Lost in this picture... any advice appreciated..

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  1. #1
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    Lost in this picture... any advice appreciated..

    Name:  OhGod.jpg
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    I haven't been here in a long time as I feel I've been getting worse with my art and have been a little scared at all the harsh critique.
    Backgrounds are not my strongpoint, and shading this has been a nightmare due to the character's markings. (Not my character, markings cannot be changed.) I've really just lost it all with this and any advice or critiques (as harsh as possible) to get me back on track would be awesome.

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  3. #2
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    I wouldn't ever say the critique here is actually meant to be harsh so much as indepth. Don't be afraid of people tearing apart your work so far in order to point out the flaws.

    So far, I would simply say to keep going through the motions for a bit, flesh it out a bit more and add more detail, then to go back and mess with the light sources - pictures like this benefit extremely well from well placed light sources, and if you manipulate those enough then it should come along well.

    Other then that, I would say to go ahead and concentrate on the look of a seedy little town bar. Good luck, either way, it's looking great.

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  4. #3
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    Thanks much. I'll have to think about what to put in the background. All I can think of is shelves and mugs, but it looks pretty boring.

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    The biggest thing you could do to improve it is make better lighting. Right now the picture is completely flat and lightless.

    Decide where your light source is, what color it is, what color the ambient light is. Calculate the falling shadow. Then repaint.

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    This is what the shading is doing. I can't promise it's the best, but I know exactly where the light is, the light is pale blue, have calculated the falling shadow.
    What makes it look like I haven't?

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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayem View Post
    This is what the shading is doing. I can't promise it's the best, but I know exactly where the light is, the light is pale blue, have calculated the falling shadow.
    What makes it look like I haven't?
    For one, you haven't calculated it well enough. It doesn't look right.

    Two, while you have a falling shadow of sorts, the rest is completely flat. There is no difference in brightness between the surfaces at 90 degrees to the light source and the ones at 15 degrees to it. The result is like a cardboard cutout.

    (For solving One and Two, you are welcome to check out this trick of mine: Lighting without reference. It's a bit advanced, but it works. You'll need a solid foundation in perspective to do it, though.)

    Three, you've mostly ignored the background. It's nearly all gray, and you have a flat blue lizardman thing in the middle of that gray. That's where the ambience steps into the play. You'd have all kinds of reflected and diffused light from that directional blue source contributing to the ambience and thus to the color of shadows. Instead you have a gray background, inexplicably violet shadows on the lizardman, and that's about it. It does not compute to a cohesive indoor lighting. But the background is more important for good lighting than the figure; you must give it attention first, not last.

    Four, pale blue light is not the first color that one associates with lighting in a tavern, so it simply looks arbitrary. If this represents skylight, then you won't have a sharp shadow indoors. If there is a reason why a directional light source is pale blue, you should consider including an explanation right in the picture - e.g. show one of the magic blue-burning candles or whatever.

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  9. #7
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    I was originally planning on having yellow/orange lighting for those exact reasons. The problem was with all the different blues in the markings. Anything but blue light distorted the colours too much. Blue candles (or something similar) sounds like a great idea.
    Thanks very much. I will try and apply all you said.

    I don't really understand how it's not calculated well enough, though. I know it's not going to be perfect, but it can't be so bad you can't tell where the light source is coming from?

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    Also, I have used the same colours for shading everything: The red as a shadow, and the blue as light and reduced the opacity on all the shading layers. Is this a bad technique? Just want a bit of clarity, because I don't really understand what you mean by "inexplicably violet shadows on the lizardman".
    Thanks again.

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    I think even more than the issue of properly calculated lighting is that in my opinion, your choice of lighting is just boring and/or misplaced. Your lighting scheme is making the whole thing feel like a bas-relief sculpture or maybe like a (dim) flash photo. Combine this with the background that is completely perpendicular to the viewer and you get a very flat looking image (even if it may be technically "correct").
    You have the artistic freedom to light this scene however you want (unless specified by the commissioner?), so why not work it in a way that conveys what you really want this image to look like in terms of mood/focus/etc.?

    By the by, I can't really tell if this guy is supposed to be sitting at a table or a bar (pretty low for a bar). Either way, it looks like his knees are knocking against the edge (is that why he looks pissed off?).
    Also, make sure you calculate all the perspective and keep everything consistent in that respect.

    Last edited by wooblood; February 25th, 2011 at 08:24 AM.
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  13. #10
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    It sounds as if you are trying to composite your lighting from adjustment /transparency layers in Photoshop...

    If that's what you are doing, don't. It's too limiting. Trying to overlay orange and blue will produce something nearly black. Transparency layers in Photoshop are good for post-production, and for "cartoony" style, but not much of an advantage if you want a realistic treatment. For that, it is better to simply paint on the same layer.

    It may help to compose your painting from colored dabs, not from layers. Make a "mosaic" of brushstrokes.

    It may help a lot to practice it with real paint. Technology clearly gets in your way, you need something simple that will allow you to focus on color and values, not on layers and transparencies.

    There is nothing inherently difficult about making the blue lizard look blue in the orange lighting indoors. You just have to abandon the idea that blue is always blue, and use whatever color that looks blue in the current lighting context. If it turns out purple or dark red, but seems blue to the eye in the current lighting, then it's blue. If there is a green reflex on it from something, then make it green. But you need to stop labeling colors ("paper is white") and actually look at the real colors ("white paper is red under red lighting").

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  15. #11
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    This is extremely rough just to get my idea across. But what if you added a door and maybe a window to add some more drama?

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  17. #12
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    That's an incredibly low bar - about mid thigh height?, You might do better making it a table.
    A straight on shot of the bar is killing this piece, try to add some depth by angling it perhaps.
    Colour wise try to think of contrasting colours, he could be sat by a roaring fire (in the bar) that way you could work up the orange as a contrast to the blue.

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  19. #13
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    Wooblood: This makes a lot of sense. I couldn't work out why it all looked so flat, and this is why it's been getting to me.

    arenhaus: I do quite a bit of traditional art on the side of digital. The problem is overlay layers have worked on every piece of digital artwork I've done to date, except this.
    "If there is a green reflex on it from something, then make it green. But you need to stop labeling colors ("paper is white") and actually look at the real colors ("white paper is red under red lighting")." I promise I understand this. It wasn't that he looked the wrong colour, it was that the markings looked extremely distorted colourwise. (Since cyan is pretty far away from blue on the colour wheel.)
    Also, I will try painting directly onto the layer. I think this will work a lot more than layers.
    Thanks.

    manlybrian: That looks so much better. Amazing.

    Venger: I imagined im as a giant lizard. Or bigger than the average man. I just realized with his glass so big it doesn't convey that at all.
    I will try and start the background again.
    My friend suggested a fire, and I plan on doing that next opportunity I have to draw. Thanks.

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  20. #14
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    his seat seems adapted to his size to, making it a bit shorter (in addition to the glass you mentioned) will help convey his real size.

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  21. #15
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    Name:  Better.jpg
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    Here is an update. I have put more detail in the background, and made everything more orange, also stuffed some candles in there.
    Regrettably, I did not change the angle of the background. Though it would be cool, this picture is killing me, and I have spent way too many hours on this as it is. The commissioner is happy with it. I think I just need to finish it, and take on board what you all have said for next time.

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  22. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ayem View Post
    this picture is killing me, and I have spent way too many hours on this as it is.
    A sure sign that you need to move on to other pictures.

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  24. #17
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    arenhaus: Indeed.

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  25. #18
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    I like where it could go. How about adding a very nervous looking human bartender and bar patrons at the bar with the creature?

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