I've been picking away at this for a little while now. My main issue is that the router seems to look muddy no matter how I paint it. It's supposed to be a hard plastic but it looks like a completely different texture. I'm also worried about how well the transparency of the keychain edge reads. Any obvious problems that you guys can spot?
The first thing that strikes me is...aiiiiii, you've run off the page! Now, that's a tragedy on paper, but this is digital, so let's just tack some more electrons on the bottom.
The second thing is the composition. I'll fill in what I take to be the main objects. Which actually can be a good place to start with a still life -- it lets you view the composition in the rough, and it gives all the objects a common background color. That'll peek through a little and make them all look like they belong together.
That's not really cohering all that well as a composition. Maybe eight objects is too much to deal with at once. Perhaps two or three? Or sometimes, it helps your visualization to draw a rectangular frame inside the image and place your composition relative to that.
What you're hoping to get is that silhouette shape doing something interesting. If you draw one object, you can plop it in the middle, concentrate on rendering that object and not worry about anything else. The moment you have more than one, you have to think about how those objects relate to each other and the page.
Oh, for your specific questions -- a router is an essentially boring object. It's hard to draw boring objects! Some people can do a cracking job of rendering anything; I'm not one of those people. I have to draw things I find intrinsically interesting to look at.
I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
Start with the background, not the foreground. And work on all parts of the picture together. It's not useful to paint the keys in high detail but ignore the rest; you are guaranteed to have to repaint them later when they fail to match the rest of the picture.
It is best to work from the broadest block-in to increasingly small detail, all over the picture - not focus on a tiny bit to the end and neglect everything else.
@Stout, it never even once occurred to me to think about the composition of the piece. I just thought "I'm going to paint the corner of my desk!" and went straight to it, so thanks for pointing that out. I'll be sure to keep it in mind for future pieces.
@arenhaus, oh boy, I did this last time too didn't I? I really need to get it into my head that the background's important. The off-white is more or less what my desk looks like under this light, so I thought I'd leave it like that and paint in shadows/reflections as I completed objects (like I did for the keys). Guess I still need to learn the proper process for this sort of thing.
As for the keys, I stupidly decided to start this in between classes. I needed to finish painting my keys first so I could leave my room when it was time for class Although in all honesty I probably would have done the same thing anyways (painting one thing to finish instead of painting the whole thing as I go). Thanks for the help again!
I'd second what Stoat and Arenhaus said. Your still life feels really cluttered, and that may be mostly due to how some things are falling off the canvas. However, I would suggest actually removing a few objects as well as making the space around them bigger.
While you might think that colour is close to your desk colour, I bet your desk is a lot darker.
Soft diffuse high lighting is what makes plastic look plastic in the main, which is why a lot of beginners make clothes look plastic.
Thanks for the help everyone. I decided to start over from scratch with a less cluttered piece. I had a really hard time pinning down exactly what colours are on my desk. Still a WIP.
Bah, I'm horrible when it comes to working on one project without getting sidetracked. Here's an update on the painting.