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I've finished a value rough of my current piece. This illustration is pretty straightforward- a knight on horseback fighting against a bunch of shadowy-skeletal guys chasing after him, in the format of a wraparound book cover. Two are following behind him, and another two have run in front of him. I wanted to have a piece in my portfolio with a lot of action (and horses) since that's something very common in fantasy art. The edges on the shadow guys are going to be more blurred and shadowy when I get closer towards the final, but I left them sharp here so you can see them better. They also have flames/fire coming out of their skulls and inside the ribcage area, in case it wasn't clear what the bright spots on them were.
What I'd really like everyone's input on so far is the composition. There's a lot of stuff going on and I want to make sure its fundamentally strong. Do you see any awkward tangents or anything like that? I tried to get the eye to follow the curvature of the skeleton swords leading towards the knight, who is the focal point of the piece obviously.In particular I wanted to know what people thought of the horse in the foreground on the front cover (not the larger horse from behind on the back cover side) Do you think the placement of the horse is awkward at all? Like the way the head or legs are cut off? I've been having a tough time finding a good position for that figure without covering up too much of the knight.
Thanks for taking a look!
UPDATE- finally found some time in between work to finish this piece. I still have some more detailing/sharpening to do in some areas, like on the ground and on the main horse, but all the essential details are there, and I'd like to know what people think. I also still need to do a little work on the guy's face- something just isn't working for me. Does the composition make sense? I wanted the skeletal riders to be smokey/flamey, but can people still make sense of where the riders are and what they're doing?
Last edited by dwilliams; July 5th, 2013 at 12:36 PM.
Hey man, some nice stuff happening here. I would say that the front cover, black horse could be moved towards the camera more so we see less of him, but he's bigger. Right now he's technically closer to us than the white knight but feels smaller. I would exaggerate this. There also is a slight almost tangent issue with the back cover horse's head and the way it leads almost right into the black horse in the rear's front quarters. Maybe angle the horse's head so it's nose is pointing more towards the white knight. Also be mindful of text and where that might be placed on the image so you don't get any crucial elements being lost etc.
-start a revolution.
I like the idea of this but think your composition is off.
The rock points in the background are taking away from the focus which should be on the white knight. The foreground horses are in awkward positions which also take away from that, and the demon and horse on the spine are getting lost because they're neither on the front or the back cover.
I think if you work out a circular flow of action through the white knight, the left hand horse and then round throught the two foreground horses back to the white knight, this will work much better. And maybe change the direction the foreground horses are facing because it all looks a bit muddled at the moment. Maybe face the one on the left to the front and right but have the rider facing back toward the knight, and have the one on the right further off the page so you only see its hind quarters but the rider is also leaning back in towards the knight, would help with sightlines and flow of action again.
Anyway, not sure if any of that makes sense, just throwing some thoughts and suggestions out. Hope they help a little.
Here is another composition I tried, based off of the critiques I've gotten here and elsewhere.I simplified the shapes of the shadow guys so it's less busy and easier to see what's going on.
I moved the position of the two rear horses a bit and changed the front two horses a lot as well. The front two horses are closer to the viewer, and allow a clearer view of the knight. I've also adjusted the values some to give the piece more depth. Overall I think this piece reads a little easier and has more dimension to it, with a stronger foreground and more visible background in the distance. Let me know what you think!
I think you've lost something in the dynamism here, but not sure exactly why. In the 1st image he seems to be riding more aggressively, and the point of view was also looking down on him a bit with the way you had the foreground figures placed. Now he looks more like he's in a race instead of a fight. Just looking at the front cover I really don't have a sense of what is going on anymore. A small point is that you need to see the whole sword on the front cover, maybe raise it up so it looks more like he's starting to strike instead of just holding it. Go look at Frazetta's Conan and Death Dealer covers - they are like getting hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
Hope that helps
Updated the first post with my current image. Take a look!
I think this is looking very cool
Here are some nit picks/thoughts
I felt like by lifting the guys arm his pose turned more dynamic and we get more of a spiraling composition rather than a bunch of conflicting diagonals.
Last edited by tobbA; July 12th, 2013 at 02:03 PM.
I agree with the above thoughts; I'll add 2 more: If the ambient light is green, we shouldn't see his cape as bright white; actually, him and the horse are lit with white. I'd throw a green overlay layer on him and the horse to gently set them into the composition. Second and more work, is that skeleton on the right. The two smallest skeletons are clearly attacking, the big one on the left is possibly attacking it's not clear. I think if you tilted him a bit to be leaning forward a tad that would solve him. But the one on the right is just sitting there. I think if you got rid of the horse head (you don't need it visually we know he's riding one) and dragged/leaned him over to the left a bit you could bring more clear definition to the figure without compromising the hero. Also, his sword is stuck to the lower frame. You could lift it and angle it as well to hype up the dynamics more.
Hope that helps