Color crits?
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  1. #1
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    Color crits?

    Hey lovely folks!

    I'm came up with this for this week's COW; I'm fully aware I could (and probably should) have picked a more interesting pose/perspective and environment, but I always find myself having too little time to actually finish it then. So, instead, I just went with it and am trying to make the coloring interesting at least.

    Something is bugging me about the way I'm coloring it but I can't quite put my finger on it. Is the shading not the right color or not correctly placed? Is it lacking in contrast or saturation? I've been messing with the levels and hues to see if it would get better but so far with no results.

    Anything you can point out, even if it means I have to completely start over coloring it, is very much appreciated, thanks!

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    Yeah, it's kinda faded/washed out to me. Possibly make the environment a bit more vivid?

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    Agreed with Falchion, I'd play with the contrasts a bit more. Play with the environment, maybe bring the sun lower in the sky and give it some edge lighting.

    Dig that bony crest thats in front of the flowing mane.

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    I think there something about the quality of the light too.

    It is some sort of desert environment, with a mostly blue sky... And the light sort of looks like a cloudy day in London. Or soft indoor light.

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    Thanks a lot for that guys, I might actually play with that sunset idea, that might help making it less bland. Whipped these up in the meanwhile but still not really happy with any of them, though the first one does feel better than what I had for a desert scene (probably the vividness of the colors that does it).



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    I like the first and third of those alternates. The brighter colors and what looks like higher contrast in the creature are pushing things in the right direction.

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    How about a little Photoshop trick in complement to the previous lighting advices . A "curves" adjustment layer is a good way to fix value and also tend to saturate ...

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    I've never actually worked with curve adjustment layers, I'll definitely look into it! Your correction is looking good, thanks!

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    You're not taking background in consideration, that's the point. In deserts landscape usually there's very little atmospheric depth and colors tend to be highly saturated like paulboutros showed to you. The other fact that you're mistaking is lighting, theres a situation which direct light is as strong as overcasted light by the sky so you will have some edgy shadow but a lot of soft shadows. Even the reflected light over the creature will be much more strong and soft, you're doing a high edge reflected light all over the bottom of your creature but this kind of light is almost only for reflective materials such metal or plastic. The other thing that you're not considering is sub surface scattering lighting in the mane but i think i'm going a little too much ahead for you ^^

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    Hitsu; Thanks for that, though I'm not entirely sure how to convey the subsurface scattering (and don't worry, I do know what it is). Will have to look up references for it I guess, perhaps some long-haired girls in sunlight will do?

    Also looked up refs of animals in the desert and brushed up on some anatomy but I just don't really feel like I'm going in the right direction :/. I'm starting to feel more and more like an idiot lol, it's rather frustrating.



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    hey lhune, cool design.

    couldnt help notice that the value range is a bit middle ground. you have good saturation seperation with the horse and background, however i think that some free hand value changes are the best plan of action. ive just used a multiply layer then gone back and tweaked with normal paint. i think the horse would pop really well with some dark clouds or something in the background to really amplify the contrast; or maybe if the camera where more top down. sorry that ive reverted to greyscale, i can never be bothered to overpaint with colour. just lazy i guess, anyway. good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    I'm starting to feel more and more like an idiot lol
    If you feel that way it's time to hang up my pencils!

    I agree about the reflected light - the overall cold blue is what jumps out the most at me, for what it's it's worth. My own quick google for possible refs turns up a few oryx pics that might be relevant.

    ...which is only my opinion.
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    I would bring back the clouds (shouldn't be a problem for you...I've seen how well you draw clouds) and just add some more detail to the animal. Don't go for realism necessarily, but maybe slim it down a bit and make more of that nice muscle structure visible.

    EDIT: and I still think you need more value range.

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    Look how bright is the ground, it's impossible that there's no color reflection on the creature bottom. For subsurfacescattering you have to know what color is his mane, in nature there's no pure white, generally a white mane is warm desaturated. So for subsurface you will have for sure a warm color but i don't think you will be able to use this on your shot. When i struggle like that usually i close the img, open a new file and change the camera for my subject ^^

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    Hi Lhune,

    The locomotion you've captured in this six legged creature is awesome!

    Color Ideas and opinions:

    Given the creatures white, I'm guessing to reflect the most light being in the desert heat, I'd almost like to see the desert environment more bleeched out in for a palette. Then bring the color saturation/ shifts and variation into the shadows.

    I'd also like to see the dust and desert caked onto the hooves and legs. . Burning man style. This may help to unite the creature a little more with its environment if you are after that.

    Maybe the creature is sweating: causing areas of the fur to glisten and value shift as it mattes against the skin?

    other ideas:

    limit your color palette. Using the orange and the blue contrasting colors is making the whole image vibrate and in my opinion keeps us at a distance from getting into the creature. If you keep the same color palette for the sake of accuracy, consider playing down the saturation of either the orange hues or the blue hues, key them separately at different intensities.

    Last edited by Derra; March 14th, 2012 at 08:44 AM.
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    Cool creature, I like it. Though I wonder if in designing it, you've forgotten about the setting, because they seem mismatched or not integrating as a whole image.

    Lots of solid comments previously and I havent much to add so I'll just give my own musing thoughts and you can take them or leave them as you see fit.

    I think if it's running through a desert, the light on the creature needs to convey that better, i.e. harsher contrasts between light and shadow, particularly on the underbelly and legs and also where the head meets the underside of the neck. Someone talked about the mane and tail needing more light/shade work and I agree because at the moment it looks like a floaty mass with no reality. I also think you should bring back some of the atmospheric softness on the horizon - if it's a large flat plain there might be heat shimmer and light distortion at the furthest away point and so the hard edge wouldnt be visible. It might also be just me and unrelated to your particular design, but I see white horse type animals as off white, maybe more of a dirty brown or grey tint to the colouring rather than pure or bluish white, so maybe warming up the skin tones could also help marry the creature with its background.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble on, and good luck with the image.

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    I feel like I'm getting a lot of different feedback now :/. I definitely agree about the values, I'm working on those.

    Though Hitsu first pointed out that the reflected light was too strong because it only occurs on highly reflective material, the references I looked up confirmed this, but then once I color it as such it needs much more ground reflection again? I'm confused, though I'm probably just misunderstanding what's being said. As for the subsurface scattering, I always thought it only occurs when the subject is between us and the light, which is why I wasn't sure how to apply it, but now you're saying it wouldn't occur in this perspective at all? Just confused as to why you would point it out in the first place then.

    Don't get me wrong I appreciate all the feedback I'm getting here but it's a bit frustrating/confusing when something is said first and then something different is said after (if I'm understanding things correctly anyway). I'll just try to filter what's been said and apply it where I can. The deadline is tomorrow (or tonight even?) so I gotta hurry up!

    Thanks folks, I'll be sure to post an update soon, gotta go cook now!

    Last edited by Lhune; March 14th, 2012 at 10:57 AM.
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    Hi Lhune,


    Go with you're gut, it's looking good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derra View Post
    Hi Lhune,


    Go with you're gut, it's looking good.
    Thanks Derra! I do very much appreciate your feedback and love the idea of the sweatiness and sand stuck to it's legs, I'm going to try and play with that a bit . It's not going to be perfect but I just don't have the time; perhaps once submitted I'll get back to it and rework it more intensively.

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    I really love the design!
    As for the color, are you using white or yellow as part of the gradient in the sky? One of my painting instructor mentioned using a light orchard(?) yellow as the underpaint for sky to enrich the colors, that might help you.
    I think The creature still appear slightly fade out is bc how close it's color is to the sky. It's shading is a blue grey, and it's main color is white. So if you replace the white in the sky with a yellow hue, and deepen the blue in the sky, it may help to make the creature pop out more.

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    Sorry about the confusion Lhune, i'll explain myself better. The shadow on a creature with mane usually is perceived as soft fading form the lighted mane color to the black saturated in shadow. In this situation you'll have a soft transition from the sky lighted mane to the bottom reflection lighted (even if it's a much less strong light) by the ground reflecting that cool yellow orange. It's a soft transition, not a strong transition cause of the mane which is scattering light and not reflecting it. For the subsurface scattering happens cause the mane of the creatures curves at a certain degree in front of our eyes and we see it lighted from the other side as well as from reflected light from the ground but as i said earlier i'm pretty sure you won't be able to use this kind of effect in your image cause it's pretty distant from us and the results will only be a much saturated color in contour from the upper part of the creature and in some point between shadow and light. You made a mistake lighting your creature too much from the beginning if you where planning to use this kind of advanced lights, so just... don't loose time on a thing that only few will pick this time ^^

    hope i've been more clear, btw just check google for some zebra imgs

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    Ahh I see Hitsu. Thanks for clarifying . The zebra refs helped!

    This is the final which I submitted to this week's COW. It's the first time I actually managed to get one done so I'm pretty excited about the voting ! Thanks again to all of you for your help!



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    It's really nice good work.

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    this came out looking great. the snout, legs and are wonderfully rendered. i still think the musculature in the body could be better defined... but that doesnt detract from the overall image. the grass blades and slight motion blur of the hooves adds a lot to the image, and the final design of the beak is just sick. hope you win.

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    well done, it's a beautiful creature

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    Vunderbar. It really pops.

    ...which is only my opinion.
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    Excellent! It looks great! Love what you've done with the detail and shadows, and the eye is fantastic.

    Good luck with the voting.

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