naked in the woods... gotta love it. I might go easy on the blurr tool its losing its subtlety in some of these pieces. It will also work better for you if you separate some of your composition elements into layers and then put post blurr on them.. that way your hard and soft edges wont bleed into each other in a seemingly arbitrary way which hurts the illusion of spacial depth.
He's definitely got a few posts with some stamps of his influences but looking over his thread I can see they have helped him reach a higher level than some of his previous posts. Keep it up James you doing well for yourself.
It is unfortunate, however, that the community thinks dramatic lighting of a highly detailed closeup shot is patented by Dave Rapoza
Yes indeed, I must agree with this. Dave's as good at self promotion as he is at painting and consequently he's become a community celebrity with a lot of people acquainted with his lighting, framing and rendering. Honestly though, the tricks he employs to get "punch" are pretty standard (RIM LIGHT!) and I feel like there's less stylistic wiggle room when rendering high fidelity materials. A lot of the cinematic blurring, blooming and colour grading could be said to be borrowed from Jason Chan (cuz he's famous!) who in turn borrowed it from someone else (who's maybe less famous or just really old). You have admitted Dave's an influence, but you are creating original artwork and to me, that's what matters. Because, at the end of the day, you are working for clients not the artistic community (though admittedly, they overlap somewhat) and there is a considerable market for this kind of work. I see your own voice in a lot of this work anyway and I'm sure it will grow stronger the more you do.
Had to get that off my chest. Now I'll offer some crits. I really like your stuff, but I think overall everything feels a bit too smooth. Even the textured surfaces feel like smooth with an overlay. I wanna feel like that texture is truly integrated with the forms, penetrating it, lifting it up and moving with the contours. Also breaking up your specular hits a little would help combat that soft look. Same with your backgrounds, try to a little more visual noise in there, some sharper edges (tone em' down with close values), more value shifts in general.
Anyway, great stuff, lots of impact. Kudos for handling peoples probing inquiries with decorum as well. Keep it up!