-shatteringly awesome” artist is the thought process that occurs before they even launch Blender.

Can any of you more experienced artists share any tips you have for establishing an art direction? Say, for instance, how you would go about doing research to build a plausible medieval building, or how you would look at current technology (borrowing elements, etc.) to design detailed futuristic stuff?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, especially links to more detailed information.

Thanks, guys!

Not a Blender user nor atist but being a game developer the process is much like the same I suppose.

In case of a specific subject like your medieval building example, I think finding reliable sources of information is a must (wikipedia, related history books and documentation), may even consult with experts if time permits (most subjects have relevant online communities where questions can be asked) and in general google search can provide relevant blogs and articles. Most cases the information is out there so it is instead your time available to spend on research will be the limiting factor.

Also study relevant images and recognize the common aspects (in case of your example: type of windows, type of wooden frame, type of decoration, etc.) and make sure you sort out historically inaccurate features based on your research.

As for creative (new) design, that both depends on you and the task at hand. Every person has an own way to get inspired, some listen to music, others go for a walk and so on. Discover what works best for you may it be someone else’s method or something you develop for yourself.