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Thread: A Mermaid's Hiding Place

  1. #1
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    A Mermaid's Hiding Place

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    Hi everyone!
    This is my first posting in this section.
    I painted this as a gift and I've tried to fix every flaw that I could make out on my own, before posting it here.
    I used reference for the seagull, the sea and the sky, but I tried to paint as much as possible from my imagination.
    Every kind of feedback and critique is very much appreciated. I'm particularly interested in what you think about the composition and colours I used.
    Do you think there is enough detail and is it generally interesting enough?
    Thanks!

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  3. #2
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    There is nothing wrong with using reference. Always use it! As a critique I would say that there is no feeling of depth in the water, there is something wrong with the composition (seagull's placement?) and her tail is not very natural looking. The fin doesne't look like a fish's fin it looks very stiff and made out of plastic.

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    Thanks Meraldina! I admit, I don't know how a fishes fin looks in reality. That was something, that I've tried to make out on my own. Didn't work...
    Do you think the seagull is too much off of(?) the image?
    The depth of the water is a point I can't see. Can you specify that?

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    Out on the open sea you're going to be able to see the water for miles and miles all the way to the horizon, and the areas you see furthest away will have no details or texture at all. Just look at your reference again, you will see it's true. While here you can see individual waves at the horizon, as if it isn't really the horizon, but rather the edge of a waterfall or something that is closer.

    E: The gull, yeah, you've hung it from the edge of the image which isn't a good thing!

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    Well, the composition is very boring, you have basically smacked the subject in the middle of the image, and she's surrounded by boring, empty space. Also on terms of values, there's no clear point of interest indicated with it (like I would assume her face and the seagull would "pop out" since we need to look at those), the water is of he same value thought the image, and same can be said of pretty much everything.
    Here's a quick breakdown with rule of thirds:
    Name:  mermaid.jpg
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    Considering the subject, you could do a lot with a vertical image (her looking at seagulls) or a wider image (the ocean and waves) and I would really recommend looking at other paintings about water and how they have handled it, because though the waves you did look nice, they're not doing much for the image.
    Immediate examples could be:
    http://blog.denisbyrd.com/wp-content...f91ba7d0_o.jpg
    http://nonprints.com/UploadPic/John_...%20Mermaid.jpg
    http://prague-stay.com/img/8319/2/fa...20painting.png

    Actually the waves and the seagull makes me wonder exactly how "hidden" this hiding place is since both those mean it will be quite near the shore.

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    nouge: On an earlier stage of the painting i had a sharper horizon with less detail near by, but I earased that because it looked too sharp compared to the rest of the painting. But you're right about that. I'll try to fix it.
    TinyBird: Thanks for the breakdown and the links, later the day, I'll try something with the composition.
    With "hiding place" I meant a place to hide from other merpeople.

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    In addition to what others have said I think there are places where you need darker shadows (at the bottoms of rocks, under her tail). She could also use darker irises/pupils - at first glance she almost looks like she has none.

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    HazelF: Thanks, I agree with that.
    I changed a couple things. I don't really know what I could do about the values. Maybe something with the light on the water? I've tried to think about how the waves could do more for the painting, but I think I want a relatively calm sea. Do you think I should put more gulls or rocks in?
    At the moment it seems to me as if the seagull is the main focal point, is it just me?

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    The seagull certainly looks closer to us then the mermaid, in your latest version of the image, and does steer some of the focus off the Mermaid herself.

    In saying that, this new page layout is defiantly more interesting then the original. It Feels like there is more to look at.

    With the seagull being closer now, it almost looks like it is landing on a rock off camera, like it is in front of the rocks you've painted in the foreground.

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    Thank you JLamps, I like the idea that the gull is trying to land in the foreground.
    I've tried to exaggerate this by making it bigger and I thought it would be a good idea that it is overlapping the horizon.
    I'm not really sure about the secound seagull (also it doesn't look like one for now) and the overpainted fin. Maybe I could paint more colour relections / variations on the fishy part?

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    Having the big seagull does draw allot of the attention off of the mermaid, but i like the way it looks like she is watching it land, adds a bit of story i think. and composition-ally it works good having the gull looking at her and her at the gull. (leads the eye)

    Perhaps you could even add a bit of reflection in the water, reflecting the fin at the end of her tail and like you said, maybe adding some extra colour variations from the water reflecting back?.

    Either way its coming along great.

    Art is never finished, only abandoned. -Leonardo da Vinci

    The worst evil which can befall the artist is that his work should appear good in his own eyes. -Leonardo da Vinci

    It is ill to praise, and worse to blame, the thing which you do not understand. -Leonardo da Vinci

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    Revenge is not a valid motive, it is an emotional response, no, not vengeance, Punishment! -The Punisher
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  19. #12
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    I'm sorry to come that late in your thread but I'm really bothered by how bent is her tail. It seems very unnatural, like there was no muscles, no bones, no flesh.
    I do realise that correcting this part of the picture will TOTALLY ruin your composition but it's really something that catch my attention in a bad way in your picture.

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    Everyone from what I have scanned have made good points.

    Pros: You have very good brush control and you techniques for rendering are strong. Good Values and detail.

    Cons: Composition wise it was weak. Your latest attempt was strong but it is all the left hand side and generally this cause people to run but if you have it on the right then people will want to stay. Something my illustration professor pointed out to me once. Your values while are strong they lacked some temperature, so your shadows could have been cooler and your lights just a tad warmer. Lastly, you were showing to much of her face plus it is a bit manly. Not sure if you are using a reference for the face but I found when I didn't use a reference that this sometimes happened with me as well.

    Suggestions: I have done a quick paint over to show what could be done with this piece. These are some of the things I did. One thing is that the Mermaid is the subject of the painting so she should get all the attention, so bring her all the way to the front. Used some color blend layers to cool your shadows more and soft light to warm your lights. Showed depth and scale by throwing something off in the distance as well as applying some atmospheric perspective. Showed less of her face, it was looking wonky and it is partially part of the manly thing. I have include two paint overs one is with notes and the other is without.

    I would also suggest that you try to soften her facial features down a bit so that she is more feminine. Maybe reduce the smile to more of a Mona Lisa smile would also help soften her face.

    I hope that helps!

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    Imagination is not a total internal power but rather it is a reflection and multi-faceted projection of our experiences and knowledge. We take in information from the world around us and intuitively re-order it into something new. Something is not created from nothing but simply transformed from what was before.
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  23. #14
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    Hey, so many new posts and I didn't even show up in the last days. Sorry.

    Jlamps: Thanks, I've tied to paint some more reflections in the water but this is for me some kind of trial and error thing. I should look at more references, but this is fun anyhow.

    StefRob: I'm glad about every comment, regardless at which time, so thank you for that! I get your point and the tail is bugging me too. I made it a bit thicker, but I don't think that is enough. Maybe I repaint it completely.

    Ito Saith Webb: Thank you so much for your paint over, I like it a lot! The left-right thing is new to me. Why is that? Has it something to do with reading directions? I think a very cheap but quick solution would be to mirror the painting. I really like how you put the mermaid back into focus and I will definitely try this on my own. Also I like the distance thing.
    The face is manly (and rather ugly, said a friend of mine) and I'll work on that, but why should I turn it more away? And you're right I didn't use reference for the mermaid (but I should have). Face expressions are something I really have to learn and practice.

    I did some minor changes so far, but I'll try to take your points into practice. On my next bigger painting, I will definitely start with thumbnails.

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    Did you know that you can subscribe to a thread? When you are in the advanced edit of your post look way down at the bottom of the page. There will be a selection box down there where you can select different options for being alerted to when a new comment has arrived.

    Glad that you found my advice helpful. As far as the left to right thing I am not sure if it is a reading direction thing but rather a psychological one. Perhaps it stems from old theater of how they would exit the stage, but then that is just a guess. It is all how you block which side. Block the right and they are more willing stay block the left and they want to move on. Although having them move on is useful if you are doing sequential art. Blocking both sides I think creates a feeling of being trapped.

    Thumbnailing is a must for any piece even portraits if it is just more than just the face.I do most of my thumbnails digitally unless I had a spontaneous idea in which I just grab my sketch book or nearest scrap of paper. The reason I usually do my thumbs digitally is that I keep my thumbs very simple and have only the major elements in them. I can then create a bunch of different versions of the thumbs with selection tools and cut and paste. You can see it hear in this blog post for one of my pieces. http://tobiasartwork.blogspot.com/20...y-process.html

    You also might check out this blog post I did about composition tools. Has some free stuff you can download right save as image. http://tobiasartwork.blogspot.com/20...positions.html


    Imagination is not a total internal power but rather it is a reflection and multi-faceted projection of our experiences and knowledge. We take in information from the world around us and intuitively re-order it into something new. Something is not created from nothing but simply transformed from what was before.
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  26. #16
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    I didn't know, that I could subscribe to a thread. But my problem is rather not being online so often. I have a very slow internet connection, which makes it a pain for me sometimes.
    The side blocking thing and such stuff is really interesting to me and I want to learn all of this.
    Thank you for making this golden ratio tools available to download. After your first post I really thought I need that.
    And your blog post about your painting process is also very interesting. I make very small sketches, when I got some ideas. This was for the current painting:
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    But they are often very quick and ugly and sometimes I think only I could understand them.
    I've rearranged my painting now, but it needs definitely more work. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to let her back facing the big space on the left, so I mirrored the whole thing.
    I left the golden spiral visible, because I don't know, if I used it right. Now her tail could follow the curve of spiral and her fin could point in the direction of the seagulls in the background.
    Name:  a_mermaid's_hiding_placeCA6.jpg
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  27. #17
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    That is much better and changing her direction was a good call as in that position her tail follows the curve of the golden spiral and flows much easier. Since you mirrored her you might want to go in and change some of the direction of your light on the waves and clouds. I would suggest playing with some of the other compositional overlay tools from my blog for the seagull placement. Also you can use the spiral overlay tool multiple times in different orientations for different aspects of your painting.


    Imagination is not a total internal power but rather it is a reflection and multi-faceted projection of our experiences and knowledge. We take in information from the world around us and intuitively re-order it into something new. Something is not created from nothing but simply transformed from what was before.
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  28. #18
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    I preferred the previous version with the seagull in the foreground #14; it set up a dialogue between the two and although my eye wasn't resting, it was interesting and dynamic, take the seagull out and reverse it and it loses that becoming just a picture of a bland mermaid. Now darken the sea to the left of the rocks, sharpen a few rocks around her and the bottle (not too much)and come back.

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  29. #19
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    I know, I know I'm kind of a monomaniac sometimes but as I still was bothered by her tail I've decided to make a very, very rough paintover, just to propose an alternative.

    Name:  a_mermaid's_hiding_placeCA6.jpg
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    BTW I think you've already improved this picture a lot. Kuddos for that. :-)

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