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Thread: Spirited Away

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    Spirited Away

    Sorry, I know this sketch is pretty messy and basic, but I would like to get feedback before I start going full-out on this. I wanted to work on child-like faces and toothy grins, because those are real trouble spots for me. So I decided to try and go for a sort-of-realistic bust Chihiro from Spirited Away.
    Now the thing is, I know something here is wrong. I'm just not sure what. She looks a bit older than I was going for, and I'm not sure if the head is the right size. There seems to be a lot of underlying problems that I can't figure out, so I figured I'd try and get people who are more professional than me to have a look... I know it's not very good, but hey, that's why I'm here. I appreciate any advice I can get.

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    Last edited by KillerByte; February 25th, 2012 at 09:17 PM.
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    I think the main thing making her look older is that she has quite a thick neck (children's necks being thinner). Another thing is the head is quite small for a child -- try making the shoulders narrower. (As usual, check Loomis on this one.)

    There's a pretty long recent thread about the issue of how to make characters look like children, here. Got a lot of useful advice in there, particularly towards the end. But to summarise: minimise wrinkles, and pay the most attention to where the eyes sit and how long the nose area is (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoteny).

    Did you use a reference? If not, you should. If so, post here if you want more detailed comments.

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    Soften her features and narrow her neck/shoulders down. it's likely best to follow Lulie's advice, but I made a redline anyway since I'm bored. It's certainly not very comprehensive, but it does show what a minimum amount of change can do already.

    Spirited Away

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    @Lulie Ah, and here I was thinking the head was too big when it was very obviously too small. Staring at the same picture for too long can do things to you, I guess, haha. Thank you for the advice. I was using a reference, but I just realized it was for an older girl than I wanted. New one shown below.
    @kevinsano thank you, that redline was really helpful. I'm kind of hesitant to go that small in comparison to the head, to be honest. It makes her look a bit too young imo, remembering that Chihiro is 10 in the movie. Please tell me if I'm wrong, in which case I will stop being an idiot and take your advice.
    Below is the newer sketch and my newer reference

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    Don't outline all the individual teeth, that's a quick route to really creepy-looking people.

    The problem with sketching everything out using lines is that lines are high-contrast while often edges in real life are not high-contrast. Your eye sees the edge so your hand puts a fat black line there but the line is too much and reads as a bigger gap or deeper wrinkle than you meant it to be. If you need to add a subtle edge somewhere you can do it when you're colouring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    Don't outline all the individual teeth, that's a quick route to really creepy-looking people.
    This, plus: the eyelids and lips cast shadows on the forms (eyeballs and teeth) beneath them. If you indicate that (for example, by using a thicker line weight where the shadows are), she'll start looking less like she's on an acid trip. JPEG attached.

    Spirited Away

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    @vineris that definitely explains why it always looked so creepy when I drew people with big grins. Thank you so much for the tip, it'll be really handy in the future!
    @Giacomo Gah! You're right! I should have used different densities to indicate where there are darker shadows and where the lines were lighter. I can't believe I didn't do that before. She definitely looks less creepy now. Your little paint-over thing was super helpful, thank you so much.
    I tried doing what you both suggested. Also realized that I accidentally erased a chunk of hair when redoing the shoulder width and made one eyebrow higher than the other. Oops! Tried fixing that. I think she looks much better now. Are there any other big problems with the sketch that I should fix before I start colouring? The colouring will be a horror in itself. I'll continue updating with the colouring, maybe you guys can help me out with that since i pretty much have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to colours. Even though I got my tablet quite a while ago, I`m still not as comfortable with digital art as I am with traditional art.
    But I digress! Here's the picture.

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    Nice updates; looking forward to the next installment!
    Have you decided what your light source + background will be yet? (*impatient*)

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    Gee, I wasn't really thinking about the background yet. It was just going to be a bust kind of floating there for practice, but I might actually put effort into the background since I could definitely work on that. I'm trying to keep it still recognizably Spirited Away, but it's hard to find a scene where the face would fit... I should have thought of this beforehand.
    So far I've had the flowers from this scene suggested: Spirited Away
    But I thought I might edit her pose a small bit and have this scene instead, but with her still smiling: Spirited Away
    Any thoughts? Preferences? Suggestions? I'd love to hear your opinions
    Edit:
    Scratch that last thought: edit her pose a WHOLE BUNCH and have the Haku scene instead. Below is a little preview of what it would look like with that scene instead. I didn't spend much time on it thus far, I just wanted to give you a taste of what it would look like with the latter scene instead of the former. I'm having trouble with the hands though...
    If you could point out any other anatomical flaws, that would just be the cat's pajamas. Your input would be lovely.

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    Last edited by KillerByte; February 24th, 2012 at 08:24 PM. Reason: New material
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    So right now I'm kind of delving into the realm of "what the hell am I doing."
    I've never attempted to colour a realistic picture digitally, and... Well, let's face it. Paint Tool Sai is not exactly the most professional program, haha. I've been tinkering away with Corel Painter Essentials, but I'm only just learning how to use the damn thing. I realize that this might not be the spot to ask for advice like this, and that I probably shouldn't have attempted a piece like this with my skill level, but do you guys have any tips for what to do next? Or any recommendations for free or very cheap art programs (although I know it's kind of a long shot, I know that the cheap programs tend to be pretty crap. But I'm kind of broke). I don't know if I should start colouring now or if I should do tones (which I don't know how to do, but I can look into that myself) or if I should put in the background before any of this.
    Sorry for my being so stupid. But advice would be great.

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    The reason I asked about the background originally is that what's in the scene/background will heavily influence the lighting if you're going for realism, because it affects the colours of the shadow, the reflected light, the ambient colour cast, that kind of thing. (The book Color and Light by James Gurney is the best for learning about this -- I think you'd like it. Lots of very pretty painted illustrations with explanations of what he was thinking when he did them. And dinosaurs. C: Pretty cheap, too.)

    So as for how to paint a thing realistically digitally... there are lots of ways to go about it, but given you've never attempted it before, I'd guess the easiest way (and the way best for learning) would be to lay the values in first. So just do it in grayscale first, and worry about the colour later.

    This way, you'll mostly thinking about the light and how to shade each form according to the light. This and this video might be helpful. (Ctrl+Paint is generally a pretty great resource.)

    btw I don't think it's stupid to try to push beyond your comfort zone. A little ambitious, and you should be aware that your first realistic painting might suck, but you can learn so much from this, especially with help from this forum.

    I haven't used either of those program, but from what I hear they should be plenty sufficient. The tools don't matter too much in painting -- good tools can make you faster, but only if you know how to use them. So long as the program has a brush tool and some way of blending or mixing colour, you're fine. (If you're worrying about software, you might want to stick to pencil for a while. Software won't make your pictures better. The principles of light and so on are the important thing, and once you learn those, you can make great stuff in any media.)

    It'd help if you could link to something you've done before, either digitally or in traditional media, so we can have a better understanding of what you already know and what kind of advice would be helpful.


    tl;dr - tones first yes, background probably don't worry for now.

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    You should think about what happens with the corners of a smiling mouth. And how the cheek is pushed up and out, and the lines that occur from that. In your first pic the lines doesn't match the ref pic, you have done two whereas the ref pic has only one, and closer to the corner of the mouth.

    In your second sketch the top lip looks too thick, and again the corner of the mouth doesn't quite read right.

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    @Lulie I feel like I've been recommended that book before. I should get on buying that. I'm sure this painting is going to look pretty cruddy, haha, but I'm determined to at least get it finished. I have a bad habit of giving up on paintings (traditional and digital) partway through. And also, I'm not trying to find software that will cover up my abilities, haha. Just better quality, although I'm sure I'll learn to use these just fine. I've just found that most people use Sai for manga and cartoons, but I'm sure it's plenty sufficient for realism as well. I'll be uploading some pictures to my sketchbook soon that show some studies I've been doing recently - unfortunately I don't have access to any paintings or coloured pieces of mine any more. The only time I have access to paints is at school as of now, although I am getting an easel next month to practice, so my teacher has all of my coloured pieces. Sorry to disappoint.
    @Devilry The reason the lines are like that in the first picture is because I was using a different reference at first, but then realized that it was for an older girl than I wanted and simply forgot to change them. D'oh! Thanks for pointing that out. I have no excuse for the second one, I'll definitely be changing that in my next update.
    Sorry I can't update too quickly, I've had a lot of dinky little English assignments floating around recently that I've left to the last minute to finish, haha. I'll try and update the picture soon, and get on uploading those pictures to my sketchbook.

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    The upper lip should be fairly straight across, if the smile is wide the flesh will be pulled tight against the lip and not sagging. You should be able to check this in a mirror.

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    @vineris yeah, I noticed that too when I when I was playing around with the corner of the mouth. I don't know what's up with my brain, I must have been half asleep or something when I was looking at my reference. I also tried to fix the eyes a little , as I totally didn't give her eyelids before for some weird reason. Here's a super quick update:

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    Before I get super into it: Am I doing this right? Don't want to do, like the entire thing and find out that I'm being an idiot, haha. I know that neck looks a bit wonky with the shading, sorry about that. My reference ended at the chin, so I had to find another and I just realized it had a slightly different light source, so I have to find another one.

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    For now the only thing I'd recommend is to incorporate the teeth into this as well. They tend to pick up the color from around the mouth area. Teeth tend to look weird if they don't properly mesh with their background.

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    Red face

    Just commenting on the last post you made. Hopefully for some encouragement here overall. Don't be afraid to go all in on the painting for fear of not getting it right 100%. At this point I notice you are mainly concentrating on the face to get it right. I think this is because maybe (just guessing here, might be wrong haha cause I used to do that) was because once the face is right, everything will fall together nicely after that. Which most of the time I found that to be incorrect and then got frustrated with the whole thing. Maybe take some time to lay off the face for a bit and concentrate on the composition as a whole. Not only would it free your mind of the small details, but will loosen up the feeling of being trapped into making sure the face is perfect. Plus concentrating on laying down other value throughout the rest of the painting might even help to sculpt out the face anyway. So far the face looks a little flat, so do some thumbnails pegging value where you want it to help frame the image. Maybe spending some time splashing in some colors after that and pushing some direction to your focal point. Just a few suggestions. But going back to my first suggestion, overall I think you should try concentrating on the image as a whole. Hope this was helpful.-Brad

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    @kevinsano Ah, good point. I actually almost forgot the about teeth, I got so caught up in the skin and stuff.
    @Virulentus You're right, I often get very caught up in the face and end up skimping on details in other areas. And you're also right in that I should think about other areas as well, so I don't rush them later. I've been trying to loosen up my digital stuff, but it hasn't been going very well, aha. Everything I do looks very strained and flat. I'll try working on on the other aspects of the picture.

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    Agreed with Virulentus: do some thumbnails of big mass values first to work out what would be nicest for the composition (think about whether you want light on dark, or dark on light, or some kind of mixture, and where you want the focus and how to get that), and then you can worry about details later. The details will only work if you have the bigger masses right, so no use in endlessly tweaking them when they're part of a bigger whole you haven't plotted out yet.

    I recommend doing whole thing really roughly at first, then refine a bit, get crits, refine again, repeat the last two until you're happy.

    By the way, I'm really liking how the picture is going. Adorable hand-muzzle. >w<

    Oh, I didn't notice this before because I haven't seen the movie, but your animal looks more like a fox than the sort of dragon-dog-ish reference. (I actually prefer the way you've done it, but that's because I have a personal bias towards foxes. Changes away from the reference should be intentional if you do them, so be careful.)

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    @Lulie I'll be sure to do that. And thanks for the compliment! It was actually intentional to make him look fox-ish. I don't know why, but I always imagined him to look more like a fox if he was real. Just personal tastes kicking in there.

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    We are in agreement then.

    A thing I forgot to mention earlier: If you want to make it look more like the original girl, you might want to try matching her weird proportions more. You've done a very average face, which looks fine, but if you want to get her character, make her nose high, eyes far apart, that sort of thing -- exaggerate it a little. Maybe a thing to consider for future anime/cartoon-turned-real drawings.

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    I think her nose looks too sharp and adult. If you want her to look younger, you should round it out a bit.

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    I don't think I agree with Haku's head shape, the muzzle/nose is way too short. If you look at the refs you'll see that he has a very long and narrow head, right now he looks more like a dog. Think "streamlining" and "serpentine".

    As for Chihiro, I'd say "open" her eyes a bit more. Her mouth says "happy", but the eyes look indifferent or tired.

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    @Bai Fan I'll think about rounding it some more, thank you for the tip.
    @EagleGrove Hmm, although I do agree that it's shorter than in the movie, you'll see that above I said that that was intentional. I imagine him with a fox-ish face if I think of what he'd look like if he was real. Again, that's just personal preference. I might edit the face's shape a bit more, though, as you're the second person to tell me that it doesn't really look like him, but I'm probably still going to keep it with that basic shape. As for Chihiro's eyes, I agree with you. I'll fix them.
    I'm having trouble doing the tone thumbnails. I don't know why, but every time I go to do them I get too tempted to do the details first. Urgh. If you can, do you think you could point me towards some examples? I tried searching for some myself, as I figured it might help if I had something to look at, but I couldn't find any. Sorry I haven't been updating, I've been kind of busy with school work. I'll try and update the picture tonight.

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    Here are two thumbnail tips from one of my friends.
    1) Don't spend more than 5 minutes on a thumbnail.
    2) Use a really big brush.

    I don't know if this is true for all thumbnails, but it's certainly helped me.

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    Sorry for not updating for a while, I kind of took a break from internet and focused on schoolwork.
    I realized that the whole idea for the picture might have been a bit... Bland. I'm not sure I really like it anymore. Even if it is the best option out of the 4 sketches, I figured it might be a good idea to just start afresh anyway. I know I should have made these tone thumbnails, but I just made them sketches. I decided that I'd do the thumbnails when I started playing with lighting, which I'm sure is not the right way to do it, but... Yeah. Tell me which one you find the best.

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    I instantly fell in love with sketch 1. I think it's because they both look so happy

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    The first is very cute and dynamic if you do it well. But I guess it's the hardest one, you need to draw Haku's full body and his head from that non trivial angle in a believable way. Not mentioning Chihiro's happy smile. In your oprevious attempts, the smile always was somewhat forced. I have the same problem, by the way, smiles aren't that easy. I'd go with the one knwing it will be hard work but you learn that way and such motivating heartwarming idea helps in the hard times anyway ~
    I think Haku's body is kind of sloppy in the sketches, I don't see where should go his legs, he usually feels like flowing/flying but the scenes are obviously on the ground...

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    Those thumbnails came out really really nice.

    Also Paint Tool Sai is a good program - it is small, has all the basic functions, nice brushes and it has everything you need for painting.

    I like the art but I don't think it looks like the character you want to portrait.

    It has to do with different things, one is the facial structure:
    Chihiros mouth is rather small, her nose is small and both are far apart. Trace a picture of her to really see how low the mouth is on the head.
    She has also a lot of asian influence in her face, the face is flat and the eyes are dark and have this specific shape. The hair is straight, frayed and with far less volume around the bangs and more weight in the ponytail.
    You have a caucasian girl there with full cheeks, big nose, big lips and rich, slightly curly hair. The facial proportions of your girl point to an older person, around 16.

    Chihiro has a fragile built and as contrast she wears clothes that are too big for her - like that striped, oversized shirt or those wide working-clothes.
    Your girl feels far thicker and solid.

    The other thing is the character of Chihiro:
    Sen is a very serious child, she's careful, determined and though she is very friendly she shows her emotions in subtle ways - when I'm thinking about her I don't think about a carefree, smiling person. her most characteristic expressions are worry, sadness and subtle and thankful smiles

    Anyways, I hope you continue with your picture, you can work on the likeness or just drop the chihiro idea and go with your own characters .

    Last edited by Kiera; April 30th, 2012 at 03:45 PM.
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