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  1. #1
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    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been posting over at the cgtalk.com forums, but things seem mighty quiet over there these days. I stumbled upon conceptart.com, and it seems a little more focused on painting, so I thought I'd test the waters over here a bit.

    I'm very much an amateur - I work in software development, but have a soft spot in my heart for art. I started doing some digital painting in my spare time a few years ago, and found myself really enjoying it. Right now I'm working on a book for my oldest son Gideon - illustrating a story set to verse that my sister wrote for him. At my current rate, this children's book will make a wonderful high school graduation present, but I do really want to finish it.

    The verse I'm illustrating is as follows:

    So none of the people could tell what to do
    with the king in the tree and the knife throwers too.
    But Gideon heard, and he put away fear
    and entered the clearing and spoke so they'd hear:


    The scene is a main street in a medieval town. It is full of all sorts of people, from soldiers to friars and clergy to peasants to artisans to merchants, etc. All are arguing or fretting or scheming on what to do about the king. None notice Gideon, though he is the focal point of the image. He is marching off, determined and resolute. I'm trying to use overcast lighting.

    I warmly welcome measured critiques - though I'm not planning to do a major overhaul at this stage.

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Edit: Added image for thumbnail, since I just learned how to do it.
    Last edited by thegiffman; June 10th, 2011 at 04:30 AM.


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  3. #2
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    Hi thegiffman,
    You have a very good start. The only thing I would suggest is that you keep your foreground elements separated from you mid and background elements. This can be done with value alone. I attached a example to illustrate. Incidentally, as an admitted amateur, you should be open to changes. You never know what might be suggested that would drastically improve your work. Hope this helps.

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  5. #3
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    Thanks, Javier! I have a feeling I'll be spending more time over here - a quality critique in 20 minutes.

    I have really been struggling with how to give depth to the image and set apart the foreground elements, and I'm intrigued by the idea of making them so much darker. But I'm also a little stuck with wanting not to completely disregard physical reality. They are standing by an open window, so they shouldn't be completely dark. Yet, you make a compelling case for solving a problem I'm trying to solve - I'll give it a shot.

    The comment about not wanting to completely overhaul it is more a reflection of the amount of time I have for the hobby and actually wanting to finish the book for my son. If I'm too much of a perfectionist, I simply will not finish what I set out to do. But I'll start future posts from the beginning, and listen to critiques from stage one.

  6. #4
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    OK, here's a little bit of work on the foreground figures with a massive change of value. Is it overkill?

    Chaotic Medieval Street

  7. #5
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    Well, honestly what really bothers me is the fact that everyone has this huge, bobble head when the style itself doesn't seem to go for that sort of cartoony.
    "I eat comics and poop stylization"
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  8. #6
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    here are some things i would do>
    add some details to the pure black areas
    lower the saturation of the foreground
    use the separate layer for the ground so the brush strokes can go free, under the figures
    establish the lioght source

  9. #7
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    Hi thegiffman,
    You update does seem a bit extreme. The very dark values give the image an ominous feel. I don't know if that is your intention or not.
    I think much of your problems have to do with your initial value arrangement. For example, since your background and mid-ground elements have a fairly dark cast to them, then the foreground will need to be really dark to have separation. I would suggest simplifying your image into clearly defined sections and working from there. I included a rough painting to illustrate my point.
    Just because the figures are dark does not mean that they have to be in complete darkness. Also I arranged the other values to create a more defined focal point on the figure of the boy. Many instances will require you to be more 'theatrical' with things like lighting and composition, but this helps add interest and make images 'read' better.
    As you work, keep checking your image in gray-scale to see how the image is working. If it works well in black and white then it will look great in color. Hope this helps and good luck.

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  11. #8
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    TinyBird - Thanks for sharing your gut reaction. I'm afraid there's not much I can do about the balloon heads at this stage of the book. But I do have to ask - why do you think it's inconsistent with the style? What makes the image look non-cartoony to you (other than the overkill background dark that I'll fix)? I'm doing more realistic shading than a comic book, going for something a little more like this painting. Where, stylistically, have I dropped the ball, if indeed I do want to be cartoony?

    Here are the previous paintings, if it would help critique the style:

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Chaotic Medieval Street

    Chaotic Medieval Street

  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danilo View Post
    here are some things i would do>
    add some details to the pure black areas
    lower the saturation of the foreground
    use the separate layer for the ground so the brush strokes can go free, under the figures
    establish the lioght source
    Great thoughts - I see those things as well, but it's nicely confirming. About the light source, it is somewhat "established" I suppose, in a sense. It's overcast lighting, so a vague soft light directly overhead, tapering off some as the angle lowers, with heavier color bleeding and ambient occlusion than a hard lit image.

    I appreciate the comments, and will very much welcome a second look at the lighting as I post another update.

  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JavierP View Post
    Hi thegiffman,
    You update does seem a bit extreme. The very dark values give the image an ominous feel. I don't know if that is your intention or not.
    I think much of your problems have to do with your initial value arrangement. For example, since your background and mid-ground elements have a fairly dark cast to them, then the foreground will need to be really dark to have separation. I would suggest simplifying your image into clearly defined sections and working from there. I included a rough painting to illustrate my point.
    Just because the figures are dark does not mean that they have to be in complete darkness. Also I arranged the other values to create a more defined focal point on the figure of the boy. Many instances will require you to be more 'theatrical' with things like lighting and composition, but this helps add interest and make images 'read' better.
    As you work, keep checking your image in gray-scale to see how the image is working. If it works well in black and white then it will look great in color. Hope this helps and good luck.
    Wonderful paint over - very very helpful indeed. I'm really touched by the amount of time and effort you've put in to helping me improve this piece and my technique in general.

    You're definitely right with the darkness - too ominous. The picture is supposed to show the townspeople distressed and disoriented, but I don't want the feeling to be that dark. I'm hoping to do some fun subtle stuff with color bleeding in the dark areas now - I'll post an update soon.

    I like very much the idea of doing a more comprehensive value guide than I did above, as you demonstrate. I'll use this, and incorporate this practice into future paintings.

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  15. #11
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    Here's a version with updated value. Don't worry about the black lines in the background - those will all eventually be worked in.

    Chaotic Medieval Street

  16. #12
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    I have a question for all you seasoned professionals. Do any of you know where I can get a 3D human anatomy block model that I could play around with in some 3D viewing software? Basically, I'd like to get something that has the basic planes and shapes, but isn't smoothed out to be totally realistic, so I can improve my understanding of some of the form. I can see there are issues with the foreground women above, and I'd like to take a stab at resolving some of them before I trouble you folks too much about the specifics of what's wrong.

  17. #13
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    Something like this, for both male and female, that I could play with in a 3D program and set lighting and stuff:

  18. #14
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    The one thing that's really putting me off with the Medieval street scene is that foreground character's direction of view. It looked a lot better in the rough sketch, but now her gaze is just leading me to a far less important part of the image.

  19. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slothboy3000 View Post
    The one thing that's really putting me off with the Medieval street scene is that foreground character's direction of view. It looked a lot better in the rough sketch, but now her gaze is just leading me to a far less important part of the image.
    I get this complaint a lot. There are story reasons why she can't be looking at the juggler - no one should notice him. But perhaps there is a non-juggler alternative?

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