I submitted this to last week's COW:
I got some good feedback as far as the colors and mood go. But when it comes time for the polls, the pros still whip me pretty good. Oh well, back to the crit center I go!
I don't think the glowing keelbone on the chest was reading to well, so I added some muscle definition there. I also refined the sky and the crater area a bit. Below is the most recent version.
So basically what I want to know is: what do I need to do in order to compete with the best of the best? Do I just need to make minor refinements, or is there some fundamental problem that causes my work to be overlooked?
Last edited by Pixelestial; February 21st, 2008 at 12:46 PM.
I think you've got a lot of good stuff going on here.
Not having the other works on hand to compare this to,I can't speak to why they were picked over it. However i can speak to what I think isn't working so well here...which i will
Great concept, great moment to capture (the dragon still steaming from it's trip through the atmosphere.) I think however your design is confusing in many places and too simplistic in others.
The concept reads pretty well first time around, which is great. But when you get into really examining details it gets kind of confusing. And where there isn't confusing detail (like the background and foreground) there isn't much of anything to look at. Forcing the viewer to try and decode the confusing areas.
It's hard to understand what his body is doing towards the tail where it just sort of disappears and whats going on with that gap below the head where it looks like the throat was cut open and it healed over. Also many aspects of the crest-like/wing-like forms on his back behind the head are confusing to make out. They are just too bunched up and similar in color and texture.
Also I think there is a great aspect of lighting here (sort of the lava orange lighting that is bubbling up under the dragon) that is great, but not well emphasized. Indeed there isn't much dynamic lighting on the forms, though there should be from the lava and the many glowing parts.
In conclusion, I think you have good design ideas to work with. The viewer can see that potential there, which is partly the problem. The trick is to get those ideas to render better so they pay off for the viewer because your designs lead them to anticipate that great render.
Hope that makes sense...Cool piece anyway! Rock on!
...my humble and uneducated opinion.
But where are the little flying debris? And the dust clouds? If something that big came crashing from space, I guess there would be some drastic changes to the environment, especially in the immediate environment.
Look for meteor craters, and I think it will help up the realism.
I participated in the dragon prompt, and I thought yours was definitely one of the coolest, both in idea and in execution. It sounds like you're feeling a bit demoralized, and I hope that isn't the case. The idea here is to get better, and you're doing just what you need to do to get there... you're asking for critical advice and you're working hard to improve your craft.
Trying to critique your piece, here are some things I'd say...
1. Work on a central light source. You set yourself up for some extremely cool lighting here, but you didn't completely deliver, and I'll explain why. You have this incredible lighting coming from directly under your dragon, as well as a sunset in the background, and perhaps some small light from the stars above. What Blademan said about the whitish highlights is spot-on... you used them too much. Here's what should have happened with the lighting:
You should have been MUCH darker on the parts that weren't illuminated, and much harsher and brighter with some of the upward illumination, particularly the parts of the dragon that are IN the crater. You illuminated too much of what wouldn't really be lit, and consequently things got a bit confusing.
For the dragon prompt, I did the deep undersea picture with the submersible lighting the dragon... the hardest part for me was to realize that I had to be extremely discriminating with the lighting... deep under the ocean, the parts that didn't have a direct light source on them would just be simply BLACK, which resulted in a composition that was missing whole chunks of my creature. You should exercise that kind of prejudice with your lighting... don't be afraid to realize that whole sections of your composition might just be dark and muddied (look at Renaissance paintings!!).
Also, with the sunset behind the dragon, you could have made up for your increased lighting contrast by essentially outlining the ENTIRE dragon in a kind of sunset-colored rim lighting. Then, the stars above could have put a few (note: very few) specular highlights on certain areas.
With the dramatic light source below the dragon, you're given the opportunity to really show the details on the texture of the skin... now, Moldavite is very shiny... which means it's going to be fairly dark in many places, except for it's VERY HARD specular highlights. Now, you used those highlights well in certain parts, but I would encourage you in this instance to work on both smoothing out your brushwork and sharpening (literally) your details, to make it look GLASSY, before you start laying down jagged highlights.
On thinner parts, like the head fins, the wings, and indeed, the molten glass demi-sphere around it, you should have made light shine through, particularly towards the bottom. That would help the viewer understand that this is glass the thing is made of.
I think you've done an extremely good job here, and I hope you're proud of it. You've done a great job in defining it's overall forms, but perhaps don't add so many things (the jagged wings, the frills around the head, etc) that crowd and confuse these forms. Basically I would encourage you to study textures and also not be afraid to hit the limits in your drawing (in terms of values... in this case, lots of really dark against very few, but very POWERFUL lights). Always make sure your specular highlights are where they should be, and that they ADD to the picture... specular highlights should be used very sparingly, and only to great effect, to translate the qualities of the material. I've included a quick sample image of some ways I would have punched it up. Overall, I think you've done a very good job, and I look forward to competing with you in future COWs!!!!
Mute: Thank you for the in-depth crit! Hopefully the newer version addresses some of these problems. Those shadows should cloak some of the more confusing details. (Or at least make it so that the viewer doesn't care if some parts don't make complete visual sense. )
Blademan: I know I didn't post the concept text here, but the dragon itself is made out of moldavite, a type of glass-like meteorite. I think some specular highlights help identify the material, but I do agree that I might've overused them before. And if you couldn't tell it was glass, that means I still have work to do.
DBI: I might still add some dust and debris to enhance the chaos, but at the same time I don't want to distract from the dragon itself. For now, there's just a little more flying debris in the sky.
Conejo Blanco: I knew when I saw your name here that I'd be in for a treat. You really nailed the mood with your dragon.
First: wow. You really went out of your way to help me. That's why I love this place. Yes, I am kind of in a constant state of demoralization, but in a way, that's a good thing... if I got too comfortable, I wouldn't be compelled to improve.
I think I'm afraid of black. It's just so... final. But drama is exactly the kick that this thing needed. I looked at both mine and yours in grayscale, and the difference is amazing. I do think the white under-light on yours was a little too blasted out, so I subdued that when working on mine, but otherwise your paintover was spot-on.
The next step I think is to look up some pics of glass sculptures and refine the specular highlights even more. But here's my progress in the meantime.
Soulweaver, I'm glad you appreciated my feedback. It's looking much stronger already!! One more thing I would say is watch the little marks you make... what I mean is, it looks like most of the lines you make are only about 1/3 of a centimeter long... my concern with this (and this is only my opinion) is that they make things look a tad static... longer lines (like the contours arond the body of your dragon, on the bottom right side) help to carry the eye along the form and really give a sense of it's dimensionality. If you take a look at my dragon, I try to do this (although I think I do it too much, especially in it's shoulder and upper wing)... That might help you... Just my opinion. It's lookin real good though, keep it up!
I realized as I was drawing that the thin glass should be throwing all sorts of designs of light onto the surrounding ground. Does this help to enhance the glassiness, or does it just confuse the image unnecessarily?
Your glass looks like extensions of the rock underneath to me. I do like that you added a little something to the bottom corner of the pic. It feels slightly more balanced now. As for the glass thing...maybe work on the transparency of the pieces behind the dragon? It seems like the part that's reflecting is the only transparent part. Still, looking good!
that dragon landed on rock??? in the first pic it looked a hella like water to me..... plus the -splash- of rock looks like it will soak me... hehe
If water was Vodka and I was a duck, I'd sink to the bottom and never come up. But water's not Vodka and I'm not a duck. So hand me a bottle and shut the fuck up.
Most of the things that bothered me with the first versions were noted in Conejo Blanco's post. But I'm still rather confused by the grey tone of the highlights on top of the dragon.
You should also pay attention to getting the right impression of the materials: Use reference, see how glass reacts to light in different situations and also take a look at the ground and how you'd like it to be. I don't think it really looks like water, but rather strange none the less.
Overall. the picture's great and has gotten a lot better due to the increased contrast.
Liking the new translucent meteor-egg, but I'm not sure what light source is casting the images through the glass onto the crater side. Having something there does look good, maybe glittering shards and blobs of molten glass? And since the transparent front egg looks improved, trying to show the translucence of the back of the egg would be good, so long as it doesn't make a non-focal area too busy.
Maybe some sparkles along the portion of the egg where the dragon's body seems to be overlapping and breaking out of it, to enhance the idea of emergence?
I like it quite a bit, i agree if the glass were to be a different color than the dragon it may stand out better as glass. Reminds me of the meteor impact in the first final fantasy movie. Generally when i think something is done... its not. put on your rendering cap n freak out! late bump, just surfing the forums
Awesome concept work on this one.
I would like to see a bit more natural, real lighting here and an all around smoothening finish which wont take away from the details, but may possibly add to them.
Here's my status. I'm pretty happy with how far it's come, but
-I plan on differentiating the texture of the rock more,
-the dragon's texture could be smoothed out more to resemble glass,
-I feel like the top right corner needs something,
-and I'm not sure what to think of the reddish highlights along the top.
Not much experience on crits (ha! - noobie) but i think i have a few things to add.
Would the colour of the Moldavite be different depending on its state and temperature?
Most liquid glass for instance is really bright orange when its being formed, the depth of the orange depending on the thickness because its translucent. in this state i would also say it gives out more light than it would normally reflect, so speculars might be outshined.
I can't really tell how hot things are from the picture at the moment, so I thinhk this would make it clearer for the viewer.
I think you've got the line work done really well, and the texture of the dragon is fantastic, I can learn a lot from this picture as it is, I'll go do that now... well, in a little while...
Actually I don't mind the highlights, they look good.
I am not sure about the bottom right large green polygons. I do like their feel but they don't really go with the rest of the composition.
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