As you'll see in our Pop Sculpture book, we first had to come up with a design for the Athena statue and the Thor action figure. I not only wanted to have fun with them, but also try out many variations. When I start a design, I tap into gut feelings and do plenty of research. Of course, we all have our own style, particular preferences, inspirations and design sense that we call our own and apply that to our art work as well. I have an animation background so you'll see that influence in my work.
When I sit down and start to draw, I have an expectation that the first concept that comes out will be the "one," as I tend to see the pose in my mind's eye. Well, in some instances your first instinct is best, but you'll soon find out that you'll want to explore more. Don't fall in love with the first thing you do, and don't give up after five minutes either, thinking "I can't do this." On the contrary, push yourself and keep going. When people ask me how do you do that, I usually say "Go to the hardware store and buy a bucket of patience!"
Allow yourself to warm up, half-hour to an hour or so. Soon, you'll find you're on a roll, like a well-oiled machine. One idea begets another, you start to have "aha" moments, and ideas will link one to another. Design elements will start to come together. Don't stop. You'll know at a certain point, when you've reached a comfort level, and realize you've done all you can. You've left no ideas in the inkwell!
Now, look at everything you've come up with, as you'll have quite a variety. Sift through and pick the best ones, say the top five or so --- you also don't want to overwhelm your client with too many options.
Here as an example are some samples for a Zorro statue I did for Electric Tiki's Classic Heroes. An interesting little back story: At the time, Alex Toth was still alive, and we had become good friends. If you've never heard of Alex Toth, please look up his work! He's been coined the Artist's Artist, a master of design and storytelling. He's one of the all time comic, animation and design masters! You ever seen Space Ghost? That's Alex' design.
Well, Alex also illustrated the classic Zorro comics back in the '50s. Who better than him to ask about Zorro? I had told him about my Zorro project and asked him if he had any ideas for a statue. One day, while I was visiting at his home he showed me some sketches he had come up with. One stood out: Zorro simply standing over a roof top, elegant, calm and very Zorro-like. I slapped my forehead and realized, that's the one! So we decided to go with that pose --- it didn't hurt to say that the pose was inspired by an Alex Toth sketch, either! Once our Pop Sculpture book is out, we hope to share many more designs that didn't make the cut, so stay tuned and remember... "Don't leave any ideas in the ink well! " - Rubén Procopio