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  1. #1
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    Bandits Under a Tree [PAINTING STAGE]

    Hi Everyone,

    My first painting WIP on these forums was a wonderful introduction to conceptart.org. Javier especially went above and beyond the call of duty in his paintovers, and I came away a better artist than before. A huge thanks for the privilege of being on this forum.

    There may be a few things to tidy up with the previous image, but I thought I'd go ahead and get the ball rolling on the next one in the story. This stage is purely compositional, so hold off on anatomy and perspective critiques just yet. Let me describe a little of what I'm going for.

    The line of the story is the juggler's challenge to the bandits:

    You bandits, that crown is not yours on your head
    and him you should serve you have captured instead!
    I give you fair warning: release him right now
    or I'll have to do it myself (with a bow)


    I have in mind a worm's eye view with two point perspective. The juggler will be facing the bandits, but hopefully in a pose where we can see some of his face and not just his backside. He'll be pointing accusingly at the leader (or should he be pointing at the king?) with one hand, and doing a one-handed juggle of three balls in the other hand. The bandits will be doing any number of banditory activities - counting money, drinking ale, fighting amongst themselves, cleaning their teeth with their daggers - all looking quite annoyed at being interrupted. The leader will be seated pretending to be a king, though the ill fit of the robes and crown and the general unkingliness of his demeanor should keep this from fooling the viewer. The king will be swinging from a rope ("tied atop a great tree as a jest" - as the narrative goes) in his under-tunic - furious and kicking. I don't want him so high that his fall will injure him when he's (*SPOILER ALERT*) later cut down by the juggler using the bandit's own knives.

    As far as focus goes, I want the eye to move between the juggler's face to the bandit leader and his stolen crown, to the captive king. I have in mind to perhaps have the king's own castle off in the distance somewhere - symbolizing his strength and help being out of reach - but don't quite know where to fit that in yet. Since the juggler isn't under the shade of the tree yet, I can get a nice value contrast.

    Well, that's the concept. Any thoughts on the value and composition?

    EDIT: Added image for thread thumbnail

    Bandits Under a Tree [PAINTING STAGE]
    Last edited by thegiffman; August 26th, 2011 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Edited in an attempt to change the main thumbnail


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  3. #2
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    thats not a worms eye view you have there, if the description of the concept you've written is what you want then why didn't you draw it that way to start?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    t if the description of the concept you've written is what you want then why didn't you draw it that way to start?
    Uhhh - because I royally suck? ;-) Ankle-eye view would be fine as well. I'll do proper perspective guides in the next phase of course - my scribbles always look pretty flat.

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    First post here. Been lurking a long time. What you have here is a pretty decent value pattern, but we have a readability problem. The eye follows from the juggler's face towards the bandit and the stolen crown, but there's really nothing to suggest that they need to look up at the king. Rather, the teeming mass of people around the tree draws more attention. What I would suggest is separating each element more. Move the bandit's cronies towards move of a semi-circle behind the tree, and either bring the bandit or the king more forward.

    In addition, I see a real lack of drama and the essence of the situation. Right now we have a lot of mad people and that's about it. By moving the background figures behind the tree, you could explore making them appear more cowardly and snide. If you bring the bandit king forward, you could have him stand up and appear as a more powerful and menacing figure.

    Just my thoughts. I've only been drawing for a few months and you're way ahead of me, but I'd like to think that my research may be worth something. This is a pretty good thumbnail, but you should do (probably quite) a few more until you find one that you really like. Readability and drama should be emphasized.

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    Hi Strato,

    Wow - to think that I pulled you from lurking into posting! I think you've given me some good things to ponder here. I don't know that I want to move the bandits behind the tree - at least, I don't want the viewer to miss out on some of the variety of activities going on. But I'll play with it once I have a better sense of the depth - thanks for giving me a whole range of variables to tweak.

    In the end, I fear that dpaint, despite being a bit of an ass to me, is actually quite right. I need to fix the perspective. Let's see if that helps separate some of these elements.

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    Well, certain people on this forum have caught my attention, and I appreciate your ability to take criticism. So I figured I could break the ice here. Anyway, I'm glad I could help. =)

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    Hey Giffman, I think you've got WAAAAAAAY too much going on to be able to pull off at your current skill level. You just are really going to have a hard time with such a complex scene.

    A bit of advice I try to offer is, a well rendered onion is a far more satisfying thing than a poorly rendered scene of a mechanical dragon attacking a horde of zombie warriors defending a futuristic castle. At night. In other words, you're trying to begin your journey at your destination...it just doesn't work.

    As far as advice on this particular piece, get James Gurney's book, "Imaginitive Realism" and see what really goes into making something like this. Develop your observation and drawing skills and maybe keep this in development on the side as you learn more about the process...use it as a learning piece...and I mean over the next year...of drawing every day. That's what it takes.
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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Hey Giffman, I think you've got WAAAAAAAY too much going on to be able to pull off at your current skill level. You just are really going to have a hard time with such a complex scene.

    A bit of advice I try to offer is, a well rendered onion is a far more satisfying thing than a poorly rendered scene of a mechanical dragon attacking a horde of zombie warriors defending a futuristic castle. At night. In other words, you're trying to begin your journey at your destination...it just doesn't work.

    As far as advice on this particular piece, get James Gurney's book, "Imaginitive Realism" and see what really goes into making something like this. Develop your observation and drawing skills and maybe keep this in development on the side as you learn more about the process...use it as a learning piece...and I mean over the next year...of drawing every day. That's what it takes.
    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the book recommendation - that looks simply fantastic! I can see myself just pouring over something like that day in and day out, and I really wasn't aware that such a perfect book existed. I'm in Singapore for a month, so I'll try to get it delivered right away.

    As for the rest of your comment, it does piss me off a bit - so gear up for round 345,643 of "artist gets mad at critic and critic gets frustrated by snobby little spoiled artist brat" fisticuffs as I explain why.

    1. I have a pretty good sense of my own skill level at the moment, in that I've now finished four similar paintings. I'm attaching my last two here - do you really think the above composition is any more ambitious than these? I don't at all. I don't see this one coming out as any more of an eyesore as the previous ones.

    2. I am an amateur - a 30 year old man with a family of five and a day job. It simply isn't an option for me to go to art school at the moment. Nor is it an option for me to suspend my hobby to work exclusively on a series of learning exercises for the next year while I improve. I've been improving all my life - and rarely more rapidly than I have been the last few years - which has been driven by this particular project. As a child, I would draw huge sprawling detailed scenes with hundreds of little characters - should I have been forbidden to do this because I wasn't "good enough". Nope - I will shout out G. K. Chesterton's cry of the amateur - "Everything worth doing is worth doing badly." Just because I haven't trained with scales for years on end doesn't mean I can't sing karaoke with my friends. Just because I'm no Peyton Manning doesn't mean I can't play football with the guys. Just because I lack the training I would have had if I had gone the route of full time study in art doesn't mean I shouldn't work on a book for my son.

    Basically, I welcome your critique of all the areas I need to improve. I want to improve. I want to know where to focus. And I'm willing to work on it. I'm willing to buy a couple books. I'm willing to do some ellipse exercises. I'm willing to take reference photos. I'm willing to put in some extra time to get better. But I am not willing to put aside drawing things I enjoy until some magical day when I'm "good enough". I don't look at things I drew in high school and say "man, I wish I had waited to even start such a project because I was more skilled." Mostly I say "Gosh, I wish I had finished that project before I outgrew it". I realize that 5 years down the road I'll see the paintings here as vastly inferior. How encouraging that will be!

    3. This is a personal project for my oldest son. I started it a couple years ago to get me into digital painting. I'm a little less than halfway done. He's seven years old now. He's already a little old for it already, and I have two more sons! I'm not shooting for a high-school graduation present here. So there are personal reasons why it matters to me that I pick up the pace, rather than put something on hold a year. Joining conceptart.org is encouraging me to speed up - which is really important.

    So that's my situation. Does that make sense? Given this, do you see why I totally welcome a book recommendation and observations of where I'm lacking, while at the same time am a bit offended at detailed instructions of how I should adjust my personal schedule around my training? I know my situation and personal goals better than you do - so offer your critique in such a way that I can take it and fit it into that. In short - don't tell me to put my project on the shelf for a year - that's presuming too much about me personally. Tell me what I can do to improve, and I'll try to fit that into the thousand other variables that make up my life.

    Oh well - I hope that explains things clearly without totally burning my bridges with you Jeff. I value your input a lot, and I daresay I can learn from even blunt and abrasive critiques like dpaint's (though I vastly prefer polite ones). Can you also then continue to help even touchy artists, who nevertheless do indeed listen to critique and strive to improve?

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  12. #9
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    I have no particular critique at the moment but I recognized the style in the thumbnail from your previous thread.

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    I'd be careful with the king's expression. In your rough sketch, it appears to be mad like "take me out of here! > " instead of one more similar to your profile picture.

    By the way, I love your compositions. They are so narrative. I could be staring at them for a few minutes!

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    Ok after taking a look at this, I would have him pointing to the King. That way we have a reason to look up there. If both his hand and his eyes point to the bandit the king might as well be a dangling fruit for all we care.

    Also it doesn't look like he is juggling with the other hand but rather getting ready to throw. What is the attitude you want the juggler to have? Casual assuredness? Juggling idly with the one hand making what seems like impotent threats? Or more commanding, or what?

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    Just a suggestion - this would be not wormview but at least small dog view lol:
    Bandits Under a Tree [PAINTING STAGE]

    Drawing from such extreme ancles however exceeds my limits, which is sad since they are worth a lot for dramatics, especially in storyboards.

    The king's picture again then would be better with a bird-view imho.

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  17. #13
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    I think I'll do a couple of these thumbnails varying the horizon line and the height of the top vanishing point. Even in this dinky one here is a vast improvement on the initial one - I think it really helps with the dangling king. Sorry about that, guys, but for some reason my initial sketches always have pretty sloppy perspective.

    By the way, Jeff - I've got the Gurney book beside me as I type. Turns out they have Borders in Singapore - though the prices are rather insane.
    Last edited by thegiffman; July 9th, 2011 at 12:08 PM.

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    very good post #8 is!

    my "educational resource" recommendation would be Visual Storytelling with Iain McCaig Vol.1. his approach is great. the other volumes are great aswell, but id definitely get the 1st at least.

    and Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color by Arthur Wesley Dow, im pretty sure recommended by dpaint (to give the full line of credit ). its a great book, and for me brought certain things into perspective when it comes to the importance and hirachy of certain picturemaking elements.

    my crit is that i dont see much exploration in your "thumbnails".... how about changing the view to a birdseye view, just beyond some of the guys nesting in the branches looking down on the juggler. something like that or totally different. thumbnails are of no use imo, if you keep repeating the same thing over and over with little alterations.

    try to explore more when changes cost you little instead of rushing in and having to sacrifice precious details, once you recognize youd have to change certain things to get the picture where you want, impact-wise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegiffman View Post
    Hi Jeff,

    1. I have a pretty good sense of my own skill level at the moment, in that I've now finished four similar paintings. I'm attaching my last two here - do you really think the above composition is any more ambitious than these? I don't at all. I don't see this one coming out as any more of an eyesore as the previous ones.

    2. I am an amateur - a 30 year old man with a family of five and a day job. It simply isn't an option for me to go to art school at the moment. Nor is it an option for me to suspend my hobby to work exclusively on a series of learning exercises for the next year while I improve. I've been improving all my life - and rarely more rapidly than I have been the last few years - which has been driven by this particular project. As a child, I would draw huge sprawling detailed scenes with hundreds of little characters - should I have been forbidden to do this because I wasn't "good enough". Nope - I will shout out G. K. Chesterton's cry of the amateur - "Everything worth doing is worth doing badly." Just because I haven't trained with scales for years on end doesn't mean I can't sing karaoke with my friends. Just because I'm no Peyton Manning doesn't mean I can't play football with the guys. Just because I lack the training I would have had if I had gone the route of full time study in art doesn't mean I shouldn't work on a book for my son.

    So that's my situation. Does that make sense? Given this, do you see why I totally welcome a book recommendation and observations of where I'm lacking, while at the same time am a bit offended at detailed instructions of how I should adjust my personal schedule around my training? I know my situation and personal goals better than you do - so offer your critique in such a way that I can take it and fit it into that. In short - don't tell me to put my project on the shelf for a year - that's presuming too much about me personally. Tell me what I can do to improve, and I'll try to fit that into the thousand other variables that make up my life.

    Can you also then continue to help even touchy artists, who nevertheless do indeed listen to critique and strive to improve?
    Thanks for the well considered reply, and I understand. I appreciate that even though it bristeld your response is respectful and communicates very well. Bonus is that it provides the perfect lead-in for something I was thinking about yesterday and wanted to share.

    But first...I appreciate knowing a little more information about your personal life and also the posting of the finished works. Three things to think about though...
    1) You're absolutely right that I don't know you or your work or situation to any degree at all really, so I'm just basing the critique, advice and recommendations on one very rough image. So you kind of have to remove that other stuff from the equation when considering the critique - because I can't possibly know all that and therefor can't take it into acount - that is often where the "critiquee" needs to give a little slack.
    2) In the end the critique should be objective anyway, and about the piece itself. Remember instructors, art directors, etc. have NO interest in why you didn't get the assignment finished or didn't put your best into it.
    3) I had no idea what your finished work abilities were, or even your process. That is actually outstanding work if you want my opinion, stylised sure, but actually professional level. That did not come across in that sketch. So again, that needs to be considered, the fact that we haven't seen your finished work.

    OK, into the most perfect segue anyone has unintentionally set up...

    On point #2, being an "amateur". A really important misconception is that there is somehow a different path, process or approach for the beginner or amatuer than there is for the professional, or even "advanced" amateur. It is all the same. Jimmy Page's guitar(s) all have six strings. The football Peyton Manning is throwing is no different than the one you throw around with your friends. The level, training regimen, discipline and dedication are the only different factors...not the football, not the guitar, etc.

    So, not to belabor the point, if the pros use approach "x", then that is probably a good indicator that amateurs should use approach "x" as well. One of those, "If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me" kind of things.

    OK, that said, I didn't mean to wait a year, or to achieve a certain level, before visiting this piece again, I meant use it alongside studies and keep it in development as you gain skill and competence with the fundamentals - usiing your new-found insight to make it stronger. However, that advice was based on the one rough (and with a mistake or two in perspective vocabulary) and I don't think is applicable. You are perfectly capable of taking this piece to a very high, professional finish so you can ignore that advice.

    Anyway, if more people could respectfully articulate their points, and even pissed-offness as well it would sure make things easier.

    And of course on the last point, as long as you remember to cut me some slack for not knowing everything going on behind the scenes.

    The Gurney book will be great for you. I might also recommend "Drawing Scenery" by Jack Hamm...it isn't terribly expensive and is great for composition.

    Looking forward to seeing this piece develop. Now.
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