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  1. #1
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    Smile Pandora's Pencil - Composition 1.1

    Hello, name is Duncan a brand new member of Level Up and ready to get some work done!

    For my first master study I chose this photo by Georg Hurrell. What drew me to this particular photo was the use of contrast to show rhythm between light and dark. This allows the viewers eye to be lead through the photo in a very deliberate manner. Focusing on the face first then leading the viewers eye down towards her right arm (Camera left) then across her chest and up her left arm (Camera Right) back towards the face.
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    As I viewed this photo, at first, I found the giant black bar to the right a little awkward. But after looking at it for a while I discovered it helps block the eye from wandering into the background. The black bar also fades her left side so the light on her shoulder pulls the eye back up towards the face.

    Here is my attempt at this piece.


    I'll do some more work this one. I'd like to get it closer. So far I've spent a total of 3 -3.5 hours on this, after restarting once...maybe twice

    Here are other composition assignments I have critiqued:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...tion-1-1/page2
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...omposition-1-1
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...omposition-1-1
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...tion-1-1/page3
    Last edited by Pandora's Pencil; July 16th, 2015 at 10:54 PM.


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  3. #2
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    Not sure what happened but apparently all the posts past this first one no longer show up :/ Not sure if it was me or just changes that were made (or bad luck) but I'll re upload the master copies that got deleted. Going forward I'll save my analysis to a separate document in case this happens again so I don't have to retype them.

    #2 Master copy was a Self Portrait of Sargent.
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    #3 was a portrait painted by Sargent entitled "Capri Girl"
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    #4 Portrait by Michelle Torrez entitled "Edged in Light"
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  4. #3
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    #5 was a portrait by Wojciech Fus entitled "Glitch Girl"

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    Okay now for the new stuff. #6 is a painting by Alexander John White entitled "An Idle Moment".
    Looking at this piece it has a central focus (Shown in green) that is using high contrast and Harder edges to draw the eye to that point easily. The line rhythm flows (Red Lines) around the figure to keep the eye near the focal point. Directional lines (Blue Lines) that are created by the rhythm and harsher brush strokes point to the focal area to keep the eye well contained.

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  5. #4
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    Nice analysis. Your shapes on the whole are nearly there, try double checking the negative shapes. You need to consider your values a bit more; by making the dark values darker, the lighter areas will pop more as they are an important part of the composition.

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    You are on the right track. You should focus on getting your overall value range as accurately blocked in as you can at this point. Don't worry about the detail bits if your overall values are still needing care. Think big shapes down to small in order of importance of value shape. Just keep working big to medium to small shapes in that order and you will see them come together more accurately much quicker. the rendering of details can come at the very end.

    keep up the good work.


    jm

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    @Blackspot: Thanks for the advice, I have a tendency to not be bold with my darks when working from value.

    @Jason: Will do, I've been having trouble keeping mind of "Big -> Small". In more complex pieces I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how many shapes there are in complex works. Will work hard on this issue.

    This piece is La Varenne Saint Hilaire view from Champigny by Camille Pissarro. I chose it because it is so far the most challenging master copy I have done. The composition is very still. The trees from the left to right of the painting are varied as the viewer's eye moves through the painting creating a subtle rythm line that becomes very still once the trees line up with the mountain. Making the piece feel like a peaceful moment trapped in time.
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    For this next composition I have chosen "Jean Leon Gerome's - Black Bashi Bozuke" The composition is central with the focal point being the man's face (Shown in green). Gerome uses the viewers human nature to make the face the focal but amplifies the focal point with a rhythm lines(Shown in red.) that sweep around the figure. The rhythm lines allow the viewers eye to flow around the head and hat to lead back to the focal point. Directional lines (Blue Lines) help enforce the rhythmic composition by adding variety in contrast to the smooth rhythm lines. These lines catch the viewers eyes and lead back to the central focus of this piece of art in case the viewers eye wanders away from the focus.
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    Ok, so I think I am finally getting it. Big to Small Shapes = A good time. I'm still off on a couple of values but I feel they are getting closer easier than before. I'm taking the assignment's advice and keeping to a deadline of 1 - 2 hours a piece so I focus on the overall shape/values and don't get into the intricate details. Still have a long way to go but I feel pretty confident that I'm getting better.



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  9. #8
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    Nice work. Your shapes and values are coming along well. Value transitions and edges are in need of focus. Be sure that you are keeping a close eye on your edges. Note where the sharpest sharpest sharps and softest soft edges are and use them as guideposts/landmarks for the rests of the edges in the image. Edges are important to space, form, and focal areas, so getting those in there will help the piece a lot. Once you do, you will see quality improve a lot. Keep up the great work. -jm

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  11. #9
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    Working on another one. This piece is made by William Adolphe Bouguereau entitled "The Hay-Maker". I haven't completed this one yet since I'm at the stage where I am laying in smaller shapes of value. After that is done I'll start working on analyzing where the hard/soft edges are located and work on controlling those. I'll be getting back to this one tomorrow so I have some fresh eyes. I'll also post my analysis of the picture tomorrow as well.

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  12. #10
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    Alright finished up with the painting from the last post. It was a really challenging one, but enjoyable to work through. Still need some more double checking my shapes and proportions before advancing stages. I noticed to late that I had a couple of proportions off and am still struggling with stretching and squashing my copies.
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    On to the analysis.

    1. Rhythm. (Shown in red)
    The rhythm is like a wave. It flows along the horizon line arching up high then down low, emphasizing a smooth, tranquil progression through the piece. The rhythm is emphasized by the placement and angles of the arms, folds of the clothing and underlying value transition in the background.

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    2. Emphasis.
    The emphasis is on the figure as she is central to the composition, however when looking at this piece my eye
    is always looking at the hands first. This is due to the high contrast in the hands. They contain the brightest,
    brights and some of the darkest darks along with the hardest brush strokes contained in the hand's wrinkles.

    3. Variety. (Shown in Green)
    The majority of the figure lacks the amount of detail unlike the background shown in the highlighted areas. Most
    of forest behind the figure acts as noise, which William had to create to contrast the background and pop the
    figure out in order to retain it as the emphasis.There are also a couple of strokes of branches in the background
    that break up the chaos caused by the leaves.
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    4. Economy.
    William uses economy for contrast to help the emphasis shine. Majority of the piece is busy while less detail
    pulls the eye due to contrast. The lack of detail on the face makes the hands stand out and the lack of detail
    on her right shoulder (Camera left) allows the flow to be emphasized leading into the hands.

    5. Repetition.
    Each detail follows its line that is implied by the stroke directions. Details such as her sleeves folds follow the
    underlying wave flow. The details of the shirt covering her chest follow the direction set by the broom. The marks
    in the picture are smooth and worked to transition from one value to another.

    6. Visual Weights/Balance.
    The weights in the background are the branches of the tree and brush. They break up the chaos and direct the viewer's
    eye back to the focus of the piece.

    7. Continuity.(Shown in blue)
    Majority of implied lines are vertical in contrast to the rhythm lines. I found this most interesting as each directional
    line pushes up or down on the rhythm lines. This causes the viewer's eye to be pushed into the rhythm of the piece,
    and get caught up in the waves of the rhythm.

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    Hi there. All your painting seems to be spot on when it comes to the general composition and the materiality of both fabric and skin. I would suggest you to try to focus less on this and get the faces more accurate. All the elements of the faces seems great but the placement and the sizes seems to be off - the result being that it looks a bit like another person.
    I envy your brush technique and understanding of materials, wow!

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  15. #12
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    Plot - Thanks for the kind words and advice. I found it very helpful in this latest one as it was a constant focus.

    In other news....WOOOT #10! half way there. Feeling pretty good on how it's going so far!

    For the next study I chose "Portrait of Paul Wayland Bartlett" by Charles Sprague Pearce.He uses rhythm and the placement of values throughout the piece to lead the viewers eye. You can see that the head is the lightest part of the composition and leads into his tie/ruffle garment which is one of the darkest values in the piece. Charles Pearce continues to use same pattern with the jacket and pants being stark contrasts in value adding variety to the composition. My favorite thing about this particular portrait is the bold arrow that Charles Sprague uses to direct the viewer's eye towards the left arm.


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    Wow. Cant add more than whats been said already, this stuff is great and will only keep getting better.

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    Such detail. You have an interesting process. Great work on the analysis!
    I see improvement in the way you identify values. That's a splendid leap from a heavily drawing-inclined process such as yourself. Pat yourself on the back!
    You may want to think in terms of forms more while you're painting. It trains your brain to identify the change in gradation of forms. Rather than seeing everything as a whole, either look really hard at a certain area or zoom out to a small thumbnail when putting down values in the beginning. Our eyes trick themselves into seeing most things lighter based on the surrounding values, so painting darker on purpose for a start can help you realise that and apply it.

  18. #15
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    BlackCloud - Thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate them .

    NerrawG - You've given me a lot to focus on going forward with these assignment. Thank you very much for the critique, and I'll work hard to implement improvement going forward.

    The next master copy is "Elegant Seduction" by the artist Pino. I decided to challenge myself a little more and keep the time limit under two hours for this one. I managed to get a pretty good amount of work done in that time frame. Still need to focus on the proportions and placement of things. On to the analysis

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    The rhythm is a S curve following the curvature of the spine then legs. This is contrasted by the static, block shapes that surround the figure, which helps set the emphasis of the piece.
    There are three emphasis/focal points in the painting set in hierarchical order. The woman's back, the dress then the drawer along with the background space. Her back is the highest contrasted point not just in color but in value. The skin is very pale ,with a few hints of reflected light bouncing off the dress, allowing it to contrast the most against the darker values and more vibrant colors. The dress is the secondary focus due to the vibrant purples and reds used in the composition and continuation of the S curve set by the spine. The vibrancy contrasts against the more muted background colors of green and browns further pushing the woman to the foreground.

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    Great job on that last study

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    For study #12 I chose Edmund Blair Leighton's "The Accolade". I chose it because of the complexity in the composition and I have always found it difficult to place multiple characters/people in any painting or drawing. Plus the challenge of having to approach different materials and strong value contrasts made this one challenging. Overall I spent 3:45 to 4:00 hours on this piece. But enough of that on to the analysis!
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    Usually with these analysis I always look for the rhythm in a piece first as a tell for where the other pieces of the composition lie (Emphasis variety repetition and so on). This one specifically relies on the underlying shapes and implied directional lines and uses rhythm as a support opposed to being the driving force of the composition.
    The underlying shape covering the queen and the knight is very dynamic with a variety of angles that encompasses the two characters. You contrast this to the onlookers and curtains in the back which take up 1/2 of the composition and find the underlying shapes to be rather square. This helps the emphasis on the interaction between the queen and the knight stand out. That and the higher range of values and central location of the two characters.
    There are multiple types of materials used in the piece like ,leather, silk, wool metal ext. each bringing a variety to the texture of the piece. And the aforementioned shapes that define the emphasis opposed to the secondary emphasis of the people in the background bringing variety to the composition.

    Step 1: I started out focusing on the massive shapes, but tried to keep my mind thinking of form as well.
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    Step 2: More refinement on shapes/placement/angles and relationships between each shape.
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    Step 3: I took the lines from the drawing and used them as a guide to create an under-painting with basic values placement and ranges.Name:  1-The Accolade - Edmund Blair Leighton-Step3.jpg
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    Step 4: I spent a lot of time doing refinements adjustments and plenty of back and forth between values/shapes ext.
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  21. #18
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    I could never control my stylus to be able to draw out my forms, i have to go blob style. These are great, number 12 is in the bag!

    Thank you for posting your stages as you work.

  22. #19
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    Thanks BlackCloud I hope the explanations can help people out if at all possible. And I always appreciate your kind words

    For master copy, lucky number 13 I chose "Irene" by William Adolphe Bouguereau. I felt like doing something a little simpler as I plan on doing more uncomfortable pieces from here on out. Stuff like landscapes and dynamic multiple figured pieces. Overall took me hour and a half.
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    The rhythm flows around the character's face due to the angles set by the hair, circlet, and clothing. Emphasis lies in the head, more predominantly in the face.It is surrounded by large shapes with value ranges that contrast the middle tone comprising the face. Furthermore you can see angles pointing towards the face. Folds in the clothing she is wearing leads to the face as well as the notches in the circlet that point towards the face. All contributing to the emphasis.

    Step 1: As usual started out with the drawing focusing on the big shapes and the placement.
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    Step 2: Took the line art on its own layer and painted the values underneath on a separate layer.
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    Step 3: After I'm happy with the under-painting I merge the line art and values into one layer and work on getting rid of lines and finishing any refinements I need to make.
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    #14 Frank T Zumbachs - teach me to hear mermaids singing.

    This piece contains plenty of contrasting elements in the composition. The rhythm lines flow around the characters with the gestures of the characters and some well placed curved background elements. This is contrasted by the areas surrounding the characters. The elements are more rigid and directional, with each shape pointing to an area that contains one of the rhythm curves shown above. Along with the contrast between value of the characters the gestural lines allow them to become the emphasis of the composition.

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    Step 2: More refinement of the shapes.
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    Step 3: after I'm happy with the initial shapes I draw out the approximate placement of the characters. I usually screw up the first placement of figures every time, I know this so I make a guess then adjust.
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    Step 4: After zooming in and out while flipping the canvas multiple times I find what is wrong with my initial placements and fix them accordingly.
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    Step 6: I continue to zoom in, out and flip the canvas as much as possible while refining my shapes, values, then edges to get the final result.
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    #15 Thomas Cole - The Subsiding of the waters of the deluge.

    The compositional rhythm carries on mostly in the edges of the composition. They allow the viewers eye to remain contained within the composition. Rhythm is also accented by the directional lines which point towards the emphasis and the dark shapes of the foreground elements. The variety in the composition lies in the transition of sharp dark shapes to the subtle soft light elements in the composition. This creates a contrast, but more importantly it creates a sense of depth that is integral to this piece.
    The soft elements of the piece also act as a visual economy. They allow the eye to rest and contrast the dark shapes created by the foreground.

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    Step 1: I usually start environments out with large value shapes, so I decided to change it up and sketch out the landscape first. An experiment to see how well it would work for me.
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    Step 2: After the sketch time for the values. I stay zoomed out and use a large brush at the beginning to get the overall shape right.Name:  Step2.jpg
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    Step 3: At this point I am an hour in and pretty happy with the overall placement and shapes. I start to consider value primarily at this point.
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    Step 4: After another 30 to 45 minutes of refining value, I start to pay attention to the edges and making changes accordingly.
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    Time spent on this one was two hours.

  25. #22
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    For number 16 I chose "Luana" by Frank Frazetta. Had to do one at some point figured now would be good as any.

    This one has a lot of dynamic movement. The majority of curves have a sweeping motion to the right of the composition. They are accented by implied lines that push the eye up or down the composition, kinda acting like a comma creating a momentary pause. This adds a variety to the curvy rhythm lines and keeps them balanced.
    There are plenty of transitional values but each has a varied application. Soft transitions over form are subtle and flawless when blending into other values. The plane changes however are heavy handed, very noticeable but they feel right since we can see the plane changes much easier with this method.This creates quite a bit of variety in the piece. Most noticeable with the pitch black values placed around the subject of the piece. (Luana and the saber tooth)

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    For Master copy #17 I chose "The Accused" by Andrew Loomis.

    After the Franzetta master copy I didn't know what artist I wanted to use for the next one. Then I saw an Old Andrew Loomis book and realized I had actually never seen one of his paintings outside of his instructional books. So I did some searching and this painting in particular stood out.

    What is interesting about this piece is the use of many directional lines (Shown in blue) accented by a subtle amount of rhythm (Shown in red) to create a very tense scene. Making subtle rhythm lines allows the scene to be dominated by the directional lines created by the characters' eyes. All of them are looking in wonder and slight astonishment at what is happening right now, focusing on the emphasis (Shown in green) of the scene, the "accusation" of the young man. You can tell he and the hand of the officer (the accusation) are the emphasis by the amount of contrast visible on the two shapes and the directional lines all leading to the area between the two. The young mans face has a larger value range than the other characters with more bright and dark values contained by his face. This makes the scene not about the officer accusing the young man, instead it's about how the man reacts to the accusation as the forms and values are more developed than other shapes in the composition.
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    Step 1: Started out with a sketch. But I decided to use very simple boxes to help get the proportions of the characters closer to the copy.
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    Step 2: After the initial sketch was done, started refining biggest shapes to smaller shapes.
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    Step 3: More refining of bigger shapes to smaller shapes.
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    Step 4: At this point nearly an hour has passed. I decided to get the shapes and forms to read better through line work so I could have an easier time with the under-painting.
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    Step 5: Created a separate layer for the under-painting and proceeded with the same mentality of big to small.
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    Step 6: The shapes were where I wanted them so I started to focus on value.
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    Step 7: 2 hours in at this point, continued defining values and a little bit of edge work.
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    Step 8: 3 hours and 15 minutes in, and finally get to the end.
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  27. #24
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    Really awesome. Love your analysis as well as the images you chose. I do feel like the most time consuming part of this project is choosing the right pictures, but its obviously worth it. Watch the values in your foreground, yours seem to be more accurate in the back but his jacket, the chair and the officer (mountie? lol) are all lighter than the original. Seeing the same thing in the frazetta piece.

  28. #25
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    Thanks for the critique carakhan, I'll keep that in focus going forward, has always been a challenge. He's a mountie eh?



    For study #18 I chose "Evening Mood" by William Adolphe Bouguereau.
    This particular piece has a lot of movement and rhythm. One thing i noted was how he uses multiple smaller rhythm lines in areas surrounding the woman. This creates a contrast with the intensity of the rhythm lines. This, along with the contrast of values,shapes and color, makes the woman the emphasis as she has less but strong/deliberate rhythm lines. The variety in the piece lies in the skyline and the rock. The skyline acts as variety but also the economy of the piece. There are more subtle rhythm lines but they are subdued by the amount in the figure, cloth, and water of the piece. The rock acts as a visual weight, stopping the viewers eye. In this case the viewers eye is used to the flowing rhythm of the piece and acts like water, flowing around anything heavy and concrete.
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    Step 1: I started by placing the basic shapes and values for the background.
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    Step 2: After the background was set placed the figure skeleton.
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    Step 3: Used a separate layer for the under painting laying in the basic values.
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    Step 4: After the values were set I refined them until finished.
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    For study #19 I chose"An Arab Horseman" by Gustave Clarence Rodolphe Boulanger.

    This is another piece that has a lot of subtlety to it. A lot of stillness created by
    the subdued rhythm. This makes the artist rely on value, size, color and variety to make the it any part of the composition stand out. The emphasis stands out as the rider of the horse, due to the value, color and size contrast. He is a larger size than other elements of the composition, although the horse is bigger the rider has more value ranges in his elements. He has the darkest values and the highest amount of rendering setting him apart from the rest of the composition.
    Attachment 2131374
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  29. #26
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    Last one study #20 WOOOOOO! Did it, may have taken a loooong time but still it's all done baby! Thanks to everyone who commented and critiqued this thread, you all helped me improve a lot more than I would have otherwise. Decided to end this assignment with a really cool study. Frank Frazetta's "Against the Gods".

    This one is a simple yet striking piece(pun intended ). All the rhythm and directional lines lead to the man and the sword being struck by the lightning. This creates the emphasis of the piece which is this conflict between the man and the gods of his world. There is a large amount of variety within the piece. The variety of loose clouds is varied by the amount of harder more defined clouds give the visual interest in the background, communicating the location to the viewer.The rock the man is standing on also adds another level of detail. Adding a third material to vary the pieces scenery and cement the location.
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    Step 1: Started off as I usually do with scenery copies. Laying in the base shapes and values of the background first.
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    Step 2: Decided to get the lightning strike laid in before tackling the character.
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    Step 3: At first I tried to only painting this without the use of a sketch but I don't know why I just couldn't get it right. So I resorted to the tried and true character sketch before doing the painting of the man.
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    Step 4: Using a seperate layer beneath the sketch I dropped in the basic shapes of the value.
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    Step 5: This is where I merged all layers and worked on eliminating line, refining shapes, value then transitions.
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  30. #27
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    @ Pandora's Pencil
    I'm amazed by how much your process has developed. There's the fluidity of the traditional way of painting from blocking in the environment, and there's the accuracy of the form and posing from the gesture.
    You also seem to be nailing all of your values more or less.
    All of your analysis has paid off big time!
    But then again, everything looks extremely polished, but at a cost of something; everything seems to blend into one, and the main subject doesn't quite read as strongly against the other compositional elements in some of your studies. E.g. 17 - man being pointed at by the sheriff
    19 - sharp edges around the horseman's outfits are quite missing, and even the horses's hairs are not as sharp as they should be. He doesn't stick out from the painting compared to the original.
    20 - Conan's muscles should have the sharpest contrasts, but his chest isn't as illuminated as it should be, nor does it have the characteristic sharp edges where the muscles and bones should read.

    I love your gestural posing process. Mine's a little too intuitive, so I must learn to use that too.

  31. #28
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    Awesome thread! The work ethic is impressive. Very good.

    At this point I think just installing a quality control pass at the end will see the entire body of work improve, both moving forward, and if you choose to go back in and make some adjustments. Here were my thoughts earlier on quality control.

    You are getting about 90 percent there with the three most important things...shapes, values and edges. are you flipping your images horizontally and vertically every minute or so to check accuracy?

    Make a pass at the end where you double check the following, in this order.

    a. shapes.
    b. values
    c. edges

    At this point all I think that is needed is double checking things at the end in a quality control pass...so to speak.

    Keep up the great work.


    jm

  32. #29
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    Red face

    This may be a long time to come back to this but thank you Jason and NarrawG for the critiques. Going forward I am going to attempt to iron out these issues with everything I got.

    After a long hiatus I have decided to come back and go through some of the Levelup Assignments again. The reason that I am doing another twenty master studies are these:

    1. I still do not fully have a grasp of noticing large shapes before details. This area has been a thorn in my side for a long time and I believe that going through and studying from the masters will help me break this habit of mine. by focusing on this I can hopefully break a dreadful cycle that has been holding me back as an artist. Before I used a draw line then place value and bring out form, but I want to get a grasp of working purely from value and blocks of form this time.

    2. I want to get a better control of values. Looking back I can tell my values were off constantly, although they were close, I don't think that is good enough and need to be mastered.

    3. Learning better edge control. I still have a long way to go before I can really say I have a grasp of digital painting. Especially in the edge control department. Most of the time my edges appear slightly fuzzy or blurred and I want to have crisper more purposeful edges throughout my work.

    4. Since I've been away for a while, I've forgotten many of the lessons about composition that I learned during my first go at this assignment. I need to brush up on the basics of composition. I need to review and solidify them in my brain.

    5. And finally I need to get back into the swing of taking art seriously again. Usually I will make strides then something will happen in life or I will get overly confident, or become lazy (Mainly the lazy part...) in my abilities and not work as hard. This is a constant struggle for me personally. but when I started doing these studies daily it easily became one of the most artistically advancing than ever before. Anyhow, I think its time to get to the art right?

    First up for #21 is Cecilia Beaux's - Georges Clemenceau. This is a pretty simple but striking image that utilizes large shapes against simple and still shapes for contrast. Notice that the background is full of simple box like shapes that set a stillness against the figure placed in the center. The overall shape of the figure gives a sense of action/stoic feeling to the character. I feel that he is in the moment jumping up from his chair in this scene to either propose or protest something that is happening outside of our vision.

    The most interesting thing about this piece though is how easily Beaux sets up the scene by using symbols to trigger automatic knowledge of who and where the character is. We see his shape as a well fed and important character due to his roundness and well dressed manner. but the background shows two things. One the books and papers which set him as a knowledgeable person being able to read and write, and the background containing a classical pillar. This automatically tells us through the use of the pillar as symbol that this person is dealing with government or courtly duties. Giving us the story behind who he is and what he does.

    Onto my steps used in this copy. Since I'm trying to see shapes of value first before detail I'm attempting to take a soft brush and develop the shapes from that point on.
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    Last edited by Pandora's Pencil; November 27th, 2015 at 10:00 PM.

  33. #30
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    hey pencil first i want say thank you for you're kind crituiqe in my composition thread.

    the only thing what i can say is wow your progress and the details of your posts are so inspiring that i thougth my study habbit is wrong. I have to change something and thank you i have learned so much only watching your progress here.

    keep it up the good work

    cheers mick

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