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I've been lurking long enough and have decided to post my work.
You have some anatomy problems with the dragon and lighting problems overall. The base of the dragons tail is wider than his body. There is no structure to the dragons body (no skeletal frame or muscles) The right shoulders is missing the wings don't have any connection to the body. These things should all be worked out before you get to this stage. Thumbnails values plans and color comps.
Not to mention you added an extra joint to the wings. They are homologous to human arms. Study bat skeletons.You have some anatomy problems with the dragon and lighting problems overall. The base of the dragons tail is wider than his body. There is no structure to the dragons body (no skeletal frame or muscles) The right shoulders is missing the wings don't have any connection to the body.
Thanks for the crits.
Looks like I was lazy with the dragon anatomy an didn't put thought into it dpaint. I put my light source as coming from the upper right. I don't see where I deviated from that.
I will look at bat skeletons Hexokinase. Good suggestion.
And I think you should consider the light and shadow a little better. Where is the light source? The dragon and wizard have shadows on the left side, but there's light coming from the circular structure around them...
The anatomy and lighting are issues, but more me something just as, if not more, distracting is the texture use. I think it works alright on the dragon's wings to some degree, but the cavern wall, starry floor, and marble textures seem like they were just put in place as a placeholder.
Working with textures as a base can be helpful, and making photoshop work with purely textures for a cut-paper effect can look nice, but putting painted figures on a background of utterly different texture makes them look like stickers. Even a very loosely painted background will always look better.
Here are some examples from the internet (don't be intimidate by their subjects, focus on the backgrounds):
The backgrounds don't have very much detail compared to the figures, and they're not supposed to: our eyes see fewer details the further things are away from us (not the opposite, as ends up happening in your image). Exaggerating this in a painting can help create a greater feeling of depth AND keep people from being distracted from the subjects of the work.
Concerning the light source. Knowing the context will help. This is an illustration for a story which tells the reader they are transporting. So the figures are lit from where they are transporting from, not the cave or transportation device. Hope that clears up that issue.
@VawnOTheDawn I'll work on the textures and background to integrate them better. Thanks.
...Why would they still be lit from that other place, when they have almost fully materialized to the cave?Concerning the light source. Knowing the context will help. This is an illustration for a story which tells the reader they are transporting. So the figures are lit from where they are transporting from, not the cave or transportation device. Hope that clears up that issue.
I had to make a decision and decided to go with that. I didn't consider the transport a light source, but a special effect.
I definitely was not going to put a different light source on the part that was not materialized yet.
Well, you've pretty much drawn the transport thingy like it would be a light source and not just an effect. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you think, if something looks like a mistake (even while knowing the context of the image), then it's going to be considered and seen as one.
So personally I'd go back to designing the lighting so that it doesn't leave the viewer confused and really shows your intention, even if you may have to skirt around the facts of the actual story a bit and exaggerate or adjust things (like exaggerating the light coming from above so it's more "fantastic" to make sure that the viewer realizes that it's not light from the cave, removing light from the cave, etc).
Sometimes with story illustrations you have to go with what works for the image, even if it's doesn't follow the story 100%. Or really do your planning so that they both work.
You make a good point TinyBird. I'll rethink this. Thanks for taking the time to set me right. :-)