i disagree with giacomo (in his first post... damn that took quite some time to write up >.<), think the level of detail (visually) is totally acceptable here. id rather call it roughs than thumbnails though, theyre just too big and detailed for thumbs.
go smaller for now and fix the storytelling, composition and valuepattern related issues.
storytelling... to me it looks like a gang of mercenaries (due to the guy with a sword on his shoulder. someone whos not very adept in wielding a sword would want to keep it away from his neck, rather inside its sheath.) passing by a rather common situation. to exagerate it, like nowadays a group walks by a street musician and one of them is heading up to her/him dropping some coins in the hat. the guy with the sword aint impressed at all... he actually just looks back having already passed her... or at his fellow maybe? anyway... nymphs are mythological creatures, rarely to be seen. i doubt a group of travelers would approach her like that, and even if so, that she wouldnt behave like that, just sitting there playing her flute.
id rather imagine the group instantly stopping, becoming aware of such a rare sight. or if she just popped up, there should be much more tension especially in the swordguy, other than just having a look over his shoulder.
if you for now, crop to just the cover... it isnt much is it? could be two henchmen attacking her aswell. well then... is she dumb? shes not reacting... and so on. i think it would help, beeing more precise with the idea you want to illustrate, to narrow down the possible interpretations to something you are aiming for.
composition... you have several tangents in there you should try to resolve. i havent tested it, but i guess the swordguys back of the head would just touch the edge of the spine of the book. the quite symetrical triangle those 3 on the front cover create aint helping much neither. i like the visual progression leading up to her though.
valuepattern... well its pretty much a mess .
storytelling... to be honest, without the explanation, this doesnt read at all. i had to take 3 looks after ive read the description before recognizing a dragon in there. silhuette aswell as value melts it with the flames/rock-formation. and those rocks... first thought it would be giant hounds, but after i read that theres dragons in there, i first thought that those rocks are dragonheads and they somehow guard (same direction means beeing aligned) this strange group.
the warrior... well hes as static in his pose, it takes some mindbending to bring him into the equation of action. maybe having him above a (clearly defined) dragon chopping his head of... whatever.
the urn-woman.... where is she getting this (whatever is in there) substance? and how is it later on transformed into that healing substance? shes coming from the dragon... from where there is destruction. why? this makes no sense.
make sure you effects read even at this stage. what is it that happens? grass growing back and flowers blooming, moss, mushrooms, trees...what? not saying you should aim for a visual representation of grass blades, but make sure the idea reads as far as there is an effect (whats its value and shape?). the effect is your storytelling vehicle there... not a woman pouring whatever onto dead soil.
composition... see how the warrior and the urn-carrying-woman hug the spine? really bad tangents again. there might always be some tangents happening, but never ever let anything hug the frame of your picture.
the flames mimic the rocks in their movement, almost parallel to them, and they create a tangent with the dragons back.
valuepattern... and those flames have the same value as the dragon. thats why it doesnt read as a different shape/matter, let alone a dragon.
im pretty commited to the idea, that thinking in valuepatterns, is a really powerful tool. reduce anything to its local (for thumbs > no form, no details), and reduce your whole picture to 3 to max (only if really neccessary) 5 values. now think in degrees of importance. put your highest contrast at your focal point (storytelling wise) and go down the chain from there. where do the edges have to be?
reducing it to such a limited valuerange helps to identify weak points in your composition, and having to make a decission for every element what its importance is, raises some interesting food for thought .
good luck, i hope im brave enough to participate aswell .
Last edited by sone_one; December 20th, 2012 at 06:50 PM.
"Have only 4 values, but all the edges you want."
"To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a 'gift.'"