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  1. #1
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    Angry Edges, refs and points of interest

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    This piece is driving me nuts and I apologize for the long and vague rant. It seems like I didn't plan this picture at all. I did, but apparently not smartly enough, haha. I've also used tons of other refs.

    My main references are below, but I'd love to see critique and more refs for the stuff I'm stuck on, if possible. I've also used screenshots from the game I'm painting this fanart from (Dragon's Dogma.) I want the white character to look divine/jesus-like and very contemplative/sad as to the other character's death. I also want to polish as much as possible, but without losing sight of hard vs. soft edges and good composition. I would like to use this in my main illustration portfolio, trying to cater to book/cardgame ADs. So this balance between composition/storytelling/technique is essential.

    *The white circle above the figures is being used as a source light ref and will be deleted later.
    ** The sword shadow falling over the dead character hasn't been set in the right angle/folds/etc. I just threw it there so far.

    My issues:
    Focal points - I judged his expression > the chest/sword area and > her face as the principal "triangle" people should be looking at. But the dark hand on the ground is drawing a lot of attention due to contrast. I'm trying to make the gauntlet look dark without drawing attention, but with no success. Some other elements are also drawing attention and I'm not finding balance between keeping things realistic, using soft edges and not turning colors into a mudfest.

    Sometimes it seems like cropping the image would make a better composition and help fixing the focal point issue. The background also feels less empty.

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    Leg armor - I want to polish and make it more realistic, but its details and shading are also starting to draw a lot of attention. I'm also finding it hard to reference armor for this kind of color scheme I'm going for. I thought that maybe if I also make her leg armor black, this could make things smoother and work better with the mood/composition.

    Skin and hair translucency - I'm trying to make the man's hair darker and hit his face with a strong, warm light. This translucency could be similar to the woman using the mask in the references, but I'm finding it hard to find more references that could help me study and apply this. How this stronger light would interact with his hair is still a mystery to me.

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    Looking at the grayscale image I'm specially bothered at how the hand is darker tan everything. But everything else seems to be working along well.

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    And finally, not sure if this would be relevant, but my sketchbook has several former WIPs from this piece.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Anebarone; March 1st, 2017 at 09:49 PM. Reason: Formatting


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  3. #2
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    First thing I notice is defiantly the hand. I think honestly all it needs to take a way from that is deeper shading, It seems flat in some areas to me. I struggle with lighting, so please don't take this at face value, but I did a quick paint over to show sort of what I mean:

    Attachment 2235321

    Adding detail to the leg armor wouldn't take away from the rest if you add more detail to the rest. with a bit more shadow you could define folds in the cloth and hair, that kind of thing. Not saying you should add tons of detail but a little more wouldn't hurt.

    I'm a bit confused about what you want for the lighting though. However if it's meant to be more like the image you show with the mask then I think you need to push your values farther. The strong light to the side would also give stronger shadows, and the transition between the light and shadow would not be as soft and gradual. As for the hair being translucent, I'm not sure you would get the same effect with his hair? In the image with the mask the girls light source is to the side and effecting her closely from the looks of it (Embers flying toward her and all), with his being above him I'm thinking it would act differently. As I mentioned I struggle with lighting so these are just my own thoughts. (I hope someone else posts because I can learn from it too!)

    I do think the cropped version shows the faces better, though I think my main reason for feeling that is the lack of detail on the ground. Once you get their shadows down, and a bit of detail to ground the image, I think the pulled away version actually has more feeling to it, more of a sense of loss. I already feel his expression and the poses do a great job of telling the story and I think it would be a shame to cut part of that out.

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  5. #3
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    I'm a noob, but I think your sketchbook looks so much better than this work !!! sry but I love your sketchbook...

  6. #4
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    @HeathWalsh Thank you so much for the thoughtful insight! I feel way less at a loss now and will post the next update when I'm back to painting. How light would behave differently on his hair also makes sense, so I'm taking some time to gather more photo references.

    @
    Inkognito Thanks! This is supposed to look better than most of the sketchbook though, so it was super frustrating to get stuck on it haha.

  7. #5
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    I definitely prefer the cropped version - let your subject fill your frame. I would leave a little more headroom at the top, though. Try putting a Fibonacci spiral over it. Also I agree with HeathWalsh about the shadows: dark environment, dark shadows on the figures. As for the hair, the girl with the mask is more backlit - the light on him comes from the front and above. Hair doesn't look quite as cool lit from the side:
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    As from the back:

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    So if you want that effect you may want to put the light source slightly behind him.
    Last edited by HazelF; March 3rd, 2017 at 10:05 PM.

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  9. #6
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    No huge fixes yet. Mostly darkened a few values and played with his face. Still a lot to go based on the advice here, but I figured I could post something new Thank you so much, everyone!

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  10. #7
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    I'm not sure if you guys are looking at those wips and thinking "oh heck they've barely changed" haha, but I'm WAY more satisfied now.

    The composition still feels a bit weird because I decided it was important to keep a "zoomed out" comp to, as @HeathWalsh mentioned, mantain a sense of loss in the characters. I experimented with many close-ups but in the end the initial version worked better.

    Still trying to push more realism into their skins and clothing. I'll probably stop to gather more references and make more studies.

    Background seems ok now. Adding more fog or some other form of detail was drawing too much attention from the main action, but I'll appreciate if anyone has more insights or still feels like everything is too empty in a bad way.

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