Producing a painting is very different from producing high quality software, it also has some key similarities. The similarities stem from the fact that you can’t do something this complicated right the first time, you need to take steps and reflect on how well each step is working, then make changes to improve it. You need to iterate.
Different iterations have a different focus. Below are the iterations for my last portrait, of Jasper. The inspirational photograph is on the left hand side, the 6 iterations move from a sketch on the right to the final version next to the photograph. I planned 4 iterations and had to add one because iteration 4 (the pale one) didn’t work aswell as I’d hoped.
Plan: The conceptual work for the painting is done before the sketch; getting to know the subject (Jasper) and the ‘user’ (Jaspers owner) what does the user want from the picture, where would they like to hang it in their home, how do they see the subject? This is the eqivalent of market research, product planning, and conceptual design explorations for a software project
Architecture: The first sketches are of the composition, the placement of features the use of space. No paint. How is the information organised in a way that makes sense. You can see how I made Jasper’s eyes look more upwards and towards the viewer than in the photograph. I wanted Jasper to look more directly at the ‘user’ . This is the ‘Information Architecture’ for a software development project – where is everything in relationship to everything else
Foundations: The first coat of paint is a base, it wont be seen in the final version but it emphasises or mutes the colours on top. For darker areas use a dark base, for brighter colours use a light base. For software this is equivalent to wireframing the user-journeys through the software. The text may not be accurate, but the general idea of the interactions are in place
Technical investigations: With this painting I tried several techniques that I had never used before such as layering a watery-thin layer of white paint then using a brush to partially remove it, hoping this would create a finer texture impression of fur than I could achieve with a brush. For software projects the developers are often trying out how new technologies that can solve technical challenges and add value to the design. I love watching software engineers get all excited about technical proof of concepts
Filling in the framework: Successive layers add more detailed colour and texture, I had trouble getting the colour-mix to work. Between each coat the artist reflects on how well they are achieving their vision, making adjstments with each coat. Gradually the painting begins to look like the final product. But it’s clumsy, edges are not smooth, features are slightly mishapen, colours are too bright. For software products this is the production and testing of the code
Fit and finnish: The final level details, this might be a glaze wash over the painting. For software this can be checking the details are consistent, the performance is smooth, the visuals are complete.