Flower nymph WIP
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    Flower nymph WIP

    I'm working on a fantasy portrait of a flower nymph, an idea that occurred to me kind of randomly. Anyway, I can't get her face right. Something about it is off to me...but I've spent so long working and reworking it I just can't figure out what it is. I'm not sure if it's the perspective, shading (or probably a combination), but if anyone would take a look at it and give me some advice, I'd appreciate it.

    Obviously the rest of the piece isn't finished either, so any other suggestions people have on improving it would be great also. Thanks in advance.

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    "She was practiced at the art of deception,
    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands."
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    SOrry I missed your IMs.


    her body is wonderful. great colours you're using.


    the face needs serious referencing. for a soft figure like this, likewise, you probably want to use softer features...not so prominent cheekbones, or if they are protruding a little, definitely don't define them as sharp as you have. also the creases around the mouth and nose could be softened. also, consider shrinking her head.


    hope that helps

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    the rendering job is fantastic all over, including the face, the head however is way too big and some of the facial features are disproportional, as the above post suggested, some reference for the head/face will go a long way. Also, make sure to measure. The top of the head down to just under the pelvic bone is supposed to be roughly 4 head units in length.

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    You definitely, definitely need to use some reference for the face. First of all, I would say that the general anatomy is off. Until it becomes second nature, always measure when constructing the face. Measure when you sketch, measure when you create the large planes, measure when you put the detail in, just to make sure things don't shift as you're working. The first thing that I noticed was that the eyes were placed way too high. The eyes should be in the middle of the head. Bigger forehead and poofier hair = cuter girl. I also think the angle of the nose is wrong. Given how little you see of the right side of her face, I think her nose would poke out more, past the edge of the cheek. With the current angle, it looks like someone gave her a serious left-hook to the face. Ouch.

    Other than that, your major issue is that the face is extremely masculine. You've given her an old man's droopy nose, along with a pretty heavy brow ridge (as well as some huge eyebrows). Her jaw is very severe, and her neck is pretty thick. In fact, I would suggest that you get some new reference for the whole neck/shoulder area, because it looks a little too muscular and chiseled. I general, I would ease up a bit on the muscles, but that's really a personal preference.

    I also noticed a couple other things that bother me, but others might not necessarily notice or care about... 1) the barbie crotch. It looks weird. I'm not saying you need a 100% anatomically correct vagina or anything, but I really want to see some sort of indication. Enough indication that I don't really notice her crotch. Right now, it's all I see. And 2) You clearly used reference from a model with fake books. I mean REALLY fake books. And that's okay if that's the look that you want, but I just wanted to make sure that you know. If, perhaps, you want slightly less fake looking boobs, I would smooth out the top of her right boob (our left one) between the clavicle and the rest of the breast. Right now, it's like a rock sticking out of a cliff, and a more natural looking breast would be like a snow covered hill.

    Oh, and add a couple inches to the top of your canvas so the hand doesn't looked so crammed in there.

    Also, I'm always terrible at telling people that they're doing well, but it's really important to hear that, because it's so easy to get discouraged when you're presented with a lot of advice on how to fix your work. This will probably sound kind of weird, but I really love the temperature change around the knees. So, paint everything like the knees.

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    Push the contrast. A lot. You've made the color rather grayish, overall.

    Make shadows colored.

    Pay more attention to the basic forms of the body. You've let the muscles of the neck get in the way of the neck's basic cylinder shape, for instance. There are lots and lots of such lapses in volume rendering strewn all over your picture - the eye, the ear, the hands...

    Maybe it's just me, or it had been your intention, but I find her face singularly unattractive and distorted.

    Research the anatomy of inguinal folds and the pelvis area in general. Use reference if you need.

    Research subsurface scattering and how it applies to the human body, to get rid of the "plastic" look.

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    I want to make no mistake that you hear this! Reference FTW!

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    I think the same things as above, your rendering is very good, but you need to get a reference for the face, the lips in particular bother me. the boobs are also a bit off, for a character that should have a natural look they re very fake looking, they look too supported, like she is wearing an invisible bra, you need to remove some of the bulk above the nipple. unless you want them to look fake?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterBoo View Post
    You definitely, definitely need to use some reference for the face. First of all, I would say that the general anatomy is off. Until it becomes second nature, always measure when constructing the face. Measure when you sketch, measure when you create the large planes, measure when you put the detail in, just to make sure things don't shift as you're working. The first thing that I noticed was that the eyes were placed way too high. The eyes should be in the middle of the head. Bigger forehead and poofier hair = cuter girl. I also think the angle of the nose is wrong. Given how little you see of the right side of her face, I think her nose would poke out more, past the edge of the cheek. With the current angle, it looks like someone gave her a serious left-hook to the face. Ouch.

    Other than that, your major issue is that the face is extremely masculine. You've given her an old man's droopy nose, along with a pretty heavy brow ridge (as well as some huge eyebrows). Her jaw is very severe, and her neck is pretty thick. In fact, I would suggest that you get some new reference for the whole neck/shoulder area, because it looks a little too muscular and chiseled. I general, I would ease up a bit on the muscles, but that's really a personal preference.

    I also noticed a couple other things that bother me, but others might not necessarily notice or care about... 1) the barbie crotch. It looks weird. I'm not saying you need a 100% anatomically correct vagina or anything, but I really want to see some sort of indication. Enough indication that I don't really notice her crotch. Right now, it's all I see. And 2) You clearly used reference from a model with fake books. I mean REALLY fake books. And that's okay if that's the look that you want, but I just wanted to make sure that you know. If, perhaps, you want slightly less fake looking boobs, I would smooth out the top of her right boob (our left one) between the clavicle and the rest of the breast. Right now, it's like a rock sticking out of a cliff, and a more natural looking breast would be like a snow covered hill.
    .
    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I will definitely make the changes people suggested, but feel like I need to defend her breasts quickly. My reference was my own (real) chest. Granted, looking at her now after you pointed this out, I think they are too large and need to be flattened against her chest slightly (since breasts are just fat bags that tend to stretch up when the arm is raised, and I ran to the bathroom mirror to double-check). But I wanted to assure you that there was no model with implants.

    And I pretty much agree with what everyone has said about her face. That's actually her second head. I deleted the first, which was looking straight at the viewer. I realized I have a problem with over-rendering the features, which makes them look sharper and makes her look older. (The head looking straight at the viewer also made this picture a lot more of a pin-up. She almost looked like a burlesque dancer, which is why I never bothered to, uh, flesh out her crotch.)

    "She was practiced at the art of deception,
    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands."
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    Okay. I apologize for the time it took me to reply back, but I'm a slow painter and I also have a job that's been taking up a lot of my time. Anyway, I'm still putzing with the face here, but here's an update on my nymph.

    I just wanted to say that I know the model I referenced her breasts on, and she doesn't have fake breasts, but she is a curvy lady. I've noticed that real large breasts tend to behave quite differently from fake ones. I did agree that my nymph's chest looked off, though, so I did shrink her right breast a little.

    Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions.

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    Okay, I'm no expert on boobs (despite having a pair of my own) but what I think makes them look fake especially, is the highlight that indicates roundess starting so high up. Generally, what makes fake boobs look fake, is the lack of natural "sagginess", they protrude from the chest in a different, more rounded way. I tried to demonstrate that a bit, although I'm sure it's flawed, it gets the idea across I think.



    So, in an attempt to apply that to your painting;



    I hope that helps a bit. As for the face, it looks a bit masculine right now, although it's a definite improvement from your first try. Lengthen the nose; a rule of thumb is that the underside of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the underside of the chin. I'd also suggest to make her eyebrows a bit less prominent.

    Last edited by Lhune; August 20th, 2011 at 07:35 AM.
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    HI matey

    Taking into accounts Lhunes excellent advice I would also strongly suggest you redo the head, The girls face is too angular and the planes of her face are mostly missing. She should be pretty and almost seductive with that kind of a pose and you are letting the image down with her face. Which is a shame because I can see how much work you have put in already.

    all the best with the image matey

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    Two things: One about the breasts (yes, again), you've got the strip of tissue connecting the breast to the underarm in fairly dark shadow, which makes it look almost like it's not there at all. I suspect it would look better a bit more forward.

    The other point is structural. You've got the shoulder of the raised arm lower than that of the folded arm. I'd like you to take a second and raise one arm, it doesn't matter which one. Now try to keep the arm up and pull the shoulder down the way it is here. See how awkward and uncomfortable that is? That's one thing that's been giving me a cramped, uncomfortable feeling about the piece. The expression that comes from that heavy eyebrow reinforces the feeling, making it look like she's really not happy standing like that.

    It might be helpful to take a look at this post on Rad Sechrist's blog and think about how you can apply the concept to your image. Taking contrapposto into account, if you leave her right arm up and tilt the shoulders down from there and the hips opposite, you create a lovely long line from the leg right up her right side, the silhouette broken by the breast. Long curves like that can add grace, which makes it a much more pleasant experience for the viewer.

    Something to play around with, at least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    Okay, I'm no expert on boobs (despite having a pair of my own) but what I think makes them look fake especially, is the highlight that indicates roundess starting so high up. Generally, what makes fake boobs look fake, is the lack of natural "sagginess", they protrude from the chest in a different, more rounded way. I tried to demonstrate that a bit, although I'm sure it's flawed, it gets the idea across I think.


    sorry, I just need to say this ^^

    actually, big natural boobs can look more as the fake ones on your drawing when you see them from the side, or at least the middle term of both those drawings. I'm talking by experience, my own breasts (and my family)... a lot of people often criticize well drawn natural big breasts, saying they look odd or fake, but they do tend to look a bit "fake" -ish sometimes, depending on the body, pose, lights, etc sometimes they just tend to get all perky and round like fake ones, for some reason ahah! like pregnant women

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    Quote Originally Posted by myuuhailurusu View Post
    sorry, I just need to say this ^^

    actually, big natural boobs can look more as the fake ones on your drawing when you see them from the side, or at least the middle term of both those drawings. I'm talking by experience, my own breasts (and my family)... a lot of people often criticize well drawn natural big breasts, saying they look odd or fake, but they do tend to look a bit "fake" -ish sometimes, depending on the body, pose, lights, etc sometimes they just tend to get all perky and round like fake ones, for some reason ahah! like pregnant women
    This is absolutely true, plus breasts come in varied shapes, so sometimes the ski slope top curve isn't always the right choice. My wife, for example is much closer to the "big fake" shape, and she's a natural C cup. That said, the highlight on the breast on our left should be toned down and pop out a bit less to indicate the natural weight indicated by the structural droop.

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    Of course, but then my point was to demonstrate why certain breasts look fake. That's not to say that they are, but they may look that way, and it's mostly the perkiness/roundness that causes it.

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    So I was really digging a lot of things about this picture but the face was just too masculine. I took a crack at making it more womanly by squashing the overall head shape. I also moved the crotch up as it was kind of sagging.

    I hope this helps!

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    primativ: I don't think that fixed anything, sorry...

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    You're overaccentuating every little line and bump on the face. It's good to be aware of the forms, but you can't shade all of them, that's what is making her look like a man. Also, her forms are too angular. Smooth out the features, make the lips fuller, make the head round (she's got some jarhead thing going on right now), round out and make the jaw pointier, make the cheeks softer and higher. Use a big brush to do the big forms, and don't use brown as a shadow. It makes her look like she has stubble and usually human skin doesn't go brown in the shadows.

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    I tried to do some stuff to make her look more feminine, but basically the main problems are that you're trying to draw EVERYTHING. Same goes with the body. Everything is plumped up and accentuated, (esp the palms of the hands, it's a much more gradual transition)

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    You're overaccentuating every little line and bump on the face. It's good to be aware of the forms, but you can't shade all of them, that's what is making her look like a man. Also, her forms are too angular. Smooth out the features, make the lips fuller, make the head round (she's got some jarhead thing going on right now), round out and make the jaw pointier, make the cheeks softer and higher. Use a big brush to do the big forms, and don't use brown as a shadow. It makes her look like she has stubble and usually human skin doesn't go brown in the shadows.

    I tried to do some stuff to make her look more feminine, but basically the main problems are that you're trying to draw EVERYTHING. Same goes with the body. Everything is plumped up and accentuated, (esp the palms of the hands, it's a much more gradual transition)
    Yeah, I will confess that I have a problem with wanting to render every single piece of the anatomy. I used to do a lot of cel shading, where you are pretty much expected to color or shade every line, and I've got a lot of Yoda's "learning to unlearn" to do. And I didn't plan this picture out very well. I really just started with an idea for a color scheme: my last few paintings turned out very dark, and I wanted something more colorful. I deliberately avoided starting out with a line art sketch for the aforementioned reason.

    I'm grateful for all the suggestions on improving her body. I'm a little amused that everyone wants her face to look younger and rounder, though. I also used to draw a lot of anime and comic art, and was afraid of making her face look TOO stylized. Maybe I overcompensated in the other direction. I think maybe people are also used to seeing women portrayed who are only traditionally attractive.

    Back to work for me, at any rate.

    "She was practiced at the art of deception,
    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands."
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    Argh. Sorry it took me so long to post again. (I tried a few times to post replies here, but for some reason unless I'm posting an image along with my post it says my posts need to be approved by a moderator...and none were, even though I didn't post anything offensive.)

    Anyway, thanks for all the feedback. Here's my nymph as she stands so far. Not quite done, but much better now thanks to all the suggestions. I was wondering what people's thoughts were on the flowers in the background. I wasn't sure whether to include them or not. I thought the background needed a tiny bit more color, without distracting from the nymph, since this is supposed to be a portrait (more of a pin-up portrait, I guess).

    ...and I'm so sick of painting shrubberies.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZvsGdJP3ng

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    Looks good. And I like the face now. One thing I'm wondering however, is why you choose to put petals over her breasts, but not her crotch and instead just didn't give her any genitalia at all. If you want to be prudent you might as well put a petal on her crotch as well. Though personally I liked the way it was before

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    Quote Originally Posted by tobbA View Post
    Looks good. And I like the face now. One thing I'm wondering however, is why you choose to put petals over her breasts, but not her crotch and instead just didn't give her any genitalia at all. If you want to be prudent you might as well put a petal on her crotch as well. Though personally I liked the way it was before
    (Let's see if it'll let me post.)

    I was considering that. Mainly, I've noticed that when you include female genitalia in a picture, it tends to alter the tone. It becomes much more about sex...or at least, a lot of guys assume that all female nudity is all about sex, presented for their pleasure. I really hadn't intended that: I just wanted to paint a pretty picture with bright colors. I'm still considering putting a petal down there. I mainly just covered up her breasts because I needed to repeat the flower petals growing out of her hips somewhere else on her body. It was unbalanced.

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    What I don't get is why there are such big and dark creases between her pubic area and her legs. Even if she was tensing a little, she'd have to be quite fat to have such dark shadows fall on her inner thighs. And obviously she's not fat. It makes her look like she has a paunch. So, yeah. I'd smooth it out and make the transition like so:

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    Wow, your version really *does* give her Barbie crotch. There are creases where the inner thighs meet the lower pelvic area, especially when one leg is bent forward and the other is retreating behind her slightly. Maybe mine are too dark, but I disagree that they should be smoothed out drastically as in your paintover.

    I didn't use this picture as reference (I'd forgotten I had it in my ref collection until just now), but I think it demonstrates what I'm talking about. (Photo courtesy of Lockstock on Deviantart.)

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    You're right. I was thinking of a different body type.

    (Although I get the ref, I'm not sure it applies as well to your picture. Her legs are being pressed together in the ref which is causing the creases. But in yours the legs are hanging down more. Anyways, the creases are fine, I just don't think they would be that pronounced. Usually hard edged creases are caused by two objects pressing together firmly. In yours the pelvis is casting a shadow on the thighs, which is correct (and I was wrong about that), but I don't know if it'd make such a hard edged shadow unless you showed that they were closer)

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar View Post
    You're right. I was thinking of a different body type.

    (Although I get the ref, I'm not sure it applies as well to your picture. Her legs are being pressed together in the ref which is causing the creases. But in yours the legs are hanging down more. Anyways, the creases are fine, I just don't think they would be that pronounced. Usually hard edged creases are caused by two objects pressing together firmly. In yours the pelvis is casting a shadow on the thighs, which is correct (and I was wrong about that), but I don't know if it'd make such a hard edged shadow unless you showed that they were closer)
    Yeah, after looking at the ref picture I found, I did decide to tone down the creases a little. A friend I asked over IM also said they extended a bit too high up her pelvis. Thanks. :3

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    Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands."
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