Digital painting newbie - harsh crits welcome!
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  1. #1
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    Digital painting newbie - harsh crits welcome!

    I've already posted this work in my sketchbook, though nobody seems to care.

    I'm aware these are far from great, but I will do anything to improve! I only need you to find flaws and to suggest which way to go, I'm not objective if it comes to my work (is anyone?).

    My aim is to be able to create decent conceptual art, most likely creatures and characters, though I didn't try with environments yet, so I can't be sure.
    I think I'm most interested in dark fantasy, cyberpunk, post-apocalypse and superhero themes, which may not be that visible yet.
    I plan to work in visual effects industry (starting vfx course at uni in September!), so it would be great to improve my digital painting skills as this would probably help me in my future career.

    My favourite artists are Lee Carter, Mack Sztaba, Gabriele Dell'Otto, Kekai Kotaki, Raymond Swanland and Joe Baizley.

    Enough said, these are my first attempts to illustration/concept art in PS. I would appreciate any critique, no matter what 'level' you're on.

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    Last edited by Ninsei; February 26th, 2012 at 02:55 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Hey pal

    Not the worst start I've seen by far. I think you have a lot of potential. However it's pretty obvious where your focus should be now if you want to improve.

    Life drawing on real paper, studying anatomy, poses, clothing, people, perspective, environments, lighting value...

    Then the fundamentals of what make an illustration work, namely, composition and story

    The only way to improve your drawing is the old fashioned, tried tested and true method of pencil and paper studies. The digital tools are just that, tools, as I saw someone mention again recently (Blogmatix I think) you can only paint as well as you can draw and right now you need to still work on your initial drawing.

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  4. #3
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    For clarification: the reason people on this forum recommend pencil over digital to start out with is because digital can hide poor draftsmanship or drawing mistakes by making it flashy (the classic example of this is the infamous Insect Battle incident). The traditional way of learning art is to learn to draw well first, then move on to more complicated things like colour. Work on one thing at a time so as not to get overwhelmed by the complication of doing everything.

    Everything Star Eater said is true, but maybe a little vague for where to actually go from here. So I recommend studying Loomis (I'd start out with Figure Drawing for All Its Worth or Fun With a Pencil).

    I think you might be doing the "pillow shading" of 'A' that this tutorial explains. Basically, you need to choose your light source, which direction it's pointing, and work out how it's lighting your characters and scene, ideally using reference instead of by guessing.

    Actually that's another big thing: Use references! Referencing is awesome. Referencing is one of the best ways to learn. Whenever you use a reference (and you're thinking about it rather than blind copying), you're adding realistic things to your mental library of stuff to draw, and you're making the stuff you already have in your mental library more realistic. (By the way, the best artists use reference like crazy. The reason is that if you want to achieve a certain level of realism, reality is so complex that it's hard to work out/imagine/remember all its subtle nuances.)

    So whenever you try to draw anything, grab some photos and try to do it as accurately as possible at first (to train your eye to the subtle differences), maybe doing a couple test sketches of different angles/poses before moving on to the real thing. I guarantee that your drawings will get better quickly this way. Aim high.

    (Note: if you're heavily referencing something, there are copyright issues if you intend to sell the finished piece. It's fine for learning and personal work, but you'll have to either start taking your own reference or asking the copyright holders of the image if you're going to do something serious with the piece.)

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  6. #4
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    Star Eater - Thank you! I've already started to learn anatomy, I draw with pencils a lot right now, didn't touch my tablet for some time now.

    Lulie - Thanks! I study Loomis already, 'Drawing the Head and Hands' and 'Figure Drawing for All It's Worth'. I'll take a look at 'Fun With a Pencil', I think I have it somewhere.
    I actually used references in paintings I uploaded, though I guess not to extent I should. I used reference for poses in first art, and in second mainly for the gun I haven't had any clue how to draw. I think I'm a bit too afraid of these copyright issues you've mentioned. I understand the need to use references but never to duplicate them, so I try to change what I can, but I get lost as I don't have strong anatomy knowledge etc. Or I try to draw from imagination (as in second art), but I see now I should definitely first confront my ideas with references to get rid of mistakes, rather than accept the way it is and move on.
    Thanks for shading advice and tutorial! I struggle with that somewhat, I know the rules but I seem not to know how to apply them. I need to practice.

    There's some more of my paintings.
    Well, I'm just hoping now not to end up in some 'bizarre art gallery'.
    We've established I have some basic problems with anatomy, shading etc. but what do you think about ideas?
    And I'm curious - what is the worst thing in these paintings, what would you definitely change to make them acceptable?

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    Aha, you're already well on the right track, then. Could you post your references for the original paintings above?

    My guess is that you should be less afraid of more accurately copying the references. You really don't need to worry about copyright until you start getting into selling your stuff. There are lots of places where you can use free references, sometimes with having to credit the photographer. (I can find some links if you don't know any.) The more accurately you copy the reference, the better you train your eye. You might want to try doing some studies where you attempt photo realism.

    Also don't forget stuff like looking at yourself in the mirror and trying out poses, and optionally taking your own pictures. Free unlimited reference with no copyright issues. (But again, like I said, if you're just making studies of references to learn, you don't need to worry about copyright.)

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  9. #6
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    Lulie - You're probably right. It would be great if you could give me some links to free reference libraries.
    I do draw from photos sometimes, I mean trying to copy them accurately, as much photo-realistically as I can - you can find my drawings in my sketchbook - link in my signature. I will do that more often, as you say, to train my eye.

    References I used:
    Post #1
    clothing
    poses

    gun

    Post #4
    dragon
    dragon anatomy
    horns

    bird
    'day of the dead' makeup
    plait
    and pose:

    (Edit: looking at my paintings and at these references now, I can see how inaccurately I used them! I should definitely have paid more attention to that, I can't just leave e.g. poses 'almost right')

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  10. #7
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    Another two.
    There will be no more until I get my traditional drawing better.

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  11. #8
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    Hey Ninsei , I have something to say about the dragon piece.
    The first thing I notice is that even though the creature is spewing fire, the fire isn't casting any light onto anything. For example, I am expecting some of that yellow-orange on, say, the scales of the creature's mouth at least.
    Think about it --fire is a light source! You should treat it as such, instead of a prop.

    I notice that you hint it in the rocks, but, the light on the rocks looks to have a white light source, not yellow-orange like the fire.

    As for the tree face, I understand that you intended for it to be dark and spooky, but the focus is totally off of the face. The eye is attracted to light sources (like the moon), and that is where the eye wants to look in this picture. All of the work you did on the face is lost because of that darn moon!

    You should check out this: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=232819
    It totally made me think differently about how I went about constructing a picture.

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    Hey Ninsey,

    i like your charakters..they are not "perfect" which means realistic but they have 'personality' and are individual...i like them very much.

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  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninsei View Post
    (Edit: looking at my paintings and at these references now, I can see how inaccurately I used them! I should definitely have paid more attention to that, I can't just leave e.g. poses 'almost right')
    Yeah, for example, you changed the pose of the 'day of the dead' girl: you moved the right arm back, and you made her hunched over less (the girl in the reference has a very emotive pose -- withdrawn, shy -- so changing it to a more relaxed one is quite a substantial difference). Also you made her bum wider than the shoulders, whereas the reference has it narrower, which doubled its width. 'Dat ass.

    For accuracy, there are lots of tricks you can do while you're training your eye. Measuring may be the most useful. (Like by holding your pencil up to the thing, artist style.) Also making sure you have the symmetry right, either by looking and analysing, or just by flipping the image (or for traditional: hold the flipped paper up to the light). Another is flipping your eyes quickly between your drawing and your reference, noting the differences. Try and 'see' everything. Pay attention to proportions, sizes, what things line up with what other things. It may help to spend more time looking at the reference than your drawing.

    Actually one of the things that helped me most in getting more accuracy was just reading CA critiques of other people. I learned much more about the mistakes that many people make (including myself), how to recognise them, and what to do instead.

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  14. #11
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    oOCutter - Thanks, that's really nice to know!
    Lulie - I think I changed girl's pose a bit because I needed her face to be seen. And I didn't want to copy accurately, I just used this photo reference to create rough sketch, then carried on with the actual work without looking at it. Well, that's my mistake, it does not look right. Legs are ridiculous.
    I think I don't have that much of a problem with accurate copying, I just didn't want to do this. But I will, as you say, there's nothing to worry about with copyrights, as long as I don't sell my work.
    That's the great thing about CA! We can just look around, make notes and apply 'the rules' to our work. And even better, this help I get here is more tailored to me so people can show me straight away what I may be not aware of.
    Thanks for all your help

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