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Something about this just seems to not be working. I'm not sure if it's the colours (too muddy?) Possibly many things.
A group of adventurers find themselves surrounded by orc-like creatures on a magma pool.
I know the composition is very centered, but it's part of the story - focusing on the hemmed-in figures.
This is a nicely rendered piece, but the excessive uses of black takes away from that. Since you seem to use a white light source, why not add some blue and green tones in the black areas? Plus, considering how the main characters are lit, we should see a strong light source coming from above.
And the visual narrative looks good, but characters poses could be exaggerated more to spice things up. Maybe for starters, you could increase the angle between the characters to show that they're trying to defend themselves from all sides.
I agree with everything orochigenocide said, especially about the poses. I did a paint-over to show how the image looks when lit up. I used some blues to help make the main characters stand out. Although I didn't play around with their poses, I threw in an extra ork on the left side of the image to help balance out the action, along with some lava coming from the volcano (what fun is a dormant volcano?). I think the main problem with your image is how dark it is, especially in the background. You generally want to reserve your darkest areas for the foreground, and the further back you go, the more soft and washed out the color becomes.
What is the story here? I see a sexy lady knight, a wise wizard type, and of course, the obligatory nerdy cigar-smoking dog king?! I am so intrigued - I usually don't ask, but is there by any chance a text story to go with this?
Besides the engaging mystery of your characters, I do have to admit that it does seem a little dark - and there is a great opportunity here for high-contrast with the lava against the dark to make it really pop!
Having boob armor is a very bad idea, making all bows deflect into the middle of the chest, where you generally don't want to be penetrated by a sword. Besides it looks kind of silly.
Here is a 4 pages collection of picture of women in sane armor that might be of help. http://womenfighters.tumblr.com/
I have no intention of becoming a professional artist, I just aspire to become a really good amateur.
Sketchbook: w176 love of the color dirt
Thanks for the advice so far - I agree with most everything that's been posted.
@w176 I am not a fan of the typical chain mail bikini either, and I might tone down the 'nipplage' here.
@Keith V - wow - thanks for going the extra mile with this crit!
@orochigenocide So I'm going to post the image before I darkened it. I think that what I wanted was to add more drama to this, and since it takes place in a volcanic environment it should be darker to bring out the lava flares, etc. However maybe I took it too far.
I don't really like this lighter version either though. It just seems unfinished maybe? It has no sense of foreboding like the darker one is 'supposed' to have.
@Saramel - there is a story behind the characters - it's going to be a promo piece for an online video game distributor. It's my idea not theirs, so it's meant to be a bit of a surprise. The characters are the company mascots 'brought to life' as realistic figures. Bonus points if you can figure out which co.
I agree the blue looks good in this - thanks!
Trying to channel Keith_V
What I did was burn the background areas that I wanted a bit darker, but left the rest, then added the new light source and rim lighting.
Yup, no it still looks worse. Maybe I should abandon trying to make it dark.
It's looking much better now. The biggest issue I see is that your 3 main characters have a bit of a cut and paste look to them in regards to the environment. Their shadows aren't lining up correctly. The man with the white beard's body is almost completely in shadow, despite the fact that light is coming from overhead. This is especially evident on the top of his feet. The same intensity of light hitting the ground has to be hitting all three of them as well.