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im still trying to figure out the background for this piece, i want it to be underwater and rustic, the girl i will start on a little later, for now i just overlayed a skeliton placeholder. any advice is welcom. i think my biggest problem is tightening up detail. it looks way cartoony right now and my end goal is realistic.
If you want to give the perception of being underwater, you have to ignore the warm end of the palette. The longer wavelengths get filtered out in water first (red first, then orange, yellow, etc.) So you're going to want to get rid of the brownish-reddish-yellow tones if the scene is deep underwater. Unless there's some sort of artificial light which'll add those tones back in.
The scene is looking very interesting. Looks like there's a good story behind it. I look forward to seeing some progress pics. Good luck.
Underwater, cool. Can't help you much on the background other than keep working on it and render the snot out of it. When it comes time to the girl, be sure her hair looks like its underwater and have floating thing all around.
I like the concept.
I would recommend trying to implement texture into the background to get rid of the slick effect, and make it look old. As stated before, floating particles couldn't hurt either.
Maybe try add in some coral-type of underwater organisms as well.