Work in progress - advice on improving overall quality?
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Thread: Work in progress - advice on improving overall quality?

  1. #1
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    Work in progress - advice on improving overall quality?

    I've been taking a little time off to brush up on my sadly lacking knowledge of perspective, anatomy, etc. This is the first piece I've undertaken alongside studying, and while I feel like it's an improvement over my previous work, the level of quality still isn't quite where I'd like it to be. I'm really hoping to put together some art worth submitting to Spectrum this year.

    I'm about 90% finished with this piece, but I'd welcome any advice on finishing it out into a stronger image. If anything jumps out as particularly lacking, I'd really love to hear your thoughts on it to give me some direction for improving my work in the coming months.

    The work in progress:


    And the pencil sketch:


    Thanks for taking the time to check this out - crits and/or brutalization on any aspect are most welcome!

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
    www.wyliebeckert.com
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    you seem to have drawn on a textured paper.. this will show up whatever you do in the colouring process..

    however by you can give the drawing a little fillip by darkening the shadows dark areas( black ) and brightning up the light areas (white..)

    that done, you can intensify the colour.. without losing subtlety..

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    Beautiful piece! You seem to have moved away from the ping-pong ball eyes you used to do, which in my opinion is a massive improvement. I'd strongly suggest cropping tighter to the interesting parts of the piece--the high-contrast areas on the left are moving the viewer's eye away from the subject of the picture. JPEG below.

    The only thing that bugs me here is that the staging is a bit...odd: why did she climb all the way up on the jar (which must have been tricky) to put the dead guy's boot on? (And then she's going to have to climb down again to get the other boot.) It's not worth redoing the whole piece at this point just to change that, but going forward you might want to think more precisely about the narrative of the image.

    It also occurs to me the story of the piece might come across better if her head was turned away from the viewer. Seeing her expression kind of distracts me from the story of the picture. Again, not worth changing but something to think about in the future.

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    Pay attention to the eye level and how round things get affected by it. Right now it looks like our eye level is somewhere along the barrel tops, but the tops in the front are drawn in much higher perspective, as if they were on the same level as the largest jar she's sitting on. Get any similar round object, like an empty toilet paper tube and see how it looks like from different heights.

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    What Tinybird said. I've been on a perspective studying binge lately, and that caught my eye right off the bat.

    The narration is a little confusing as well. Did they make glass jars that looked like that back in those days?

    Nice rendering though; a very distinctive style and texture going on. VERY pleasing to the eye.

    -I often post from my phone; so please excuse the typos
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    Thanks for the input everyone!

    Giacomo - Yep, I think of you every time the eyes I draw start to get too buggy. One of the things I've realized since starting to really hammer the fundamentals is how much of a struggle it is for me to draw faces in a realistic/attractive manner. My early character sketches on this illustration were pretty hideous. I think you're dead on with the tighter crop, and I wish the idea of turning her away from the viewer had occurred to me originally - now that you mention it, I think I tend to approach most of my work the same way I would a character pinup - front or 3/4 view, full body visible, etc... I'll have to start playing with some alternate views and overlap.

    Tinybird - Damn it, you're right. It's the one thing I majorly overlooked in laying out the perspective (which I obviously haven't internalized enough to wing it) and never revisited.

    Syle - I was originally planning to do a more elaborate old-timey case for the jar, but ditched in in favor of simplicity. I'm not sure if it was the right detail to eliminate. I'm always a little conflicted about detail (and what it brings to the narrative) vs. keeping things as straightforward as possible. If anyone has any thoughts on getting a good balance between the two (or making them work together instead of against each other) I'd be absolutely interested in hearing them.

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    First, I like this piece very much. I'll just add to others comments that there is something wrong about the lightening of the left shoulder IMO. I believe her scapula part shouldn't be that bright as it looks at the dark side of the wall. But I may be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    One of the things I've realized since starting to really hammer the fundamentals is how much of a struggle it is for me to draw faces in a realistic/attractive manner...
    Just FYI, "realistic" and/or "attractive" are not necessarily important...there's lots of great illustrators who aren't either of those. The key thing, in my opinion, is to make sure that one's style doesn't get in the way of expressing the psychology, emotion, and narrative of the picture.

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    The picture is pretty lovely~. But, I find this kind of odd, despite being a stylized character- her neck seems to be a wee bit too long, and her right leg seems to somewhat look like it's "connected" wrong to her body, or that may just be the effect of the jar/clothing.

    And how the others said, the perspective seems a wee bit off ^^.

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    Going back in to the pencil sketch to try to clean up the perspective on the barrels & jars. I'm also playing around with the jar detailing and possibly some trophy boots to help explain why she's up there in the first place...

    malice, whimsy, and illustration.
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    The thing to remember is that the ends of anything cylindrical are always going to be elliptical, never pointy (image below). It's worth bearing in mind going forward, but I have to say in this case that it's not distracting enough to be a problem...if I were art-directing this piece I wouldn't ask you to change it.

    Your most recent pencil sketch is more confusing than the first one you posted...why is she putting this set of boots on her feet when she hung all the previous ones as trophies from the ceiling? If you are going to rework the piece, I'd suggest you start from scratch and think of different (i.e., better) ways to stage it. As I said above, I don't think the narrative really reads as cleverly as it could...just for example, if she was placing a pair of boots atop the last of a long row of pickled-cowboy jars (with a set of boots atop each jar) the joke would, I think, work better.

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    Thanks for the visual, Giacomo. It's one of those pieces of knowledge that I'm aware of, but that inexplicably evades me in the execution. I think some sort of gremlin comes into my office at night and trashes all my ellipses.

    My thinking story-wise is that she's taking a moment to revel in the new acquisition before hanging it up with the others. I always have the line art in a separate layer in PS which lets me splice in some minor tweaking/replacement from the original pencils - so I'm not going as far back to the drawing board as it might seem, and am probably going to blunder ahead with this one. I really appreciate the staging point, though - it's exactly the sort of input I need for my future work. I have a habit to sticking really closely to my early composition thumbnails, and as a result I sometimes end up putting characters in places or poses they have no rational business being in, to the detriment of the narrative.

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    I really like the re-worked drawing, just the way it is. No color and all. The reworking you did gave it that special dusting of magic grunge.

    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).
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylielise View Post
    Thanks for the visual, Giacomo. It's one of those pieces of knowledge that I'm aware of, but that inexplicably evades me in the execution. I think some sort of gremlin comes into my office at night and trashes all my ellipses.
    Yeah. The only people I know who can really sketch freehand ellipses convincingly are trained industrial designers. You can probably pick up a complete set (used or new) of ellipse templates somewhere online for under $100--VERY useful tools, in my opinion.

    My thinking story-wise is that she's taking a moment to revel in the new acquisition before hanging it up with the others.
    In my opinion, it's not working. Maybe if she was standing on the floor with both boots on, looking down at her feet admiringly? (This is why you should do comps and thumbnails--it's not just about getting a visually good composition, it's about finding the best way to tell the story.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    The only people I know who can really sketch freehand ellipses convincingly are trained industrial designers.
    That's my dream for one day. I was ridiculously pleased with myself when I figured out how to freehand a straight line. And I'm going to thumbnail the heck out the next piece.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    I really like the re-worked drawing, just the way it is. No color and all. The reworking you did gave it that special dusting of magic grunge.
    Thanks Stoat! I really like your work, so that's quite the honor. Something from the sketch does always seems to get lost in the finished piece...

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