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I've come a long way since my first post here, but i'm not an art student so learning is hard. Would you critique my latest painting?
I'm pretty new here, and there are a lot of better artists than me on this site, so I feel like I'm the blind leading the blind. I'll give my thoughts, though.
I really feel like this ought to be a much taller piece; twice as much, if not more. As it is, I'm really not sure what that white thing is. A ghost tree? A pillar of fog? The man with the lantern seems to be your foreground, but the white shape is what the eye is drawn to. I want to see it in its entirety.
I like the pine-tree silhouettes in theory, but they look 'stamped', especially on the left side of the path where they look to be much too small for a mature shape. Last, the man with the lantern puzzles me. Why is he turned in that direction, where there's nothing particularly interesting to look at? His body language doesn't convince me.
That all said, I do like the image's concept. Very spooky.
There's a number of problems with this, but I'll try to touch on the ones that jump out at me:
-Composition: The piece feels too symmetrical across the y-axis. You have two large trees taking up the bottom corners, two medium sized trees in the middle, and the fog(?) and figure are pretty much down the midline. You need to study composition (http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/C...ition_tutorial) to get stronger results and have better direction. Most importantly, you should be making several grayscale thumbnails before jumping into a piece.
-Color: The colors feel very muddy (likely from using black to indicate shadow). There's also too much pure black in the piece, and it doesn't guide or direct the eye in a meaningful way. Aside from the deep blacks and the lighting effects, the values are all fairly uniform. You need to take atmospheric perspective into account to define a readable foreground, middle ground, and background. You also need to study photos and paintings with similar color schemes to see how pros can make it work. The crisp horizontal boundary between warm and cool just isn't working.
-Light: You need a clearly defined primary light source (and in this case a secondary as well). Consider all the sources of bouncelight that will illuminate the shadows.
-Trees: You need refs for these. End of story. The branches read more like tentacles or tails than branches. It may help to identify the type of trees you want to work with, and solely use references of those.
-The fog/ghost/pillar/waterfall thing: I don't know what it is, and from a narrative standpoint, I don't know who the protagonist is either (assuming he is). What's he doing there? Why? What's the story going on here? You should have all the elements of the story that surround this moment firmly in your mind (or written out). The audience should be able to infer the story with some degree of accuracy just by seeing your painting.
-Cobwebs: I'd be surprised to see cobwebs in that level of detail in this low-light setting and with this much distance from the tree.
ElizaW and Hexo raise some fine points
The trees in the far background are far bigger than the darker ones before them, it works against you in trying to convince us there is perspective
Composition-wise try to remember\learn the rule of thirds about positioning the center of interest in your painting.