I have been asked to do cover art for the members bulletin of a local group of medieval reenacters.
I'm not a frequent poster here and I'm not as a frequent in my painting as I wish either. But conceptart.org has been very helpful and inspiring a few times before. So I thought maybe I'd post my progress here and see if anyone finds it interesting or has any comments or anything along the way.
I don't have much time. It needs to be finished last of may, and I'm currently studying didactics and taking care of my new born at the same time, witch takes allot of my time. Well .. we'll just see how it goes.
Here's a first sketch based on a photo I took at the last local fighting event.
Finished. Final version:
The detailing definitely adds visual interest to the costumes, they'll 'pop' nicely in full colour. Blackspot's suggestion about the sword is an improvement too, it looks much more natural and the diagonal you chose with it introducing a bit of perspective is just generally more pleasing.
If it isn't too late to adjust it, the stance of the left figure could use some work to give it better flow, since he doesn't show much 'intent' with how he is currently standing. The twist in the torso should stay if possible (it could even be accentuated with some fabric creasing/buckling) as I feel it conveys motion well, so perhaps his stance could be widened a bit instead. Just not so far that he gets destabilised.
Also, and this is more at your discretion since it is somewhat stylistic as a suggestion, it may help the gesture of the left guy if his chest was arched forward just a little bit to indicate more the direction he is travelling (again, not to be overdone to the point of unbalancing him). It might be too dramatic/unrealistic for this sort of project, but I thought I'd mention it anyhow.
A late reply to Black Spot, eezacque and clockodile:
@Black Spot: Thanks for answering. Do you think this angle is better for the sword?
@eezacque: Thanks, I'll try that with the environment. I was thinking a rope in the foreground making a diagonal towards the left fighter. Like the line I drew in my first sketch. Or were you thinking about something specific.
@clockodile: Thank you for such a long and detailed answer. I see what you mean about the left warrior lacking some intent. I simply just copied the stance from my reference. Something I do too often I guess. However I don't think I have time to do any big changes to it now. So the changes I made are small. I did try creasing the fabric on his torso a bit and I also tried widening his stance by moving his left foot backward slightly. What do you think of this?
So I have been working on some b/w values on the fighters. Next I'll try to scribble in a b/w environment.
The small changes seem to have helped, the creases imply more about the forces working behind his pose, and receeding foot feels better too. Do watch out for that odd triangle tangent the boots are making with the hem of his tunic though, it might be worth squaring it off a tiny bit (a few pixels from tidying the edges would probably do it, as time is limited) to avoid the distracting effect of four converging lines at one point.
I like you idea about the rope too! The overlap and diagonal aspect of it should work well from a compositional standpoint.
Here's some more work on the environment. I know I need to work more on the rope, maybe even draw a new slightly curved one. If you wish I would much appreciate thoughts about values and composition so far. Also, since it's soon time to move into color, I'm quite unsure what color scheme to use. So I would be grateful for any ideas about colors too.
That environment makes a world of difference, excellent! It gives the image a lot more depth and just looks more interesting in general.
The shapes of the tree and rolling slope behind them lead the eye in nicely. I agree with you on the curved rope idea, the lead and depth is has so far is good though. One significant change I suggest is to perhaps raise the base of the wall - currently it creates an odd tangent with the rope and the bottom of the right figure's shield, and it may also help with giving the figures more space. Also, I just noticed, but the tip of the raised sword is touching the edge of the image, which looks a little distracting.
The way the values get lighter from the very front to the wall works well to establish depth. The figures look a bit unconnected to the ground though, so you might want to have them cast some kind of shadow, even if it is a diffuse one around their feet. It may also help to lighten the most distant grass above the wall/their heads a bit to just give that same depth effect you have in the front.
The highlights on the helmets draw attention to the figures effectively- if you want to push it further, I think you could probably make the light around their shoulders brighter to draw attention to them too. It might help to also bring up the lights on the right hand figure's shield, having it catching light whilst the other is in shadow to get an attention-grabbing contrast. One last thing you might want to try is to just add a little rim highlight to the top of the left hand guy's shield, just to emphasise the diagonal pointing to his face.
Good use of the plant covering on the wall by the way, that's a clever way of creating lights and darks to contrast the characters.
Hmm, as for colours. Well, presuming this is during the day with a bit of sunshine, the light will pale/yellowish with a bit of blue bounce light in the shadows from the sky. So a couple of things I suggest - an analoguous green-yellow through to red affair, that same palette but with blue as an accent (perhaps making the sky unsaturated and using blue for part of the costume to catch the eye) or a split complimentary scheme with yellow-green, orange-red and blue. I think making the figures' tunics + the right hand shield more saturated in colour would be fairly effective in making them 'pop' against the relatively natural background too.
@clockodile: Thank you again for your detailed feedback. It is helping and I do appreciate it. I tried to take in your advice in this next version.
This time I have worked in some more details. After this I suppose I should be going into color. I'm not entirely sure midday blue sky is the way to go. I'm thinking maybe I should do some color thumbnails.
Your values and lighting are disorganized. I can't tell where the light is coming from. There are no cast shadows and the form shadows on the figures are ambigious.
There are some ways to solve this. One would be to get refrence of some sort, e.g. shoot yourself in the poses and observe how the light falls on the forms. Another is to build a little maquette (e.g. with clay- it doesn't have to be terribly accurate, you can observe light from a rough maquette and extrapolate from it) and use it for reference. the upside of the maquette would be that it is easier to light and that you can study it from life instead of dealing with a camera.
You need to take a step back and re-reference arms and armour! the way shield is held for one. There are leather straps inside to hold onto and slip over the arm.
I think the attacker on the left should be stepping forward more to deliver a blow with the sword, and the defender on the right should be reacting to the hit against his own shield.
I will try and post some refs for you that might help or at least some links to photo collections.
@Benedikt: Thank you for giving feedback! I see now that I have been careless in my lighs and shadow work. I do already have a reference photo, and I thought to use same position of the sun as in the photo, making the light come from top slightly to the left (like 10-11 am). But after marking some shadows in the drawing I stopped looking at the reference. Unfortunately I have no time to make any big changes now, since deadline is on Saturday. But I have made some changes to the lighting, trying to make the direction of light more clear. Do you think it got any better with this? Anyway I will take this as a lesson to the future, and pay closer attention to the light and my reference.
@Lightship69: Thank you for taking your time to help! I already have a reference photo that I have been working from. I will save these links for future reference thought. It should definitely come in handy. I see what you mean that the two characters with these poses doesn't seem to interact. That is probably because the reference photo is of a bigger fight and the two guys I took the poses from doesn't actually fight each other but two other people. I just thought it would work if I put these two poses close to each other. Well, I see now that wasn't such a good idea. Next time I should think more of how a pose would impact on interacting characters. Thanks for teaching me this. Unfortunately I have no time to change such fundamental issues as the figures poses, so I will take lesson from this. But continue with these poses even though they look off. About the armor and straps on the shield, their design is taken from the reference and is, in my opinion, typical of this society.
Heres a new gray with a little more detail and I have also tried fixing some of the lighting issues Benedikt pointed out.
Time is running out and I have to go in to color. When it comes to color I'm very uncertain, especially since I have a color vision deficiency. I made some thumbs experimenting with color. My wife thinks the upper right is the best, making it a misty and quite gray day for a duel.