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Thread: Critique Needed

  1. #1
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    Critique Needed

    Hello, I'm looking for a feedback on these four illustrations. I will provide you with what were my intentions with these, so that you could give me a focused critique on it.


    • I am trying to improve my portfolio by showing that I can draw characters in multiple scenes as I've heard from Will Terry that it's what art directors are particularly looking for.
    • Along with this I am trying to convey believable expressions.
    • I have attempted having some textures in it as I have noticed that children book illustrations tend to follow that.
    • As for the style, I am aiming for the simplicity of this artist: http://hollie-mengert.squarespace.com/ However, I have a feeling that for the characters I would like to strive for Wouter Tulp feeling. So what I wonder is – is Hollie's style suitable for the characters that I would like to lean toward Wouter's style? I will certainly keep the characters simpler than Wouter's as I doubt I can pull off the anatomy. What do you think about that decision? Is it a correct one?



    I am honestly asking you for as sharp critique as needed on all mentioned segments and possibly on anything else that you might notice to be off, particularly the fundamentals. I have no problems hearing even the harshest comments.

    Thank you very much.

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevanp View Post
    I am trying to improve my portfolio by showing that I can draw characters in multiple scenes as I've heard from Will Terry that it's what art directors are particularly looking for.
    I mean, duh? Art directors want someone that knows what they're doing. That's just typical employer nonsense.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevanp View Post
    I have attempted having some textures in it as I have noticed that children book illustrations tend to follow that.
    Random textures are basically a big sign that says "newbie."

    Quote Originally Posted by stevanp View Post
    I will certainly keep the characters simpler than Wouter's as I doubt I can pull off the anatomy. What do you think about that decision? Is it a correct one?
    Nope. My advice if you want to get good at this is to stop doing what you're doing and draw from life every day. Also, forget about other artists' styles. That's just more newbie bullshit that'll keep you from real progress. Work from nature and get comfortable drawing in perspective.
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    As far as trying to emulate another artist...why would an art director go for you instead of Wouter Tulp, if Wouter Tulp is what they're looking for? Having your own identity, and drawing ability, should be your primary concerns as an artist. If you're not really used to using textures in your work, why bother now? The textures don't really add much to your illustrations; actually they look more generic now because you tried emulating the "basic children's book" style.

    As for the expressions...The rabbit actually has the same expression for the first two images, just with closed eyes in the second. The first and the third are also surprisingly similar. There's just barely the slightest difference between the rabbit's happy and worried faces. The carrots are actually a lot better, even though their faces are pretty small. They have a lot of body-language to help differentiate them a bit, while the rabbit doesn't really have any expressive gestures going on. His ears could've been useful in that regard. Maybe as he's being ganked his ears are bolt upright? His eyes are wide with shock? His lower jaw hangs low?

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    Thank you David and Matty!

    I mean, duh? Art directors want someone that knows what they're doing. That's just typical employer nonsense.
    Random textures are basically a big sign that says "newbie."
    Nope. My advice if you want to get good at this is to stop doing what you're doing and draw from life every day. Also, forget about other artists' styles. That's just more newbie bullshit that'll keep you from real progress. Work from nature and get comfortable drawing in perspective.
    David, I feel from your reply that I had sounded as if I was merely complaining and asking for validation, so I need to give more context.

    For about two years, I relied exclusively on real life and photo references and came to realize that I am absolutely incapable of drawing anything that isn't basically just a drawing of realistic objects. And I am not talking only of doing studies of an entire scene, but even setting up my own references for the concept I've come up with. Everything I'd draw looked basically like a mimicry without particular emotion or expression. So I thought it might be a good idea to see how other artists do it and then I've encountered another problem. Among so many styles, I couldn't understand what was a good and what was a bad stylization and I feel so unsure about the realization of any stylized illustration that I simply had to come here for criticism.

    As far as trying to emulate another artist...why would an art director go for you instead of Wouter Tulp, if Wouter Tulp is what they're looking for? Having your own identity, and drawing ability, should be your primary concerns as an artist. If you're not really used to using textures in your work, why bother now? The textures don't really add much to your illustrations; actually they look more generic now because you tried emulating the "basic children's book" style.

    As for the expressions...The rabbit actually has the same expression for the first two images, just with closed eyes in the second. The first and the third are also surprisingly similar. There's just barely the slightest difference between the rabbit's happy and worried faces. The carrots are actually a lot better, even though their faces are pretty small. They have a lot of body-language to help differentiate them a bit, while the rabbit doesn't really have any expressive gestures going on. His ears could've been useful in that regard. Maybe as he's being ganked his ears are bolt upright? His eyes are wide with shock? His lower jaw hangs low?
    Matty, as for emulating the other artists, I've heard a few times that an artist should not emulate a single artist but many, so I have a list of the artists who inspire me the most and I'm trying to extract from each what I like the most. Is that a good approach?
    Do you have a specific advice on how could I improve my textures? I had always felt that either I can do textures that are too detailed by using references or, as you say, end up with artificial ones if I tried to emulate children books.
    Thank you very much for the comment on expressions, I understand what you meant!

    Thank you people!

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    There's nothing wrong with finding inspiration in another artist's work, as long as you don't become a 'copy' of them. I'm not familiar with Wouter Tulp, so I can't tell you if you've done that here. A texture is just as much a tool as a brush, but it's easy to let yourself get carried away with them - especially in digital. Your textures aren't obnoxious here, there's nothing even really 'wrong' with them, they're just kinda boring. That might be subjective, as there's no right or wrong way to go about using them. Right now they make your work look like generic children's book artwork, which kinda is what you were going for?

    I'm interested to see where you take this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevanp View Post
    For about two years, I relied exclusively on real life and photo references and came to realize that I am absolutely incapable of drawing anything that isn't basically just a drawing of realistic objects. And I am not talking only of doing studies of an entire scene, but even setting up my own references for the concept I've come up with. Everything I'd draw looked basically like a mimicry without particular emotion or expression. So I thought it might be a good idea to see how other artists do it and then I've encountered another problem. Among so many styles, I couldn't understand what was a good and what was a bad stylization and I feel so unsure about the realization of any stylized illustration that I simply had to come here for criticism.
    Ok, then what you need is to study Composition and Gesture These aspects of art are what give other people's art the *soul*.

    I can recommend a good book for each subject:

    https://www.amazon.com/Framed-Ink-Dr.../dp/1933492953

    https://www.amazon.com/Force-Dynamic.../dp/0240808452

    Additionally, the ability to invent figures is related to your knowledge of proportion, anatomy and perspective. See Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing book or Proko's YouTube channel.
    Sketchbook

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    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    I mean, duh? Art directors want someone that knows what they're doing.
    not really. they want to have the product they envision to be produced. if you deliver without having a clue noones giving a shit.


    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    Random textures are basically a big sign that says "newbie."
    im having a hard time getting where youre coming from. texture in itself is random.. im not getting the feeling of exuberant texturing here.


    Quote Originally Posted by David_a_ray View Post
    Nope. My advice if you want to get good at this is to stop doing what you're doing and draw from life every day. Also, forget about other artists' styles. That's just more newbie bullshit that'll keep you from real progress. Work from nature and get comfortable drawing in perspective.
    youre dishing out some very harsh critique here ... "stop doing what youre doing"? i dont think hes doing as bad as you make it sound.
    also "forget about other artists' styles", i mean c'mon... thats what ADs usually ask for, because they dont want to pay the money for the real thing (same @MattyT). his choice of artist is even a very good one... if theres something wrong with that, whats up with the "study sargent, zorn, etc" deal?

    dont get me wrong, im not entirely disagreeing with your notion of working on the basics, but writing "newbie bullshit" went to far imo.


    @steveanp ... i think it has its charm. as MattyT mentioned the expressions could be more expressive.
    and i dont like the peacock-feather-ears .
    "Have only 4 values, but all the edges you want."
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    What David is saying is that he shouldn't fall into the trap of trying to let the textures do the work for him. It's the same as first discovering the gradient tool, and using that to draw values. He's letting the tool use him instead of the other way around. Walt Disney puts it more eloquently, but this is what I got from his advice about not copying artist styles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcbBRkPBgB0

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    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    not really. they want to have the product they envision to be produced. if you deliver without having a clue noones giving a shit.
    Yet your chances of delivering are astronomically low if you don't know what the hell you're doing. I don't promote relying on luck. I put myself in that position too many times. Put "sometimes lucky when drawing hands" on a resume.

    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    im having a hard time getting where youre coming from. texture in itself is random.. im not getting the feeling of exuberant texturing here.
    Read what Stevan said about why he applied the textures. There's context you're missing.


    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    youre dishing out some very harsh critique here ... "stop doing what youre doing"? i dont think hes doing as bad as you make it sound.
    Then we disagree. There's useful practice and there's useless practice.

    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    also "forget about other artists' styles", i mean c'mon... thats what ADs usually ask for, because they dont want to pay the money for the real thing (same @MattyT). his choice of artist is even a very good one... if theres something wrong with that, whats up with the "study sargent, zorn, etc" deal?
    Studying other MASTERS is good. How can the student know what is good and what is bad if they don't first study nature? I'm not trying to help him please some hypothetical AD. I'm trying to help him move in the direction of good draughtsmanship. Further, it helps to have some polish to your own ability to gain insight from master studies

    Quote Originally Posted by sone_one View Post
    dont get me wrong, im not entirely disagreeing with your notion of working on the basics, but writing "newbie bullshit" went to far imo.
    That's how I talk. Fuck, shit, goddamn, heck and durn are all part of my vocabulary. It doesn't mean I'm angry, but perhaps I could be a bit more tactful.
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    Hey, guys,

    It's okay, I didn't take the criticism personally, I am aware I am stuck with my development and I understand if I had received criticism of that sort. Had I taken it personally I'd have probably tried to attack David and defend myself, but as I've mentioned in the first post, I was ready for even the harshest criticism. So, it's really okay!

    Thank you very much for the comments, people!!!

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  17. #11
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    That's a good attitude to have. I'm sure David wasn't trying to get a rise out of you, and I think you can improve these if you revisit them. If not, just internalize the criticism for the next project.

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  19. #12
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    sorry for hijacking your thread stevanp. i know this is considered rude, but i theres some misconceptions ventilated here that (i think) do noone any good.

    @david ... im not talking about "hypothetical ADs" neither... granted i work in a low-profile artistry field (drawing for advertising), but i worked with close to 100 ADs in the past couple of years and had to draw almost everything that exists, (with more ore less success ).
    Each one had her/his visions and expectations... (and CDs (or marketing *shudder*) breathing down their necks). yet if the brush i used had texture or not, didnt seem to be of any importance.

    same in this case... i dont care about the tool (i almost exclusively use textured brushes to draw and paint digitally because it redeems some of the "cleanness" digital has to it). i care about character design, story and in general picturemaking (as in composition, notan, rhythm and so on). whats the story, how does your art add to, or distract from that. those are the interesting and hard-to-answer problems.

    as for the "getting a rise" issue... im not suspecting anyone of that... times been different, but right now, the importance of this forum in the do-art-for-a-living-world is rather minuscule.
    [/hijacking]

    so for these pictures...

    i like the idea, and general style/feel/story. i think this would work for a childrens book.

    i suggest to play around with the character design some more. now its super bottom heavy... massive bum, chubby legs... compared to a very slim and at places intricate upper body, peaking in super-fine ears. theres no real design to that, as theres no rhythm, balance and weight. (avoid linear progressions like thick>less thick>thin).

    same for the bg... those evenly distributed shrubs, dumb down the illu (see above). also the color-masses could have more design to them.

    so yeah... not trying to piss anyone off, but rechecking the priorities never hurts imo .

    keep at it.

    [edit] thanks for the link MattyT... didnt know that one.[/edit]
    Last edited by sone_one; October 27th, 2018 at 08:40 PM.
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    Look man, I don't know, but I get the feeling I need to Apologize to you. I went back and tried to read my stuff from another point of view. Let me tell you a bit about where I'm at right now. I feel like I'm finally achieving some level of control over my ability as an artist and my lazy side. It's a good place. I've seen some pretty rapid improvement in the last couple of weeks, and it's really boosted my confidence. I've been doing anatomy studies every day for at least a month and a half. I draw at work, I draw at home. That kind of practice has been non-existent for me on this path. But now I read about art, I look at art, I talk about art, I have immersed myself in it. I'm analyzing that red chalk drawing or whatever, of Michelangelo's, with the guy looking at his bicep. I want to draw like that. I'm seeing in myself that something similar may be accomplished by my hands in the coming years if I maintain my course. This is exciting for someone who sucked so hard a few years ago.

    That said, it's hard to condense the boost in understanding in a way that is comprehensive and useful. My mind is ahead of my hands in some way, but the hands are quickly finding their way.

    I've seen your work. I checked out your sketchbook. It's impressive to me. No shit.

    So let's not have a beef between us. I'm sorry for being an ass.



    I respect you as a fellow artist as I try to respect any on this path.
    Last edited by David_a_ray; October 28th, 2018 at 03:10 PM.
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    Whew, forums can be exciting places, no?

    Anyway, here's just my immediate reaction to your designs...I...really don't like the rabbit...or the color palette of the pieces and the blinding white backgrounds. That's a pretty generic statement, but when you're putting together a portfolio that's trying to entice a certain client, you want them to like the work. What I'm getting at, is that it would behoove you to study up on basic character design and color composition principles. The tricky thing in doing illustration is that it's mischievously difficult to draw something charming-and anatomically believable-and compositionally sound-and narrative-and with studied color theory when it seems like its simpler than drawing from a photograph because it's stylized. Good illustrators are great technical artists, they're often the best, though you wouldn't necessarily see the hours of life drawing and masters studies that contributed to their adorable bunny design, or the hours of plein aire painting that contributed to their elevated sense of natural and beautiful lighting and color. Simplicity is not equal to easy. If you want to understand simplicity, research abstraction. Again, an accomplished abstract artist understands that it is abstraction , meaning, taking reality and abstracting it. What does an actual rabbit look like? Now do 10 different experiments with proportion until you get one that just speaks to you as adorable and memorable.

    Okay, I've gone off on a bit of a rant, but I hope that gives you some direction! Study color, study composition, never stop experimenting with character design and shape studies and you'll be fine.

    Good luck!
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    Since we're invested now, are you going to adjust / continue this series or consider it a learning experience for the next project?

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    dont worry david, i didnt take or mean anything personal . its good to have different point of views and to rub them against each other. we're all learning.
    "Have only 4 values, but all the edges you want."
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    "To any man who has slaved to acquire skill in his art, it is most irritating to have his ability referred to as a 'gift.'"
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    Hey, Matty, yes!

    However, after all this feedback, I have a strong feeling that there are way too many things that don't work in my process.

    Every single advice you guys have given to me was something I've tried to keep in mind initially, particularly with rabbit design. I have used photo references, I have studied rabbits, made a bunch of sketches, tried rotating the rabbit to see if the design works, tried to make the silhouette easy to read (however, I guess I went too far with that one!), used references for expressions and finally I have even taken a look at some Disney characters.

    I would like to start over the entire thing and begin with doing a bunch of sketches for the rabbit, however, I have a feeling that if I go through the entire process alone again, I will not end up with much better results. So, I was wondering if it would be okay with you to post a bunch of sketches here and then, from the sketches, you can give me a direct feedback for that specific phase. Later, I'd move to the next phases, so we can identify what are the other problems. I would write down my thought process as well, so you can attack that too.

    I think it is important for you to know a few things about my experience with art to get a better picture. I've never had a mentor in my life + I am self taught + I have already been working professionally for three years. Not like "occasional freelancing", but working for two companies and later freelancing full time. All of my professional work was pretty generic and in combination with the first two facts, I guess all of that screwed up my development pretty badly, because my supervisors were always satisfied, so I never got a real picture of how crappy was my work hahahha

    So, maybe it's really time to reconsider my own approach. I know this sounds like a lame conclusion after 3-4 years of doing art, but now you know that I had never really had any sort of reality checks in terms of quality of my art regardless of the professional work I was getting. So, if you are okay with me posting every single step in the process here and then having you burn me with the criticism, I am very eager to do so.

    However, it might take a few days to post initial sketches, because I am very busy with the work at the moment (what an irony, right?), so don't think that I had run away!


    Thank you very much for all of this people!!! Here's a heart for all of you, you deserved it hahah

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    I think posting your process is a great way to move forward! The biggest developments you can make from here onward is learning how to design So you have my vote for using this as a development bucket. I'd just recommend keeping the goal very clear. I.E: "I'm experimenting to find an excellent rabbit design" or "I'm exploring attractive color palettes for my composition", so that we can continue to give you relevant advice.
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