I'm a aspiring artist, and I've been lurking here for... about two years now . I guess I was just a bit too shy to ask for help... So this will by my first post here.
I hope this is in the right place
Anyways, I was wondering if any of the artists here could give a few pointers on how to add motion to a piece? I've been trying to give a bit more life to my paintings by adding motion, but everything I've tried (blurring, smudging, speed lines, flowing hair etc) seems to either be not enough or too much.
Hm, this probably could go in the Critique forum, but since you're asking about a more general question, I guess it fits here, too.
The picture you linked is a good start, I think, but there's a couple things I see:
-Scaling issues. The central figure is larger than everybody else, which shoves her to the foreground and thus "flattens" the piece. Even if she's the center of attention, some of the people the foreground should be bigger than her. Even the guy who's presumably right next to her (the one she's throwing through the air with her sword) is not as large as her.
-Lack of details. Everything has more or less the same level of detail, which again "flattens" the piece. We should see more details on things that you want the eye to focus on (like the warrior women) and less detail on things we're not focusing on (like the guys rushing into battle.) Having everything look equally fuzzy is weird. I would recommend sharpening up the detail on the main figure+enemy (and making them smaller to fix scale), and then simplifying some of the guys in the front, except for key areas of focus, like maybe their faces.
This goes for lighting, too. Your lighting is all over the place, and is not really guiding the eye around. Play with higher contrasts in sharp lights and darks to create shapes that will help your composition move.
Composition is also important. If you want a piece to feel dynamic and full of motion, there should be a lot of sharp 'lines' of action that the viewer can read and add to the scene. In this one, you have a few good lines (the boat and the spear pointing at the woman) but the rest are muddled and don't really go anywhere.
I would also work on your posing. The warrior woman and the guy she's fighting are okay, and so is the guy in the front right rushing into battle (although I'm not sure if he's rushing towards the woman or the guy in back, and that's a problem.) But the other three figures we can see look stiff and posed. That will kill your drama right there.
Essentially, it's a good start, but you need to push the elements of your piece a bit further, and maybe do more planning in the beginning, to really give it an "action" feel. I would take a look at some comic books and comic book how-tos, to get a better feel for how all the elements of a page work together in this. Comics may be a bit overblown at times, but one thing they do well is to convey dynamic action and motion in still frames.
There is a filter in photoshop called motion blur, I'm pretty sure if you added the filter on a masking layer then painted it in where you wanted it would work fine. Don't quote me on this though I'm not an expert on photoshop filters. I just know it's there, I'm not 100% sure how to best make them work in your paintings but if you messed around with it I'm sure you could get it to work.
TO[E], this is not a matter of motion blur, it goes far deeper then that. I could show you examples of hard edged pictures full of action.
BlueXIV, I'll give you my boilerplate response to any composition/storytelling questions and tell you to check out this book.
I've been trying to give a bit more life to my paintings by adding motion, but everything I've tried (blurring, smudging, speed lines, flowing hair etc) seems to either be not enough or too much.
those are just special effects, surface stuff, the real motion lies in the form of the big things (composition, figure etc.)
the figures themselves lack dynamic because their actions are not clear enough and lack realism:
The woman doesn't have a line of action and all her motion and body language goes into different places (insecure stance, stabbing/slicing, turning towards the enemies).
The bodylanguage is really really unclear.
Try to act out that pose several times for yourself in a mirror/ a cam and you'll notice how you want to put your upper body a bit lower and the shield a bit higher to protect yourself from the enemies.
The motion of the sword is not believable, she wields it as if it has no weight, no speed and stabs the enemy as if he was made of butter.
Try to redo her action with something sword-like in your hand, you'll notice the way your whole upper body moves in the direction of the stab and how you feel the need of taking a more secure stance.
so: act out complex actions for yourself and take a closer look how everything in the body works together.
"Drawing the marvel way" has an easily understandable crash course in dynamic figures and compositions, try it out.
oh, and Loomis books of course.