I begin a project once a potential story idea hits me. This really can be at anytime, from general observation, a discussion with a friend, inspiration from another source, or just plain out the blue. I jot everything down, nothing is too messy, usually plain text to start with, then I build on the text until I have a beginning, middle and end of a story I want to develop. I remain open minded about changing details all the way to the very end, I think flexibility is important.
There have been times when I have either written, illustrated or animated an idea which didn’t make sense to people and I was forced to change it, which at the time was frustrating but ended up being the right thing to do. Developing the initial story can take me a while, as I am a perfectionist, so I like to take some time with this bit. This is where not having client pressures and deadlines can be an advantage to me. However, a danger to that is too much time can pass, I am aware of this and remind myself of this often, so at this stage I remain focused and progress with the story, and not to procrastinate.
At the same time I’m progressing with my story I’m starting to think about how the characters in the story will look, so I will roughly scribble ideas down on whatever paper or drawing material is within reach. I’ve found inspiration can come from all sources. A lot of times inspiration for my characters hit me while at work, sometimes when I am not even thinking about it!