Before doing any building or painting you have to have a plan. Without a plan, you might get lucky—in which case you can then enter your piece in the high-school art show, or it could turn out looking less awesome than you imagined (which is more probable).
I’ve even heard that some conceptual artists have plans.
Anyway, below is one of several thumbnails of different compositions I did before moving on to a larger drawing. It doesn’t look like much, especially because it has been rubbing around in my camera bag for a few weeks, but it has the essential scribbles.
Next, I started recreating the composition through my camera lens. I began using boxes and a root beer can, and this image shows my upgrade to an articulated maquette and the actual ship model. This is also the only photo I took of the ship at that stage. As more and more of the elements of this image take shape, I put them into the frame to make sure they still work with the original composition. In other words I try to follow the plan, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to change if I realize something else
will work better.