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  1. #1
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    Could use some direction

    Hey guys! I've been coming here for years to drool over other peoples work, but now I've decided to join the fun! I don't really have much experience in digital painting, although I do know my way around photoshop. Well, atleast to a certain degree.

    So I've started my project and I think it's going fairly well. I have some concerns though and it's proving very difficult to identify the problems.

    My main concern is the composition. To my eyes it looks OK the way I intend it to be, but when I flip the canvas vertically it looks unbalanced. Like it's tipping over to the left.

    The other thing is the values. Especially in the background. I'm trying to go for a partly overcast and misty look. I'm planning on filling the background with trees without taking the attention away from the girl.

    But whatever help you could give me would be great! This project is solely for my own pleasure and I don't mind you being harsh. I'm sort of a perfectionist, which isn't that great since this is more or less my first digital painting. But I have patience on my side though

    Oh and by the way; the green blobs in and around the trees are there for deciding on a shape for the foliage. Perhaps not the best way to do that, but... And the texture on rock on the left is one of my own photographs used as a placeholder. And sorry for the long text.

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  3. #2
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    What's the story behind this? Is she going to drown herself? She looks like she's floating so my guess would be that she's possessed or doing some sort of witch thing.
    Also I think this pic is kinda on the borderline on whether the static balanced composition works or if it's too balanced. I would say it depends on whether you're planning on making this all naturally rendered and detailed or keeping it more "coarse" and stylized.
    Also depending on the same, get some refs. The cow's sporting some stick legs and the woman's arms are like swan necks.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinyBird View Post
    What's the story behind this? Is she going to drown herself? She looks like she's floating so my guess would be that she's possessed or doing some sort of witch thing.
    Also I think this pic is kinda on the borderline on whether the static balanced composition works or if it's too balanced. I would say it depends on whether you're planning on making this all naturally rendered and detailed or keeping it more "coarse" and stylized.
    Also depending on the same, get some refs. The cow's sporting some stick legs and the woman's arms are like swan necks.

    Thanks for the reply!

    The painting is supposed to portray a supernatural being from norwegian folklore

    OK, so the composition was bugging me too much so I've revamped the entire painting. I want to go pretty detailed in the end so I decided to break up the composition more and try to go for something more dynamic and gain some depth. I kept all the elements I liked from the previous work.

    I think I've fixed the cows legs. I also worked on my character until I decided she didn't really work in my new composition. I then got some good refs and drew up a new version.

    So this is a quick color test on my new work. Any comments or critiques will be very appreciated!

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    Is there a particular reason why you want her to be dead center in the image? That could work, but then I'd make the canvas vertical. A wide canvas like this with the main character being small in the center feels a bit odd to me; there's a lot of space that doesn't really have a function. If possible, the painting should tell her story a bit, what she does and why she is there. It could have some mystery to it of course, but right now it's a topless girl with a cow near a forest; it just doesn't give me anything more than that. We're too far away to see her expression or what she is trying to communicate to us, too.

    Color wise it's obviously a bit monotonous, but it could be that you're aiming for that so I'll just wait until you progress a bit further. Lighting wise it could really use a push in both directions; darker darks and lighter lights more interestingly distributed across the canvas. If you convert the image to greyscale, you'll find that your lightest light is about 70% bright and your darkest dark about 14%. The dark only needs a small push down (to about 10%) but I'd definitely make sure that you have a light of about 90% brightness in the areas where it matters.

    I'm really interested to see where you'll take this, and I'm also interested in her story . Will you tell us more about her?

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    I think the dead center perspective worked for the first picture when you had that really symmetrical pose. But right now it feels a bit awkward.

    Also, why is she topless? I guess there might be some kind of story reason for this. But someone who doesn't know about it is going to react to it. I almost get the impression she's trying to flirt with the cow. Is there someway you could hint at the story situation?

    I really like the colors in the first picture. But the second one is looking a bit dreary... (Though it might just be at an early stage.) I think you should push the saturation and values a little more in some places.

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    I agree with the other crits on her placement. Overall, this doesn't feel like a character piece, more like a landscape she's just walked in on. What specifically are you trying to say with the piece? What story are you trying to tell? First, you need to figure that out. If it's about her, then there's no reason to make her so tiny. If there's some narrative reason to pull back that far, then make it clearer.

    The colours in the first piece are closer to having the misty, overcast look. The greens in the new one aren't working as well.

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    Thanks for all your replies!

    I've done some minor changes to the composition. I've also changed the positioning of the girl slightly based on your feedback. The previous positioning obviously didn't work. I've also worked some more on coloring. I've changed the color scheme to something a little cooler and also carefully added lighter and darker values here and there. I saw that I had a tendency to go a little too dark with too much contrast based on the first work I posted here. I still plan on adding more color variation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    Lighting wise it could really use a push in both directions; darker darks and lighter lights more interestingly distributed across the canvas. If you convert the image to greyscale, you'll find that your lightest light is about 70% bright and your darkest dark about 14%. The dark only needs a small push down (to about 10%) but I'd definitely make sure that you have a light of about 90% brightness in the areas where it matters.
    Hopefully it's better now. How do you know the percentage? Do you have some sort of tool I don't know about (which would be really useful!) or are you just really good at judging values?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    I'm really interested to see where you'll take this, and I'm also interested in her story . Will you tell us more about her?
    She's called huldra and is a creature of the forest. She is supposed to be very pretty and a seductress. She is sometimes described having a cow's tail or a hollow back. If you're interested you can read more about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huldra

    Quote Originally Posted by tobbA View Post
    Also, why is she topless? I guess there might be some kind of story reason for this. But someone who doesn't know about it is going to react to it. I almost get the impression she's trying to flirt with the cow. Is there someway you could hint at the story situation?
    Haha, yeah guess you are right. I don't really mind if people might think it's wierd though. The cow is closely related to huldra in folklore. I'm almost certain that people who knows the folklore would get who she's supposed to be. But I'll definitly try to think of ways to tell more of the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revidescent View Post
    Overall, this doesn't feel like a character piece, more like a landscape she's just walked in on. What specifically are you trying to say with the piece? What story are you trying to tell? First, you need to figure that out. If it's about her, then there's no reason to make her so tiny. If there's some narrative reason to pull back that far, then make it clearer.
    It's first and foremost a landscape painting. I just want to bring some folklore into the mix. This will be heavily inspired by norwegian romanticism. You can see an example of the type of painting i'm inspired by here: https://d2mpxrrcad19ou.cloudfront.ne...9_fullsize.jpg

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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mosegrodd View Post
    The cow is closely related to huldra in folklore. I'm almost certain that people who knows the folklore would get who she's supposed to be.
    I have to admit that though I'm familiar with huldras (though not exceptionally familiar), it didn't even come to my mind that this would be a one. Which might have to do that since this is just a forest, I kinda unconsciously took the mindset that this would be a Finnish forest (since I live there) or "just" a forest in nowhere in particular and thus there wouldn't be a huldra in there, but I guess that's a chance with all pics that feature very human-like mythological things.

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    Hmm OK. I could always try painting on her tail to make it more clear, but I kinda want to avoid that. Anyways, if people just see a topless woman in a forest then that's fine by me. If nothing else, they'll have to wonder why

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    You are approaching this backwards. Start with small abstract thumbnails for composition and then move to color comps keeping the images small and abstract. Once you have the composition and mood get the gesture down for the cow and girl. The gesture should reveal everything you need to know about her. Then decide on the direction of the light, then get reference for the image that you have constructed. You can never build a good painting from details. Your painting has to tell the story through color value shape and gesture.

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    I appreciate the feedback, but I'm not sure what approach you're referring to. After I scrapped the previous work, I played around with shapes and elements until I ended up with a composition I liked. I then drew up the linework and started out with a base color I thought would work. After that I started painting pretty rough on layers with low opacity (because of my tendency to go too dark as mentioned earlier). Further on I pushed the values, adjusted the color scheme and moved the girl slightly based on the critiques I got here. I haven't really started on details yet.

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    Small abstractthumbnails contain only shape and color maybe gesture. You are locking yourself into too much information before having a clear idea of where you are going.

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    She's called huldra and is a creature of the forest. She is supposed to be very pretty and a seductress. She is sometimes described having a cow's tail or a hollow back. If you're interested you can read more about her here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huldra
    Hmm. That's what I imagined. But there's still nothing to really make her out to be a huldra/skogsrå. I mean, I know they're sometimes are depicted as wearing regular clothing or just skimping about without anything on. But just walking around topless doesn't really say "seductress" to me. Especially concidering her surroundings. Why not try to portray her fully clothed (though perhaps a bit seductively so) in the act of seducing a man while her tail is poking out from behind her skirt? Or just looking pretty in the forest, as well as showing her hollow back for some extra creepyness. The latter would be an interesting challenge, I think.

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    I'd actually stick her back in the middle, make the cow a herd and show the blithering man sated on the ground that she is looking at - now you'd have a story. If she had some sort of aura, even slightly, it would emphasise that she's not of this world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Small abstractthumbnails contain only shape and color maybe gesture. You are locking yourself into too much information before having a clear idea of where you are going.
    I'll happily pretend that I ended up with the current state of work through small abstract thumbnails All kidding aside, I'm pretty satisfied with the progress so far, and I probably wouldn't have a clue where I was going regardless of the starting point, other than the general idea for the painting. Which I'm okay with. Your approach may very well be the best way to go about. I feel more comfortable finding my own way though But what I did take from your reply was that the painting still wasn't working. So I've been playing around, experimenting and trying different things regarding composition, color and the general mood.

    I've also gone away from her being topless. Which seemed to be an issue of confusion. The positive side of that is that I get to show more of her clothing, which is a version of a hardangerbunad. Meaning traditional norwegian clothing. I'm sticking with the same pose. Simply because I like it. About her being a huldra. To me she still will be. Depicting her with the tail or the hollow back could indeed be very cool. I'm just very unsure how I would like to do that. I might try a version of this painting with her wearing a tail at a later stage though. How people perceive the girl will have to up to themselves. Which, I would argue, would have been very much the case anyway.

    So this is what I've settled on. I won't do much about the composition now. It may not have all the story elements I've got feedback on, but the mood is where I want it. Which is what I wanted to convey in the first place. And thanks for all your input so far Appreciated!

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