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Ditching A Project

May 21, 2010

As you gain experience in either photography or digital art, it will become easier and easier to come to terms with a project that’s just not good. And then it’s time to cut your losses and ditch it. My project from the other day, Beauty Walks The Night, now resides in my recycle bin. Why? I just wasn’t getting the look I wanted. I did however like the look of the character a lot, so I have taken her in the direction of formal ballet. Here I’m going to add a reflective floor and do some additional work on the background.Yes she’ll get some toe shoes too.

Years ago, I saved everything. Every out of focus image, every doodle in Illustrator. No more. It’s either good or bad. In the early years of my digital shooting, saving even the bad images had some value. I could look at my mistakes and learn from them. After more than 12 years of digital shooting, my eye has become trained in what to look for, and I can make the decisions pretty quickly. I call it Ruthless Editing. Many years of high end retouch helped train my eye – I can now spot a dead pixel at 100 paces 😉

In 3D work, it’s harder to decide to discard a project. Sometimes hours of work are for naught. So you have to gear yourself up enough to be able to make assessments early on, especially when it comes to commercial work. You can labor for hours over a bad piece, but it’s still a bad piece. All of the Photoshop in the world won’t fix it.

I may revisit the Beauty Walks The Night concept in the future. There was just something about the environment that was bothering me. I did follow my “put it away rule” and took a look after letting it sit awhile. The lighting bothered me too, and I just couldn’t make a decision about what to do with it.  Rather than waste a few hours with it, the decision was to just jump ship. I sometimes spend more time fine tuning lighting than modeling or texturing.

So the formal ballerina will occupy my designated wall space when she’s done. I was originally going to go 16×20, but she’s looking so nice that I’m taking the size down to 11×14 and am going to invest in a fancier frame.

In 3D work, I’m usually pretty lucky with following through on art pieces. It’s Illustrator where I have the hard time creating from scratch. There too, if I’m having a bad day, I just put things away and find something else to do. You can’t hit everything out of the park.


  1. Michael Brown permalink
    May 21, 2010 12:33 pm

    I think this is a very, very important subject and one you rarely see addressed. I spend way too much time working on images which I should give up on. And you are right that 3D projects are harder to give up, maybe because you don’t know what they are going to look like when done. Or maybe because you tend to love them because they are yours, something turned into ‘reality’ from just an idea.

    I need to be more ‘ruthless’ when pruning my images ideas. I know that the sooner I cull the bad ones the more money I make, but it is hard!

  2. May 21, 2010 7:38 pm

    “3D projects are harder to give up, maybe because you don’t know what they are going to look like when done.”

    That again comes with experience. As time goes on, you can more easily predict what’s going right and what’s going wrong. My feeling is that if you’re not “in the groove” with it at some point early on, it’s time to rethink and formulate a new direction. I have a few things that were about to go south, but after a rethinking, was able to take them in a proper direction.

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