Last Man Standing

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  1. #1
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    Last Man Standing

    Hey guys! I believe this is my first post in the critique section, but it's about time.

    I'm trying to adopt a work process with this painting. I first doodle thumbnails on my sketchbook. When making these I have a general idea of whether they are for environment, illustration, or character use. If I see a good thumbnail, I either redraw it in more detail or bring it straight to photoshop. I then start building the composition with general values and shapes in mind. I flip the image horizontally to find flaws and vertically to check how my composition is holding up. I try to work in greyscale for as long as I can, then carefully add color mostly using the 'color' layer.

    Here's a painting I started yesterday following this method. I feel it works quite well with the foreground dark, middleground with character medium and background lightest.

    I notice I want to make the clouds behind the character super white to make sure the character is the focal point and pops out. But I feel this method is somewhat confining me and leaves me with no choice. What other way are there to make your focus pop out? Saturation and sharpness are a few, as well as composition of course. I also want to try to make a lighting effect similar to Panshi's entry on this ChOW. Frazetta seems to do this drastic lighting on his characters even more so.

    Also how is the value scale on your screens? I'm working on a laptop and I wouldn't be too trusty with this thing. Looking at it now I could definitely increase the darker values on the bottom and on the character. What do you think?

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    Last edited by Kauil; February 25th, 2012 at 08:21 AM.
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  3. #2
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    Here are the WIP screens I have saved. The starting thumbnail was 1" x 2.5" on paper, and the second one was also very small resolution. With the third on I had upped the resolution to 2000px x 4490px. With the fifth one I had upped the resolution to 2500px x 5613px.

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    Last edited by Kauil; February 25th, 2012 at 10:39 PM.
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  5. #3
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    Here's today's progress. Changed the dpi to 300 and had to up the resolution to 2500x5613 when I started painting the face of the character. Still feels a bit too low for details.

    Darker values added, sky changed for a better composition.

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  6. #4
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    I would say, "yes". Definitely increase the foreground values, as well as the values/tonal structure of the figure to draw the eye. Really try to push darks and lights... Besides that, I think you have a wonderful composition and a good grasp on where to go from here.

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    I think I liked better the larger bright clouds in the last thumbnail (and without the waving hair), than just the two little branches you're working with now; an expresionist touch in the sky seem to correspond better with the man's sort of vertiginous feelings at that moment...

    However, compositionally I find it very effective, sober but eye catching.

    Last edited by elemile; February 10th, 2012 at 09:19 PM.
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  9. #6
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    The values all seem to be in the right place: the right areas are light and so forth, you just need to punch them up. I feel like the character and the sword in the foreground should be much darker.

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  10. #7
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    Thanks for the input, VawnOTheDawn. Much darker you say... I'll see what I can do for that. As I said I'm working on a laptop and at some point with my screen I tend to lose track of the distinctiveness of the darkest values. Other than that I think I'm mostly concerned with the debris on the hill he's standing on and how that works with the energy and how it directs the viewers eye. I also have to think just what to do with the background. I'm envisioning a sort of burning battlefield, slowly dying off but still giving an orange glow behind the character.

    Last edited by Kauil; February 11th, 2012 at 04:55 AM.
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    Slowly progressing. I realised I had no idea what that hill he was standing on was made of, so I searched for some bedrock pictures on cgtextures.com and used it as a reference. Many of the clutter that looked like battlefield debris got cleared for now, but I think I will add it back eventually.

    I also got carried away with detailing the face, EVIL.

    Edit: Slight update to the hilltop and background.

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    Last edited by Kauil; February 11th, 2012 at 12:44 PM.
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  12. #9
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    I think the mood has the potential to be very cool. I kind of agree with elemile. If he is last man standing he just came through battle right? he needs a sword or mace or something dangling from his right hand maybe a broken shield, like he participated in the battle and is reflecting on what he just came through instead of watched over it. Look forward to your color choices!

    Minimal art went nowhere. - Sol LeWitt

    DA
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  13. #10
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    The face in the thumb looks good, but wrong for the composition. We're toward the foot of the hill looking up at him, right? But the closeup of the face looks like we're standing on the same plane. Even if he's looking down, we're looking up at him.

    I'd have a hard time pulling that pose out of my imagination.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  14. #11
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    The above suggestions are cool and worth pursuing, defintiely. I think you also need to consider the perspective of the character versus the hill he's standing on... currently the figure is leaning at a perspective that's different to the hill, so it feels like he's falling forwards. There's a couple of ways to fix it, I've included a paintover below. You could just turn the figure a little more to straighten him up as in the middle, but then the composition becomes very right-heavy. You could add something else in the left to balance, or you could leave the figure be, and bring the hill into the same perspective as the figure. He could also do with being pulled over a little more towards the centre of the image if you do that, maybe using that sword in the foreground to counter the slant of the hill and the body (gives the eye more interesting paths to follow round the image). If you slant the hill more, you might want to suggest that the horizon is slanted too, so the whole thing doesn't lean too much. This can be easily done with the suggestion of some kind of background very faintly on the left (I've just hinted at mountains, but it could be anything!). I've also used the clouds to a little more effect, to lead the viewers eye in towards the figure on the righthand version.

    Hope all that helps some, it's already looking to be a cool image!

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  16. #12
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    I like the composition of your piece. I think the suggestions of perspective given by zephiry are worth noting.
    My only crit is that the head of the character seems to be too small in comparison to his body and limbs.

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    @LAG Early on I was trying on some weapons but didn't like them, so I just focused on the pose and forgot about the weapons. Adding weapons might make for a more interesting silhuette for sure. The way his hands are now, he could be dual weilding and the weapons could cross each other and suggest his vertiginous (thanks elemile for the big word) feelings.

    @Stoat I agree. This always happens when I fall in love with a detail.

    @zephyri Thanks for the paintovers and tips! I was trying to do my best with the composition, so I forgot about perspective. I did try to hint at it with making some lines parallel to the (slanted) perspective on the lower left, but it seems I should've been a lot more blunt with the message. I feel that by straightening the character I lose a lot of the dynamic strength. Also, while those clouds you made definitely bring the viewers eye better to the man, but I feel that by keeping the clouds flowing in the direction they currently are, I keep a directional flow that's somehow pleases me. Maybe it's in tune with the direction of the sword guard. Somehow the clouds you suggested less connected with the flow of the piece? Or then I'm just stubborn with keeping them.

    @Voodoo Mama Thanks! I think I actually had the perspective in mind when I was making the head that small, but forgot to apply it otherwise! I also wanted to make him seem tough and superior to the normal warrior, so I exaggerated his features.

    Last edited by Kauil; February 12th, 2012 at 07:02 AM.
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  18. #14
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    No worries.. and yeah, it's cool to keep the clouds as you want them, just bear in mind the fact the sky recedes into space too when you do them like that Glad the paintover was of help

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  19. #15
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    Ok, so I changed the head and the shoulders. I think the head is better now in terms of perspective. Also slightly adjusted contrast and tried to make visual clues to point out that the perspective is slanted.

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  20. #16
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    Gave him a spear and managed to make the background into a lighting bolt blending into the flaming battlefield.

    Also did some color testing. As usual, I feel lost with coloring on a greyscale, what I did was a colorise to a red, then started adding some colder colors to the shadows. Made the foreground purpleish, and added some reds and yellows to those smaller fires on the hill. Still feels very monochromish. I guess I'll start my next painting with color and see if I get a more realistic color setting that way.

    P.S. Ok masked the middle ground and foreground elements from the red and it looks a lot better. Gotta sleep now, will carry on tomorrow.

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    Last edited by Kauil; February 12th, 2012 at 07:05 PM.
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  21. #17
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    I'm taking a step back to finishing the greyscale first and differentiating my background elements from each other more clearly to help with the coloring. Here's the current b/w. If anyone wants to suggest a coloring or do a paintover, by all means go ahead.

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  22. #18
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    After reading most of this, here is the colored version, I'm fairly pleased with the result, altough the sky on the upper part is awkwardly clean... suggestions/crits?

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  23. #19
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    I like. Looks a lot like my current Dungeons&Dragons character... You sure that's no cleric of Talos, by coincidence?

    I wouldn't worry about that patch of sky so much. It does not bother me so, even now that you have mentioned it.

    Continue the critique at Deviant Art
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  24. #20
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    Hehe, no relation to your character, at least intentionally so. I just received some feedback from a friend and made some changes, which one do you think is better, this or the previous?

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  25. #21
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    After careful consideration:

    The second. It's more intense and with the red haze in the lower right corner it looks like the whole area's been super-heated by the fire.

    Continue the critique at Deviant Art
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  26. #22
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    I don't have any critique to offer but just wanted to say, I loved it in the thumbnail and the final did not disappoint =) The composition and colors are great. It's hard to choose between the two color schemes you got but i think the second is far more dramatic.

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  27. #23
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    Great work! I concur that the second is more dramatic. Can feel the heat coming off it...

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  28. #24
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    Thanks a bunch! Also thanks to all the critiques, you've been very helpful!

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