Formerly this was my Critique Section thread, but it grew too be a bit too much and became unwieldy. So it has evolved into my sketchbook. However, I love crits more then anything, and would love a continuation of all the invaluable help I have been getting in this great forum!
I will copy the latest image to the first post each time so you can easily find out if I updated since the last visit or not. Cheers!
Last edited by Pavel Sokov; June 3rd, 2013 at 12:14 PM.
"Five minutes before a man dies, he is still immortal."
I am not an expert, but I'll give it a shot. The image overall gives the impression of a lot of various "unrelated" elements tossed together, it's overall not very coherent. None of the statues or characters seem to really belong to the environment and it all looks really flat. I don't see a real hierarchy of values ( for example, the shadows on the stone faces on the doors are darker than the darker darks of the foreground characters...actually they seem to be the darkest values in the whole painting). The numbers on the doors (and the faces) look pasted on and I don't see where the light on the left statue is coming from, because it does not seem to affect the wall behind him and it can't be what causes the light ray up there. Also, I get the feeling that something with the perspective isn't right...If we're seeing this from the height of a human, shouldnt we be seeing those statues from a far lower angle? (I'm not really sure about that though) Another thing I noticed about the lighting: the right statue has a red secondary light shining on it from the right. What's up with that? Where is it coming from? Same goes for the other one.
Couple of things to add to THEMike's comments, the slabs on the wall look similar to cinder blocks, which plays hob with the scale of the whole piece. From that I get the impression this is taking place in the corner of someone's basement. The rays of light coming from above highlight that.
The anatomy of the little figures at the bottom is extremely vague, and doesn't look quite human. More like little effigies of people made of rags, somehow moving under their own power.
Compositionally, you've got huge areas where there's nothing of interest going on, mostly in the top half, which doesn't help the scale issue as it further minimizes what's below. The statues tend to lead the eye upwards, to where the figure at the top (who isn't in the same scale as the lower figures at all, and has totally separate anatomy) is looking and pointing away from everything that's happening, leading the eye directly out of the picture. That's sort of the opposite of what you want, so it could use a bit of attention.
Finally, if this were meant to be some huge edifice, I'd expect a bit of atmospheric perspective going on towards the top, but the wall is the same clarity all over. Something to look at.
"Skill is the result of trying again and again, applying our ability and proving our knowledge as we gain it. Let us get used to throwing away the unsuccessful effort and doing the job over. Let us consider obstacles as something to be expected in any endeavor; then they won't seem quite so insurmountable or so defeating." - Andrew Loomis
I agree with everything THEmike said. Also, why did you crop away the foreground??? Without the foreground, we're just staring at a wall. I did a paint-over to illustrate some points. Your perspective should be tilting inwards (think how it looks when you stare up at tall buildings). Also, your lighting is flat and tough on the eyes. There's no contrast. It's just... gray and murky. When you have an image that's that gray, you either need a splash of color or some powerful highlights to relieve the eyes. The image is way too dark also. I tried to paint away all off the black shadows, especially in the background. An important rule to always keep in mind is to reserve your darkest colors for the foreground. You also had a lot of dead space on the sides of the image that I filled with additional statues.
my eye keeps being drawn to the dude at the top of the piece, and to the door, both of which are kind of uninteresting. I think its the sharpness of these two elements compared with the overall sharpness of the image.
Keiths paint over is gnarly. But again, I get drawn into the door, and I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that the statues are what you want to be important?
To be honest a lot of things bother me when I see this image. I'll try to point out some things.
The image is overall very inconsistent and as THEMike pointed out, everything looks pasted on. The palette isn't "harmonious" to me. The shadows on the statues have a bluish hue, yet the doors are brownish. It doesn't work aesthetically in this image.
I'm not a huge fan of the flat symmetrical composition either.
There are inconsistencies in rendering. For example, some parts are blurry and others are sharp - for no apparent reason. This bothers the eye. The face and numbers on the door seem sharper than anything else on the image, while the muscles of the statues are airbrush soft. Also, two foreground figures are soft, yet one has more details. Why? Where is the focus? Then there's the figure above the door for example, his calves are quite blurry compared to the very sharp edged relief markings on his throne which are right next to them. It seems very random, what's in focus and what isn't.
I'm not exactly at a level to critique your properly, but I can give you my humble opinion.
Black - The first thing I see in your work is an overuse of black. Way too much black! It's un-naturalistic and makes things unpleasant to look at. Black should be used sparingly. Think about it, where is there going to be NO Light whatsoever? Only in little cracks here and there.
Lighting - I'm not sure if your overuse of black is giving you lighting problems or if your lighting problems are causing you to overuse black, but either way, you've got lighting problems. It's good that you're thinking about it, but in that case you just don't know enough to do this stuff from your imagination.
◊ Reflected light: You don't have any. Your efforts to convey form will fall flat if there's no light in the shadow areas. You have a white statue under strong lighting—there should be lots of reflected light.
◊ Lighting Consistency: You need to think about this more and do studies from life or photos. How can the statue be lit from above and in front and there be no light on the wall immediately behind it? Unless it's foggy out, light just keeps going, it doesn't fade out in 30 feet. You can see clearly on a full moon night and that light is just reflected light from the sun, off the moon, which is about 240,000 miles away through atmosphere and all.
I can't second-guess the reviewers, but I would think it's the cohesion, compositional issues, poor lighting and form, and the way you tend to use very mushy shading. There is also not much in terms of points of interest in this picture. It's kind of unclear what it represents, apart from it being derivative of the style used in some heavy metal album covers, and Barlowe's "Inferno".
If I were to make a single recommendation on how to improve it, it'd be "work tighter". Tighter form construction, tighter perspective and lighting, better brushstroke economy.
Plan more, render less. The more time you spend on planning the picture, the better it will be.
been looking at them gates and just thought something wrong then i noticed it the doors are ajar and light coming through unless these doors slide which i cant see the angles that the doors are painted means the should be closed its especially noticeable in the straight lines at the bottom.added this image it is exaggerated but thought it explained my comments better
Last edited by cliffbuck; September 20th, 2011 at 11:51 AM.
Oh wow, what a plethora of replies! Gotta love Ca's critique section. Very helpfull words too, I can see more clearly now where my piece could of been better.
Let me just say that some of the problems you mentioned were caused by me simply taking all the character from an older version of the image and giving it a new background without really making sure to adapt their lighting to the new system.
Like you said the hierarchy of values is something that escaped my mind entirely. I was not sparing with my blacks. The light on the left statue is none existent because I was not mindfull of the direction of the new light as compared to the direction of the light in my Beta painting. His legs and arm should be darker, leaving most of his light on his head and chest. The secondary red lights on the statues are coming from the old background being orange and be being neglectfull to get rid of them. Now they look like some sort of strange internal glow at best.
Hmmm, now I can see why the scene doesnt look gigantic when you ignore the little characters at the bottom, as compared to how large the Beta version looked.
It is in part due to the cinder blocks (these were meant to be large Egyptian Pyramid sized blocks), but mostly due to the complete lack of atmosopheric perspective. If I lovered the contrast, and threw some fogging and maybe some blurring up top, the scene would probably look more approporiatly sized.. The compositional issues you mentioned are true as well. I really should of thought better then to have that character point to nothing. (By the way the throne character is supposed to be a giant compared to the humans)
What I failed to understand is that my human characters look like a bunch of rags.I don't know what I did wrong and what I can do differently next time when it comes to rendering those small characters.
Wow, that explains a lot in terms of economy of my blacks, as well as compisition. The fog you added, and the black you removed made the image much softer to look at. The air has a volume, and a thickness to it! Very nice atmosphere. I love the expanded canvas, that helps composition, but also helps a lot with depth and scale of the environment. The wall and door finally feel epicly large! However, I can't agree with the multitude of statues, I think that would be information overload, and I already have too many elements.
Fantastic overpaint, extremelly educational and really opened my eyes. I feel as though overpaints are always the best teaching tools. Words are great, but there is nothing like seeing them implemented, it gives weight and a true understanding to the words!
I am not too sure what I wanted to be important at this point... I think it was meant to be the steel door.
You are right, I do tend to paint different elemnts rather differently, but I do feel tha I disagree with the extend to which the sharpnesses don't make sense.
I was hoping that the air brush soft statues would convey marble so thats why they have no coarse textures. The 2 humans furthest away from us are soft because I wanted them to seem further away then the closest one, but I do suppose the size alone would of been sufficient to show that.
I also can't see the difference in sharpness of the creature's calfes and the throne. I suspect the level of zoom and lack of blacks in its legs make it look softer then I tried to paint it. For example, here is a zoomed in view of the Beta version, do the calfes look sharper here?
I did notice though that my walls are rather soft, aside from the very sharp highlighting textures I painted on them. That does look unpleasent indeed, and makes it seem like the highlights are floating above rather then being on the stones.
You are right about both my oversue of black and my weakness of lighting.
My light does seem to be very thin and is strangely selective about where it lands. Next time I must try to make it thicker. I don't really understand how reflected light works, I must admit. For example on the right statue I added weak orangish light on both of the inside calfs. Is that reflected light? I am not really sure where to add more of those.
Planning has always been my enemy. Actually planning has always made me my enemy. I really need to think things out more. I never ever stop and think about what I'm doing, I just go until whatever I am doing is done. Very weak.
Yea my light is very wide, making the doors feel like they have sucha large space between them, that one or both of them must be ajar. I actually meant to convey them as being both closed, but the width of my light botched it. Thanks for pointing it out.
Thank you to all for the very helpfull comments, I can see more clearly now
"Five minutes before a man dies, he is still immortal."
OK, then. Try to stick to a method while you work. Divide the work on a piece into several stages: exploratory, constructive and rendering. During the exploratory stage, do compositional thumbnails, make character sketches, collect reference, think up lighting, etc. During the constructive stage, construct the perspective and make sure you have the form and volume right, then calculate the lighting and do color sketches to test it. During the rendering stage, collect all the material produced in the two preceding ones and, using it as reference, paint the picture starting with the background and going from general to detail, but never the other way.
I'm not sure if the "orange" version came before or after the "black" one, but I like the orange one about a million times better...the 3D-rendered ironwork provides a good contrast to the softer painted parts, the deep space of the scene is far more dramatic, and the color is much nicer.
However: the reason you're not getting this in the gallery at CGTalk is that it's two amateurish copies of Michelangelo's "David" stuck in a really static, flat composition. Except for the statues--which are copied from photos--none of the painted forms (figures, wings, drapery) here are worked out in terms of form or contour...you're still just moving the brush around and hoping it works.
I--and many other people on this forum--have advised you for years to do tighter line drawings to get the forms right. Possibly some day you might actually do that.
Guys, I am going to Madrid tonight and will be back on the 30th. So if I'm not replying, that is why!
That is a very academic and solid way of doing things. I must admit I do this more on some pieces then others, but I am still VERY far from groing through the entire process. I rarely ever do thumbnails, and I just usually go ahead and paint the first thing that I come up with. I know this must hurts your ears, but true is true, my method is incredibly lazy and unthoughtfull. The idea of spending hours making little thumbnails and that I could be spending this time progressing the final image instead is very tempting to me.
But maybe I must recognize the fact that I am a slow painter because I spend up to half the painting time fixing and adjusting things I did wrong initially. Maybe spending 4 hours on planning will cause me to save 12-20 hours in corrections.
Thank you for the totorial! I started reading it a long time ago, but forgot to finish reading.
The orange version came beforehand.
You are absolutely right, I don't do line drawing. I paint with a fat brush and then cut away to find the shapes. Very weak of me. I did get up to using google sketchup to verify my perspective though! Wish I could accurately build my own grids instead of relying on technology so much.
But I do want to defend my David statues. While my eyes were opened to the lameness of the entire picture, I still can't see my Davids as being amateurish. Can you point out what is wrong with the Davids?
I did use reference for the Davids by the way, but didnt copy paste it and draw over it or anything. For that reason I feel as though the contours of my Davids are pretty decent, allthough they lack the full attitude of the real statue. I must also say that I think their form and volume seems decently conveyed.
If I am under an illusion again, please point out whats weak in the Davids so that I can see it as well!
"Five minutes before a man dies, he is still immortal."