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Last edited by darnis; April 21st, 2014 at 06:09 PM.
What's your sketch to this? It looks like you go straight into blocking values, which makes everything disjointed since you don't have good enough understanding of anatomy and use of values to just wing it.
This basically is my value sketch, I start with thumbnails(3 or 4) with values and then just correct anatomy/values till it gets good enough and then I start adding color and keep fixing mistakes while adding color, I don't think I finish fixing mistakes till I finish the painting.
There's definitely a recurrent value problem in your work. Spend some more time thinking where light will go from each light source independantly, and really pay attention to the distance to the light source, then think of diffuse light too.
You need to do a lot more studies from life and use a lot more reference. Also, I think you need to fundamentally change your process.
Coming up with a comp without reference is fine, actually it is a very good idea. But to go far from a rudimentary draft without using reference is a very bad idea unless you've got years and years of experience in painting from life to back you up.
You shouldn't be "fixing mistakes" until the painting is done. That's not a very feasible approach. Get the painting "done" at the sketch stage (already using reference). Everything from that point onwards should just be refining, polishing and detailing. Minor fixes are okay. But starting out with a thoroughly flawed sketch done without reference and then trying to fix everything as you go just can't work.
Besides, you're also making youself a nightmare for clients. They don't want to see flawed stuff that you continually try to fix during the process. They want sketches/drafts that can be assessed and therefore have to work as they are.
The most obvious issue to me is your hierarchy of values. This is a rather dark image so the lightest values will attract the most attention and appear to be focal points. Your lightest areas are the torches, followed by the knife, their shoulders, the windows(?) in the distance, his belt, and his foot. That the knife is in that list is great, but all the other elements seem pretty innocuous and unimportant, and one of your focal points (the kiss) isn't there. I would suggest doing a few more value thumbnails where you play around with different lighting set-ups that are realistic and call attention to the areas you want to call attention to. Place values that are very different from each other together to make a focal point, and use values that are relatively close to each other together for less important areas. Maybe set up a light box (IRL or in a 3D program) to help you.
For the composition, you have the subjects together in the center of the image horizontally, the stone wall behind them cuts the image in half, and the torches are almost symmetrically aligned. Altogether that adds up to a rather static image. Try pushing things around, moving the subjects off-center, create diagonal lines, etc. Did you try a thumbnail where it's cropped down to have the subjects' faces in the top left and the knife in the bottom right? That would create a nice diagonal between the two focal points and cut out a lot of irrelevant details. (Not saying you should definitely do that, but it is an option you should consider.)
Then you have some anatomy weirdness, particularly in her legs. It's hard to see because that area is so dark, but it looks like her right leg is on the left side of her body and attaches to her left hip along with the left leg. You probably meant for one leg to be crossing over the other, but it doesn't appear to be connecting to her body correctly. It also seems like a rather odd pose to be in in this particular situation (it kind of looks like she's in the middle of a dance move).
The good news is your narrative is reading really well; it's immediately obvious what you're going for, and it works. I would definitely recommend reworking the composition a bit though and making sure it has the impact that you're looking for before moving forward with color and rendering.
stephou Thanks :/ I'll try harder with the values, I feel like making them too detailed would hurt right now though cause I usually just obliterate everything when I drop color down..
Benedikt thanks, I _do_ feel like my process is weighing me down, I feel like If I could change the way I work I'd be able to make more things faster.. it's a bit hard to do that..baby steps I guess? Ill try sketching more and using references even for personal works for now. I was working with a reference of two heads kissing, but I guess that's not really enough for the whole painting..
Ill try to get a bunch of references and get back with something better...
for now here's where I stopped fixing..
wow, thanks dierat I was still typing when you posted, so I didn't get a chance to reply; I'm going to try all those things especially cropping the image(sounds like a lot less problems to fix), Most of my thumbs were different views, or somewhat different positions..
- reference for armour/clothing/weapon/ posture (most likely shoot ref for the poses myself)
- reference for flames/ torches. Probably a life study for that since photos suck hard when it comes to burning stuff in the dark.
- reference for the building (probably multiple ones)
- reference for the wall
Then, depending on how comfortable I am with my sketch, I might even do you quick 3D mock-up of the wall and the building to nail perspective.
This is all in conjunction with a process of doing multiple thumbnails and sketches.
I see this time and again, people just trying to pull all sorts of things out of their head. Even pros don't do that! Well, maybe a handful of wunderkinder do.
Last edited by Benedikt; April 15th, 2014 at 01:02 PM.
The silhouette of the action is unclear, everything important is mashed together. While you are fixing the values, consider whether there is a different way to depict this or a different angle to depict it from where it will be more obvious and clearer to see what's going on.
And I don't know what the fuck is happening with that woman's legs. I don't know whether that is even possible, and if it is then it is damn uncomfortable, places the backstabber in a position where she is unable to maneuver or react quickly, and is very easy to push over. If you're going to draw fighters and thieves, you have to have some knowledge of stance or else you are going to draw people who look like incompetent amateurs.
Yes, you can't spend forever working on values. But even on the sketch stage you should be getting something a bit more coherent. Simplify the problems in terms of large surfaces. For example, quite a few areas on the walls are getting light from the torches when they shouldn't. If you draw a line from the torch to the ground, you will see that at no point does it shine on the wall. Think really globally, but you definitely need to work on this.
Thanks benedikt.. I wasn't able to find a _great_ reference for the pose but I found a bunch of dancers doing something similar to what I wanted, the leg wrapping around so I started on their bodies, Ill move towards the rest of the picture when I find some references for it..
@Vineris yea the pose is tough, it's kinda half a grapple.. with the other hand hiding the dagger. The legs especially are tough for me she's supposed to be surprising the guy with a kiss, while wrapping her leg around his..
I'll try more things..
@sTeph Yea the castle I wanted it lit with something else I just havent figured out a good secondary lightsource and just left it at the value I wanted without actually adding the light source/s
Bunch of stuff has changed, Im gonna find some references for the buildings to look at while drawing..
Last edited by darnis; April 16th, 2014 at 07:56 PM.
You've gotten some good advice already regarding getting references and the woman's strange stance, so that would be worth looking into. I don't know a lot about values, but I do know anatomy and I can see it lacking here. You need a solid underpinning for a painting like this. I'd suggest you scrap this and start drawing the characters and fixing the errors before jumping onto the values.
Well I just thought I might do a very quick paintover to illustrate the problem with your values. This is done in less than 10 minutes so it's definitely not about spending alot of time on them. It's simply thinking of the basics, meaning position of the light source and distance to it. I didn't even bother with the materials and diffuse light. It's simply something you need to learn to incorporate very early on in your paintings, in a very global way. Stop caring about drawing all the small shapes and patterns with a small brush, just go wild with large brushes and values. Don't be scared to paint over different 'layers' (not photoshop layers, painting over what you've already done and detailed), destroy everything you've done. The same goes for anatomy, do a complete sketch version, then try to paint over it.
Thanks stephou I appreciate the paint over, I think yours only takes into account the two torches in the picture and not the two hidden lightsources (Which is what I'm trying in this painting hidden light sources and scene lighting)
I guess If you didn't get it then I failed, but give me some time Ill do some more work on it
This is what I mean by scene lighting
I'm not really afraid of decimating my work, in fact I believe it's the only way to move forward..
this is where I left off, it's kinda meh right now But I think this pose works a lot better.
Edit : adding colors, I think I can fix my values while coloring
Last edited by darnis; April 18th, 2014 at 02:03 PM.
I think you need more planning of the composition.
So I'm bored so I decided to do a completely different thumbnail, trying to get at least a bit of the aspect of the example you posted.
I tried to get the positions much more dynamic and readable. Of course it may read slightly differently but again it's just to make a point.
Everything is dark, except a few focal areas that draw all the attention. I used all that was available, a knife that reflets light strongly, skin that reflects light, lights from the castle behind, framed work. But I think there's also the fact that you have to avoid throwing light sources everywhere. They must be very few and the less and smaller they are, the more the focal points will pop out. That can be very useful in a night scene. Basically work on thumbnails more, and try some 'wild' things to avoid bland compositions.
You don't have to take everything from it, the lighting and point of view alone would be an improvement. Your values still aren't working... But everything has already been said in this thread.
I'm afraid it's quite obvious that you're still guessing at just about everything. Instead of doing research, collecting reference and figuring stuff out, you're just going ahead and try to make it all work on the fly.
You're right I didn't find a lot of the references I needed :/
Like for the torches, google provides some torches/braziers at night but they're all lit from themselves, how do they look like when there's two of em together?
I didn't find any armor lit by torches at night time either.. I did find some armor though that I liked from game of thrones that actually looked like armor and not something out of a museum that's never been used
The rocks and buildings are pretty much guess work loosely based on
For the tippy toes pose:
Maybe I'm just not using the references effectively?
(sorry to be harsh)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can make a lightbox (IRL or in a 3D program) to figure out the lighting. In this case you can get two Barbie dolls and two candles and observe the results. (Just don't burn the house down! ) That would give you a general idea of how the two figures would be affected by your light sources. Of course it's best to get two people in rough costume and some small lamps for much more accurate references, but that's a lot harder to get together. If you don't have a second person, you can use yourself as the model for each character to help you get the anatomy down.