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I picked away at this for about 6.5 hours total. To be honest I'm getting sort of tired of working on it (it's going on the shelf for now), but I'd still love some critique so I know what to watch out for in the future even though it's not finished. I'm mainly worried about the composition and values. This is only my second monochrome and environment painting, so I expect I have a lot to work on. As I said, it's not a finished piece. If you could forgive the messiness and brokenness of some details I'd really appreciate it.
I attached a small and a big version of the piece. I hope that's alright. Just wanted to make it easier for people with smaller monitors.
Here's also a .gif of my various save stages, if anyone's curious: http://gickr.com/results3/anim_53857...19e5191f03.gif
Edit: I just realized I'm probably going to get a question at some point along the lines of "how come the raccoon doesn't have patterns on its fur". I was trying to strictly work in values, ignoring colours. Had I continued on with this piece, I would have later added colours in a seperate layer.
Last edited by keeptime; August 11th, 2012 at 12:22 PM.
First off, even racoons need reference. Also, the brush size for the hair isn't fitting with the rest of the painting.
Then, the first step before you even get any painting done is a thumpnail. You plan out where and how to set up the environment. Those dead tree could work to lead the eye, if they were not cut off by the sides. I'd extend the canvas there, so you get them shown up completely. as soon as they connect with the ground, more or less you have everything needed for a simple composition here.
I'd also suggest to look how nature works, especially in dark, deep forest. Also, think about the main color theme you pick. I know you said you'd have colored it later, but imho pink wont work in order to color out of it. I'd rather pick a dark blue or green-blue.
Oh wow, thanks a bunch for all the advice and the image to help. Yeah, not making a thumbnail was probably my biggest mistake. It's a habit I need to get into.
For the trees, I was trying to lead the eye like you said by framing the raccoon and the pond. Do you mind explaining this a little bit more? Was cutting the trees off at the side leaving the overall impression too open? I was worried by showing them in their entirety, it would give a claustrophobic feeling to the image.
The dark-green/blue makes sense. I chose the purple because I thought it would give a "gloomy" feeling, but maybe the shade I picked had too much red/was too bright.
As for raccoon reference, I did some sketches beforehand and had some references opened as I was working on this. I guess I should have paid more attention before trying to paint one. Did I add too much bulk to the fur and lose the raccoon shape?
Sorry about all the questions. Thanks again for the help. Your recreation is fantastic.
Edit: Now that I really look at it, I'm realizing my raccoon looks a lot closer to a red panda. That was pretty sloppy of me. I'll definitely have to pay more attention next time.
The problem with the trees is, they aren't really connecting or leading to something in particular. Both of them cut off or point into a direction that doesn't reveal anything but picture's edge. All of that tells the viewer, that there is interesting stuff somewhere else, but he can't see it because of the limited view. But the focus should be the racoon, he's the special, hidden thing we want to spot. Adding some close up bushes and stuff always helps with the feeling, we silently watch animals from a spot where they can't see us, and also shows that we didn't cut off anything important.
Thinking about it now, you may extent the canvas even more to add some black bushes or a place to breathe.
I don't know how to connect pink with gloomy. If you want a dawn scene, rather use reds, oranges and yellows. Night probably works best with a lot of grays and blues.
About the racoon: It's more the anatomy that looks off. Then, the fur like you did makes it look flat. Yo should first think about the forms and shapes underneath. Adding the fur on top then in pretty much the same values, with a not too small brush. I prefer indicating them in certain spots (like value changes and edges).
All your points make sense. For the raccoon I had only blocked out the general shape of him in one colour and then went to town with the small brush trying to fill out the values/fur/body shape. I had never really done fur before so I just assumed that was the way to do it. Oh well, always something to learn!
I have no idea what I was thinking with the pink/purple when I picked it. It really doesn't make any sense now that I read what you've been saying. I'll have to pay more attention to colour next time I start a piece.
Thanks again for all your help! I really appreciate it.