Core Concept: The Premake

The premake has many names: model, maquette, demo recording, animatic, mock-up, synopsis, proof of concept, or simply ‘sketch’.

At the very heart of the creative process is the premake: a quick and rough capture of your vision. Think of the premake as an apparition in a fortune teller’s crystal ball: a small, blurred, distorted prophecy of what your finished work is going to be.

This quick sketch has almost as many names as there are forms of creativity. In architecture it’s called ‘model’ or ‘maquette’, in music it’s called ‘demo recording’, in animation it’s called ‘animatic’, in computer games it’s sometimes referred to as ‘mock-up’. Writers call their premake ‘synopsis’. Some artists call it ‘proof of concept’, and some call it simply a ‘sketch’.

It was hard to choose a term that wouldn’t be already attached to a specific art form, and in the end I decided to invent a word: premake. The name is also a statement: every serious creative work is actually made twice. First you premake it; then you make it.

First you Premake it; then you make it.

Having a premake allows you to test your vision in context, and receive feedback long before you get heavily invested in your work. Once you start working on the ‘make’, the premake serves as a steady lighthouse that keeps your vision from ever blurring, or morphing, or fading away.

Here are some examples of premakes in a variety of art forms:

Children’s book premake
My premake for ‘The Mechanics of Inspiration’ site design
Premake for a cartoon idea
Ron Mueck’s ‘boy’ sculpture premake

And finally, a premake for an iPhone app:

Author: Doron Mayer

Director, Animator, Writer, Designer. Author of "Workflow: The practical Guide to the Creative Process".

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