I Just decided to post a recently finished illustration for views and critiques; to summarized it, I put the focus on character design and a flowing composition (from the man wielding the sword to the scarf and to the fallen warrior). I hope you all enjoy this! Until then... =)
I see SWORD/FLOWING RED SHAPE/HEAD, so intellectually I know right away what's going on, but as soon as I start really looking at the picture it stops making sense. For instance, that arm position looks like he's getting ready for a stroke, not like the follow-through from one. And why is the blood flowing off the blade in so many different directions? I think the fact that you've cropped in so tightly allowed you to avoid figuring things out about the scene that would have been helpful to you, and, consequently, to your viewers.
basically the details and dramatic(ness?) are very sexy but you need to work on your basics: composition, correct anatomy
you could also try looser strokes and working with brushes with harder edges to help you put less importance on the details your getting hung up on and focus more on overall correctness... sorry if this advice is not good im a beginner lol
I like the tight cropping and view looking up because it emphasizes action and being in the fight. The shapes are good. Composition good.
The blood splatters are throwing me off too. I first noticed the blood on the sword was going in all directions, and the splatter from the victim's neck seems to be going the wrong way. Try to imagine the swipe of the sword, and all the blood should follow the swipe.
Another critique would be the size of the sword. I'm of the variety that dislikes disproportional sword sizes lol. It just makes it a lot less realistic which is a shame because everything else puts the viewer into good immersion of a battle. Trying to wield that thing in tight quarters would be suicide.
Along the lines of what Elwell was saying: you may reconsider the crop you did to the victim...I mean...cropping him on the neck...where he is being cut..that takes guts and not everyone would realize you did it on purpose. The arm of the hero looks correct to me as if he made a swipe of the sword and maybe now he's ready to make another swipe but he is bending back his wrist which is odd. This is probly because you wanted to show a clear silhouette of the sword but it really isn't necessary to have a vulgarly giant sword shape.
Last thing--try adding some fog or cloudy texture or smoke to the background. It is noticeably empty right now.
I think you did a great job tho. It looks great as overall shapes.
Elwell- Hey, thanks for super helpful critique. I knew something seemed wrong with that hand...looks like I need to be very cautious next time I take a reference photo of friends. I actually still like the overall composition and am not worried too much about the crop, although I do appreciate what you said about it, and I will surely consider it for future endeavors to increase the realism and drama.
bluemoon-If you are a beginner, trust me, you have a keen eye, as I could use a few more loose strokes, I'm sure...I'm actually a fan a loose oil paintings.
Artfix- You nailed it with your thoughts on my composition. Thanks for explaining the sword swipe, I think I can now go back and fix the blood. And I agree with your opinion on the sword...the only reason I did that was because my teacher explained how it would help with the composition. He was very right...but still, I personally would rather see a sword that could actually be swung in reality; not everybody can wield the Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII, if you catch my drift. =)