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Hey all. I'm working on an environment piece and I need help refining it. I've been stuck on thinking of ways to simplify it and improve the overall flow of the piece, specifically the area on the right. Right now I think it looks like a muddy mess due to over-texturing and the conflicting light sources that I am having trouble tying together (there is a warm light coming from behind on the far right). This image is from a photo reference from google maps: https://firstname.lastname@example.org...oolw8Q!2e0!3e2
HAttachment 1972026ere is a full res version http://imgur.com/nNGif7m
Thanks for any input!
I see what you mean with the over-texturing, the picture has a fairly uniform level of detail. It may help to meld some of the shapes in the rock to simplify this (especially towards the edges of the picture), and perhaps add more detail and contrast to the focal point. What does work though, is those diagonal inward-pointing cervices - they point in to the centre light source, which is a really nice lead you should retain and try to emphasise a little.
Depending on how much you want to deviate from the reference, you have quite a few more options to take it more in the direction of an imaginary piece, since in its current state this is closer to a study.
Like you mentioned, the light sources are pretty chaotic. I think it would actually be worth considering scrubbing out the light source behind the viewer, or at least drastically weakening it. That would generally reduce confusion and keep attention on the visible sources. The light on the far left might want weakening as well, though it does create a nice visual balance with those on the right.
Experimenting with cropping or extending the canvas is also a consideration, and is an easy way to totally change the read of an image. It could be worth trying it here to get that middle light source off the dead-centre position, and to make that left hand light work for you,.
With regards to the floor and the cable, perhaps just try deviating from the reference here. It isn't a great photo, the cable is somewhat distracting and floor looks a little bit like clear water in it. You are free to ignore bad photo elements like those to make your picture better. If you want to stay realistic, then the cable probably needs to stay, but perhaps it could be less bright. You can play with the floor too, again depending on how true to life you want to be - how would it look with water reflecting the light? Or with a rougher texture? Or with a walkway somehow built in? Or with puddles?
There are certainly things that work or can work though. The inward lead of the lights and the crevices draws the eye well. The fact that the two light sources are different complimentary colours could be fun to play with too. Best of luck!
Thanks for the reply. Here's what I ended up with, but I still hate it. Going to not pick such a crappy picture next time. Thank you for the advice though, it caused me to think more compositionally instead of worrying about the small stuff.
and last but not least, i disliked the rock formation on the right so much, I nuked it. Rendering the rocky textures was a huge pain in the ass. I wish I'd known about smudge brushes before starting to work on this piece.