Two-Character Illustration Critique
Hello all,

It's my first time posting, but hopefully it'll be the first of many :)

I'm working on this as a portfolio piece to demonstrate my digital painting and would love to hear if anybody has some advice, critique, etc, to help the piece come along.

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Hey, that's a really awesome start you've made. I think you've gone too detailed too quickly, there are a couple of proportion/anatomy things that need tweaking. I did a paintover for you.

[Image: tallpose_rough_paintover_by_misslillyart-d6bg3zs.jpg]

There doesn't seem to be a light source and all of the values seem to be quite similar, a way to check this is making the piece greyscale, it's easier to define light and shade and create contrast, the characters don't really stand out from the background and it looks quite flat. I made the background a bit darker and added some shadows to the character, but this could be pushed even further with darker shadows.

The child didn't seem to be looking anywhere in particular, sort of staring off into the middle distance, also where are they pointing? I think you should either add something in, or don't have them pointing. At the moment the piece just looks like two characters standing in a forest, take their back story into consideration, who are they? Why are they there? Maybe you could have them interacting.

I really love you mecha samurai character, that is a really sweet design but I think you need to be careful with the anatomy, I know he's a giant robot and is rather stylised, but I think his arms are a tad long and his feet and head are a tad small.

I'd recommend doing some thumbnails to sort out the composition a bit, I didn't realise the guy was giant until I saw the child and he's covering up the rocks behind him (not sure if they're important or not?)

Sorry, this turned out longer than I planned. It's a good start, I'd love to see it progress (:
Thanks very much for you input!

Good advice about the lighting. I added some more defined light and shadow for now, but I think it would be better to add them after the characters are worked out.

The robot character's anatomy was designed as it is for reasons of functionality (longer limbs to both extend reach and increase foot speed, with the arms acting as counterweights.), but I added a recognizable object (a signpost) to give the viewer a reference for scale. His head is mean to be a to-scale human sized head on an exaggerated body.

I changed up the girl's pose to give a little clearer context for the picture.

I'd love to hear any more advice or critique, I really appreciate it!

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Here is the latest progress. I'm still not sure how to finish this. Does anyone have any advice to that end?

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Hi SaidTheJoker,
You have an interesting image here. The character design is very imaginative. I think that your problems with finishing have to do with how you STARTED the image. You have obviously spent a lot of time on the details of the image but have basically ignored the underlying structure of the image. This underlying is structure is the MOST CRITICAL component of your image because it is the first aspect that a viewer 'sees' when viewing your image. When making a picture it is useful to work from general to specific, both for efficiency and impact. You have been working 'in reverse' basically. That is why it is difficult for you to figure out where to go next. I would suggest making some thumbnails to explore alternate compositions and storytelling elements, as well as to explore different viewpoints.
This brings me to another point; which is draftsmanship. Your image currently has very minimal perspective. This is important because accurate perspective drawing is essential to making believable images. If we were to be looking at a robot that is that tall then we would be looking 'up' at him in most instances. This means that we would be seeing the underside of his forms more often than not. Simply adding subtle details like this add tremendous value to your images and immerse the viewer in your story. I added a small sketch to show you what I mean about the overall effect of the image and the addition of perspective.
Long story short: Remember perspective when drawing, and plan the big picture BEFORE worrying about the details. Hope this helps and good luck.

"... for drawing is a thinking person's art." - Walt Stanchfield.
Good point about the perspective. I opened up the file and realized that I was tending to slightly look down at my monitor, which put me at eye level with the tall character, so the thought about looking up may not have ever even occurred to me!

And thank you very much for that grayscale sketch, it more-or-less answers all the questions I still had about the background details, shadows, perspective, etc.

I'll be sure to show the results of your critiques :)
Here is another draft based on the critiques you guys provided.

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I would downsize the image even more when posting on the forum just so it is easier to see the entire piece at once. Also, you are still leaping into color and detail head first. It seems you may be afraid to scrap entire parts of the piece....or even start from the ground up again. If you are too precious with your work you will not be able to learn from your mistakes. I know it is a very hard thing to do but it must be done. Now with that being said I want you to look at this resizing of your image into a tiny thumbnail. Can you read the image well ? Is there enough value shift to show that there is depth within the piece (hence why I desaturated it)? Does the composition work or is it in need of a bit more thought? These are all things you should ask yourself.

If I were you, I would start with something a little bit bigger than the thumb I put into here and make like 8-10 more value compositions with just blocked in shapes. Then you can ask for crits on which is best or you can choose what looks best. Then go from there in stages. Little by little you bring it up until it is polished...but don't hit up detail/color it right from the start like Javier said. Take your time. Now let's see what you can belt out :)


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Keep your dream alive, feed it daily!

SB thread
The only thing that jumps out at me is that I'd like to see a difference in value between the background and the characters, maybe just lighten up the BG a bit, or even scale the saturation back for the background, anything to show distance. The subject is great, interesting characters.

I'm taking everybody's comments into consideration and attempting to find a more clear direction for the piece. I found this image, a promotional piece from "My Neighbour Totoro", that encapsulates my desired look for the piece. Thank you all again so much :)

I'll definitely be uploading smaller images from now on!
That movie is BOSS!!

Can't wait to see the new stuff :)

Keep your dream alive, feed it daily!

SB thread
Found some time to bring the piece to a finish. I'm not entirely satisfied, but it was a definite learning experience!

Critiques still very very welcome!

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I think it turned out quite good despite the shaky looking start. A couple of things to think about are your materials and textures. The vegetation is textured without thought to volume or form. It looks like textured playdoh hastily plonked onto a surface. The ground texture is similarly lazy in implementation. The surface materials on the characters could probably do with a bit more indication to differentiate them, as they are very very matte at the moment. I know it's cel shading style but maybe a teensy bit more would help it come alive.

I don't think the pose and presentation of the characters together makes for a particularly powerful image. They are just standing in neutral poses facing straight out of the screen. The Totoro image you posted is a great example of interesting posing and added narrative. This is what this piece most lacks. Generally nice work on the design side of things and the rendering turned out nicely besides a few tweaks but I definitely think that the next time around you should think carefully about your composition, posing and narrative to give the image an additional dimension that brings it up a level as a stand alone image.

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Thanks for the critique, you're advice about posing and composition seems spot-on upon reflection. I realised that I was trying to deign the characters during the layout process, and that the narrative element was not thought through beyond the concept that the characters are on some kind of journey.
Some darker shadow behind the giant to separate him more from the rocks would help push sense of space and depth further. Same thing for the cape behind his waist.

just as a point, try to avoid submitting huge images, scale them down and crop before you submit because it means poor people like me spend half an hour loading the page :'(
Moving on, I agree with monkeybread's crits, plus personally im not too convince by the lighting- it seems almost like its a wide flash photograph from slightly above the camera? the lighting seems white and unnatural, and there are very little shadows to complementi it.
In my humble opinion, you should try to define your lighting source (strong sun vs weaker moon, warmth and direction before you do most things rendering. I dont know if this is a particular style that you are going for though, so I wont force that down your throat ;)
That said, i really like the style and the design of the characters so great work there :) Just things to keep in mind for next time.

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