I am still working on the Castle in my other WIP, but as always have a few other things on the go. This is a very early thumbnail.
In case it is not clear what is going on yet, you are looking at a very deep, pretty wide, chasm. You can just see the strip of light at the top. There are towns built on the massive tree roots that drop down the chasm walls. The roots have been used to bridge the chasm in a couple of places and the towns are built out on these. In the foreground there are some people walking down the staircase. There are nets in the distance - they catch things that fall from the cities and higher up in the chasm.
The concept is from a book by Sherri S Tepper - The Mavin Manyshaped trilogy - and I have wanted to draw this scene for some time.
There are some other elements I mean to add, and I have not added much lighting yet at all. There will be light sources other than the top of the chasm.
My question for the moment is: Does the forced perspective work? I've left the perspective lines over the image, and you can see that I have bent the foreground out a little so there will be the opportunity to add more detail there and have some focus on the people. My worry at this early stage is that we are looking across at the people, and up at the chasm at the same time. Can I get away with a sort of fish eye lens effect (is that the right term)? I want the viewers eye to be drawn from the people up to the end of the chasm and for the extreme depth to be apparent.
Last edited by Chris-Garrett; September 21st, 2011 at 05:26 PM.
Reason: Updating thumbnail
Those perspective lines you have will actually have to be curved (which you actually have in your drawing a little bit), and I think there will need to be more distance between the figures and the next bridge which you can see so much of the bottom of. I'm not sure how to go about plotting something like this out, but I'm sure you can find some information on 'curvilinear perspective'.
I found a really nice link on how to draw a four-point perspective grid in a vector package and I've overlaid it on my image and tweaked the composition a little to accomodate it.
The method was basically to draw a stright-line two-point perspective grid with one vanishing point to the far left and the other to the far right, and then to overlay it with a series of ovals to produce the curves. It may not be a 100% accurate implementation of curvilinear perspective, but I think it produced a pretty good grid for my composition. I looked at 5-point perspective but felt it was too distorted for my purposes.
I dont have access to my art PC at the moment though. As soon as I do, I'll post the tutorial link and a modified thumbnail.
I wanted to attach my grid, but SVGs don't appear to be a valid file type (I created the grid in inkscape, exported it as a bitmap and imported it into PS). The article is clear, though.
I've attached a newer thumbnail, and one with the grid lines so you can see how I've placed it. What do you all think? Does it work? I'm inclined to think it does at the moment.
Also for your delectation, I've drawn some glowing floating gasbag fish to go in the scene. I hope to put in more than two (maybe a few dozen) although I haven't exactly decided where yet. I'm just working on the basic creature design for now. They will be light sources, which should bring some interest into the scene. How do they look? Am I headed in a good direction with their design? In the book, they are caught and used as lamps by the people who live in the towns in the chasm.
Oh yes - still no people on the stairs, but I will put them in soon. They wont be afraid of the fish; they are harmless and I want to put enough around that the scene has a sense of wonder to it.
Heh the detailed fish designs were a bit of a tangent to be honest. But they were fun.
As you say, they are going to be very small. I'm wrestling with how to fit it all together in a way that will allow the picture to be read well. In my early renders the fish are rather too garish compared to the almost monotone chasm. I think this picture may take a while for me to figure out!
Haha. Those certainly are for our delectation. I'd think you could portray them like fireflies in a field: not really contributing to the overall lighting, and getting smaller and slightly fainter in the distance.
Be careful with those roots that they don't get too high in contrast and ruin the depth.
I'm a bit worried about the top of your composition. It's dangerously close to being a peak. You could either crop it a bit lower, or (and I think this is a better idea) extend the picture more and show the top of the canyon walls (which would splay out from a single, central vanishing point).
Thank you for all comments so far. I've not had much time to spend on this over the last few days, but have tried to progress the composition a bit. I'm beginning to think I should have chosen a slightly simpler composition, but it is throwing up some interesting questions for me to try and answer!
I've tried to take Mr Corlans suggestion about bringing in more space at the top of the composition, but I'm not sure if it works or not. The difficulty is that (as far as I can see, and I haven't found any examples to confirm or deny my ideas) the cliffs should effectively come out from all around the vanishing point - So the cliffs above the horizontal line the vanishing point is on look really distorted. Does anyone have any suggestions on this?
I've also added in more fish. Most of them will be glow-wormy, but some will be close enough / large enough to have some detail (although probably not as much as my concept sketches). I'll add some atmospheric swirls of mist etc once I'm totally happy with the placing of the stream of fish. I'm not sure whether to have them going along chasm or up vertically as you see them here. They are floating, not swimming, so I'm tending towards the vertical orientation.
I have three figures on the steps too. I intend to give them climbing equipment and may have one of them holding a torch if the fish don't cast enough of a glow. The front one needs to be a young, lithe (not busty) female. Shes a bit angular at the moment - I'll work on this.
Well I didn't see anything wrong with the top of your image before. Since no one has ever seen that before, it just looks crazy. No one is going to know whats going on at the top of the frame.
The values right now aren't making sense for a torch or for noticeably glowing fish. As it is now, they wouldn't need a torch to see, and the glows wouldn't really show. I would think the next step is to get that the way you want it. Darken the whole thing overall...if you want them to need a torch.
Okay, this is what I was thinking for the top. I found a photo that is fairly close to what I had in mind, and I did a paint-over. I basically just started using plain old one-point perspective as it got close to the top, plus another VP down on your horizon line for the top edges of the cliffs. I also tried a version with a closer bridge which I thought might help show the perspective better. And I couldn't resist fiddling around with some other stuff while I was at it, sorry. Feel free to scrap this whole idea though, it's your picture.
I think the figures might be too big. Did you find anything in your perspective travels with a square grid that you could use to scale them to the bridges? Or you could just fiddle with the size until they look right.
Hi. I finally found some more time to work on this (damn its been a hard week!). I've left out the fish for the moment, until I am happy with the feel of the rest of the composition. Plus I think its confusing if they look like fish so I might design some other sort of glowing floating creature.
I've added a red glow from the bottom of the chasm (there are lava and glowing crystals down there in the book) and strengthened the green halo at the top.
Mr Corlan: I really liked your paintover so I've taken more than a few pointers from it The bridge in the forground was a stroke of genius as far as resolving the perspective goes, but I've pushed it further up to accentuate the height.
Hows it looking at the moment? I know the people are a bit... wrong ... but the lack of pixels on the thumbnail is hurting me there. I'll just have to do a few more studies when I start work on the full size version I think. Are their general values / colours working though?
Hows it looking? How many rookie errors can you see?
Right now the perspective of the men and the stairs they are on, and the rest of the piece don't match up. Personally I would suggest going back to the thumbnail stage and trying out different compositions and perspectives that are much more dynamic and compelling. I really like the idea of the glowing fish, perhaps redevelop this piece with them in mind from the start? One of my teachers explained that sometimes the best way to make a painting work is to destroy what you have and mash up everything, and hell does it ever work. It feels like you just stuck with the first thing that came to mind and tried to plan everything around that, it definitely shows. I don't feel immersed in this scene, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve.
This is a bit wordy, so there is a TLDR at the bottom
I certainly had the chasm idea at the start and most of this thread has been about how to show its height/depth. I know that the people are not correct within the perspective - but they would look very distorted (tall, thin, slightly warped) if they were. So I think I will remove them from the foreground.
I did doodle a number of (very rough) thumbnails before starting this thread though. I just never scanned them in. It wasn't so clear early on that the perspective of the people would become an issue in this composition (I wasn't thinking of curvilinear perspective at the time). I do have a few other possible compositions that I'll sketch out here as soon as I get the chance.
I do want to get the curvilinear perspective working however - its a fun challenge - so I'm hoping to at least stick with the view up towards the top of the chasm. I realise this kind of goes against your point though. I do accept and agree with what you have said - and I have done the same in many other pictures - its just that I am trying to approach this one as a specific technical challenge as well as a bit of concept art.
The biggest issue for me right now is finding time at the Photoshop computer to actually do anything at all. My progress is so frustratingly slow sometimes!
TLDR: I'll do some more thumbnails, but probably based around the same perspective
I did some more thumbnailing within the constraints of using curvilinear pespective but only came up with one so far that I thought worked with the perspective and with the story (yes I'm being stubborn about the curvilinear perspective still but I need to get it out of my system ;P ). I think its a more engaging moment in the story to draw anyhow.
I'm sure this doesn't make any sense in relation to the other picture at first glance. Basically there is a giant maggot-thing eating he roots the towns are built on, and a shapeshifter in bird shape is swooping down to attack it.
Any thoughts on this one? I know the maggot doesn't stand out enough yet, but is the basic composition better?
PS. I'll do a picture involving the fish another time, because I'm still enjoying playing around with the perspective.
I don't know Chris. I feel like with the other version you had a theme developing. You had a vertical panorama of this huge dark chasm and a bunch of bridges coming closer and closer, which implied a theme of traveling, and then a small group of adventurers making their way through the foreground. It all fit together. Now you have this diving angel, a torch, a big maggot thing . . . and all your hard work on the environment is turned into: -a backdrop-. Yes, partly it's just because the figures are way too light and the lighting is wrong for the environment, but they just don't fit. You need some distance from them. The perspective of the canyon makes seem as if it is enveloping the viewer, even going behind you, but then the new figures are just pasted on top of that and it kills it.
The chasm, especially the top of it with the bridges, is a fundamental part of your piece. Whatever you do in the foreground has to connect and fit with it, thematically, perspectivally, and value-wise.
I appreciate your points Mr. Corlan. Right now I'm feeling a bit torn because I like elements from both pictures. One of the difficulties of WIP threads is that you get conflicting advice sometimes I guess
The big issue I was having with the group of travellers was fitting them into the perspective. That and I feel it lacks something. I thought the fish would help but in the end I didn't think they fit.
I have lighting issues with both versions - although I think the first is better in this regard.
On the second version, I agree that the angel is too big and too highly lit. To progress on it I would also need to make it clear that the grub is endangering the towns. I like the curve in the picture from the top of the chasm, through the angel and towards the grub. It would be nice to enhance that somehow.
You bet you'll get conflicting advice, art stinks like that.
If the worms are endangering whatever's built into/onto the canyon, wouldn't there have to be a bunch of them? You could show the cliffs starting to be under-dug and crumbling with a whole bunch of worms burrowing in and maybe a few falling rocks and things. Like Foxtrot said, you could have the travelers encountering a worm that's chewed through the stairs. But I wouldn't have them right in the front. Maybe have some big worm-shapes right in the front to increase the depth and push the travelers into the scene a bit.
I had another thought about the perspective. Perhaps you're trying for too much viewpoint change with too few things to indicate it. But instead of changing the top, change the bottom half so you are still viewing the figures from somewhat below. I think that would be more believable (and interesting) than seeing the figures dead-on and dead-vertical. I could do a redline if you want, but I don't want to force you to avoid copying me directly if you agree with my advice. I hate being on either side of that.
Thanks Mr. Corlan. I'd already decided to try your suggestion of viewing the travellers from below since as you say, the viewpoint is probably changing too much and you only have the chasm sides to show it.
My current thinking (and its 2am here so its pretty fuzzy thinking) is that I'll keep working on the travellers and probably work the glowing floating creatures back in (but I want them less fish like, I think)
In a separate picture, I'll depict the fight between the grub and the angel woman (actually a shapeshifter, but appear as a bird-woman to the people of the chasm. Yes, this book has a lot in it). I'll probably spin that off in another thread once I've done some more work on it.
Thank you for the idea too foxtrot. I'll play about with having some of the people in peril in the second picture. Thats in the book so it works
I feel like your original concept was way cooler, and could easily end up being awesome if you let your current layout go and start from scratch. No matter what you do to this one, unless you are willing to make huge changes, it just won't end up being appealing. The grub idea seems too complicated and I would never have guessed what's happening on my own. The issue you had with the travelers was that you had them presented with a straight on shot, while the rest of the environment was depicted as three point perspective looking up. You need to unify the piece and then it will work.
As suggested, I've been working on making a more compelling composition. The first attempt is on the left. The second attempt is on the right and uses a more conventional single-point perspective.
I'm tending towards the second one at the moment. The values and hues are a bit off still, but with a bit of work I think it will make a better painting.
The blob in the middle humans hand will be a lantern. The white blobs around the lowest town will be birds in the distance. Its hard at this scale, but my plan in the final render is to use them to help show the height of the chasm.
I plan on darkening the foreground so the glowing fish stand out more, and obviously the humans are not lit at all at the moment. I also need to work on the atmospheric perspective on the roots and some definition of the rock face and the root walls.
What do you all think of the direction I am taking this in now? Is the basic composition better?
That's a good improvement from your latest versions. Your painting would benefit from adjusting the bright area to the surface by moving it a bit more to the right so it's not in the center. You could also get rid of that little foreground bit that wraps from the bridge to the top of the painting, it leads the eye out of the canvas at the moment. Also play around with breaking up the symmetry of those two darker pillars that lead to the horizontal bridge near the top. For scaling purposes, don't be afraid to make the people even tinier, so they are just little silhouettes. Lastly, the curvature of the foreground bridge that the people are on seems uncomfortable. Try playing around with that, or even reversing it.
Thank you for your suggestions Avvatar - I think they were all good and improved the composition further still.
I've also been reworking some of the roots, adding lighting and a bit of rock texture here and there, playing with the colour balance, and defining the colours of the fish. I still need to work out what they will actually look like and figure out how to render them from below. I'm a lot happier with the feel and coherence of the whole piece now though.
I think there are still some issues with the roots being a bit too dark at the top of the chasm, and I wonder if the bottom of the distant part of the chasm should be lightened too, to give a bit more depth. I'm out of time for tonight though, so here is the current state of things:
Well, I've been spending my spare time collecting refs for the fish (its a bit annoying that photographers insist on photographing fish from the side all the time and never from below lol) and failing badly at designing the floating creatures so they can be viewed from below and actually look good, so I've not actually done any painting on this since yesterday.
Coming back to it with a slightly fresher mind, I'm wondering if I have the perspective totally right on the foreground. Its loosely following the lines to the vanishing point, and I believe it is following the correct line horizontally, but somehow it doesn't look quite right to me. Does anyone have any insights on this?
Also, hows everything else looking? If you were more pro than me (and pretty much all of you are!) would you say "this is a good thumbnail, I can paint it full size now"? To my eyes it already looks like one of the most promising paintings I've ever done, but I always seem to think this, and I generally lose sight of some fatal flaw at this stage.