Merciless Criticism Wanted
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Thread: Merciless Criticism Wanted

  1. #1
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    Merciless Criticism Wanted

    Yes, it's fan-art in the sense that it's a night elf from world of warcraft, but it's a personal original character in every other way.

    I've been working on this on and off for a while, and I'm really starting to like it. After listening to the latest WIP podcast, it's been made even more clear to me that I won't grow as an artist unless I can get someone somewhere to critique me in such a way that it rips apart my art, but ultimately helps me to improve. I cannot find such a thing easily on deviantart, so I turn to the CA community in the hopes that someone out there will find it within themselves to be utterly merciless with me in order to help me

    I've learned a lot recently about realism when it comes to figures and portraits, and my ideal is to be able to paint styalized realism, if that makes sense. I feel that I use too much contrast in my painting, too much light and shadow. I often work in B&W first to nail the tones, but this was straight colour. Overuse of contrast and poor use of lighting are my key weak spots, or so I feel.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to improve this picture?

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    I really like her lips in particular, and the facial structure looks nice and feminine.

    The thing that stands to me is that it sort of feels like there isn't a definitive light source - there are lighter and darker areas, but it might be the hair in particular that is kind of 'dulling' it as it has the same basic values all around. It makes some of the shadows a little confusing, like the area on her right (our left) upper lip. You might want to take a look at the insides of some ears, even human ones - the ridges look a little flat or like creases.

    As for the eyes I don't know if you will add this detail later so I will just say now, but it would be great if you added their characteristic glow In some drawings of Nelfs that I've seen, the artist depicts the direction the Nelf is looking by basically kind of doing the opposite of what most eyes do - the 'iris' would be the hotspot. Right now it doesn't really look like she's looking anywhere in particular.

    "It's not rocket surgery." _Sebudai
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    Well the shading is quite nice. Very smooth and well tooled. Maybe almost too much so. There's a kind of blurring or softening that's happening, losing the sense of anatomy or bone structure to the face. Specifically in the area of the brown to nose bridge and in the chin. Things have gotten to blended and the face feels like it's flattening out.

    Proportions wise, the mouth might be a bit high in relation to chin and nose. The upper lip seems slightly over large and the distance between it and the nose seems pinched. Also, something odd is happening with the width of the eyes. Her head is turned slightly frame left away from us, but the left eye is as wide if not wider than the right, which seems to contradict this. Also the shading on that left lid's eyelid is doing something strange on the far outside. Seems to turn up somehow.

    I'm going to second the previous poster's comments about the ears. Nelf ears are problems because they're so overlarge, so reality won't help terribly much, but these are over simplified right now. In addition, unless her ears are going out to the sides, the angles are wrong on them. Ears generally lay fairly flat to the head. So in a straight on shot like this, I wouldn't expect to see that much of them.

    Lighting wise, there's a lot of inconsistency, as you already mention. Part of the flattening that you're getting is directly from lighting choices. Your lighting is very straight on the face, with high points showing on the forehead, cheeks, nose bridge and tip, and chin. However, you contradict this with your nose shadow which casts up and into the eye orbit. The hair's lit by an entirely different light, above and slightly right, though still in front of the character. Basically you need to decide and stick when it comes to that. I tend to push folks to cross lighting, as that it allows you to model the face more giving a richer form. Doing a tonal underpainting would be a benefit here. You could work out your light directions and big shadow masses before continuing onto color and detail work.

    Cross Lighting Examples:

    This one really shows how much depth you can get from the lighting change. Same face, totally different feeling.


    Both of these googled, by the way.

    Last edited by baslack; September 15th, 2009 at 12:37 PM.
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    I'm going to second the previous poster's comments about the ears. Nelf ears are problems because they're so overlarge, so reality won't help terribly much, but these are over simplified right now. In addition, unless her ears are going out to the sides, the angles are wrong on them. Ears generally lay fairly flat to the head. So in a straight on shot like this, I wouldn't expect to see that much of them.
    Night Elf ears kinda do flop out to the sides and slightly to the back (although much more prominently floppy in males), Blood Elf ears stick straight up and lay flat against the skull for both genders.

    /nerd

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    That really looking quite nice. It's got a nice, smooth look to it, but at the same time I think that's working against you in at least one way. The face is so blended that the structure isn't evident. It's become kind of flattened out, so the features look like they're pasted on, rather than sitting on and in a skull. The hard edges are making that worse, especially around the lips. Just work on that structure, try to bring the form back in before all the blending.

    -Sid

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    Thanks everyone for your great advice! I've tried to keep it all in mind and changed the picture around a bit. I haven't actually done much more painting for it, just fiddling with layer types and used a big soft brush to add some shadows and highlight to the whole thing, to make the lighting more, um, dynamic? I also changed the shape of her right ear a bit, to make it look better for it's angle. Made the layers with the eyes, facial markings, feather clothing and skin texture visible as well, to give a better overall idea of where I'm going with this.

    I'd say that the 'overly blended' look comes from using painter brushes that blend as I paint. Most of this was done in Painter, with the more recent changes done in photoshop. Painter's brush effects like restat and bleed allow me to paint and blend, and it cant really manage that hard look photoshop gets. I'll just have to watch what I'm doing more often, and try to keep the tones sharp.

    But yeah, I hope this looks better and that I took your suggestions and made em work for this. Please feel free to continue to dissect this and help me make it better =3 I'll work on more of the painting side of things when I get a chance, paiting in the feathers and whatever else needs working on. The eyes need a lot more work as well.

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