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So I submitted an entry to the Art Order Challenge (theartorder.com). I didn't place in the finalists. I did receive a critique from someone I know in the industry and was looking for some clarification on it from the ConceptArt community. This is from a busy AD and I didn't want to bother them with follow up questions.
As well, any further critiques would be most welcome.
So... Here is the critique...
What to improve?
Look at proportions and perspectives in the space.
The tomb stone the skeleton is standing on confuses the eye with the other tombstones: they don't appear to be on the same plane.
I see where the light source is, but what is it? What could give that much light to Levi and his buddy but not on the church or tree?
The skeleton's face is great but where is his neck? Should he have a neck? If not, why not?
Notice the skeleton's leg bones compared to his ribcage, why are the legs so far behind?
Here is what is confusing me... Or maybe I just don't see it. I don't see what is meant by the tombstones not being on the same plane. Does it mean the one that the skeleton is standing on is too small, compared to the background ones (which are larger)? Or is it a perspective issue?
When it's said the lighting should be more spread out, "on the church or tree"... I feel like this runs counter to the things I know... group my lighting, make choices and bring the focus where I want it. Is my lighting difference just too much? Looking to Rembrandt or Rubens I see very extreme differences.
And then the neck... This is something maybe I don't see as well, I feel like the skeleton is leaning over, sort of looking down as he steps up, at least that was my intent. I feel like you would not see his neck... In the reference image I shot there was not much visible neck.
So yea, not saying the AD is wrong or i am right... Just want to hear some second opinions.
the characters don't seem to be lit by the same light. The tree should have as much light as the characters, the two tomb stones on the right should have more light and the bottom of the church should get just enough light for us to discern it's elements a bit better (rather then being a silhouette)
alternatively; the light hitting the characters should be lowered.
For the skeleton, if you draw a line to see his vertebrae, you'll notice it's a bit long considering the amount of foreshortening (yay! new word!) required by his current position.
guys at the theartorder have some pretty keen eyes, I don't think I would have noticed those myself.
Can you elaborate on the characters not being lit by the same light?
Putting light on the elements that aren't really the focal points. I understand in real life that would be the case... but thinking in terms of the composition, how would light on either of those places (tree or tombstones) enhance the composition?
The vertebrae/length of skeleton, for sure. I get that.
Yea, The Art Order is a great community, lots of talented folks. Thanks for the feedback!
The issue with the lighting is that its a night scene. What is the light source? It seems to be roughly the same height as the kneeling figure, and doesn't affect all of his nearby surroundings. Is it a low hanging lamp? Why would a lamp be hanging that low in a cemetery? Not to mention the intensity of the light is very strong on the kneeling figure's face. If this is a lamp, how far away is it?
Regarding tombstones, they're generally laid out in a grid, just above the head of a grave. The tombstones should be sufficiently spaced so that we can believe there is a plot of land specifically for each grave. You have one gravestone that is a foot behind another gravestone - that is not nearly enough space to fit a body between them.
the tombstone issue, i get that. not enough space to fit a body. Too far from reality.
The lighting I'm still having a hard time understanding how more light on the surrounding area (or less on the main figure) would enhance the composition. I get it, that it is impossible in reality, unless it is some sort of spotlight.
Essentially you are saying, and correct me if I'm wrong... I need to make a decision on the lighting in terms of story (as in "what is this light source"), despite it being off the image. And use that in a way to enhance the composition. To me, in my initial thinking, the source of the light was not an issue, I liked that it was a question mark. But I understand the need to fit something into the story... and then use that fit to work with and enhance composition. Although, I have to say, I go back to Rubens and see many paintings where there is "impossible" light and the piece still works.
Does this come down to story/reality vs. composition? Or am I just wrong that the "spotlight" enhances the focal point and composition to begin with?
Let me ask this... Would bringing down the main figures tonal levels help here? To bring him and the skeleton more into the same light.
Thanks for the feedback!
First, I like this. I love the rendering. Its soft but not too soft.
I understand what you mean with all of your compositional choices to create focus. I would have done similar things.
Is it just me, or is someone new not allowed to take liberties like creating light sources? But if someone famous in the industry did it, he would be a genius? So I rather agree with you to some extent.
But I might see a subtle difference. You ask if you should choose a lightsource that fits into the story. What you need to realize is that your lightsource IS in the story already, and actually it is a major PART of the story at the moment. He's looking into this seemingly bright light, and its raising questions. Its telling story just by being there.
Maybe what Rubens is doing differently is that yeah, theres a spotlight hitting some characters(and man some of them are PALE!) but it doesnt raise any questions, and it doesnt appear to effect the narrative in any way. I think it might be the fact that he's looking right into it that really is triggering our brains into wondering, what is that light?
I would also have to say the light drop off from the tree and characters is too much. The tree needs a bit of rim light at least to look congruent.
The tombstones certainly seem to be on the same plane to me. And I dont see anything wrong with the church being silhouette except it looks a bit boring is all.
I think the problem with the light source is that you picked one that completely clashes with the surroundings, I think you could get away with lighting pretty much the same parts if you had an exaggerated environmental source or a smartly placed torch or lantern or something. But right now either there is a daylight lamp in a medieval setting, or he's looking at an angel appearing onto him, spilling white light. Both scenarios significantly change the narrative of the piece from the brief. If the light was even green or blue you might pass it off as approaching glowing undead hordes, but the white light just doesn't seem to have any plausible explanation. It takes us out of the story.
I like the piece though, especially the treatment of the skeleton.
Word. That I for certain agree with... the hue of the light could be altered to enhance the existing story.
I'll do a OP later if I have time.
I agree with Suncut on this - if your figures were placed in a daylight scene then the lighting would be fine.
Quick solution would be to hint at dawn in the sky coming in from the right.
I'll address some of the things in the image that I think you need to work on.
There are some issues with this image but, if it's any consolation, I think yours is as good as those that made the cut. It's well rendered, as Artfix pointed out (his left hand and the axe -- nice!) and it follows the brief faithfully.
So - on to the next one!
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).