I think the shadow would be fine if it wasn't so dark and if you defined the ground plane a bit better.
Oh, wait, nope. You are not accounting for the fact that the light is slightly in front of the horse. You are coming at it as if it is directly coming in from the side. I think it is also a bit higher than you are showing with the shadow.
The thing that bugs me is how much darker that shadow is than any of the other shadows on snow in the piece.
Two shadow issues...
The shape: Terrible. Wrong Wrong Wrong. Get rid of it completely so that you're not distracted by what's already there and really figure out the perspective and distortion.
The color: Much too dark. Snow is pretty much as close to a 100% reflective surface as we can get. So, the shadow color of snow on a horizontal plane will be almost exactly the same as the zenith of the sky.
Check the leg on your shadow, Jason. It looks to be bent a little more than the horse's leg is. The front of the horse tends to be marginally wider than the back (even in heavy horses), and the spine would curve towards the movement. Drop its near (left) hip and that should fix it. The shadow on the top of its near front leg makes it look as if it has boobs, it could be softened a little to fix that. You're very nearly there, which I guess is what's frustrating you so much.....
Yea I now see how crazily dark that shadow is. I'll remove the shadow and try my darndest to get the shape right keeping in mind it should be a lot bigger.
Question: would the foreground leg connecting with the ground show up as elongated in the shadow compared to the rear legs? Or would they all be the same length? I know how I can plot the overall size of the shadow, I just have no clue where the details would fit in...
You're very nearly there, which I guess is what's frustrating you so much.....
You don't know the half of it... seems like all of my pieces in the past few months have a good start, a great fleshing out/rendering phase, but when it comes to tie it all together and polish it, I just freeze. Earlier on I could spend hours on end working on it, but when it's just about there I find it the hardest thing in the world to force myself to sit down and just FINISH the damn thing.
Anyways I'll hopefully update tomorrow... hopefully I'll dole out some crits too to bring my karma level up.
Cool. Can't wait to see more. One thing that is kind of bugging me is how the raised front foot isn't quite reading in front of the other one very easily. Maybe the planted one kicking up a bit more powder could help add depth in the overlap.
The dark blotch at the top could use some toning down so it doesn't look like the horse is ..ripped. /flex
I always thought horses appeared very well-muscled...
anyways, lots of work with very little gain. Dan!, you're advice was great and I thought it would help the composition a lot, but when I actually redrew the ground the abundance of white was harder on the eyes. My eyes weren't wattering or anything, but when I went back and forth through the history, the older version that had more dark areas in the lower left felt like there was more places for the eyes to 'rest'
I redrew the ground again, and since there is a curve to the ground again I figured I could get away with having a long shadow that stretches beyond the light ground and fades off. Bleh. Shadow needs to be tightened obviously, but at least it's better than how I had it.
What beautiful mountains and clouds! It looks good on first glance, but the right leg in the front is bothering me - it just seems too short. I would recommend using a proportional measurement to get that right. Use the length of say, the head, on an actual horse and figure how many heads certain segments of the legs are. It'll help keep the proportions looking more natural.
Also, are the legs sinking into the snow in the back? And if so, then the hindquarters should be lower than the torso in the front. ^^ It's amazing how a little thing like that throws off an image.
Also, for the shadow it needs to match the lighting. Just put it a little more diagonal towards the back, and lighten it up and you'll be fine!!