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    Tomb Raider

    Name:  Tomb Raider value study.jpg
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Size:  192.6 KBHey all!

    Long time since I've been able to post some personal work! This one is for a Tomb Raider contest I'm fixin' to enter. The theme is "survival", so I wanted to create something really high tension that she would encounter in the wild. I came up with heights. So here's our girl, shimmying a ledge overlooking a jungle.

    So I am still tweaking the sketch (I think my perspective might be garbage) and I did a really quick value study to see how the light would draw the eye. It's time to weigh in and tear it up, friends! Looking forward to all your feedback.

    _Dread_Reaper

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    This is my opinion here, but if you’re still at the stage where you don’t know if your perspective is correct or not, you don’t really have any business entering contests. There are likely a handful of other entrants in the contest who do know their perspective and more. The art world is highly competitive, especially in the area of video games.

    I think I shall go find some kittens to kick now.

    But seriously, learn perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    This is my opinion here, but if you’re still at the stage where you don’t know if your perspective is correct or not, you don’t really have any business entering contests. There are likely a handful of other entrants in the contest who do know their perspective and more. The art world is highly competitive, especially in the area of video games.

    I think I shall go find some kittens to kick now.

    But seriously, learn perspective.
    This might just be my humble opinion, but since this is a forum for W.I.P. and critiques wouldn't it be more to everyone's benefit to actually provide some... feedback? As a long time contributor and critiquer on this forum I respect that we are all at different stages of the game and are all learning. Like me, for instance, have worked professionally in the video game industry, but have almost exclusively been a character artist, not an environment artist, hence I'm asking for assistance. Not asspats, assistance. A paintover, a pointer, anything, not just "this isn't correct". Obviously its not correct, that's the point of posting it here.

    I'm not upset or disagreeing with your assertion about my perspective (which, if you recall, I brought up myself), I just feel you're being needlessly discouraging without providing anything of value, and although I've got a thick skin and it doesn't bother me I know there are people on here who would take it the wrong way. I feel that undermines the entire purpose of this wonderful forum.

    That being said, I will of course be reviewing the perspective changes before I dive any further into this piece. Thank you for your input.

    -Dread_Reaper


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    I like the idea a lot. I cant give specific perspective pointers, but I do suggest that you think about the reason that Laura would be on the cliff. Where is she going that she needs to walk such a tight path? Or what is she running from that she has to traverse the cliff. It would be cool if you hinted at this somewhere in your piece, be it some bad guys chasing her or some sort of safety cave or rickety ladder she could get to after she makes it. You want the image to tell an interesting story. Not just, this is Laura risking her life on a cliff side for some reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    This is my opinion here, but if you’re still at the stage where you don’t know if your perspective is correct or not, you don’t really have any business entering contests. There are likely a handful of other entrants in the contest who do know their perspective and more. The art world is highly competitive, especially in the area of video games.

    I think I shall go find some kittens to kick now.

    But seriously, learn perspective.
    That's extremely unfair and like Dread_Reaper said 'needlessly discouraging'. Just by doing this piece of work he will learn a lot, including perspective. With your logic, you'd never end up doing anything.


    But anyway, I like it. I'd just be careful it doesn't become more of a landscape painting, make sure you make Lara Croft the main focus still and that you can tell that it is her. Maybe create some tension, show the threat(heights), rocks crumbling maybe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    wouldn't it be more to everyone's benefit to actually provide some... feedback?
    If I were art directing this, my response would be "There's not really enough here for me to offer any feedback yet. Find some reference for the figure, the cliff face, the landscape, and the clouds, and show me something tighter. Also, I'd strongly suggest you crop a LOT tighter to the figure--because the rest of the image is basically empty space."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    Like me, for instance, have worked professionally in the video game industry, but have almost exclusively been a character artist, not an environment artist

    I just feel you're being needlessly discouraging without providing anything of value, and although I've got a thick skin and it doesn't bother me I know there are people on here who would take it the wrong way. I feel that undermines the entire purpose of this wonderful forum.


    -Dread_Reaper


    I disagree. I do recognize that what I said was blunt, but I never try to write anything that is needlessly discouraging. You say you’ve worked as a character artist. Characters and perspective aren’t mutually exclusive, and the same skill set used in character drawing is the same set used in environment drawing; simplification, proportion, and perspective. The difference between character artists and environment artists are the things they observe. If you do indeed know perspective, then by all means, let the record show that I retract what I said earlier.

    However, if you do not know perspective, then it’s in your best interest to learn it and worry about contests when you’re actually a contender.

    Now, if I was in your position and needing to enter this contest (with the intention to place). I’d play to my strengths. Which in your case is supposed to be characters? Give us a close, intense shot of the lady. If your theme is going to be danger by height, let’s see the panic or determination on her face as she’s hanging on to a ledge for dear life. This whole sidling along a cliff thing is dull, and there’s really nothing to show that she’s in any danger. She climbs cliffs all the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cfhd View Post
    I like the idea a lot. I cant give specific perspective pointers, but I do suggest that you think about the reason that Laura would be on the cliff. Where is she going that she needs to walk such a tight path? Or what is she running from that she has to traverse the cliff. It would be cool if you hinted at this somewhere in your piece, be it some bad guys chasing her or some sort of safety cave or rickety ladder she could get to after she makes it. You want the image to tell an interesting story. Not just, this is Laura risking her life on a cliff side for some reason.
    Great idea! I have a couple of ideas to sketch out that I think will add a bit of story and add more tension.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aceoko View Post
    But anyway, I like it. I'd just be careful it doesn't become more of a landscape painting, make sure you make Lara Croft the main focus still and that you can tell that it is her. Maybe create some tension, show the threat(heights), rocks crumbling maybe.
    There are some size requirements i have to work in, but that being said I might do a little cropping and (more importantly), I'm going to change Laura's pose and what she's doing, because I think part of the reason she isn't the focus is because she'd kind of boring right now. Thanks for the input!

    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    If I were art directing this, my response would be "There's not really enough here for me to offer any feedback yet. Find some reference for the figure, the cliff face, the landscape, and the clouds, and show me something tighter. Also, I'd strongly suggest you crop a LOT tighter to the figure--because the rest of the image is basically empty space."
    Good call Giacomo, referencing what I said before, I think a combination of slight cropping and incorporating Laura more in the piece as a focal point in the image will solve this problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    If your theme is going to be danger by height, let’s see the panic or determination on her face as she’s hanging on to a ledge for dear life. This whole sidling along a cliff thing is dull, and there’s really nothing to show that she’s in any danger. She climbs cliffs all the time.
    This incarnation of Lara Croft is some sort of reboot that takes place before she's the badass treasure hunter we're familiar with, so most of the source material at this points paints her as a scared individual with no survival experience (aka, before she did her cliff climbing). That being said, I do agree that she needs to be doing something that draws more attention to her and be more the focus. Good call.

    Thanks for your feedback everyone! I should have a new update tonight.

    -Dread_Reaper


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    I think a combination of slight cropping and incorporating Laura more in the piece as a focal point in the image will solve this problem.
    "Slight cropping" isn't gonna do it. I'd strongly suggest you crop TIGHT to the interesting stuff. JPEG below.

    Name:  TRVS.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    "Slight cropping" isn't gonna do it. I'd strongly suggest you crop TIGHT to the interesting stuff. JPEG below.
    This is a really good option Giacomo. I am definitely going to keep this in mind if I go back to my original idea of having her stuck to the cliff, because I agree, in retrospect she's totally lost in the original picture. Thanks!

    Here's my version 2 take on things. Ditched her cowering on the cliff side being all boring, now added some tension and story elements by having her up there reaching for something (maybe a treasure map?). Also took David_a_ray's original advice and played with the perspective quite a bit (which was quite off) by lowering the horizon line and doing some other tweaking. Also cropped in the picture from the right by about 20% (may crop more) and made Laura larger to make her the focal point more while still conveying the vast emptiness beneath her. I think it's fixed some of the issues you all brought up, but its definitely still a W.I.P.

    Thank you all for your continued support and feedback!

    -Dread_Reaper

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    I think this is better than what you had earlier. However, her current pose seems to indicate that she’s about to spin on her toes and fall. Also, I’m not sure I understand the relationship between her arm and the vine. It looks like she’s reaching back, but the vine seems to be coming from the side. Finally, I question the logic of using a large Kama or small Scythe to hold on to a vine. It seems to me like the vine would be cut under such conditions. Finally, the big shadow behind her contradicts where your sun is.

    I hope I’m not coming across as a dick this time.

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    I know it's not exactly the point but I like the idea of the dangerous shallow cliff path. Have you considered using a top view (almost vertical) to emphazise on the height? I imagine the scene as Lara lifting up her face toward the viewer with some rain falling upon her and the dramatic view of the drop laying at her feet. Just my two cents but I'm pretty sure it would make an impression for a contest.

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    You seem really hell-bent on including--for no discernible reason--large tracts of empty space in this picture. I would suggest you crop to the action. JPEG below.

    Name:  lara.jpg
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    Love this crop : the chest of the lady is just in the center part Sorry, kidding...

    That would be nice to see her trying to reach some water bottle. I remember a crashed plane from the ingame video, maybe it is visible in the trailer. I could imagine some part of the plane coming from the top of the cliff and she is trying to reach supplies that fall from here ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    I think this is better than what you had earlier. However, her current pose seems to indicate that she’s about to spin on her toes and fall. Also, I’m not sure I understand the relationship between her arm and the vine. It looks like she’s reaching back, but the vine seems to be coming from the side. Finally, I question the logic of using a large Kama or small Scythe to hold on to a vine. It seems to me like the vine would be cut under such conditions. Finally, the big shadow behind her contradicts where your sun is.

    I hope I’m not coming across as a dick this time.
    When I read this I literally cracked up because you're totally right, that blade would go right through the vine! DUH! I'll have to rethink that. The pick-axe thing is like a big part of the game or something, so I wanted to include it, but I will have to figure it out I suppose. Maybe she's holding onto the blade part? I don't know, you'd have to be pretty desperate.

    You're right about the shadow though. I haven't really decided on the sun placement but I will definitely adjust the shadows.

    And no, you're not being a dick at all. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by StefRob View Post
    I know it's not exactly the point but I like the idea of the dangerous shallow cliff path. Have you considered using a top view (almost vertical) to emphasize on the height? I imagine the scene as Lara lifting up her face toward the viewer with some rain falling upon her and the dramatic view of the drop laying at her feet. Just my two cents but I'm pretty sure it would make an impression for a contest.
    The same thing crossed my mind today actually. I can do multiple entries for the contest, so I could definitely see myself doing another incarnation of the same scene. I think I'll have the time, so why not? This is a great idea though, I will definitely have to play around with it at least. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    You seem really hell-bent on including--for no discernible reason--large tracts of empty space in this picture. I would suggest you crop to the action. JPEG below.

    Name:  lara.jpg
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    The crop is really good, I agree it really centralizes her. My only reason for having the original crop was because I felt it better conveyed the sense of height and scale of the scene, how much empty space there was for her to fall into, how small she looked compared to the cliff she was hanging from. Keeping in mind now what I was intending and why, what say you...? Is that a valid point? Can there be a middle ground?

    Quote Originally Posted by Griffonnage View Post
    Love this crop : the chest of the lady is just in the center part Sorry, kidding...

    That would be nice to see her trying to reach some water bottle. I remember a crashed plane from the ingame video, maybe it is visible in the trailer. I could imagine some part of the plane coming from the top of the cliff and she is trying to reach supplies that fall from here ?
    I haven't yet decided on exactly what she'll be reaching for. I had originally done a batch of supplies or something or a medical kit, but I was also toying with the idea of it being a map or something treasure-hunting related? A water bottle is good, but I couldn't really rationalize her risking her life for something that's easily acquired in a rainforest/jungle setting (water)...

    Also, lulz about the chest.

    Guys, this is great feedback, thank you so much! I will do my best to incorporate all of this into my next rendition tonight. You guys rock!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    My only reason for having the original crop was because I felt it better conveyed the sense of height and scale of the scene, how much empty space there was for her to fall into, how small she looked compared to the cliff she was hanging from. Keeping in mind now what I was intending and why, what say you...? Is that a valid point? Can there be a middle ground?
    I really doubt there are many viewers who--unless you stage the picture as an extreme long shot--will assume that the ground is just inches below the bottom of the frame here.

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    "My only reason for having the original crop was because I felt it better conveyed the sense of height and scale of the scene, how much empty space there was for her to fall into, how small she looked compared to the cliff she was hanging from. Keeping in mind now what I was intending and why, what say you...? Is that a valid point? Can there be a middle ground?"

    when in doubt, google.
    find pics of free climbing, scary paths in china, movies like cliff hanger, vertical limit, the eiger sanction that one where the guy makes his mate fall down the big hole and climb out with a broken leg that won all the awards.


    boobs



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    Alright fine. FINE. Since you're all so dead-set on me not ruining my picture with poor cropping, then fine, I guess I'll take Giacomo's good advice.

    Name:  Tomb Raider v3.jpg
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    So I decided on a slightly wider crop than his, more in line with the ratios from Velocity Kendall's last picture he posted, but I feel this better frames the figure and will work nicely. I did a few things to make it seem more precarious, such as cutting away parts of the mountain so she's more exposed in the open air. I'm pretty pleased with it.

    Also, thanks for David_a_ray's suggestion, I no longer have her ice pick-ax thing hanging from a vine (which it would obviously cut through) but instead just holding onto the rock. Also solved some of the weird problems with her back arm.

    Spent a little time refining Laura, trying to iron out the pose and proportions. Rotated her planting foot a little more so it looks sturdier, and raised her balancing leg to better get the purpose of it. I might even have it planted on the rock at some point, who knows?

    So here I am currently, hoping I've resolved some of the many issues you folks have been kind enough to bring up. Next step is refining and working the rendering so its not so loose, also trying to finalize the light and values before we make the lead towards color.

    Still trying to decide exactly about the palette. Originally I'd been thinking like sunset, lots of warm oranges and reds, but I've also toyed with the idea of a stormy, rainy scene with lightning flashing and rain lashing down. I can't decide exactly where to go with it just yet...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    ...I guess I'll take Giacomo's good advice.
    I'm flattered, but that fat margin you're leaving around the action is really killing the overall energy level in my opinion.

    I'm not sold on the pose yet either...the weight distribution and foreshortening just feel miles off. I'd really (really really really) recommend you find some reference photos...maybe you can go to the local playground and shoot one of your friends hanging on the jungle gym. Seriously, her pose is 95% of this picture--if that isn't working perfectly, you can spend weeks rendering the rocks and clouds and it still won't matter.

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    I like the new one but as said by Giacomo, I think the pose isn't perfect yet (but sorry I can't give you any idea how to solve it, I just feel that way, it's not bad but something missing).
    I'll just add: you erased the cliff path it leaves you with the "how did she come here" problem. So I believe you should restore it.
    Second point I think your shadows are still wrong but I believe you're at the early stage and you'll do them properly at the end of you picture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    I'm flattered, but that fat margin you're leaving around the action is really killing the overall energy level in my opinion.

    I'm not sold on the pose yet either...the weight distribution and foreshortening just feel miles off. I'd really (really really really) recommend you find some reference photos...maybe you can go to the local playground and shoot one of your friends hanging on the jungle gym. Seriously, her pose is 95% of this picture--if that isn't working perfectly, you can spend weeks rendering the rocks and clouds and it still won't matter.
    Just because you're so insistent, I cropped it a little more off the left side of the image. Still not as close as your original crop, but I'm feeling more satisfied with the margins.

    As for the pose... I used a reference (admittedly of myself, a non-female) in as close an approximation as I could to double check... and I'm not really seeing the huge issues you're referring to. I agree, the foreshortening was garbage on the back leg (fixed) and I'm still a little iffy on her planting foot, but I got it as close to my reference photo as possible (taking into account of course that I couldn't lean over as far as she is). I included an overlay to show you how I'm picturing the body structure. If I'm off or the rendering isn't coming through, a paint over or something would be greatly appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by StefRob View Post
    I like the new one but as said by Giacomo, I think the pose isn't perfect yet (but sorry I can't give you any idea how to solve it, I just feel that way, it's not bad but something missing).
    I'll just add: you erased the cliff path it leaves you with the "how did she come here" problem. So I believe you should restore it.
    Second point I think your shadows are still wrong but I believe you're at the early stage and you'll do them properly at the end of you picture.
    I added the path back in. I think it got lost in some of the rendering nonsense. Also, I tried another pass at the shadows. It seems to me that because the sun is to the above and back of her that the shadows would trail off down and to the front of her. Does that seem right?

    Thanks for the feedback gentlemen! I promise, I won't be diving into any real rendering until the composition is solid (I've learned my lesson enough times here).

    -Dread_Reaper

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    As for the pose... I used a reference (admittedly of myself, a non-female) in as close an approximation as I could to double check... and I'm not really seeing the huge issues you're referring to.
    Without seeing your reference photo, it's obviously impossible for me (or anyone else) to respond to that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    Without seeing your reference photo, it's obviously impossible for me (or anyone else) to respond to that.
    Right then, here's my reference photo. Please excuse the fact that I'm decidedly less limber than Lara Croft.

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    The main difference I see here is that Lara is leaned much farther over than I was because she's holding onto that pick-ax, not with her hand directly. Like I mentioned before, I am still iffy on the placement of Lara's planting foot, but aside from that I am not seeing the huge issues you've mentioned. I hope (and the previous anatomy paint-over) this helps Giacomo, I really appreciate your insight.

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    You need a better reference photo, for several reasons....there's just not enough information in the one you have now. Your current reference is both overly dark and out of focus, and the loose clothes you're wearing make it really hard to get a good sense of the gesture and anatomy. (Lara Croft always wears a tight tank and cycling shorts, as I recall.)

    The larger problem is that you shot that photo standing on the floor and then tried to adjust it for a figure clinging to a cliff face, and it's just not working...as I said, you need to find a jungle gym or chainlink fence and find some way to actually hang off it so the tension of the pose is really apparent in your photo. Shoot in daylight and wear snug, light-colored clothing--and, if possible, find a lanky female friend who looks like Lara to pose for you. As I said in another thread recently, the basic idea is to get as far as possible with the reference photo.

    I should add that I like the basic pose and concept of the piece quite a bit--it's definitely a lot more engaging than the neutral head shots people seem so fond of these days. But you need to put in a bit of due diligence to really get it working.

    Edit: Also, shoot many different angles (within the scope of your basic pose) when you do re-shoot your reference. Basically, fill up the card on your camera with as many variations as you can think of, and then pick the best one to use as your reference for the final piece.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    if possible, find a lanky female friend who looks like Lara to pose for you.
    wisdom for the ages

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    Quote Originally Posted by Velocity Kendall View Post
    wisdom for the ages
    Scarcely needs saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    You need a better reference photo, for several reasons....there's just not enough information in the one you have now. Your current reference is both overly dark and out of focus, and the loose clothes you're wearing make it really hard to get a good sense of the gesture and anatomy. (Lara Croft always wears a tight tank and cycling shorts, as I recall.)

    The larger problem is that you shot that photo standing on the floor and then tried to adjust it for a figure clinging to a cliff face, and it's just not working...as I said, you need to find a jungle gym or chainlink fence and find some way to actually hang off it so the tension of the pose is really apparent in your photo. Shoot in daylight and wear snug, light-colored clothing--and, if possible, find a lanky female friend who looks like Lara to pose for you. As I said in another thread recently, the basic idea is to get as far as possible with the reference photo.

    I should add that I like the basic pose and concept of the piece quite a bit--it's definitely a lot more engaging than the neutral head shots people seem so fond of these days. But you need to put in a bit of due diligence to really get it working.

    Edit: Also, shoot many different angles (within the scope of your basic pose) when you do re-shoot your reference. Basically, fill up the card on your camera with as many variations as you can think of, and then pick the best one to use as your reference for the final piece.
    Unfortunately my resources in the "lanky female friend who looks like Lara Croft" department are incredibly limited (wisdom for the ages notwithstanding). That being said, I will take some more reference photos at different angles for myself and try a few more poses for her, but beyond that I'm limited to myself as a model (this is why I don't often do female characters). I'm sorry I can't do better than that, and I'm certainly not discounting your advice, but it is what it is. I have to find another way unless someone can point it out for me.

    I really appreciate any further insight you or anyone else can lend to this conundrum, or even point out some of the problem areas I can work on (see anatomy paint over in previous post). Right now I see her planting foot as an issue, her knee needs a little bending, as well as her reaching arm being not properly angled (which I will adjust tonight), but beyond that I'm just not seeing where the issues are from an anatomy standpoint. Hopefully some more pictures will reveal this for me.

    I thank you all so much for your contributions and critiques.

    -Dread_Reaper


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dread_Reaper View Post
    Unfortunately my resources in the "lanky female friend who looks like Lara Croft" department are incredibly limited (wisdom for the ages notwithstanding). That being said, I will take some more reference photos at different angles for myself and try a few more poses for her, but beyond that I'm limited to myself as a model (this is why I don't often do female characters). I'm sorry I can't do better than that, and I'm certainly not discounting your advice, but it is what it is. I have to find another way unless someone can point it out for me.

    I really appreciate any further insight you or anyone else can lend to this conundrum, or even point out some of the problem areas I can work on (see anatomy paint over in previous post). Right now I see her planting foot as an issue, her knee needs a little bending, as well as her reaching arm being not properly angled (which I will adjust tonight), but beyond that I'm just not seeing where the issues are from an anatomy standpoint. Hopefully some more pictures will reveal this for me.

    I thank you all so much for your contributions and critiques.

    -Dread_Reaper
    I'll try to help you on this. Actually, for the record, your "puppet form" was better IMO, especally concerning the left foot position.
    Few suggestions:
    -make a slight rotation of the left leg in order to: get the foot toward the goal, the knee looking to the drop and making her hips rotate to the left (which could add a nice curve to the picture ;-) ) and by this way: the torso too (of course her right leg will therefore rotate too).
    -the right hand should be more rotated internally (looking more the path) and I'd prefer it to hold the stick firmly.
    -the right arm and shoulder should be tensed to death due to effort so make sure to make her muscles protude.

    Concerning the shadows I like how you modified them but don't forget the branch and right leg shadows.
    You're getting close, mate! Don't be discouraged!

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    A few comments that pop up in my head right away (I'll get round to doing an OP a bit later)
    1: Why would they store an artefact on a tree branch, or is it a canteen of water - either way, whats that got to do with 'survival'?
    2: Why has she got an ice axe in the middle of a jungle?

    I'm not getting any danger or any real tension from the way you've handled this shot. Try to push the danger - what will happen to her if she fails, try to find a way of showing it to us.
    Extreme perspective could work, show us the drop, double up on the danger.
    The vine she's holding onto is about to pull away from the wall, the stone her foot is resting on is about to crumble…

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