WIP - Rainbow serpent. Looking for criques, tips etc
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    WIP - Rainbow serpent. Looking for criques, tips etc

    Presently working on a new picture. Normally I just do character design with no backgrounds so this is something of a challenge for me.
    At present it is very rough because I want to nail down basic composition and colours first.

    The story it is based on is a myth about how the giant rainbow serpent wandered the country and found there was no water. It then found some frogs hiding in a cave storing huge amounts of water in themselves. So it called them out and tickled them to get them to laugh up the water which ran into the paths the rainbow serpent had made during its wanderings to create the country's water ways. Like all myths the actual story varies depending on who is telling it but that's the basic version I'm following.

    As mentioned at the moment I want to try and get the composition and colours worked out. The rainbow serpent is supposed to be giant and I've made one of the frogs large too to make interaction between the two easier. I'm thinking of having some smaller frogs near the waterway which are also thinner to suggest the size is due to the water and also to make the size of the snake and frog clearer. The colours presently are focusing on warm colours (yellow to red) and blue because these are the colours I associate with that area of Australia.

    Any advice would be welcome. I'll update as I continue to adjust and polish the work.
    Thanks in advance.

    Name:  EarthGiant2.jpg
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    Name:  EarthGiant.jpg
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    EDIT: added another thumb. I had two others but apparently I saved over them (embarrassed)

    Last edited by csButt; November 26th, 2012 at 09:11 AM.
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    Is that your only "thumb"? It's pretty far away and personally I'd concentrate on showing the story better, not reducing the frogs to pixel sized smudges.

    Last edited by TinyBird; November 26th, 2012 at 09:16 AM.
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    Thanks for the fast reply.

    I'll still very new to composition and couldn't figure out how to include the river from the frog and the size of the snake with a closer shot. I suppose I could crop, just the middle of the thumb.
    (Added a new thumb to the first post, unfortunately seem to have saved over the other 2, all were distance views)

    Name:  EarthGiantClose.jpg
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    But not sure if this works either. (frog is presently a smug because didn't want to add details when I would probably be rubbing him out numerous more times)

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    Quote Originally Posted by csButt View Post
    I suppose I could crop, just the middle of the thumb.
    Why crop the same thumb? Try doing 15 or more really fast scribble thumbs, all from different angles, views and so on to explore how to make the snake large. Like if the viewer was positioned where the cave is currently, we'd have a great view on the towering snake while still seeing the frog and the cave could be positioned to the side.
    When we get that sort of full snake view with a high perspective, it does show that it's large (that is ,as long as we have something to compare the snake to), but when you put the viewer to where the action is, the level o the frogs, you will make the viewer really feel the size of the snake. Those are things you should also consider while thumbnailing.
    here's also something you would do well to read: http://muddycolors.blogspot.fi/2010/11/thumbnail.html

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    Honestly... go out and draw with a sketchbook and paper, Photoshop will be a curse for you with the level your at.

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    @Tinybird: Thanks for the advice and the link. I've tried making some more thumbnails. I don't think I pushed it as much as the idea can be pushed but I think it's a start. Again they are very rough, I had to go out today so most were done on my ipad. I find in this case the ipad can be useful as it forces me to focus on basic shapes and not details or lines but it also messes with my colour. Drawing them with pencils I probably would have focused too much on my lines and not enough on my shapes.

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    given your other works, i think that you are skilled enough for not ditching digital tools at all, i particularly liked your dragon. the last set of thumbs are definitely better and the viewer can make out the idea easier thus far. still, more refinement would be preferable.

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    Thanks for the compliment and advice. I agree that the thumbs need more refinement but was hoping to eliminate some of the thumbs and focus on the ones I think work best. Then make an another serious of more refined thumbs based on those ones. For example looking over them I feel that 3, 6 and 7 don't work so would prefer to focus on others which do instead of refining them. While 8, 10 and 14 are my favourites at the moment.

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    hey man, well imo there's no thumb yet that speaks to me, except for 1-7-10 (10 most) if you can add some stuff in it on for and background to create more depth and add some minor elements that give the drawing a story it might be sick, 10 is getting best you feel the menace of the serpent. Try to make a bit more detailed version to see what you can do more with it

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure I want the rainbow serpent to be too menacing, after all it only tickled the frogs, in the myths the rainbow serpent was very benign and righteous.

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    Name:  EarthGiantThumbs2.jpg
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    New set of thumbnails. Most are fairly similar to previous ones but with more detail. My main composition problem at the moment is making it clear the snake it tickling the frog while the frog gushes up water. The water is getting in the way.

    Presently liking 3, 12 and 14. I think 12 and 14 give a better idea of just how big this snake is and also a more interesting background. But 3 might make the interaction between the snake and frog more clear.

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    All your thumbnails are cut straight from the middle by the horizon, why? Is that specific part and having 50-50 sky and ground really so important it has to be in all?

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    yess yess! now finally i can make out the details and figured out the serpent and the frog my favorite set would be 10 to 13, i guess you don't wanna sacrifice the overall environment for the sake of a close-up composition, right? perhaps a change in the perspective in your final work would allow a contrast between the sizes of the main characters in the viewer's pov, so that the serpent's gigantic size would stand out more. you're doing great so far.

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    @Tinybird: I hadn't noticed that. Looking at my earlier thumbnails where I experimented more I think it's because when I used a birds eye so a higher horizon then I had a habit of making the characters more distant and if I used a worms eye so mostly sky then I had trouble conveying the water ways created by the frog and snake, which I thought was important for the story. I don't know enough about composition to get around these hurdles but if you have any advice I would love to hear it.

    Last edited by csButt; November 28th, 2012 at 06:50 AM.
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    Name:  EarthGiantThumbs3.jpg
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    Okay taken the advice I was given and tried removing/adding to my thumbnails. I'm starting to feel silly doing so many of these but I figure since I'm still new to composition I need to. Also started adding guidelines to my snake and frog to make it clearer what angle they were at. As well as starting to do studies of fat rolly frogs and snakes at different angles to give myself a better idea of how they will fit together.

    Thanks to all the people who are sticking with me as I continue to muddle through these thumbnails.

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    A tip: make your thumbnails in black and white, not color. A good readable thumbnail that works in black and white is guaranteed to work in color too, and you won't be distracted by colors or hindered by hasty color choices.

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    Stop "muddling through thumbnails" and get serious about developing your concept. Your thumbnails should be in grayscale - the odd, high saturation color is hard to even look at. Work on basic composition principles and develop a better sense of perspective and scale.

    Buy Gurney's "Imaginitve Realism" and Jack Hamm's "Drawing Scenery" to help guide you through the process of developing an illustration.

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    Unfortunately Gurney's books aren't available in my city and there isn't an ebook version so it will be a while before I can get a copy.

    I've changed my thumbnails to grey scale and messed around a bit with tone/values. Australia's landscape is traditionally oranges which is why I choose this colour scheme. Unless people have any more advice I think I'll end up going with a combination of 1 and 2 for my basic composition. So far I think backlighting would make the most sense, making the background lighter and the foreground darker with greater contrast but I'm worried that will make the picture too ominous.

    As always advice is appreciated.

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    Well...they are available to order I imagine. You're really not quite getting or understanding basic image-making principles I'm afraid. Until you step back and work on your basics and build from a solid foundation you just won't be able to get anywhere.

    Annnnd....the snake reads like a giant penis. Just sayin'...if that is what you're after that's fine...just be aware that's how it comes off.

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