The Upper Hand

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    The Upper Hand

    Okay, so I know I have two other WIPs up, but I wanted to put those aside for a bit and let them marinate (the beauty of digital means the paint never really dries ). I wanted to start a project from scratch and see if I could build off of the suggestions, focusing on composition, telling a coherent story and lighting at the sketch level, rather than just starting with a pose and shoe horning it into something.

    Anyway, this is still in the early sketchy phase, and I've only just started playing with some color, but I figured I would check and see if there are any obvious things that stick out before I really start rendering.

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    Hmm... Well, I think the biggest thing I'm getting right now is that there feels like there's 3 separate elements in this picture, that aren't necessarily working together - the background, the woman, and the goblin. The goblin seems to want to interact with the woman, but I don't get the impression that the woman is reacting to it, even though it's in front of her (if that makes sense... >.< )

    The goblin also feels a little out of place in where he is located. Potentially move him back into the picture more, and take some of the light coming from the background and pull him into it - meaning, a harsher highlight on the top, and deeper shadows underneath to feel like he's looming just inside this cave.

    I -think- he's holding her bra (!!!), but the booby parts need to be spread out a little more (there's sort of a hingey-thing in the front, at least 2-3 fingers width on most wire bras).

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    Quote Originally Posted by inkjetcanvas View Post
    ...the booby parts need to be spread out a little more (there's sort of a hingey-thing in the front, at least 2-3 fingers width on most wire bras).
    It's always good to have a qualified expert on hand for feedback and...support.

    This is a good piece. If it were me, one thing I'd definitely do is find some photo reference for the woman...right now her arms feel strangely short to me. Also, shouldn't she be reacting to the situation? (i.e., covering up her exposed bosoms.) Just my two cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    It's always good to have a qualified expert on hand for feedback and...support.

    This is a good piece. If it were me, one thing I'd definitely do is find some photo reference for the woman...right now her arms feel strangely short to me. Also, shouldn't she be reacting to the situation? (i.e., covering up her exposed bosoms.) Just my two cents.
    Well, my intention was this:
    1) Female warrior of the classic bronze brassiere cliche' goes for a quick dip in a secluded grotto.
    2) Through sound or from the corner of her eye, she realizes she's not alone. Her first reaction is to grab her weapon.
    3) As she takes a defensive position (classic high block, for martial arts aficionados out there) and turns to face the threat, the goblin teases and taunts her playfully with her own stolen brassiere.

    Sounds like it's not feeling natural though. My thought was that a hardened warrior would care far less about being bare chested than about being caught without a weapon in hand (the goblin seems to care more about the chainmail bikini than she does). She's probably more pissed that he managed to get the drop on her and could have very well taken the sword instead. But, the point of the exercise is to get the story across clearly first and foremost, so I might need to rethink it.

    The arms do look a little short. I might have messed up the proportion. I'll post the reference photo in a sec, once I get to my other computer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by inkjetcanvas View Post
    Hmm... Well, I think the biggest thing I'm getting right now is that there feels like there's 3 separate elements in this picture, that aren't necessarily working together - the background, the woman, and the goblin. The goblin seems to want to interact with the woman, but I don't get the impression that the woman is reacting to it, even though it's in front of her (if that makes sense... >.< )

    The goblin also feels a little out of place in where he is located. Potentially move him back into the picture more, and take some of the light coming from the background and pull him into it - meaning, a harsher highlight on the top, and deeper shadows underneath to feel like he's looming just inside this cave.

    I -think- he's holding her bra (!!!), but the booby parts need to be spread out a little more (there's sort of a hingey-thing in the front, at least 2-3 fingers width on most wire bras).
    Yep, you're totally right! The bra was looking a little cartoony, so that might help a little. I think I'm going to need to boost the resolution on this puppy, because I'm struggling with the tiny details.

    Just to clarify, when you say "move him back" are you suggesting making him smaller and farther away, or moving him to the left and closer to the background?

    I wonder if I angled her face upwards a bit if it would help the interaction. It sort of looks like she's looking at a spot a few feet below the goblin. I've shrunk her several times since the initial sketch to help draw out the depth (originally she nearly filled the vertical space) so that's probably part of it. Thanks for the suggestions.

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    Reference. Hold on while I go chase down a goblin.

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    Anatomy issues aside, more mid tones and less whites and blacks.

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    Ur last work is the best Joking aside, while the figure of the woman is on the realistic side, goblin and the rest are not and that gives the feeling that she doesn't belong there.

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    I'm not really feeling the pose. Its a good pose and its cool that you know what it technically is, but I feel like it doesnt quite fit the situation.. shes winding up to swing (is what it looks like) but the goblin is in the background so its kind of a useless attack. What if shes more in a ready position, about to run in and chase down the critter? Also, the way your sword is positioned right now is cutting the composition almost in half diagonally. I think you want an element to help connect the 2 figures, not divide them. Have some more fun with the environment of the cave to help with your design.

    Btw look at some Frazetta, hes always good at this kind of thing. :p

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    Tony, I like this peice, I just think you need to work on it as a whole, to bring everything together. I know it's a WIP, so I'm curious to see how you finish it . Your warrior is reminding me a bit of something from Royo: that's good! Just bring the whole thing together: it's hard to explain, but I feel some subtle adjustments are probably all that is needed. Still, I really like this: This could be your best yet! Keep Going!

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    Thanks everyone. Lots of great advice as always. I totally see what many are saying about the pose, and how it's coming off a bit passive. I'm not averse to digging in and changing anything up that needs to be changed to strengthen it, as this was primarily a practice piece. However, my "client" is in love with the pose, and it's also a concept done at her behest. Sooooo, I may have to stick it out and see what I can do without changing the pose too much that still improves the overall composition (changing the position of the sword, for example, or moving the goblin lower so the line of sight doesn't appear off, changing some of the blocked out shapes and so forth in the background to accommodate that, etc.). And then I may just go back and do a completely revised version with a better more active pose, so I can complete the learning process (on this particular piece that is) as well.

    In the meantime, I'm taking this as sort of a challenge, in the vein of "the client insists on this pose" and am trying to make the best of it, even if it's far from ideal. Don't take that as a rejection of the criticism though, because I totally get it.

    So, that in mind, I'm still in the process of actually getting the sketch of the goblin solid, his positioning, playing with the structures in the background, the lights and darks, and haven't actually put any detail work into anything (even the figure is still pretty sketchy). Nothing significant to post yet, as I just got the call that I'm going to be extremely busy on the writing front for the forseeable future, but I still invite any and all thoughts in the meantime (it'll probably be a while before I can come back to this, but I will). These are really invaluable lessons, and I am deeply appreciative.

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    For me, the main thing (other than the rendering) is the pose. Is she getting ready to throw her sword at it? What is she planning to do from so far away? I also feel that this is past the sketchy stage, since there is... color, lighting, specularity on the skin, etc...

    Also, this is just a pet peeve of mine, but if you are going to use reference by painting over it, you might want to hide it a bit more. I didn't even have to scale the images.

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    I like the painting even if it's still in the sketchy part. what I was thinking, you could ad more monsters rather than just that single creature. Add creatures that dwell in the water, like naga sirens or those lizard-like creatures that you see in warcraft.

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    Okay, so here's the plan. I hear everyone loud and clear on the pose. The point is to learn, so here's what I'll do. I'm going to make a compromise with my wife, take the pose and turn it into a sexy pin up, with studio lighting and all that fun stuff, because really that's what she wants anyway, and that's where the pose belongs, because it's too, well... posed. And as much as I can explain the practical application of the pose from the standpoint of a martial arts instructor (as I was explaining to Sunny earlier, part of my inspiration for this painting was a time when I heard a snake in the bushes, and immediately struck a defensive stance, and then realized how silly it was. Like that would do any good against a snake) but I refuse to use that as an excuse to dig in my heels and not improve. CA is my classroom, and I intend to treat it as a student, and the artists here as my instructors.

    So, I'm going to do a new photo shoot, with this scene and story clearly in mind. I'm going to sketch every pose, and post the best ones and see what others think is the one that best fits the intent. It's been mentioned outside the board that the goblin's evil grinning face is totally off for the silly tone I want to get across (I think of the goblin more as a playful dog than as a real threat).

    Since I want to become less reliant on photo refs, once I start painting I'm going to make a concerted effort to avoid checking the painting against the photo and adjusting it accordingly. Not that I'm against it entirely, it's just a crutch of mine and it's not helping me any to fall back on it. That said, I've made a habit of starting off with the exact shape of the figure in a photo, filling in with a flat color and painting from there, and I made some baby steps this time by painting over the sketch first, THEN bringing in the photo and using the pen tool and erasers to fix the mistakes, but I digress. Time to push on.

    In any case, time is against me at the moment, but I WILL come back to this and finish it up. In the meantime, here's the thumbnail for posterity.

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    Heh, I do love it when they try to deny it.

    It is amazing how you were able to line up finger shadows, ass crack, hair curls and specular highlights along the back and end up having your painting and reference photos the exact same size. Some might say that is even impossibly difficult to do... but I digress. XD

    Anyways, if you want some more advice, I would say skip the photo reference stage and go back to the simple pencil and paper technique. Sketch out the iterations while thinking about composition, pose/gesture, etc. to get a really good base, THEN take reference shots of the model in the pose you have chosen. For realism and to help the model, you can stage a fake imp (anything your model can look at so she knows where the creature is) to help relate spacial awareness to the model for believability in the pose.

    I really think it will work out better for you if you start with composition, then move into reference, and move into rendering last.

    I can't wait to see more.

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    Heh, I do love it when they try to deny it.

    It is amazing how you were able to line up finger shadows, ass crack, hair curls and specular highlights along the back and end up having your painting and reference photos the exact same size. Some might say that is even impossibly difficult to do... but I digress. XD

    Anyways, if you want some more advice, I would say skip the photo reference stage and go back to the simple pencil and paper technique. Sketch out the iterations while thinking about composition, pose/gesture, etc. to get a really good base, THEN take reference shots of the model in the pose you have chosen. For realism and to help the model, you can stage a fake imp (anything your model can look at so she knows where the creature is) to help relate spacial awareness to the model for believability in the pose.

    I really think it will work out better for you if you start with composition, then move into reference, and move into rendering last.

    I can't wait to see more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bai Fan View Post
    Heh, I do love it when they try to deny it.

    It is amazing how you were able to line up finger shadows, ass crack, hair curls and specular highlights along the back and end up having your painting and reference photos the exact same size. Some might say that is even impossibly difficult to do... but I digress. XD

    Anyways, if you want some more advice, I would say skip the photo reference stage and go back to the simple pencil and paper technique. Sketch out the iterations while thinking about composition, pose/gesture, etc. to get a really good base, THEN take reference shots of the model in the pose you have chosen. For realism and to help the model, you can stage a fake imp (anything your model can look at so she knows where the creature is) to help relate spacial awareness to the model for believability in the pose.

    I really think it will work out better for you if you start with composition, then move into reference, and move into rendering last.

    I can't wait to see more.

    No no, I fully admit to it. No denial here. I just meant to say that for me, the process was different than what I usually do, and thus it felt like a step in the right direction (albeit, a baby step). It's sort of like an addiction really. I set out with the intent to avoid it entirely, then thought "weeeeellll... I'll just check it against the photo..." and next thing you know, I'm masking, and erasing, and repainting to match the highlights, and then the heroin... Well, you get the picture.

    I'm not sure if I'm ready to do a bunch of sketches out of my head before having a source. It'd help me get to where I'm going, without a doubt, but it's a bigger step than I might be ready for just yet, if you know what I mean.

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    Alright, ya got me. Here's the REAL thumbnail sketch before I painted it over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bai Fan View Post
    Heh, I do love it when they try to deny it. ...
    A little compassion and understanding is a lot more effective in delivering a strong message that will be well received. If you expect them to always deny it then you are not setting yourself up to reach them where it matters and be a good teacher. You start your post off with them being defensive. That is not being effective.

    The new sketch (not the stick figures! lol) is a great step forward! and its a great sketch. Def move forward with more drawing from life and trying to poses and compositions. Bai makes some good points too . Keep this project going here! will be sweet to see how it evolves along with your understanding!

    Last edited by Sunny; February 16th, 2010 at 08:44 AM.
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    Talking

    Strange, I was surprised at how open and willing to take criticism the original poster was. (Well done there by the way).

    The main things for this are still composition and pose for me. If you don't like sketching, but think you have close to the idea you want, you can also cut up the piece in photoshop and move things around to get a better composition.

    Moving things to hotspots would be a good start. I pushed the perspective a bit in the first one and gave a letterbox framing to the 2nd one. I also added more goblins in the 2nd which could make her pose more believable... and it only took 5-8 minutes total. Try to be quick, and zoom out a lot to see the whole composition at once.

    $.o2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bai Fan View Post
    Strange, I was surprised at how open and willing to take criticism the original poster was. (Well done there by the way).

    The main things for this are still composition and pose for me. If you don't like sketching, but think you have close to the idea you want, you can also cut up the piece in photoshop and move things around to get a better composition.

    Moving things to hotspots would be a good start. I pushed the perspective a bit in the first one and gave a letterbox framing to the 2nd one. I also added more goblins in the 2nd which could make her pose more believable... and it only took 5-8 minutes total. Try to be quick, and zoom out a lot to see the whole composition at once.

    $.o2
    Nice nice nice! I wouldn't have guessed a landscape canvas would work so damn well, but that looks pretty freakin' sweet. The more I see it, the more I have to agree that the pose, even if the arm position has a technical value, the body position itself is just waaaay too soft. And that's my fault too, as I took the photos, posed the subject and picked the pose I wanted to paint (with some aggressive hints from the missus. ). I can see this being so much more dynamic with a more active, aggressive pose, and a weapon with some reach.

    But thanks for opening my mind on the composition some more. It is by far my weakest link, and the number one this I want to improve. I still struggle with taking up too much or too little of the paper when I sketch. Don't know if it's poor depth perception (I have trouble lining up the gas tank with the pump too) poor spatial relation conversion, or what, but I really have to work at it. So these types of "just do this!" posts are insanely helpful. Hopefully with each WIP I'll be able to show some obvious improvement in the main problem areas.

    And I hope I continue to come across as gracious and humble, because that really is my intention. I just don't want anyone to confuse the paint over ref techniques I've used with someone taking a custom brush and some filters to a photo until it looks messy enough that it was painted. Some might not make the same distinction there that I do but I DO have SOME professional pride.

    I do want to do a big ol' passel of sketches, because they'll help a ton in my ability to draw out of my head (which is another massive weakness. Okay, probably much worse than just composition). My worry is that without some life ref to start with, I'll find the sketching process more frustrating than helpful. My hope is, I can do it refs first THIS time, and then the next time, I'll be ready to up the ante. Baby steps...

    Anyway, thank you so much for your suggestions. I hope you chime more as this progresses and on future projects.

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    Heh, your attitude sounds so... healthy. It's so strange and foreign to me.

    If you are really wanting to improve your drawing from imagination skills, then I agree that drawing from life as much as possible is the way to go.

    I am an animator by trade, so the letterbox composition tends to feel more natural to me.


    Can't wait to see an update.

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