Reworking concept
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    Reworking concept

    EDIT

    Per advice given, Looking at creating a better composition.

    Name:  MAGES Shadow Throne REDUEX 4A.jpg
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    Last edited by dolmen; November 21st, 2012 at 09:02 AM.
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    It might seem harsh, but I can only offer the age-old advice: find photo reference and do a tight line drawing before you start in with tone. The problems here are with basic anatomy, composition and perspective. Don't even think about ambient occlusion right now.

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    Don't worry about the finish. Worry about composition, construction, perspective and lighting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    It might seem harsh, but I can only offer the age-old advice: find photo reference and do a tight line drawing before you start in with tone. The problems here are with basic anatomy, composition and perspective. Don't even think about ambient occlusion right now.
    ^This is correct. Where are your thumbnails? your value? and color comps? When you build a house you start with the foundation, not the carvings on the window frames. Scrap this and start from the beginning.

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    Yes to all of the above. But specifically, is the hound on the right some sort of were-creature, or just a dog? Because right now, it has a human chest and shoulders.


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    Ooook, back to the drawing board. Refs were lacking. I will mock up a new set of thumnails, I think I have the characters set in my head but the anatomy...needs a reworking. I agree that the hound on the right was drawn with anthropomorphic shoulders and forelegs. I was going for pitbull like width but over shot it.

    Will re-draw this as I suspected was necessary. Thank you all for your honesty. Will post my next steps as often as possible.

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    This is my first retake. Instead of basic thumbs I thought I'd get some detail in to really explore what I can do with lighting. What bugged me in the last one was that it was trying to be both epic and up-close at the same time. As you have helped me to see, The hounds looked wrong and the pieces of the composition where all fighting for focus. With this I think I managed something more unified with a clear focus for all the characters. I was thinking of trying a grander view next (Them looking out to a landscape or something) In this piece everyone looks tense and about to do something overt...but shadow is sneaky. I want to try my options and see if I can up the sneaky factor. I think I can make a fair decision once I do all that...

    Name:  MAGES Shadow Throne REDUEX 3S.jpg
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    I hope this is a positive step forward? I used a few references as well. Here are the few I found helpful:

    http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__..._saga_king.jpg

    http://i1192.photobucket.com/albums/...Black-Wolf.jpg

    http://image.shutterstock.com/displa...r-98448263.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by dolmen View Post
    This is my first retake. Instead of basic thumbs I thought I'd get some detail in to really explore what I can do with lighting.
    Personally I'd had done actual thumbnails (like 10-20) to work on the composition, point of interest and basic values and after that get on adding details for the lighting. The current is now a kind of a mess, with no clear lightsource (or perspective) and it's hard to tell the characters apart. Also I might ask, what are the characters looking at? In the original it was kinda like the sitting guy was looking at the viewer and it made sense and was kinda effective, but now he's just looking at nothing we can see.

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    I'm imagining the light source in front and to the right. I wont go further with this and will try shoot out some general thumbs first.

    My impression of the first was that it demanded too many points of interest with almost everyone else looking elsewhere. Compositionwise i kept to the rule of thirds with all characters except the dead knight. Its good to know the previous pic had some positives to it. Will try more ideas that engage the viewer.

    Last edited by dolmen; October 4th, 2012 at 04:59 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dolmen View Post
    I'm imagining the light source in front and to the right.
    I might ask, do you need two light sources? Where are they coming from and are they both as strong?
    Not to mention the lighting doesn't really follow what you said, like the who hooded guys seem to have light coming from above to their heads.

    My impression of the first was that it demanded too many points of interest with almost everyone else looking elsewhere. Compositionwise i kept to the rule of thirds with all characters except the dead knight.
    But that doesn't have to do with points of interest, but storytelling in the image. In the first one it would basically be "you, the viewer have been brought in front of Lord Dreadguy and his lounging minions and you are likely to die!" but in the second it would be "Lord Dreadguy and his minions are looking at somewhere, maybe at somebody or not".
    So, think of the story you want to tell. If you want to show the character getting ready to fight an intruder, actually show there is an intruder and they're not just posing.
    Also rule of thirds is a good thing to keep in mind, but it's not something you should necessarily follow as the only rule. Like sure, the dog's head might be at one of the points shown by rule of thirds, but it also causes the perspective to be wonky and leave lots of empty room at the bottom of the image, which is not really doing any favors for the image. have you thought of also trying out other similar things, like the Fibonacci spiral?

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    The original commenters are right. Its actually one of my hang-ups too so dont think your alone. I really enjoy the rendering and painting part so the drawing/design/drafting phase can be the hardest. This is not abnormal for artists. I dont consider myself much of a drawer where others are extremely proficient at drawing. I fancy myself a painter so I tend to ignore the rest. Its bad form of course because drawing is needed in that sort of process, unless you intend on working completely from reference. That assumption might not be completely true but in my case I find its the way I work.

    Needless to say make sure you dont skimp on that part. Work hard to get good at drawing. Then develop the other skills as you go. Consider each painting a lesson in many disciplines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dolmen View Post
    Instead of basic thumbs I thought I'd get some detail in to really explore what I can do with lighting.
    ok nvrmnd then


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    @SUNNY: Ahh yes! this is the problem. I admit to being tempted to take thumbs further and I realize its bad form indeed.

    @Elwelll: I know, I know! I Shouldn't have gotten sucked in but I couldn't help it. I took a fancy to the thumbnail, I broke the golden rule.

    Ahem, ok, back to basics. Thumbnails! If I start adding detail I shall shiv myself with a pen! I feel like a moth drawn to flame.

    @TinyBird: I have a very vague understanding of the Fibonucci spiral. The rule of thirds was pretty basic and more accessible to me. I understand that neither is a grounding rule. Will think harder about the narrative when working up my thumbnails and try not be a slave to the rules. I know I struggled badly with composition in my previous threads. The ideas are there but the execution is always lacking an element of depth or technical plausibility.

    Anyways back to the thumbs, will post some later tonight.

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    Here are two actual thumbnails. sketched them up by hand and worked on them in photoshop to play around with positions. I'm not too Partial to the setting on the right. I think its a bit stark. the one on the left has the female assasin either looking back at us. The image recaptures the energy of my first attempt. the goon to the middle and right looks out of place though...anyways on to more thumbs!

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    Ack! can't seem to upload but I feel Like I'm losing drive on this one. I have tried a few more compositions but they feel forced. Haven't had any feedback on the compositions posted so far, are they that bad? I'm told that the dog in thumbnail one is unusual. Dogs apparently don't cross their legs, Its more of a cat thing. So now I'm inclined to the second thumbnail because of the impression of activity, something seems to be going on. I really cant think of a better scene arrangement. will just start resolving this option unless otherwise advised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dolmen View Post
    Haven't had any feedback on the compositions posted so far, are they that bad? I'm told that the dog in thumbnail one is unusual.
    I'd suggest you decide what story you're trying to tell here and then decide how you're going to tell it. Everything you've posted so far has been "bunch o' fantasy characters and their dog standing around looking cool." I think once you get more specific with the narrative you will start getting better feedback.

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    Even "bunch o' fantasy characters and their dog standing around looking cool" can be a legit concept, but it still leads to specific design solutions.


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    Ok I thought carefully about the narrative and composition and gave the thumbnailing process another try. I read a few articles on composition and though I kept to the advise avoid sticking too hard to the rules I used a bit of each rule in the article to come up with the following ideas. I think there's a great deal more visual interest in these. They all have a focal point and a decent key, drawing the eye to where I want it. My understanding is growing and with it I realize trying to do too much can hurt a piece. As understanding grows I'm sure I could pull off a scene with five characters acting in unison but right now I used three to better explore the thumb-nailing exercise.

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    Feedback on these would be greatly appreciated.

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    Yeah, those are a lot better. #2 has a bit too much empty space for my liking so I'd probably go with #1 or #3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    Yeah, those are a lot better. #2 has a bit too much empty space for my liking so I'd probably go with #1 or #3.


    I also like 1 and 3, Particularly 3. The activity is varied but the eye quickly follows the focus. I think 1 has perspective issues. I love the light filtering in, it has potential.

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    Name:  MAGES Shadow Throne REDUEX 5A small.jpg
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    Stepping forward with option 3

    2h30min in

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    What exactly is supposed to be going on here? If the point is that they're being surprised by the big monster in the background, I'm not sure it's coming across. The wizard-dude seems to be staring off into the distance, the other two seem tensed for an impending fight, and the monster seems to be calmly contemplating the scene from far away. You might want to rethink the staging.

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    OK, first off, in the critique center, don't edit your first post unless you want to completely confuse newcomers to the thread.

    Your thumbnail was a lot better than this last update, in my opinion. You should have stuck closer to it. I very very strongly recommend doing a finished line drawing before you think about anything else. It will make you push the design and accuracy of everything much further than you otherwise would, and make the subsequent steps a breeze. The first thing I would do is decide on a horizon line and rough out a ground plane so your figures can have some basis in a believable environment.

    Let me share an album showing the complete process of one of my first commissioned pieces. It's not the greatest thing in the world, but it was the best I could do at the time. I tried to follow a good process and complete each step before moving on. I spent about 50 hours on it, total. http://imgur.com/a/o2IaL#0

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