Art: Jason Rainville's Portfolio Review
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    Jason Rainville's Portfolio Review

    I'm Jason, 25 years old and failing at freelancing essentially. Right now I'm working with a few small tabletop RPG publishers. While I've seen some improvement over the years I feel that there are some crucial things I might be missing. I've got some more specific info down below, but generally I just want to get better overall. if you want to skip reading all the crap below and just critique that's fine

    Where I want to be:
    Freelancing, creating covers or interior art for fantasy novels, rpg book etc. While concept art/video game art in general doesn't interest me as much, I'd very much consider working for video game publishers. I want to work mainly with characters, with environment and creature art in a secondary role.

    Pin-up art would probably be the dream. If I could paint goddesses, super heroines, mythical femme-beings etc. I'd be happy. More erotic/pornographic images however I'm not into; tasteful nudes only.

    More specifically in the short term I'd like to get in with Paizo/WOTC (which I've done some small work for in the past but through a failed artists studio headed by a guy who's paid none of us, the cocksucker).


    Where I think I could be going wrong;

    I don't want to taint any critiques but there are a few things that have been troubling me;

    - My rendering usually feels plastic. Adding more texture/softening certain things makes it look unfinished, while rendering everything out makes it look even more plastic.
    - Composition confounds me
    - When I try to make things more dynamic with dramatic lighting and louder colours most images end up feeling tacky, but understating it makes it feel dull. i might be having some problems with contrast.
    - lately I've noticed a trend in my work where things get too soft and mushy. I think I've gone back to softer brushes after things felt too harsh and specific.

    lastly; paintovers, no matter how quick or dirty are always appreciated. thanks in advance for any crits, here's some more recent/best work;

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    1st pic: This is a little bit too blurry overall. My main issue with it however is the guy in the front--his anatomy is very off and his head is much cartoonier/unrealistically proportioned than the rest of the figures in the composition. I also find all of the characters in the image are very stiffly posed.

    2nd pic: The background is overly blurred, and looks especially odd with the spiderwebs on it since they are so much sharper and look very out of place for how far in the background they are. The lamp post in the foreground is far too prominent and is honestly where my eye keeps looking. Why is it so large and bright, and why did you put so much detail on the leaves next to it?

    3rd pic: This one is quite good. I would only watch out with the far hand of the man who is being punched--once again this is an area with too much attention when not necessary. The gun by the hand might also be repositioned as its position in space looks rather awkward next to the cat woman's head.

    4th pic: I like this one a lot--very nice colours and lighting. A few areas of pure black or just a very very dark value in key places would help create that extra bit of punch. Also the rocks appear a bit plastic, so some more texture and some stress crack lines in them would make them more "rocky".

    5th pic: Great study! Not much to crit here...maybe the soft brush used on the hair looks a bit odd when it goes beyond the hair like that, but really it is a strong painting.

    6th: Anatomy on this is very good. The skin tones bother me however. She is very red coloured, yet is in a blue environment. Her skin tones should be dependent upon the surroundings. I can see you tried putting in some of the blue into the shadows, but it would also influence the stuff in the light (because if the light was red, the surroundings would be too). The clouds can also be made to look more like clouds as they appear rather solid at the moment.

    7th: Possibly my favourite of the bunch. This is very good, only thing I see is that the red flowers are a bit too strong and saturated. But everything else is great--the rock, skin tones, and drapery and all very believable.

    8th: Honestly this doesn't make much sense. Why are there a bunch of green goats? If she is in a cave, where is all the light coming from? She is also in an extremely awkward pose, and her legs/pelvis are anatomically off. The foreground isn't making much sense either with the purple flowers creating a rift in the image and being very out of place colours wise.

    9th: There is too much fighting for attention here--the figure, the white of the waves, the flowers, the orange at the bottom etc. The top half of the picture looks like it is from a different painting than the bottom half.

    10th: This looks pretty good. Not much to crit here...

    11th: The first thing I notice is the texture is very distracting and I would get rid of it, or find a way to make it look more natural and like sand. At the moment it honestly is not good at all. The rest of the painting is nice however. A few anatomy issues like short arms and a very thick waist. But the cool shadows against the warm light works well. I would tone down the metal belt buckle as it draws too much attention to itself.

    12th: This looks very good. Grab some ref for the wings and feathered legs, as well as the feet. They are all a bit too cartoony, and don't meet the same quality with which you have painted the torso. Her arms also can be reworked a bit as they don't recede back in space very well.



    All in all, a very good portfolio Jason. Keep on with your hard work!

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    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
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    Last edited by Andrew Sonea; April 17th, 2011 at 02:29 PM.
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    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
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    Last edited by Andrew Sonea; April 17th, 2011 at 02:29 PM.
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    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
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    Last edited by Andrew Sonea; April 17th, 2011 at 02:30 PM.
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    "Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley

    "If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
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    4 crits for the price of one!

    EDIT: and big thanks. Agreed with all of it. So essentially main problems would be improper focus, some anatomy/colour constancy issues and things being too blurred in areas?

    And for the lady with the goats.... boy it was a weird one. The brief is that she's Capricorn, the mistress of like 40 mountain goats (the males being dark green) who resides in a seaside cave. In the cave is a large garden/forest which grows from the light emanating from within the cave, which is apparently equivalent to normal sunlight.

    Last edited by Jason Rainville; April 17th, 2011 at 02:19 PM.
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    Oops, wow I didn't mean to post four times haha. It wasn't posting properly, nto sure if it my internet or what.

    But yeah those are the main things. You mentioned also that you found you were painting too plasticy, and not good with texture. I wasn't bothered by it looking too plastic, but if you are perhaps you should do some texture studies. Practice using textured brushes, phototexture overlays etc. You may want to look at Brad Rigney (Cryptcrawler). His stuff used to be super plastic looking, but now he is using texture very well. You can maybe try to analyze how he made the transition, what types of thigns he was doing, and how he is using the textures.

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    I actually have cryptcrawler's video, Only saw it halfway through once though. I'll def take another look

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    I've never seen his video unfortunately...but just looking at his art you can see an improvement in texture:
    http://cryptcrawler.deviantart.com/a...2F4278841&qo=7
    http://cryptcrawler.deviantart.com/a...2F4278841&qo=0

    Also I guess just study artists who use texture a lot and still make it look finished. There are a ton of them, but off the top of my head here are a couple:
    http://maciejkuciara.com/
    http://www.komarckart.com/index.html
    http://www.goodbrush.com/
    http://matejapetkovic.cgsociety.org/gallery/

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    I don't think rendering is your issue--in fact, I'd say that part is easily professional enough to be getting work from the companies you're aiming at. I'd say if anything you're falling short in the gesture and costuming departments. The gestures feel stiff overall, and the costumes are quite a bit too plain. Check out the art that Wizards commissions--often it's very highly detailed with a lot of nick-nacks in the design.

    Really solid work, all in all. Keep at it!

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    Hi jason ! I second noah bradley for the rendering stuff, i don't think it comes from it ! All i see is some anatomy issues, the more you'll understand anatomy better, the more you'll be able to render them better ! So keep it up, don't give up, and you'll be successful !

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    So, I think you're aware that there are a few anatomy and design slip-ups here and there, alongside some general stiffness, but I really don't think that's what is completely holding you up.

    I think you have an identity crisis.

    First, you want to work in probably the most competitive genres of illustration. Needless to say you are walking on a very well trodden path. In front of you are some very skilled and highly talented people, who already have a track record for success. Not to say you aren't skilled or capable, but what is your game plan to compete with people like Algen, Jana, and Rapoza (Just to name a few community examples.)?

    Sure, eventually you will raise your ability level to muster, but what then? What is it about your depiction of an orc that will set it apart from the 10,000 others we have all seen? Why is your image not a disposable one? How can I spot a Jason Rainville in a sea of well established archetypes and cliches? What makes you unique? How do you stand out?

    These, I think, are more important questions in the long run.
    Best of luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CKLamb View Post
    So, I think you're aware that there are a few anatomy and design slip-ups here and there, alongside some general stiffness, but I really don't think that's what is completely holding you up.

    I think you have an identity crisis.

    First, you want to work in probably the most competitive genres of illustration. Needless to say you are walking on a very well trodden path. In front of you are some very skilled and highly talented people, who already have a track record for success. Not to say you aren't skilled or capable, but what is your game plan to compete with people like Algen, Jana, and Rapoza (Just to name a few community examples.)?

    Sure, eventually you will raise your ability level to muster, but what then? What is it about your depiction of an orc that will set it apart from the 10,000 others we have all seen? Why is your image not a disposable one? How can I spot a Jason Rainville in a sea of well established archetypes and cliches? What makes you unique? How do you stand out?

    These, I think, are more important questions in the long run.
    Best of luck.

    I'd thank you ten times for that if I could, I think that hit to one of the big issues I've been neglecting.

    First with an "excuse" for the orc and some of the other images; most of these were paid work for clients that wanted classic monster/character archetypes depicted in a standard, cliched way (despite the fact that they're all small publishers directly competing with WOTC.... sounds familiar to my situation ). I wanted to give those dwarves a heavily persian influence, but the client was clear that they were to be "normal"

    Aside from some of that, I've never put any thought into what "style" I was using, and often I find myself conflicted over whether I should throw realistic lighting situations out the door and go for all sunset/high contrast lighting or whether I should tone everything down with normal sunny days or overcast skies. Subtlety or drama. then i don't know whether to bullshit a bunch of tiny unrealistic details on equipment and clothing, or go for more simple realistic accouterments. THEN on top of that the quality of my work is just plain inconsistent.

    I really don't want to take on something gimmicky just so I can differentiate myself. I've never even dabbled in lined art, exaggerated proportions or highly graphic images. I just don't really know where to go

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    Never be gimmicky. Be true to yourself, but if you feel you enjoy something visually, push it to the limits. Ultimately, style decisions will come out of necessity, but sometimes you have to cajole yourself to reach that point. And, don't be afraid to experiment. I've got plenty of failed experiments, but they all taught me something, even if it was only that I didn't like that particular method/color/layer/etc.

    You've proven you have the necessary drive to push forward, just by looking at your sketchbook. Now is the time to start reflecting on what is important to you aesthetically. I'm not saying you shouldn't continue to improve your anatomy and other areas of expertise, but you definitely need to ask yourself some important questions.

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    One of the things I did notice is your lack of realistic males compared to your females.

    You've the fantasy male pretty pat, but the average joe, is weak (ex. *The guy with the spear looks like the back of his head's missing & the hunters). *Even if the viewer doesn't see it, or it's not there, the shape of the skull must indicate that it's there.

    Something to work on.

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    Since this is turning into more of a discussion I'll put this here for consideration as well;

    It actually seems i did have a different "style" I was dabbling with prior to all this work, which is all from November to now. It seems that during last summer and before I was using a square, textured brush half the time as my main brush. I left things much more unspecific, and it's one of the few times I felt that the final coat of paint wasn't plastic;

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    Looking at these images again and thinking about what I'd do with it now with my round brush, unfortunately I'd have to say that I'd sharpen up everything to the point where there were hard lines around the nose, eyes, everything. Maybe the textured brush just helped me let go and leave things less "perfect"?

    I have to say though that this came together rather serendipitously, and previous attempts at this textured painterly style didn't always work out. Still, wouldn't mind getting comments on it, now that CK has created a real crisis in my head

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    Hey, Jason! I've been eyeing your portfolio here and the reviews so far. I really admire your work, every time you improve on your craft. I hope to do it too, and I'm glad to learn from you!

    Your rendering is beautiful--the colour and light, and the forms shining through with their diverse textures. All of the above really catches my eye. You get the concept very nicely painted, and what's going on is clear to me.

    If anything, I too noticed the stiff poses, and I think you just need to go beyond where the studies have taken you, and really imagine that moment in time and action, where each scene is taking place. Think of suspension, where you've caught your subject in that moment. Sometimes the poses work well, but for a lot of these pictures, there is so much more movement to show!

    For the last picture you showed here, I think the pose is fine. He reminds me of a sculpted figure, and a very handsome, powerful AND graceful one. I think there is some definite movement going on, and he's really ready to entertain! He actually looks like he just finished playing, and swung away the bow with confident precision.

    On the other hand, that girl with the...goats...rams (I don't know, I suck at getting the animal names correct ), looks like a scuplted figure, too. But in her case, I think it would be even better if she looked as though she were hugging her pals in fright, and not so much posing like she's a stone and they're nuzzling her. Her somewhat frightened expression intrigues me, but the pose is taking away from the impact of her being "found out". That's what I'm getting from this picture, that somebody found her and she didn't expect it.

    I think you can do that, it's just a matter of loosening up with your poses, and others have said it. I hope I'm making sense and not being a repetitive nag! Man, you have a wonderful portfolio. I'm rooting for you, I know you'll be heading far, and I anticipate seeing more improvements from you!

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