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  1. #1
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    I'm going to explode... Help! Help!

    The first picure is what I drew this for a magazine on the subject of horror novels. The art editor said mine nowhere reached their required standard... I'm very disappointed... I've never succeeded of this kinda illustrations for magazines...

    The rest are samples she showed me. The last one was said that the man needed a few more details. I decide I must modify it to be satisfying! Please help me if you can.


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  3. #2
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    You're missing the point of the samples you had been given. They are nothing spectacular, but all three are much better compositions than your one.

    So study the basics of composition. Your sample is really full of examples of what NOT to do; from not planning the composition beforehand and then sticking random stuff into the holes, and to unnecessary crowding of the figures into the edge they are facing.

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  5. #3
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    Hey there,

    Well first off, don't be discouraged because your painting isn't bad. In fact, if this magazine editor said "nowhere reached their required standard", then she is exaggerating, based on the other samples.

    You are lacking some anatomy understanding it looks like, and a more interesting sense of light and mood. But the other samples really are not any better.

    Tell us the exact narrative of your image? I can assume its supposed to be dark and scary for this horror magazine. I would play with the lighting and make it darker, with a more eye-catching lighting. You can also choose a focal point by using the light.

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  7. #4
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    Artfix, you're missing the point almost as much as the OP. It's not matter of anatomy or lighting. It's that the original image is BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRIIIIIING, and no amount of playing around with the lighting etc is going to fix that. The sample images may be cliched and/or not particularly well rendered, but they tell a story.
    Untier, did you do thumbnails? A LOT of thumbnails? Can you explain exactly what the point of your picture is? Because if you don't know what you're trying to say, how can you expect anybody else to? Did you submit a rough sketch (or preferably, several rough sketches) to the AD for comments before going to the final?

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  9. #5
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    Well I don't agree with the bold and elongated "boring", but ok. It would be cool if the ominous figure had his hands on her shoulders and was looking over her shoulder at the letter like a creep.

    Add a dutch tilt--maybe that will satisfy the editor lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artfix View Post
    Well I don't agree with the bold and elongated "boring", but ok. It would be cool if the ominous figure had his hands on her shoulders and was looking over her shoulder at the letter like a creep.

    Add a dutch tilt--maybe that will satisfy the editor lol.
    That's an awful suggestion. Neither of which address the underlying problem with the composition. OP needs to do more thumbnails exploring different ideas. (And not just different ideas about what the characters are doing, but the location of the characters, the camera placement, etc.)

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  13. #7
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    I agree with the above posters about thumbnailing - doing work for a horror magazine is a great excuse to crack out the crazy angles and dramatic lighting! Take a look at some genre-related movies, comics and art - you'll get some good ideas from them.

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  15. #8
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    arenhaus: Where is the signal of my planning the composition beforehand and then sticking random stuff into the holes? I'm sure sometimes I tended to do so.

    Artfix: The narrative is very short and vague... It's not a whole novel, but a simple description for a test. The description is:

    A girl is looking at a photo with tender affection. A male ghost is behind her and stares at her with a thrilling mood.

    And she never mentioned specially that it should be darker or made a special note of the environment. I think the samples are even brighter.

    Elwell: She didn't ask for a thumnail from me... She told me that I have two days to finish the test and then submit it to her email box. I think she just wanna know my skill level and style matching. It's not a real commission, but merely a test. If I had sent her sketches wouldn't she view it as bothering? And as a result she said I was not suitable... so there's already no chance for any composition to be exhibited to her... I just wanna better my work.

    Alice Herring: But the price for this project is only piteous $16 per piece... Do you really think it worths so much efforts?

    Kveldvaahiim: I agree with you on studying ideas from genre-related movies, comics and arts. And I noticed that my power of cracking out the crazy things isn't enough too.

  16. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by untier View Post
    Alice Herring: But the price for this project is only piteous $16 per piece... Do you really think it worths so much efforts?
    If it's not worth doing right then it's not worth doing at all. Doing something badly only results in rejection and a bad reputation, and all of the effort is wasted. So if you feel the price is too low to put in the effort to do it correctly then don't take that job.
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  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by untier View Post
    A girl is looking at a photo with tender affection. A male ghost is behind her and stares at her with a thrilling mood.
    Wait, that's a ghost? Okay. I thought it was some sort of Mike Myers/The Crow type of fellow with satanic powers or vampire or something, nowhere does he come off as a ghost to me (and sure there's all sorts of ghosts that you can make but sometimes it really is good to fall back to the stereotypes [like slightly see-through, floating, showing the death wound/decay, not affected by same stuff, like light, as the real humans and so on] for the sake clarity when it's likely the viewer might not have any context to the image). And with a description that vague, I'd say you had all the chances to make sure everything in the image supports that description (like have the photo feature the ghost guy while he was alive with the girl and then have the creepy guy ghost hover behind the girl, which would make a connection with the characters and also make sure that we get more of the emotion because we know that when the girl turns around she'll see the ghost and know the ghost thus make it more traumatic to her), but a lot of the image just gives lot of visibility to things that I don't see important, like the room details, actually to the point that the image has more space dedicated to the room than the characters.

    Not to mention we don't actually see that she's looking at a photo. That could just as easily be a note or something, especially in this age of digital cameras and overall that doesn't look like a natural way of looking at something, standing stick straight and holding it with both hands like a child. I could see that pose to work if she had just randomly come across the photo while cleaning or searching something, picking it up but planning to keep moving along, but like this when that's not the case and especially since there's a bed in which she could be sitting/or laying, it just feels off and stiff.
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  20. #11
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    Thumbnails yes, iteration yes. All that aside, I like the idea of having the shot facing them from a low angle looking up towards the giant round window, which would be casting a light on her. Then perhaps behind her, slightly off to one side, would be your demonic figured shrouded in shadow, but key points of the light hitting him (either from the window or the lamp). I'm just thinking of this from a horrific perspective, and haven't read 100% of what's already been posted, so I apologize if I missed a key point of the illustration.

    That said, keep at it

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  22. #12
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    Vineris: You awoke me. I was sometimes only money grubbing freak.

    TinyBird: This is for a Chinese magazine. Many ghosts in Chinese media is opaque. Most Chinese people believe that after a person dies, his/her soul might have the freedom to still wander around in this world. They believe that the ghosts are independent to stay in this world, so they don’t need demons or any higher authority to drive them. The ghosts are more like prison breakers or missed ones. One day, the hounds of law in the nether world will capture them and put them on the right track. Some of them can appear or disappear in public or to a certain person at will, but they usually aren’t transparent. This kind of ghosts are very like the vampires or demons. Sometimes they’re called corpse. They have supernatural powers. They bring terror to harm humans. They suck the energy of human life…And they are afraid of sunshine.

    Certainly some of the photos that have ghosts appearing show that they were transparent. I think that’s because they didn’t mean to expose themselves but the space problems or some effect of the equipments helped to capture a part of their light, so that the light we see is not strong enough… And some people may sight transparent ghosts, too. This kind of ghosts are also reluctant to be seen, but the people’s eyes possess some special structures to sense a part of the ghosts’ light, which is not entire.

    Some stories portrayed them as Melcolm crow in The Sixth Sense. They weren’t aware that they were dead, most people couldn’t sense them, but certain people were able to see them entirely and communicated with them .

    And there are other versions…For instance, some guys are sure that their dead relatives or friends come to help them, etc. You know many people worship miscellaneous idols and rough-and-tumble religions. This kind of people could believe in any faith others compiled. But they reject that there is an ultimate God. The main stream of the ghost versions in China came from Buddhism and Taoism. The consensus is that ghosts are dead people

    Back to business, the scary figures I’ve seen in their magazine are opaque.

    Kraemology: Thanks for your advice. Your idea is good, in the next step I’ll try it..


    Please have a look at my draft. Dutch tilt, huh? Is it enough as a thumbnail? Or is it just a thumbnail to show camera angle and layout? Once it’s approved, is next step to draw a thumbnail to show general light and color? Must an illustrator be full-time passive? I’ve met an editor who stick that the shadow on one of my comic pages was wrong based on the light she assumed. I argued it about she misunderstood my lighting idea, but she said my lighting was wrong. And she persisted on asking me to modify it. I implored her to ask the Chief Editor. She refused at first, but after a while she agreed. Thank God the chief editor said mine was correct… Then for some vague refusals how should we reason it? The only way is to obey any order and judgment? Many editors I knew online were young naughty girls, someone might be bitchy… I mean they might unleash their anger at you for their unharmonious sex life last night or something they thought unfair… What’s your skills to persuade the headstrong girls that interferes your business online?

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    Holy crap that's a completely needless wall of text that has nothing to do with your image.
    Seriously you could have condensed all that ghost talk to "this is a Chinese type of ghost that's not see through" and that would have been enough.
    EDIT: Though I still say he looks like the satanic bastard child of Michael Myers and Alex Corvis what with the vague prison jumpsuit looks.
    And I'd still maintain that pretty much everything else in my comment is still something you should think about like again, why do you waste so much space to the background?
    Seriously now the figures are even smaller! If this were actually printed, the figures would risk becoming pretty small, especially if this isn't a full page sized illustration and I still maintain that showing so much empty walls gives little to the image. Even if this won't be actually published, if you're planning to practice doing specific type of images then you should take the medium where they will be seen into consideration.

    Again like several people have suggested, do some thumbnails! http://muddycolors.blogspot.fi/2010/11/thumbnail.html Quick, small sketches where you explore the composition.

    Thank God the chief editor said mine was correct…
    But did it actually look good, that'd be my question here. (And if I'm honest, looking at the lighting in your original image doesn't make me wonder if someone else has been confused by your other images because the lighting looks to be pretty inconsistent.)

    Quote Originally Posted by untier View Post
    Many editors I knew online were young naughty girls, someone might be bitchy… I mean they might unleash their anger at you for their unharmonious sex life last night or something they thought unfair… What’s your skills to persuade the headstrong girls that interferes your business online?
    ...what?
    Last edited by TinyBird; July 24th, 2012 at 09:34 AM.
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  25. #14
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    That's not a thumbnail - that's rough linework. You're skipping a step.

    Read tinybird's link and show us thumbnails. Many of them. 5 or more (more is better). Plan out the composition with your major values. They should be small, and we shouldn't see any detail. We should however, still be able to read all the important bits easily.

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  27. #15
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    the room adds nothing to the story... so get rid of it... get rid of everything that adds nothing to the story. youre complicating it unneccessarily.

    zoom in on the figures and tell the story by their relation to each other and their expressions.

    and as for the ghost... it either reads as one or it doesnt. there are several target groups which interpret things differently, but as far as i can tell in most asian movies i saw ghosts been semi-transparent aswell... its just the most effective way to show its a ghost... otherwise it may just be some dude with a bad hair day. if you find a better way... great, but always be aware it has to shout ghost... you shouldnt have to rely on explanations.

    [edit] another possible way could be to give him another value-scale than the living human... more highkey e.g., solid but glowing, or fumes, or a shadow, or whatever...
    Last edited by sone_one; July 24th, 2012 at 07:07 PM.
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