Lighting Help/Critique Needed!
 
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  1. #1
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    Lighting Help/Critique Needed!

    Hey guys, I'm working on a piece for a client that's been dragging out for a while - mainly due to my frustration with every stage of it. I've finally gotten around to throwing down some concept colors for the piece (mind, very very rough concept colors) yet I still cannot move ahead.

    I've been poking and fussing with just the color concept all afternoon, and I still feel that I'm not doing it right. The library itself is supposed to be very dingy, old, and almost archaic in a way. It's been abandoned for a while (I'll add details like dust/cobwebs as I get further) but I cannot seem to lay down a decent color scheme to even start out with. For this reason, I would super appreciate some pointers or critiques on how I could move forward with this lovely commission. Thanks!

    EDIT: Because I forgot to mention this before - the actual commission is for a Dragon Age OC, depicting the client's blood mage performing blood magic for the first time in an abandoned library. And because it was pointed out, I must note that the entire composition (the warped bookcases, perspective, multiple vanishing points, and streamlined style) was a specific request of the commissioner, so I cannot and will not be changing that. I only need some critique and/or suggestions on the color. That was my mistake for not pointing it out sooner, I apologize. Thank you so much!

    EDIT 2: Updated with the final version! Thanks, everyone.

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    Last edited by tysandri; June 4th, 2012 at 07:39 PM.
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  3. #2
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    I think I’d probably go with something like this. If the library is supposed to be dingy, I’d only use the warm colors in the area where the candles are. It’d also help make your candles look more alive.

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    I don't know a lot about the occult, but I'm not really sold on the ritual. The candles aren't arranged in a way that suggests they have a ritual function. Also, if she's going to bleed herself, I'd at least expect some kind of receptacle, if not a makeshift alter. You can tell the viewer a lot about the process with the space. Is she performing the ritual to divine, transmogrify, summon, hex, or what?

    As far as the lighting goes, the natural light seems to spotlight a space in the room that doesn't have much relevance. If you had some kind of tapestry or crest you wanted to single out, I would say keep it. But right now the vacancy behind her is a bit distracting. Think about how you might show what makes this abandoned library such a special place that it's worth seeking out.

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    Your main issue shouldn't be color but the composition and perspective of the image itself. Your first mistake is putting the horizon line in the middle of the page. This cuts the canvas in half and creates a tangent with her eye line. It also shows far too much floor which is boring to look at. The perspective is off quite a bit, just follow the shelves and you'll see there are multiple vanishing points. If you can lower the horizon line and break the symmetry of this piece it would help a great deal.

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    David a ray: That is actually a good idea! Y'know, your edit made me realize she would be much better off with a cool, more night-lit background and something warm in the foreground. I think the multiple candles are throwing me off, so I might just take them out and have one bright lantern sitting beside her for a more direct light source. Thank you for your edit!

    Grunler: It was my fault for not explaining the commission itself - I guess I didn't think about it. It is actually a Dragon Age commission, and the setup was the specifications of the client. She (the subject) is a blood mage about to try out blood magic for the first time, which involves nothing more than slitting your wrist and trying out a spell. As for the lighting - that light has been annoying me. I think you're very right about that though. It's drawing the focus right to that spot, so I'll see if I can't mess around with it some more thanks!

    Avvatar: The perspective, composition, and multiple vanishing points were a direct request of the commissioner, unfortunately. I usually go for much more open settings with simple perspectives, but everything you see was and is something I cannot change (colors aside, of course). The warping of the bookcases were also something that was requested from the commissioner, as to impose and make the bookcase close in on her more and seem more "alive" so that is definitely something I am aware of. I was and am still pretty uncomfortable with the composition itself, but I go by the requests of my clients, not by my own whims. I do appreciate the input, though. That was my fault for not pointing that out beforehand. I will do so now.

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    You need to work on your story telling before you hit any colour work.
    While I'm sure the commissioner wanted twisted, closed in, 'alive' bookcases, it was your job to create them. I don't think they are working, they just look like out of perspective bookcases to me.
    If you have to explain them to us verbally then your illustration has failed on that account.
    Push it more - and if that means redrawing it then so be it (its up to you though)
    It's an odd composition, you could have pushed it much further. Straight on shots are a little dull - we should feel the 'closed in' tension of indecision.

    However I get the feeling you're not going to start again so…
    A quick OP for tension:

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    Last edited by Venger; May 11th, 2012 at 01:46 AM.
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    Venger: Thank you very much for taking the time to do that OP edit. It actually helped me figure out what I could do about the lighting to make it more pliable for my type of painting skills. The commission is actually a lineless painting, so I do have some wiggle room for whatever is going on behind the bookcases - and I think that actually looks very good so I made some edits to put more focus on the front. Let me know if it looks more interesting and story-like.

    Did some more work, though everything is all very rough. I was trying to be stubborn with this picture and work from color -> detail which I know never works with my paintings because I am not that skilled. I work best from B&W to color when working with value and details, so this simply confirmed to me that is the best method for me. (though I hate the process of coloring after b&w) I still need to add a LOT of details (the bookcase and book jackets, the floor, walls, and more props sitting around her) but I hope this looks better? c: I do want to make sure I get a good atmosphere for it.

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    Don't get distracted by details!
    What you need to do is work out the primary focus you want the viewer to see - to me that's the face, knife and wrist, that's where the story is.
    All your the areas of secondary focus should direct our eyes to the primary (as well as support the story - so things that will help us understand she's a mage perhaps)
    Now you can do a lot of that with light and colour and placement, paint direction etc.
    If you over detail your secondary, then our eyes will stay and linger, especially if they're not necessary (would we really need to see what the titles of the books are?)

    So, looking at your new image - I would move the light so you're illuminating her more, cast shadows could help on the overall emotion (maybe 2 lights for symmetry)
    Switch the knife blade so it's inside - gives it much more intent (and you can do the light hitting the blade if you want!)
    Maybe even have the 'fade' in the background with a hint of a demon... who knows…
    Actually see OP.

    Now these are just some ideas - obviously you have to make it your own piece.


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    Lighting Help/Critique Needed!

    Last edited by rock_master; May 12th, 2012 at 08:51 AM.
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  13. #10
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    Venger: Thank you again for such helpful suggestions and that paint-over. I really, really appreciate it. I took your advice and rotated the dagger around so it looked more sinister. Though I do get the idea of the equal light so as to balance out the painting, I think I'd really like to keep the side-light - my client really liked it as well. It made for a more dramatic, two-faced symbolism. Plus, I'm doing all I can to break out of the frustrating symmetry of this image given the composition restrictions requested. Though I think I will add more props as I keep working on it. It needs to look a little more interactive.

    rock_master: Thank you for the edit. Unfortunately I cannot do anything about the background (the bookcases, mostly) since it was a request of the commissioner to have them the way they are. Though I really do like the color scheme you've suggested! I might have to try it out once I finish rendering the B&W version. c:

    Anyway, I did more work. Mostly rendering and details to the dress as well as some prop work.

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    You have a light source in the image but you're not using it. You need to utilize it and don't be afraid to really pump up the contrast. I did a paint-over to show how you could use it.

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    meh. too lazy to type everything. Also, Venger has the best paintovers. (I didn't even see it until after I was ready to post! dangit!)

    You seem to be struggling with describing the forms as they face or turn away from the light - so you need to make a conscious effort to ask yourself that question before making a decision on what the value should be. If you can set up a similar lighting condition and take a photo with a person as reference, that would be ideal.

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    Thank you all so much for your help, suggestions, and examples I really appreciate it. I tried my best to address the issues presented, and hope I've found a happy medium.

    Though I did not add more detail as I'd planned, I needed to go ahead and be done with this and send it to my commissioner. I've learned a lot from this picture alone and appreciate the help that was given. I'll be able to take a lot of knowledge into my next attempt at painting that hopefully won't be as frustrating and more on my skill level. I should probably work on a solid method, too, before my next full painting.

    Anyway, here's my finished piece and I probably won't touch it again I'm so exhausted from it. Thanks again, everyone.

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