Imaginary Castle - Trying to do it properly.
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    Imaginary Castle - Trying to do it properly.

    Hi,

    I'm pretty much self-taught and I think it shows, sadly. I was looking around for process tips and I'm pretty sure that my main issue at the moment is a lack of planning and groundwork.

    JeffX99 made a very interesting post at http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=220557 suggesting it is essential to work on thumbs then values then colour studies before even starting the full size image.

    I also found Episode 17 at http://www.howtodigitalpaint.com suggesting a way of brainstorming thumbnails that appealed to me.

    So, here is my attempt. I've only done the thumbs so far. I would very much like it if you let me know if there is one you think is better than all the others, and any issues you can see in its general form so far. I'll pick one and work on refining the form and then defining general values next.

    The general theme is castles / ruins as I hope you can see.

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    Last edited by Chris-Garrett; May 17th, 2011 at 01:04 PM.
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    I like the 2nd one and the 8th one.

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    ditto on the second one but give the castle more room from the edge at the top of the canvas and swing the road back through the middle instead of off to the left.

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    I've done some more thumbnails, developing the second picture more. I haven't quite decided if I want the figures in there yet but I am tending towards the ruin with the bridge at the moment. I still need to work out the values a bit more and I'll probably work on some more thumbnails next.

    I'm not sure whether it works better with more or less sky at the moment, but all of the sketches have more sky now than when I started.

    Do any of you have any opinions on any of these sketches at the moment? Am I approaching thumbnailing in the right way?

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    Hi,

    I've been exploring values a bit more now, on my favoured picture. I've also added in a few more elements along the way. The pictures show how the values evolved. I felt they started out too dark for a daytime scene which is going to have a reasonable amount of ambient light so I adjusted the values a bit. I also corrected the castles perspective (I hope) in the final picture.

    The shadow of the bridge caused me some issues and I'm not sure it is clear that that is what it is. I'm hoping I can add a bit more detail to it when I come to start the painting.

    Stuff I ran out of time for right now:
    * I'm wondering whether to add a bit onto the bottom of the picture so I can show the bridge shadow on the ground a bit more.
    * The tree in the bottom right doesn't look right. I'll find a reference

    How does the overall values feel at the moment? Are there any obvious shadows or highlights I've missed? Does the form of the piece look solid enough?

    Thank you for looking,

    Chris.

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    on the last 3 images you've submitted, the first one is the best. It has best contrast therefore, it gives more depth. Other 2 look washed out.

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    First off, I don't know how long the path from the bridge to the castle is supposed to be, but the fact that the whole hill where the castle is standing has values very close to each other makes that distance seem very small, therefore making either the bridge look enormous or the castle look too small.

    Since we're looking at the castle from below, I am not sure we should be seeing so much of the road so close to the bridge.

    The shadow of the bridge confuses me a bit and I can't be sure of the shape of the rocks beneath it.

    Unless I'm reading the image wrong, towards the end of the bridge we can see under it at such an angle that makes the bridge seem oddly twisted because its left end which should be farther away from the viewer seems to be closer that the right one.

    I hope that was helpful.

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    Thank you for your suggestions THEMike. I've modified it some more to hopefully add some depth. The values still don't look totally right somehow but my brain aches now so I'll take another look tomorrow!

    The twisted bridge was intentional - it was meant to be broken - so I've tried to clarify that somewhat and to fix its sense of scale. I hope the bent path helps that too. I've generally tried to up the contrast a bit more so the image looks less washed out too.

    I think I still need to bring the ground in front of the castle-end of the bridge out a bit more so it has more depth, and I want to make it clearer that it is well in front of the curvy path up to the castle. I suppose I could always resort to a couple of hikers on the path to establish scale further..?

    What glaring errors can you see? I'm finding all the help really useful and its helping me look at the composition in a different way.

    Also, am I putting in too much detail at this stage? Is that hindering my ability to see the overall form when defining the values?

    Thank you,

    Chris

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    I actually like the values of the third image in your next to last post. I would keep that value scheme only darken the land mass on the right so it comes forward a bit. I think on your most recent post you're getting too dark on the castle and the hill it's on. With the value set up you've chosen, the castle & hill should be lighter because it's farther away.

    Also, I'm a bit concerned about your perspective and scale. The crenelations and probably windows on the castle are way to big. The scale on the bridge is a bit questionable too, though I realize some of this is because you're just blocking in with bigger brushes. You should be able to see the underside of the bridge and I think it'll help a lot if you can see how much the bridge expands in perspective as it gets closer. I might also push the perspective and make the right land mass bigger so that it is cropped on the top and possibly have it overlap the other hill a bit.

    I think you do need something (a person, wagon, tree) to establish scale, if only for yourself to scale everything else to. Hmmm, now that I think about this, if you had a tree right next to the castle and another at the far side of the bridge, along with the tree in the foreground, all of which would conceivably be the same size, you could use those to show the distance properly.

    Sorry this was a bit rambling and I guess I overlapped THEMike's post a bit. Eeek.

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    Right on Chris - you're approaching this pretty much exactly the right way. Coming along fine so just keep at it.

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    Thank you for your support JeffX99 Glad to hear I'm approaching things in a good manner

    Mr Corlan: I've hopefully taken some of your suggestions into account. They made a lot of sense. Thank you.

    I have a new values image below which I am reasonably happy with, and a couple of colour tests that definitely need more work.

    Any thoughts on them? I used flat washes and colour balance to generate them but managed to alter the values along the way... I'll have to fix that.

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    I would look at "hill castles" for reference.

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    These are great! I'd just like to agree with Jeff, I'm impressed with how well you're following the right process. I like the warmer colors better, just make the sky a little less purple.

    One other thing, the clouds are forming a sort of giant lollipop. You've got really solid form with the values, that's a model of sphere and cylinder rendering right there, but you might want to break up that shape a little. A perfect circle is a pretty strong shape to have in background clouds unless you have a reason for it.

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    I like how it's coming along and I wish I had any more useful advice to give, but I have very little experience with landscapes. However, I think it could be made more interesting by weaving some hint of story in it. Maybe a group of plunderers or explorers heading towards it, or workers rebuilding it. They would add some action to the whole thing and they might help establishing scale as well. I'd also add some moss and natural decay to make it look worn and abandoned, if that's what you're going for.

    These are all personal opinions of course, just trying to help however I can. good luck.

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    Thank you for all the encouragement! Looking at pictures the night after I post them always seems to make flaws stand out.

    I totally agree with Mr Corlan about the clouds. I played about with a few configurations and this just happened to be the one I had when saving last night. I definitely need to make them look a little more convincing. I was driving along last night looking at the sky and thinking "my clouds look nothing like that"

    THEMike: I actually had a sort of cromwellian feel intended when I started out, with maybe some roundheads somewhere. I'll have a play around.

    I'm still not happy with the form of the cliffs the castle stands on and I might remove them again. I want the lay of the land to be a little more realistic. I may try extending the hill that the castle is on out to the right as well - seeing it meet the ground in the distance will help establish scale again.

    So, I'm still playing about with the composition and values a lot. I'm without my tablet today though, so it will have to wait a while!

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    Well, I've done some more work and pretty much changed the lay of the land entirely again! This feels like a more feasible landscape to me.

    I've tried Mr Corlans ideas about using trees to indicate scale, and I think its improved things a lot. Please ignore the fact it is the same tree twice for the moment! I've also tried to use long grasses in a similar way, and moved the path down the hill and away in order to try and define scale too. Hopefully the form I have given the distant hillside also helps. I'm thinking that desaturating the hill in the distance will also help when I come to colour it.

    I've also ramped up the perspective on the bridge (Thank you Mr Corlan again!) which I think helps.

    Issues I can see right now having uploaded:
    * The foreground tree may be obscuring the right land mass too much therefore the bridge maybe looks too slanted? But then again it helps with perspective in its own right. Does this work?

    * I need to correct the shadow under the bridge again, since I changed its angle.

    * I need to make it a little clearer that the hill the castle is on meets the ground in the distance behind the fir trees.

    * The clouds need a lot more work and there is no real composition to them yet. I don't think their current layout enhances the picture at all.

    * I want to make the castle a little more interesting, maybe with some crenellations or spires of sloping roofs. I just haven't got around to this yet.

    Everyones comments so far have been really useful - Thank you! What do you all think of this stage?

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    That looks really good. The path and that whole hill area looks much more realistic. The bridge just is slanted a bit too much, I don't think it has to do with the tree, it's just that it's on a slightly different perspective than the castle. By my crude eyeballing (holding a ruler up to the screen) the top of the close end should be about where the bottom is now.

    I agree that the tree is obscuring too much but I'm not sure what the best way to deal with that is. I guess just shrink the tree a bit and raise the land mass a tad. Color will help differentiate between the two.
    Keep it up.

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    Ack. Why did it post a duplicate?

    Last edited by Mr. Corlan; May 21st, 2011 at 07:52 PM. Reason: cutting out duplicate
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    The only thing I can point out right now is that the tree is too dead center and makes much contrast with the sky. I think it's a little too distracting... maybe shrink it a bit as Mr. Corlan said.

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    Hi,

    I've tried to fix the perspective on the bridge, and I have steepened the perspective on the castle too. I've changed the clouds again and I'm happier with them now - I think they help the perspective somewhat.

    I'm still not happy with the bridge shadow. I've been having real problems with it. I'll have another go tomorrow!

    This is my first pass at basic colours. I'll still play about with the form and values if necessary, but I'm hopeful this is mostly ready for me to develop the colours now.

    How do you all think it is looking?

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    I made a few minor changes: I removed one of the trees. I think that the perspective is maintained by other elements in the picture now and it interrupted the flow of the eye. I've made a few minor colour tweaks and improved the shadow from the bridge.

    I'm happy enough with the thumbnail to start work on a larger version now. Can anyone see anything that I should resolve before doing that?

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    I've enlarged the picture and started painting in more details. How is it looking now?

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    That looks good Chris. I just have a few nit-picks. Make sure all the verticals on the castle are true. The tree in front of the castle is smaller than the others. I'm sure you know the drawing of the house on the left needs work. The light-valued rocks below the bridge look a little blobby and too similar. I'm still a little concerned about the clouds, they're all on exactly the same angle all the way across. Maybe spread that out so they go to a vanishing point?

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    Thank you again Mr Corlan!

    I've spent some more time painting in some details, defining the rocks etc. I've added very slight perspective to the clouds - I couldn't get a steeper perspective to look right. I think I should add some more bounced light in a few places to enhance the piece and the rocks need a bit more work too still.

    Anyhow, this is how it looks at the moment. I appreciate any feedback!

    Thank you,

    Chris.

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