Thanks for the critique! I agree with everything said. Should have pushed the rendering further but I was a little too lazy.. Christoffer: It's true what you said about the tail. It almost looks like it would break or something.. Should have gone a different direction with that..
My votes went to Obstfelder for an original and cool design, EdwardB for the best rendering, bonjour for the overall painting and I love the face of the creature and jPerols which was my favorite.
Really fun and crazy round! Keep up the great work guys!
It has been a long time since I did any critiques. I figure this is a good time to do some, since there’s such an array of skill levels present in this round. Obstfelder - Creature is nice and gross. Interesting design. Edges need serious cleaning up which is not helped by the light bloom you’ve used in this piece. Some textures are well defined and solid, others (like the vertebra) are flat and textureless. The extra week you had could have easily been used to clean up the background. It strikes me as strange that you would finish the one on the left but failed to finish the arms and spikes of the one on the right. elephant’s stoke - While I like, in hellish beasts of chaos, that look of jumbled together parts, there are some concessions that must be made to overall design even when using this principle. The humanoid front of the creature makes the massive tail-end of the creature look superfluous and unnecessary, while the stiffness and oddly forward positioning of the legs also make that humanoid element feel stiff and incapable of motion. In fact, the biggest problem of the creature is that it lacks weight. I can’t imagine any part of this creature moving in any way. A problem I’ve noticed in your other word, that I think I’ve been mentioning relatively consistently in my crits of your work is that you use a brush that’s WAY too small for the area you’re covering, so your work ends up looking busy, rather than detailed. As a final critique: presentation should be considered here. You’ve chosen: a background of similar overall colour to your creature, and overlaid the text onto the image where it could easily have fit in the black border you’ve provided yourself. All of it leads to a busier image that’s harder to read. If all of this sounds harsh, I apologize. Your work has been steadily improving and some of the detail work here is really stellar, especially on the creature’s head. lkjhgfdsa - I’m very glad to see you return to our humble little competition/activity(/learn-athon?). As usual, your design is highly original and beautiful in the details. The body and lower limbs of the creature are quite excellent, but the upper limbs feel quite flat, which is not helped by the scene itself lacking overall depth of field. It makes the scale and positioning of some things quite hard to discern. Greater play of hot and cold with more intense lighting contrast would have been a big factor in this piece as spacial sense went. gavinmacdesign - The concept is a creative one, but it fails to adhere to the rules of creature of the week. Your creature is formless other than having a mouth an eyes, which breaks COW’s rules on creature design (I believe is under Rule #1). Your brushwork is muddy and needs to be worked out. You seem to be approaching light and shadow rather timidly which is flattening the image and making your shadows and highly illumined areas look splotchy rather than bathed in light or shadow. njoo - I will say off the bat that it is very hard to critique artists working at such a high skill level. Your work is beautiful as always, I’m quite enjoying the less cell-shaded work you’ve done the last couple of rounds. I feel I don’t really need to state exactly everything I love about the work so let’s move on to the nitpicks. Firstly, the position of the character feels a little off, I feel like they should either be a little bit further left and forward, or a little further right. Secondly, I would have perhaps liked to have seen the texture of the floor hinted at a little bit more. The rocky pillars help inform my eyes, but at the moment its just a vague (if solid) mass (I’m referring primarily to the red area here), though I understand that may take some of the punch away from the slight whisps of grey, which are one of my favorite details. Christoffer - Very moody piece, with a lot of embedded narrative, but ultimately the composition lets it down. Composition wise, your creature is far too centered, tearing attention away from every other element, which is unhelped by the fact that the creature has the only hint of colour (again, right in the center) which not only detracts attention from the narrative at play, but also the rest of the creature. Positioning the creature further back, and to the right will really help bring this composition together, as well as a greater play of warm and cool hues. Tonally, the figure and the muck it is dragging itself out of is so much darker than anything in the scene that it forms it’s own little distraction. The dark, dripping and shiny texture is a key point of interest here and while it’s drawing attention to itself tonally, it’s such a small area that it fails to really allow the imagination to fill in the blanks of what is off to the left. As design goes, the creature has some nice concepts at play that give a sense of evil and mysticism, but it’s top-heavy and awkwardly posed, with the legs far to close together to seem functional. Magellan - The first thing I’ll say is that I’m not a fan of symmetrical comps, especially in a competition based off design. A head-on shot like that gives me a flattened impression of the form and design of the creature, even if it creates the mood for the piece you desired. The biggest issue in this piece is really that you’ve backlit it with this intense warm light, and then done nothing with that lighting when it comes to the actual objects at play in the illustration. There’s no backlighting to speak of on the creature, instead all we get is ambiguous top-lighting and almost no play of warm and cold. As a final note, when it comes to using photographic material in concert with digital painting, it’s best to work back into the photo with paint rather than apply a filter (i.e. those butterfly wings look off and out-of-place). Edward B - There are instances where I feel like your rendering gets our of control and takes priority over design. This is one instance where I feel that even though it has your signature ultra-smooth rendering, it works really nicely in compliment to a simple but effective design. The fiery branch(?) on which it sits begins to break down on close inspection, but does it’s job as a light source relatively admirably. The large under-rib shadow has some unfinished-looking strokes which feel particularly out of place in the middle of such polished brushwork. bonjour - Solid illustration, nice lighting. Rendering reminds me a bit of Arbinn’s work. Foreground rocks etc. could use a bit of definition. Rendering on the creature’s side -where the eyes(?) are- doesn’t feel up to snuff with the rest of the creature. Antono - Lighting is the big strong point here. Creature feels grotesquely phallic, which works to it’s advantage. Specular highlights are getting a little out of control, particularly where they are largest (on the belly and the neck). The palette is nicely balanced, but the chief area of warm is dead center which works poorly compositionally. The figures in the back look almost like they were meant to be looking up at the creature from in front of it which confuses the space, and the rendering on the rocks feels rushed and muddy compared to the very clean work on the creature. jPerols - Design-wise this one was my favorite this week. It feels simultaneously grotesque, awe-inspiring, mystical and ancient. The enviro compliments the creature nicely, and the figure gives a good sense of scale. The blurry rendering on the creature’s right limbs does bother me a bit (at least on the foreleg). WhiskeySour - Nicely grotesque, relatively good design and some good sense of form. If I have a consistent issue with your work is that you don’t particularly define texture on your characters and creatures, so almost the entire thing looks as though is made of the same, perfectly smooth, perfectly matte substance. That’s fine sometimes, but here I feel like it’s less because that’s the intended texture, and more that the creature is unfinished and is waiting for that final texture pass. The wing appendages feel a little stiff, and even though the other limbs have the same sense of not being particularly capable in the locomotion department, the wings in particular seem anomalous in the design. Hive_MinD - I think you’ve taken an interesting approach with the overblown backlighting, but I think it could have been pushed further. Much higher contrast of light and dark and much higher contrast of warm and cold really would have been your friend here. Design wise the creature feels like an armature, a sculpture, not a creature. The creature is top heavy and doesn’t show any anatomical features that would suggest it could hold itself up so it seems as though it might topple over backwards. The spindly limbs with massive feet and hands are probably the biggest offender of this. Draconius - There’s some very good design going on here and there are some really nice textures throughout. Your edge control needs a good deal of work, the whole piece is suffering from blurry forms. Better indicators of scale would help give a more unified feel to the creature as I can imagine this beast as being both massive as well as being around the size of a chicken. BlkCelebration - That’s a name I have not seen in many rounds. I certainly can’t take marks off on originality. There is a good deal of ambiguity as to the actual anatomy of the creature, particularly where the creature begins and the environment starts. I feel like the contrast in the palette could have been pushed further, and the lighting needs some work, which would have been helped by greater tonal contrast. Tacijana - Brutal concept. The piece would have likely been more effective in colour. Much of the main body of the creature remains too ambiguous, never quite transcending the appearance that’s it’s mostly a pile of guts with spidery limbs. Placing more recognizable features (at least hinting at sensory organs) would have definitely helped this situation. VegasMike - Really nice work as always. My favorite thing about your creatures is that they’re always right in the thick of it, moving and living, which really helps give them a sense of believability. I have a few nitpicks in this piece: the main thing is that I feel like some of the areas are getting a little to blurred and undefined. In many cases it really helps establish focus (like the foreground elements), but in others it creates muddiness (the upper reaches of the creature and the character on the tentacle in particular). In terms of scaling, there’s a bit of confusion that’s caused by some discrepancies between the character on the tentacle and the perceived size of the figures. Design-wise this is a winner, but there are little roughnesses that I know, based on your other work, that could have likely been polished out. Bazar - There’s something to be said about using custom brushes for creature design. They help establish textures and forms you might not have otherwise thought of, or couldn’t have rendered regularly, otherwise. That said, it is my firm belief that this should only be used as the beginning of a design. Here you have used the custom brush as a crutch for what appears to otherwise be fairly weak rendering and design. The overall creature’s form is very standard bipedal monster, so it’s interest factor comes from the texture provided by the custom brushes, which quickly lose their interest factor when they aren’t defined enough to actually create proper forms. I would try and avoid relying so heavily on brushes, and look more closely at your fundamentals, lighting, perspective, design and composition in particular. KICHI - There are two main issues with this piece, solved by the same easy correction. Firstly, your creature feels out of place in the scene, a pasted in element. Secondly, your creature’s textures cause it’s forms to become ambiguous, and as a result, the creature flattens. Both issues are solved by lighting. Your creature is anomalous in that while the rest of the drawing is relying heavily on it’s lighting for establishing mood, it has none of the same lighting applied. Creating more contrast in tone (and especially in hue) will really help place the creature in the scene, as well as help define the forms of the creature.
@Si_Swe, i'm a huge fan of your critics man, you are making very important and clear points, i've realized that the pose isn't good and about the no sense of the anatomy...actually i think this guy it could only work as a statue. Is great that you are emphasizing that issue with the small brush, i'll work to avoid that bad habit i have. What you are saying about the concessions is key i think, i just added and keep adding stuff without thinking too much about anything...just for the sake of add!
I'll keep all in mind...and no, it don't sound harsh at all, maybe not harsh enough
"Nature has the coolest patterns because there is chaos but then, it's also controled" Feng Zhu, design cinema, episode 35
"gavinmacdesign - The concept is a creative one, but it fails to adhere to the rules of creature of the week. Your creature is formless other than having a mouth an eyes, which breaks COW’s rules on creature design (I believe is under Rule #1). Your brushwork is muddy and needs to be worked out. You seem to be approaching light and shadow rather timidly which is flattening the image and making your shadows and highly illumined areas look splotchy rather than bathed in light or shadow."
A solid honest critique. Thank you. I'm very new to painting. Do you have any advice for improving my brush work?
All I can really say is: a bigger brush is your friend here. Everyone has their own preferences as brushes go, but as things go, I tend to find a hard round with opacity set to pen pressure and flow at about 50% tends to do the lion's share on my paintings.
gavinmacdesign - I can totally relate to that. If I had an idea that didn't completely follow the brief, I'd just put it aside and work on it later. The best part about these challenges is that you get so many cool ideas which potentially could end up being really sweet pieces of art. About the torso - Yeah, I kind of imagined it to be able to close itself, but I forgot to add slime to the edges to emphasise that.
Si_Swe - Thanks for the tough love. I appreciate it. It feels good to know what I need to work. I'll do my best to apply that into the next creature challenge - and everything else.
aburnier - Damn! I don't remember my dreams, so I guess that's my problem.
I'll try to give my monsters more OOHMPF next time.