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Thread: Fearless

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    I did a personal concept art piece the last weekend and want to get some critical feedback...

    The image...


    And some steps how I did it in Photoshop (using a Wacom Cintiq)




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  3. #2
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    Oct 2009
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    I like it, but in theory. Something about that perspective and size of the drfagon looks strange straddling that rock.

    Also all the bone spurs look like it would be difficult for it to move and make the head shape hard to read. There's a lot of detail jammed in there but it doesn't seem complementary to each other. Watching the animation (thanks for that by the way) I think when teh scales became spurs it was less interesting.

    Oh.. and that wing looks way janky. It took me a minute to realize the edging wasn't a tree.. and then the membrane seems like an odd cape more than flight capable.

    The wing bones should be connected to the cap.. Like a bat.. but seem to be just free floating.

    Coloring was good. You may have toned down the horse's water movement a bit too much.
    My commentary is a gift to you.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    North'n Ironed
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    There's a tangent with the rider's sword and the dragon's toe. Her(?) lower leg seems a bit bendy and she looks a bit large for her horse; unless it's a pony or she's some Brienne of Tarth/Gregor Clegane type figure.

    I can't give too much expertise about lighting because I don't have it, but here I think there's a strange indecision between ambient lighting and stark shadows. The streak of highlight between the muddy shadows on the belly, for instance. Even with the beam of light by the dragon's head, it's difficult to tell where the light's coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by modi123 View Post
    It took me a minute to realize the edging wasn't a tree...

    Yeah... I looked at the dragon's right hand and wondered how that tree got into the cave. Took me a minute to realise it wasn't a cave.

    The dragon...

    Also all the bone spurs look like it would be difficult for it to move and make the head shape hard to read. There's a lot of detail jammed in there but it doesn't seem complementary to each other.
    I've seen a tendency among many artists to make a dragon spiky and toothy, and leave it at that; or artists who can draw great human figures in their sleep, get confused when it comes to animals, let alone mythic animals. (One sculptor I knew could whip up fantastic comic-styled figures like it weren't no thing, but tried a couple of horses and gave them big, humanoid bodybuilder shoulders and 'A'-stances. It was weird.)

    I think something like that's going on here. I agree with Modi that the details are a bit crammed in, but I also think they're covering up the indecision and lack of confidence in the underlying structure.

    On the detail: the head is ultra-prickly (do they all grow out of the skull? Where do the head muscles attach?); the back has almost-ankylosaurian spikes and scales; the lower legs have some different texture; and the tail has long, overlapping snake scales. Why so mixed up? The fine-scaled patches in front of the eyes are eye-catching, but I don't know why they're so sharply delineated and so different to everything else. The nostrils remind me of the 'nostril bump' on crocs, which is fine; but I think part of that is the way the head seems divided into tiers, which is a bit less appealing.
    Bibendum-style rolls or scales on dragon bellies have been a special bugbear of mine for years, but I think the 'tail-triangle' has joined it. Sorry, but... it is just a triangle. It doesn't look like an organic part of the anatomy. It looks like a glued-on cardboard shape with the scales as a painted-on texture. For ideas on how real-life handles this kind of thing, I'd suggest looking at the fins of living reptiles (chameleons, iguanids and sea-snakes especially, and the raised scale-'fin' of croc tails) as well as fish and amphibians, and extinct reptiles like Rhamphorhynchus and kin, icthyosaurs, mosasaurs, thalattosuchians etc.

    Structure: yep, humanoid shoulders... Problem with that is, while they might suggest a humanoid range of motion and perhaps associated intelligence (grabbing the protagonist before gloating over them?) they also suggest a humanoid pectoral girdle which is not optimal for the inevitable quadrupedal stance. Or more simply and less zoo-nerdy: they don't look real. They add to the photochop effect, the features selected because that's what the artist is familiar with, or because that's what everyone does with their dragons.

    I say 'suggestion' of the pectoral girdle. Granted, there's a lot of thick scales and wings covering the body of your dragon; but still... Even reptiles with long bodies and without the big, obvious bones, ribcages and trunk muscles of mammals like horses and big cats, they have some hints. Even if they mostly do get covered up by external features, I think it helps to think about them.

    (As an aside, and to get really nitpicky, I'm not sure how the spikes are wrapping around that shoulder. Those that seem to be placed on the side appear to be pointing up as much as those on the back.)

    The lower limbs. I expected the humanoid appearance, but... I've looked at your blog. You're a pro artist and I know you can draw hands and feet. What happened? Sorry to get dramatic like that, but they do look messed up. It seems like the lighting and texture is interfering with the perspective and construction, especially on the dragon's left hand. I don't know how the left wrist joint and the foot work. Is the foot on top of the rock, which makes it an odd shape; or partially behind it, which isn't quite apparent?

    Wings - again, I agree with Modi. I can see they're folded but I can't really see how they're folded, or where they attach to the body. The leading edge of the nearest wing makes a spiky S from the tail end up to the front, swoops up, and then stops. In a way it looks like an angular tree branch positioned between us and the dragon.

    I think that's about it. I don't want to leave it as if I'm critical of every little aspect or just having a pop. I don't hate your intent or what you've done, but blimey, you ticked a few boxes.
    ...which is only my opinion.
    Sketchbook Deviations

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  6. #4
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    Feb 2013
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    You made a classic beginner mistake - entering a tunnel vision mode and rendering an exhaustive laundry list of details each on their own, forgetting to think of the composition as a whole. This resulted in grossly overstated highlights on almost everything, in effect destroying your form modeling, your local colors and your lighting consistency across the scene. Check out the rider for example. What could cause that washed-out highlight on horse's butt in a dark forest? That much specularity wouldn't happen even under direct sunlight. Or another example: you used almost full value range to render each tiny tooth on dragon's head. Or another: What light made those pronounced highlights on dragon's underbelly? Very little light can reach that place. Etc. Not every detail need to be shown and delineated. No matter how much you want to show off that aspect of the form. If the light doesn't hit it, keep it invisible/undefined/subtle.

    All in all, much more subtlety in value gradients is needed when modeling forms, taking care to preserve illusion of local colors.

    Strange how this ended up, since you started with a sketch that had quite a lot of structure to it and stuff on your site shows competence.

    Here's a quickly winged paintover. Just as a general hint. Didn't have much time to resolve all the quirks of dragon anatomy.

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  8. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Thanked 43 Times in 33 Posts
    Thank you for all the feedback and the details! I really appreciate your help!

    The paintover is really great!

    Regarding this...
    Strange how this ended up, since you started with a sketch that had quite a lot of structure to it and stuff on your site shows competence.

    Thanks. I normally do draw a lot in pencil and have to do more value speed paintings to get a better feeling for block shapes and where to not add details.
    I tend to approach the details in a painting like a pencil sketch which is why this ended up like this. This and I wanted it some kind of "finished" on Sunday.

    I will look into all your feedback and will keep your help in mind when doing the next image.

    Thanks again!

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