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First thought: "What is that orange thing?"
Meaning, Ganondorf's face is blending too much into the background and doesn't match the lighting on his hair. Use values and lighting to separate the elements better. There is no sense of depth -- the far rocks are just as dark as the foreground rocks, when they should become lighter with atmospheric perspective.
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it" -- Confucius
"Imagination is more important than knowledge" -- Albert Einstein
Which cover this might be? Is it supposed to be like a two cover sized (as in the left side is the back cover and right is the front)?
Ignoring the perspective anf anatomy flaws, like this, everything is really disconnected. Zelda is staring nowhere (I mean she doesn't look like she's looking at Link), Link is doing who knows what, staring at the floor of the boat so all I know he could be reading comics (no to mention he's just passing by, like "oh Zelda's there, yeah I'll just sail by totally uninterested because it's not like I'm supposed to save her or anything". It doesn't matter if there's a reason why he can't go towards Zelda, this just doesn't work as a cover) and Ganon is hanging uninterested in the back, looking at the viewer like "oh.. hi". Is he supposed to be threatening towards Zelda in any way? (I mean he is the villain [as far as I know him], right?)
Nothing in this image says "Saving a princess, with lots of colourful adventure!". Well, unless this is supposed to be a depressing and gray version of the game, I don't know what the Bloodsport thing is.
Also Link's boat is going backwards and Zelda's hair and dress and blowing to the opposite directions.
Do you have the space for the title designed in this image? I can't help but feel that in that image the logo would either go over Link or cut Zelda awkwardly.
Pixelestial: Thanks for the advice; I'll definitely fix that up today.
TinyBird: You're right; I was too concerned with making things fit along informal
subdivision lines that I totally disregarded the connection with the viewer and the wind
direction. Thanks for your critique; it definitely will make me better with planning an image.
an update showing how the layout will work; and also fixed some atmospheric perspective
problems. Still wondering how to make Link more connected with Zelda.
The goal is to redesign the cover in a new style, so I figured making it moodier/grayer
would be fine.
Did you do how many composition thumbnails for this?
I didn't do enough thumbnails apparently; I was too caught up with Andrew Loomis's method of informal subdivision, thinking that it would solve my problems I suppose.
Lesson learned however, and yes I definitely need much more practice with perspective.
We're seeing a lot of backs and water. What interesting thing is there to look at on this cover? A far-off ship? Zelda's butt?
A cover is supposed to sell the game. What I'm getting from this cover is that the game is static and gloomy. Even if you want to do it in a more realistic dark style, that doesn't mean everybody has to stand around doing nothing.
Hmm, I can see the informal subdivision.
Zelda's skirt and the rocks/beach along the right side both seem like they take up more of the picture than they deserve. Plus the horizon line and the boat are really high up, which I think is contributing to the feeling that Link is disconnected from Zelda visually. The height of the horizon also makes it look like the "camera" is above the figures, but the perspective at which they're drawn doesn't reflect that. Plus it means you've got so little room for the logo. Maybe bringing the "camera" closer to Zelda would fix some of this. Maybe think of it as seeing through the eyes fourth person, who is standing behind her looking out at Link with her.
Turning the boat to face Zelda AND having Link looking at her would probably also do a lot to remedy them being unconnected. Bonus points if you can turn Zelda a bit so that it's clearer she's looking at him. You might try the tip of her hair, her head, and the boat in a straight line with each other (in the flat picture sense, I mean... not the 3D space sense... not sure I'm communicating what I mean here...) You probably don't want her hair sneaking onto the spine anyway, since if you had this game case on the shelf with only the spine showing, you won't even be able to tell it's hair, it'd just be weird.
Don't forget that you can use the waves and such shapes in the water to guide the eye. And the clouds too.
Not sure how helpful this paintover is, but I figured I'd put it out here just in case. (And the more I look at it, the more I think the horizon should be lower still.)
(Windows Paint is all I got on this computer... >_>)
These case/cover type of pictures present a unique challange composition-wise in that the whole thing has to work together but just the front of the box needs to be able to stand on its own. In fact, I'd say the front is more important. So I recommend temporarily cutting out the back and spine until you've got the front's composition working.