Ghost valley landscape

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  1. #1
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    Ghost valley landscape

    Hi all,

    Pls find attached my painting below. Currently 60 - 65% to completion.

    Name:  Test1.jpg
Views: 595
Size:  102.7 KB

    Back story: This land used to be inhabited by people, then got abandoned due to countless internal wars (conditions became unfit to live in).,
    Hundreds of years past and demonic cults have since made this land their base.

    The entire story is inspired by chinese history / architecture and this is one of the many lands (thus the chinese gate in the middle ground).

    -I plan to include some tiny characters in the foreground to show scale.
    -I'll be adding some mist to cover the chinese gate and the far parts of the bridge to push them back more (now it looks a bit too near).
    -Light is quite diffused, but main light is coming from upper left to center area of image
    -My reference for the color scheme is here: http://images4.alphacoders.com/516/51666.jpg (I chose de-sat green and darks to give an overall eerie mood)
    -Will be cleaning up the brushstrokes when the thing is done

    I need some honest critique on this. Composition, color etc.

    Thanks!
    Xeon

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  3. #2
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    Hm, I'm not an expert if it comes to landscapes, but I try to share my thoughts. I hope I'm not too harsh.

    First of all, I don't get that bridge. what is it made off? I think the brighter spots are supposed to be holes, but they could even be some strange stairs. Anyway the perspective of it doesn't work, unless it is very much tilted to the right side. And it would help to see where the bridge is starting on the right side of it in the foreground.

    Another question is: where do the flags come from on the left side? What kind of people would climb in the mountains to stick some flags there in the ground, risking their life? It doesn't really feel right to me. Or you may will have a hard time to explain it in your picture if know why it is that way.

    The perspective of that gate needs some fixing too. We see the bridge from a side view, so we should see the gate from the side too. Maybe it would be interesting to make it bigger and hide some parts behind the mountains, making it more mysterious.

    I just made a quick paint over regarding the points I mentioned. I'm sure other people can say more about colours, composition and perspective.

    Name:  ghost_valley_op.jpg
Views: 420
Size:  107.9 KB

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  5. #3
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    Hi Valyavande! Thanks a lot! Will take those into consideration and make the necessary changes.
    You brought up some important points that I never thought of!

    Yeah, the bridge is meant to tilt to the right at the foreground area to make it less sterile and straight LOL
    Flags are there due to remains left after the wars.
    The whiter areas of stuff just before the gate are bones that line two rows along the stairs.

    Thanks again, and welcome any additional feedback from anyone!
    Xeon

    Last edited by Xeon_OND; April 1st, 2013 at 10:13 PM.
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    Looking cool so far Xeon. I think you should try and bring some more color into it somewhere. Maybe through the sky or in the temple.

    Other thing i think you might try and address is the composition. For me, the straight line of the bridge kind of fights with the circular shapes of the mountains. I was a little confused where you wanted me to look. Maybe break up the circular design of all the mountains?

    Also, I'm assuming the temple/gate is the focal point. The lights do a good job of bringing focus to it, but I think you should make it a fair bit larger, so it captures more attention.

    This is what I mean with the composition.

    Ghost valley landscape

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  8. #5
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    *due to some weird error, pls see the 1st image below, not the 2nd one.

    Thanks a lot Hayden! Nice to see you dropping by here.

    Regarding the composition of the mountains that point towards the sky, I can see how it's kinda taking away focus from the gate, so I made a very quick and rough paintover, and also made some quick changes to the bridge as what Julia said, to test out the composition. Attached:
    Name:  Sample1.jpg
Views: 369
Size:  23.6 KB

    It seems that when I change the shape of the mountains, the piece starts to look more sterile and tamer (like those perspective assignments LOL)
    The other thing is to re-work the composition and somehow change the mountains so that they point downwards at the gate, but that would look weird!

    If anyone has any further comments, pls let me know.

    Tks!
    Xeon

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    Last edited by Xeon_OND; April 3rd, 2013 at 10:22 PM.
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    Yo Xeon.

    I think the problem is I don't know what you want me looking at. My eye goes pretty much right to the middle, where its brightest. The contrast and the circular shape of the mountains leads the eye there. But then you've also got the bridge leading to the gate on the right. It feels like two separate compositions fighting each other.

    Hope that's helping somehow.

    New bridge looks better.

    EDIT: Xeon, I'm reading a book on perspective at the moment called Drawing Scenery by Jack Hamm. There's a section I just read that had a pic that might help with your composition.

    Ghost valley landscape

    Your composition is really similar in how it leads the eye in from the foreground. In this book it says that the eye returning to the start over again is highly desirable. He even underlines it, so I'm guessing it must be good lol. Anyway, you could do something similar with maybe cloud patterns or rearranging how close the mountains on the left are.

    Last edited by Hayden_Zammit; April 4th, 2013 at 05:44 AM.
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  11. #7
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    Thanks Hayden! Will rework the composition and see if new versions are better. Tks!

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    Hi all,

    I decided to re-do the image as the previous composition was hard to fix (focal point vs other elements leading elsewhere).
    Here's the new version (back-story is still the same).
    Ghost valley landscape

    Currently this is in the more "advanced thumbnail" stage. I intend to fix the foreground silhouettes (seems a bit too dark), and then will start painting in the gate and adding strong lights near focal point to make the image pop up more etc.
    Focal point is at the gate area but design hasn't been finalized yet.

    Any feedback in the meantime is greatly appreciated! Anything!

    Tks!
    Xeon

    Last edited by Xeon_OND; April 7th, 2013 at 10:01 PM.
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    Hi guys! An update here.

    Re-did the composition and also did several other variations:

    Ghost valley landscape

    In the end, I chose the last one, and went on further with it.
    Also did some color studies. Since I wanted an eerie and scary-looking mood, I chose the purple-pink one and went further with it (4th one from the top):
    Also fixed the river in the 4th one.

    Ghost valley landscape

    Any feedback about anything is greatly appreciated! Wanted to make the 4th one have greater contrast at the focal point (the glowing structure in the distance) by throwing in a small but intense bright light source amidst darkness like what many concept paintings do, but it seems to take away the grim mood I wanted.

    Oh, and below are some of my color references:
    Ghost valley landscape


    These are not the final image.

    Thanks!
    Xeon

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  14. #10
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    Quick update. Made some adjustments to foreground-midground-background tone and added in some details.
    Again, any feedback is greatly welcomed (with open arms)!

    Ghost valley landscape

    Good day!
    Xeon

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  15. #11
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    The main problem in your composition is a lack of an articulated focal point. You want your focal points to have some "narrative" significance, so the best candidate would be the man-made structure you already have in the composition.

    We often hear that the focal point should be the area of the highest contrast. It is implied that this contrast is the contrast of value. While value contrast is indeed very powerful, there are other strong visual contrast you can employ. For example; contrast of hue, contrast of big vs. small, contrast of detail abundance vs lack of detail, and so on. All or some of these contrasts can be used simultaneously to focus the viewer's attention.

    In this case, you should definitely use more value contrast to increase visual prominence of the distant structure. In addition, a shape contrast could be used.

    Rocks that make most of your environment are all slanted. This gives the whole composition a strong diagonal rhythm. The focal point then, should contrast this rhythm by being decisively orthogonal. Horizontal/vertical tectonics of the man-made structure can nicely contrast the organic/slanted character of the environment. It doesn't matter which architectural structure you use as a focal point (obelisk, tower, gate) as long as its shape "logic" is in contrast with its surroundings.

    Here's a quick paintover to demonstrate this:

    Name:  ghost_valley.jpg
Views: 187
Size:  43.5 KB

    Note how in your composition everything is made out of oblique "irregular" shapes and the value scheme is just one big gradient. You barely employ any type of contrast.

    It is important to always look for potential contrasts when composing images. They are the real foundation of all good images. No contrasts - no picture.

    There is also no need to waste time doing "color variations" (your post #9). Such variations are pointless in this type of prevalently monochromatic compositions. Doing variations only make sense if there are strong hue contrasts present in the image. Then you can experiment to see how different color harmonies produce different visual or emotional effects. Shifting the dominant hue in monochromatic compositions does very little. The eye will only react to - again - hue contrast. It will "edit out" any global hue shifts.

    Try looking at each of your variations separately. You'll see they all produce the same type of feeling. Looking at them together, side by side, may be misleading. The eye will be excited by hue contrasts between variations themselves. So looking at a bunch of them together may be interesting because it forms a chromatic structure. In each of them individually however, the hue contrast is intact, making no difference.

    As a little experiment, try to hue-shift a sepia drawing towards blue. After a few seconds, the eye will adapt and the only thing it will really see is the bare value composition, which is exactly the same as in sepia version.

    The eye will always be excited by contrasts and it will always tend to be "blind" to constancy.

    The last thing - your rock formations look "unnatural", even if they are supposed to be from the fantasy domain. Use some photo reference to study the character, forms and textures of hanging rocks.

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  17. #12
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    Hi Lacan! Thanks for your feedback! This is all so precious, more valuable than what I read from drawing books!
    I've some questions to clarify, though:


    Name:  ghost_valley.jpg
Views: 187
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    1) In your paintover above, the focal point (which is far away), contains almost the same tone as one of the group of rocks on the right, which is nearer to us. Will this break the sense of "depth"? LOL
    Because in drawing books, it's always mentioned that things far away will have a higher value (lighter) than things closer to us. In many landscape paintings, it's like, background = light, foreground = dark
    That's why I always follow this "rule" to the dot. LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by LaCan View Post
    Try looking at each of your variations separately. You'll see they all produce the same type of feeling. Looking at them together, side by side, may be misleading.
    Yeah, this is new to me! Now that I try it, it indeed does have more or less the same "mood". I always think that different colors can produce different moods (e.g: if you want a scary painting, use desaturated greens, purples etc.....cool colors etc.)

    One last thing....if you've the time, could you critique my other piece here when you're free: http://forums.conceptart.org/showthr...5#.UYKO4rWl5BY
    Mainly, I need your feedback on the design and shapes itself.

    Your advice is so insightful, I don't mind paying you for it each time. Seriously! (gimme your paypal LOL)

    Good day,
    Xeon

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  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xeon_OND View Post
    1) In your paintover above, the focal point (which is far away), contains almost the same tone as one of the group of rocks on the right, which is nearer to us. Will this break the sense of "depth"? LOL
    Because in drawing books, it's always mentioned that things far away will have a higher value (lighter) than things closer to us. In many landscape paintings, it's like, background = light, foreground = dark
    That's why I always follow this "rule" to the dot. LOL!
    No, no, never follow a rule like this so blindly. Imagine if you have a night scene, the sky could be dark and the foreground could be light with some kind of spotlight or something. Just one example. If you're going to put your focal point so far away that its obscured by haze then be prepared to have to fight for it with other compositional devices.
    I think what he meant by the color comments was that you should nail down your value comp before you move on to color.

    In any case, your latest image is the best so far, you're on the right track, keep going.

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  19. #14
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    Tks Wilkerson! LOL
    Your explanation explains everything.

    I think the problem with this landscape image is that it's more of an "instinctive" painting. Went to a Kekai Kotaki / James Paick workshop some weeks back and got so inspired that I wanted to paint like them (ie: empty canvas, then throwing in tones with no compositional studies etc. and taking that to a fully rendered image). LOL Guess I'm getting way too far ahead of myself. Now I see the issues.

    Tks!
    Xeon

    *PS: I saw your piece "Through the valley" on your wordpress site. That's insane! The shapes of the mountains are really beautiful! :o

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