Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lost in (work)Space by Jason Kirschner

My workspace. I know I'm a mess. But it's MY workspace.
Workspace, and more importantly, workflow is something I've been mulling over a bunch lately.  According to definitions I just made up, workspace is the physical space where you work and how it's setup and workflow is the way you do your work and the tools you use to do that work.  I want to be turning out new and exciting work and I want to be working in the most efficient manner. Time is, after all, money. (I'm pretty sure I made that up too.)

For those reasons,  I get antsy every once in a while and want to change everything about the way I work. I want my desk on that wall instead of this one. I want to use watercolor instead of digital color. I want shade with markers before I scan my sketches. I want to draw on an iPad Pro instead of my Wacom tablet.  As I think these things, I’m quite certain that these changes will help me work faster and/or make my work more vital. And they might? Or they might not, I guess.

There's also something to be said for comfort level and familiarity.  Knowing how to work the scanner with my elbow does help me speed things along. I’m very comfortable with my grayscale Copic markers and I know just how hard to press when shading so I don’t screw up my drawing.  I’ve also memorized the Photoshop shortcut keys to the point that my brain couldn’t tell you which key to press but my fingers know all on their own. 

Changes are good though.  I tend to make them incrementally instead of all at once — mostly because I’m cowardly and lazy but also because I like where I’m at artistically.  Some people bounce all over the place and I must admit that both fascinates and terrifies me at the same time. 

When it comes to workspace and workflow, I also feel that we, as a community, should share more. When I flip through other people’s work online  (yes — I keep tabs on all of you. ) I am always SO curious as to how they achieved this look or that effect.  I also think people are too timid to ask one another how we did things or why we did them that way.  We should share more. 

In that spirit —not that anyone asked— here’s my workflow.  I always draw using a Prismacolor PC943 pencil (Burnt Ochre) because I think its a great middle tone. I more sculpt than draw with the pencil because I draw so many damn lines to get to the right one.  I then draw over my mess with a Prismacolor PC935 and find the right lines to punctuate.  The brown falls back to a sort of shading.  I then scan into Photoshop and color digitally.  I do adjust levels but I try to leave some of the mess underneath so it still looks “homemade.”

(Here’s the interactive part)
If you have the chance to share how you make your work, do so. (Hint: There’s a comments section here.)  Also, tell us about any changes you've made recently to your workspace or your workflow and how it worked out.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s amazed at how you do what you do.

By day, Jason is a set designer for television, with credits that include Harry, The Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. By night, Jason is an author and illustrator of children's books. You can find his debut picture book, Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion on shelves in bookstores everywhere. See Jason's work, both illustrations and set designs, at . Follow him on twitter @jason_kirschner. 


  1. my process...lets see...I get an idea, the dog barks, I get the door, on the way back to the studio, the phone rings, I make the dogs dinner while on the phone, I hang up the phone, take the dog out to take care of business, go back to the studio, write the idea down in my planner, then press the "MAKE ART" button on the computer then shut down, because it's now past my bedtime. ...Tomorrow is another day!!

  2. Jason, I actually get giddy when I see others' work spaces, so this was REALLY enjoyable to see and read :) I agree about the sharing thing and wish I had an official work space to share. Right now my area isn't being used for art so I can't take pics for you, and I'm still playing with developing a style that enables expeditiousness while still turning out good stuff. My art life is at a different stage than yours so as of right now I don't have all that much to share effectively. I can tell you that when developing characters, I often use tracing paper (though will probably switch to vellum because someone shared :) that it doesn't smear as easily so there's not as much to clean up. I also love my mechanical pencil for all that type sketching. I've come to settle on using pastels and colored pencils (Prisma, so far), for the most part, 'cause I have better control and make fewer mistakes, plus I love the look. I don't know enough about Photoshop to do anything extreme on there, but love it as an aid for composition. I hope someday to do things on that will save time, but prefer hands-on, traditional mediums to digital. Love that you shared this, Jason :) And, btw, did you see this?