Trying to develop my art

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  1. #1
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    Trying to develop my art

    Hello everybody!
    My name's Chris and I'm a new artist that hopes for a break in the fantasy and gaming industry. I've been working as a freelance illustrator for many years with advertising agencies in my country, but I just wanted something more creative. Or should I say, something that I can use my imagination.
    Being self-taught, I have to admit that this whole new world is intimidating. There are so many talented people, each with a unique style. So, I thought I'd post here in order to develop my skills and improve my style. However, this can't be done without the constructive critique of you guys! Especially a pro's advice would be more than welcome!

    Up till now I was working completely empirical. It was more like naive sketching than real drawing I guess. I didn't care about ambient light, focus points, atmospheric perspective, golden rule, etc. I dig up all this knowledge when I started reading forums like this, and that is the last 15-20 days.
    Enough with my artistic quest. Cut to the chase. This is my second entry in this community's activity, IOW7 Alien invasion. Applying the golden mean I came up with this composition. I started with a rough drawing and tried to depict the general mood and lighting conditions. I thought I'd start with a grayscale image. Establish my values and then move to detail and finally color. Will it work? I don't know. It's my first time working this way. It's an experiment to me.

    So this is my first rough
    Trying to develop my art

    And this is an alternative
    Trying to develop my art

    I wanted to emphasize the perspective on this last one.
    It's strange but the first one looks better to me. I'd like to hear your opinion though. If there is any structural, perspective, or any other mistakes, please let me know.

    Cheers to you all!

    PS. Sorry for my rusty English.

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    Last edited by c-rallis; October 21st, 2011 at 04:17 PM.
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  3. #2
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    This looks really good so far. I'd use the cavemen from the first version and the aliens from the second (although I'd get rid of the root pointing directly at the alien's head).


    Tristan Elwell
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    Trying to develop my art

    Thank you Tristan. I think that this is getting somewhere. I'm really concerned about the final outcome though. I always focus on the detail, forgetting the whole picture. This leads to a dull outcome with a bunch of details but not something really interesting. Sometimes I like the rough sketch more than the final drawing. Is there a way I could change that "habit"?

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    Finished tones. Or am I missing something?

    Trying to develop my art

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    Looks good, you can definitely move on to colouring. The position and angle of the spear in the lower right feels a little uncomfortable to me; it's almost touching the edge of the canvas. I would turn and move it a little..

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  9. #6
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    Thanks Benjamin. Moved the spear and added color. I think it's done. Is there anything that you guys think it could be improved?

    Trying to develop my art

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    I might spread some of that purple around, maybe blend it with the orange too. Right now it looks a little out of place on that wall over there. Otherwise looks pretty good

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  12. #8
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    I see your point Jason. You mean something like this?

    Trying to develop my art

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    This has a nice quality to it. Good difference in color between the outside and inside. The form is pretty solid.

    However, there is some kind of dreamlike quality that seems to be lacking here. Also, you should avoid blending/blurring using photoshop. Blurring tones is anti-aesthetic/bad as visual poetry. There is nothing that can be blurred that won't look 10x better if done with increments of color and value.

    For instance, I like the haziness behind the figures at the cave mouth... but you don't need blurriness to do that, you just need close values. Good art requires you to define stuff. When you blur you are cheating us of definition.

    Also, the otherworldly quality needs to be amped up... defining the spaceship a bit more, adding halation to the lights, adding a little bit of the kicked-up dust coming into the cave mouth explains how the cave at the front can have the atmospheric perspective you were doing.

    Also, the cave really needs to keep its local color. No matter what happens, generally, in firelight, a cave ain't gonna be purple or blue. (I just noticed that the dark area behind the figure at far right has a purplish hue to it, that was accidental due to a color translation problem, it should be warmer in my image)

    Also, round shapes are death. Deadly dull and boring and you should avoid them in favor of more interesting, evocative, dynamic shapes.

    Also, don't be afraid to let the figures sink into the darkness. If you attempt to define everything from all sides, you will end up with a static picture that lacks mystery. Lost and found edges give mystery to silhouettes and increase beauty.

    So I've done a quick paintover to show my points...

    good luck and nice job,
    kev

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    Last edited by kev ferrara; October 20th, 2011 at 01:58 PM.
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Looks very good, though maybe just a bit overboard with the alien blue light shining in? I would think the dudes would have noticed something was up and been at the defensive a lot sooner with all that weird light.

    I'm a relative compositional noob, so take this with a grain of salt, but I feel like most of the detail and visual interest is over to the right edge so maybe the canvas could be shifted over to the right a bit. The aliens/light is obviously a focal point, but the way you executed this, I feel like the interest of this piece is more in seeing the caveguys scramble and react.

    One last thing - you seem pretty damned competent in terms of anatomy so maybe I'm just misreading it, but for the guy in the lower corner, it looks like his bicep is turned up and we're seeing the pit of his elbow. If that's the case, it looks like his shoulder/deltoid muscle is on the wrong side.

    Last edited by wooblood; October 20th, 2011 at 02:05 PM.
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    Thank you guys for the valuable advices!

    Wooblood, I'm not sure I'm following you with the biceps thing. Maybe it's the shadow that's confusing you. Please bare with me but I'm a visual guy. If you care to make a sketch and show me exactly what you mean, that would help me understand.

    Kev, I worked based on your directions and seems that it works. Just for the record, I didn't use blur anywhere. Perhaps the soft airbrush looked like blur effect. Anyway, here's an update with a detail.

    Trying to develop my art

    Trying to develop my art

    Last edited by c-rallis; October 20th, 2011 at 03:51 PM.
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  18. #12
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    Looking better, man.

    However, your figures are very blurred. It doesn't matter whether you use the blur tool or blend tool or not. The results are either smeared or they are distinct. The form is either strongly declared, or it is mumbled and fudged. The outlines of things have some crisp edges, sensitive with textural detail, to play off the softer edges, or else the whole outline looks mumbled and fudged.

    You must get true crisp lines, and details. Not all over the place, just in the spots that most explain the substance of what you are drawing.

    And this specificity also goes to distinct, telling bits of anatomy (your head is too big for the body, throwing the proportions off), accurate lighting against well understood form (which means knowing where the form turns exactly from light to shadow), and distinctions of the local colors of the skin. Skin should all look like the same color, but have subtle changes in color temperature.

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    The defined spaceship now really adds a lot to the story in the picture.

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    I dig the image overall! Really cool vision. I think you've got a great opportunity to play those alien blues up with the oranges of the campfire though! Squeeeeze some more color drama out of your piece. I also struggle with fuzziness with my planes sometimes thanks for the paintover kev ferrara!

    Please Sir, I'd like some more.

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    rseward, that's a good point!

    Kev,
    I really appreciate your help!
    The figures are blurred because of the brush size I'm using. I use Photoshop's default dry media brush at 30 px size, 100% opacity with pen pressure ON. I guess I have to pick a smaller brush to do the details.
    I have issues with coloring, or should I say... I have issues with the procedure of applying color after the grayscale values are done. I'm trying to guess the next step on my own, and that's frustrating. It's a trial and error situation. Working in grayscale seems right to me, that's why I'm trying to adopt this style. But after that how on earth do you guys apply the color? I made a new layer, and changed the blend option to "overlay". Then I added the color I wanted. If there's a tutorial on the whole procedure, please post it and save an artists mental health!

    Ok, let's get back to the image. I've made a sketch of the caveman, based on the posted image, in order to discuss the potential anatomy issues.

    Trying to develop my art

    I have to say that I don't mind if this piece is not finished till deadline expiration. I prefer to get it right.

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  23. #16
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    So, looking at your drawing here, we're getting to the heart of the problem.

    1. The left arm (at the right of the drawing) is incorrect in anatomy/spacial relations/form. You seem to be suggesting by the drawing that the elbow is going back, and the shoulder is coming forward, (which would mean the bicep would be severely retreating in perspective.) But you have drawn the bicep/upper arm as if it were parallel to the picture plane, and you've drawn the deltoid attachment (where it connects between the bicep and tricep on the flat surface of the upper arm) as if it were in very deep perspective pushing away from us. (Actually, its just wrong in a lot of ways.) So... Either get a model or...

    2. Think of your figures as real men. Stop thinking in line, or construction. Start imagining real people in your mind's eye. Notice my paintover, how sloppily it is done. It took me ten minutes, and there was no reference. Yet, it has the feel of flesh. That is because making a believable figure has far more to do with our ability to imagine the thing we are trying to draw/paint than any technical matter. I simply imagined the figure was a real man, and I just looked at my imagination and drew from it.

    3. This is not to say that I didn't apply knowledge. And there is a certain kind of knowledge that I see is lacking in your drawing you just posted. WHen you draw, there are two absolutely essential distinctions you must draw, and draw sensitively, and correctly. One is the silhouette outline of the figure. And the other is the silhouette of the light versus the silhouette of the dark, which is the breaking up of the overall silhouette into two distinct value ranges. The change over from light to dark happens at corners of the forms.

    4. These protruding corners, which appear within the silhouettes of forms, (rather than outlining them), are entirely missing from your drawing above. All you have drawn is the silhouettes of muscles. You haven't broken each silhouette into dark and light. Do a paintover on your own drawing and try to break each form into strictly shadow versus light. Then look at each large mass of form and think about how it would throw a cast shadow and then block in the shadow.

    5. Copying George Bridgman's anatomy books into your notebooks, page by page will teach you, as it has taught many famous artists, how to think of form as having corners... as solid volumes rather than flat cartoon outlines.

    Thats is all,

    kev

    Last edited by kev ferrara; October 20th, 2011 at 09:25 PM.
    At least Icarus tried!


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  25. #17
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    You're right! I see it now. Till now I was drawing the silhouettes of things, instead of the forms of light and shadow.
    I changed the arm and worked it in terms of light and shadow. Am I doing this the right way or I'm still way off?

    This is the sketch
    Trying to develop my art

    and here's the applied values
    Trying to develop my art

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    To illustrate what I was talking about with the guy in the lower right corner:

    I only have Gimp on this computer at work which I hate using (compared to PS), so forgive the scratchiness and my general annoyance while doing this.
    #1 is what I'm seeing and my confusion with whether the arm is turned with bicep facing upwards or not. #2 and #3 are what I would expect to see anatomically speaking (obviously shapes would be lost and changed according to lighting) with arm turned up or sideways, respectively.
    I didn't address awkwardness in my drawings for the straight extension of the arm, so please overlook that!

    PS - also while looking more closely at this, it looks like the hand is too long on this same arm.

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  28. #19
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    That's a much better drawing! (Except that the hand is pointing in a different direction from the face. Think real man, not lines and shapes behind other lines and shapes.)

    But your rendering is all soft edges. Make it all hard edges. Separate every tone from every other tone. And this will create real solidity and mass. Get crisp distinctions! Reduce the values... from blends, to shapes of solid value. Turns it from mushy blur to crisp graphics.... Make each plane one value. Shape the form by changing from one plane with one value, to another plane of another value. Two planes that intersect make a corner. Like a bent hinge. Make distinct changes from one clean plane of a particular value to another clean plane of a particular value. Like the figure is chiseled out of flesh colored quartz, facet by facet.

    No round shapes at all. All hard and angular. No curves. All geometric.

    Last edited by kev ferrara; October 21st, 2011 at 01:28 PM.
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Wooblood
    You were right. It should be more like your 2nd sketch. Like this...
    Trying to develop my art

    Kev
    I don't understand this "Separate every tone from every other tone". I mean, on a round surface, like an arm, there should be a gradient from light to shadow, right? Why make it look faceted, when it's round in real life?

    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Except that the hand is pointing in a different direction from the face. Think real man, not lines and shapes behind other lines and shapes.
    Yeah, but his eyes look at the same direction with his hand!

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  31. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by c-rallis View Post
    Kev
    I don't understand this "Separate every tone from every other tone". I mean, on a round surface, like an arm, there should be a gradient from light to shadow, right? Why make it look faceted, when it's round in real life?
    Because you are working in 2D to make something look 3D. You have to play up the illusion of form to compensate for the fact that you are working on a flat surface. If you just draw what you see out of one eye, you will get flat work. We can't see in 3d stereoscopic vision in life unless we have both eyes open, and, in our brains we merge the two images caught by our eyeballs into one holographic image. But in art, you only have one image, so you need to exaggerate the solidity and volume of form in order to compensate.

    After you learn to make form out of facets or planes, then you can do a bit of blending between the planes if you want to. But first learn how to see the planes and exaggerate them to get the form bulk you are trying for.

    Look at how the Bargue drawing system starts out with clear, angular lines that describe first the outline of the object, and then clearly delineates the shadow area from the light.

    http://www.learning-to-see.co.uk/ima...ue-plate-5.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by c-rallis View Post
    Yeah, but his eyes look at the same direction with his hand!
    No, see you are thinking in 2d. You need to think in 3d. If we see both eyes (or both protruding brows) on a head, that means the head is turned slightly toward us. If we see that the wrist, as a form, overlaps the hand, the hand must be turned away from us. So your hand and face are both pointing to the left, but one is pointing toward us, and the other away.

    Now, if your idea was that the guy is pointing in one direction, while looking in another direction, as if saying to his buddies, "hey, look over there," then you need to turn his head more towards us, so we see and understand that idea more clearly.

    Storytelling requires authoritativeness, surety on the part of the storyteller. How a thing looks should be clear or it should be mysterious. It should never be vague as to what your intention is, because that weakens your authority as a storyteller. Know what you are after, and communicate clearly.

    EDIT: Just noticed that you have the guys eyes turned to fall more in line with the direction that the finger points. That's good, I guess, and probably works okay.

    Last edited by kev ferrara; October 21st, 2011 at 03:26 PM.
    At least Icarus tried!


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  32. #22
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    Kev
    Is this what you're talking about when you said it should be sharper?

    Trying to develop my art

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    Yes, it is sharper.

    But, what I noticed before is now much more evident.

    1. You don't have the anatomy and the forms of the anatomy memorized.

    2. You only have a very general sense of what the anatomy is and how the forms are shaped. So you are idealizing your forms to a cartoony extreme.

    3. You need to hit Bridgman hardcore and start using a lot more reference on your work. You need to get the major forms more clear and your head, and the specific anatomy for all the minor forms will have to be done from scratch. Start looking at a lot of black and white photography and draw from it as well into your notebooks. I also advise taking weekly modelling sessions to draw from a live person on a constant basis.

    4. Your understanding of lighting is equally idealized and cartoony. And this is also because of your problem with anatomy and form. If you are looking at Hogarth's dynamic light and shade, don't. Start looking at black and white photography instead. You need to sensitize yourself to what reality really looks like, and the flesh, muscle and bone of the human face and anatomy.

    Best wishes,
    kev

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    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=101106

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  35. #24
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    I'm working this without any reference. I got Bridgman's and Loomis' books and I'll study them thoroughly. Thank you for the tip!

    So far...

    Trying to develop my art

    Trying to develop my art

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  36. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by c-rallis View Post
    I'm working this without any reference.
    So...why?

    The Nezumi Works Sketchbook - Now in progress

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    "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
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    I'm working this without any reference.

    Pro, Norman Rockwell used models and reference. Pro, Reyonld Brown used models and reference. Pro, Adam Hughes has a Catwoman demo that uses model and reference. Pro, Elwell has a demo that uses a model and reference.

    Hope this helps.

    Last edited by Charlie D; October 21st, 2011 at 11:15 PM.
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    Hey bro...

    Back on the story telling... It isn't just that you need to really imagine this scene in your mind's eye as if it were real in order to draw and paint the objects and people out of your head better. But also, if you place yourself into the scene, and really live it as the characters, you wouldn't make the kind of mistake I see now glaring at me: Which is that the caveman who is standing up has no chest hair!

    Imagination is key. You have to let your imagination guide you to the truth of the moment.... it will provide the truth of everything about the moment too.

    You need to sit quietly and imagine that you actually are one of these cavemen. And live the moment for yourself in your imagination. Then you will make a believable picture in all aspects.

    At least Icarus tried!


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  39. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    So...why?
    Well, as soon as I've read this week's illo theme, the first thing that I imagined was this scene. I didn't want to waste time looking for reference, in fact it didn't cross my mind to look for any.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie D View Post
    Pro, Norman Rockwell used models and reference. Pro, Reyonld Brown used models and reference. Pro, Adam Hughes has a Catwoman demo that uses model and reference. Pro, Elwell has a demo that uses a model and reference.

    Hope this helps.
    I wish I had a tiny fragment of those men's experience! Elwell is reading this topic in silence. I wish I knew his thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Which is that the caveman who is standing up has no chest hair!
    Damn Kev! Are you a mind reader? That's exactly what I thought when I was going to bed last night!

    My conclusion is that each painter sees and draws different things. It is a fact that if we were eyewitnesses to a crime, each one would describe a different scene, that means that each man has unique way of seeing things. Taking for granted that each artist has his own technique and style, I assume that there would be a million different drawings of the same theme.
    Now I wonder, (setting aside the anatomical issues) does this fragmented/faceted technique works as a threshold to real painting, or is it a technique I should adopt in order to call myself a painter?
    Please bear with me, but I like to analyze things.

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  40. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by c-rallis View Post
    I didn't want to waste time looking for reference, in fact it didn't cross my mind to look for any.
    That's funny. Yeah, you want to get your initial sketches down quick, but after that reference saves you time.

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  41. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by c-rallis View Post
    I wish I had a tiny fragment of those men's experience! Elwell is reading this topic in silence. I wish I knew his thoughts.
    My thoughts are that it's really important to know enough about anatomy/perspective/light/etc so that you can get your initial ideas down straight from your head, and you're obviously able to do that. But once you've done that, it's equally important to know your limitations, use whatever tools you can to double check your initial impression, and fill in the gaps that your memory and imagination inevitably have. I know from personal experience that not dealing with things always ends up biting you in the ass, and that the more time and effort you put in on the front end of a piece, the more you save in the long run.


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