Why not good?
I believe I was high when I released this into the ether. I had so much trouble correcting the work further. From an illustration standpoint, why is this bad? I know that it is. But, I can't put my finger on it. How can I remedy this? Or from the looks of the final output, does the foundation look shaky in the first place?

Critiques are much appreciated! Be honest and harsh!

If you are reading this, I most likely just gave you a crappy crit! What I'm basically trying to say is, don't give up!  
IG: @thatpuddinhead
Yeah, the problem lies with the foundation in this case. The main thing you'll need to figure out are proportions, general anatomy and construction. That's not something you can fix in a single picture, you just gotta practice for a bit. In my experience it's a good idea to try to just think about the face as a 3d object and forget the concepts its made up of for a bit. For example, constructing heads upside down is super helpful for getting away from symbol drawing. Your colors are pretty alright already though, the rendering is nice and clean looking and the composition isn't bad either, so good job on that.

A few specific things you could start with:
-the eyes are deceptively deep in the eyesockets and they're 3d. with eyes it's especially difficult to get away from drawing symbols for some reason, so you really have to make a conscious effort to think about them as balls with skin wrapped around them
-noses protrude from the head a lot more than you'd think
-watch out so your necks don't get too long
- try to figure out how to place your ears depending on the angle of the head. also keep in mind that they're not attached straight but in a slightly tilted way

In terms of figure drawing/ anatomy books you have a choice between hampton, loomis and vilppu. I like vilppu the most, but you gotta see for yourself. Sinix also has a video on drawing faces that I found super helpful.

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Project / Sketches / Paintings
remember to be as specific as possible when asking for critiques, that will make easier for people to critique and easier for you to get better.
Still, since you asked for it i guess i can give you some broad critique.
I dont know about "bad" or "good", art is always subjetive so i will only critique your fundamentals and technique.

For starters the gaussian blur on the blonde girl doesnt look good at all. Using tricks like that can be a nice touch if you know what you are doing but im afraid in this case its doing more harm than good.
I generally would avoid using digital tricks like that, specially if your primary intent is learning.

I like how you are managing the hair, the clothing and the sword, but what breaks this picture are the two girls. Did you try putting them into perspective before starting to paint? that always makes a huge difference. Also anatomy, get good reference, lots of it. Nothing shameful about it.

And now this is my personal opinion but both the color palette and the values are really boring, looks like a regular photo with studio lights and all.
At this point, i think you would learn more if you simply started again having things like perspective, values, color,etc defined before painting (try doing thumbnails first) and gather lots of good reference from photos, 3d, etc.

Just to add to all things said above:
Try to simplify as much as you can, adding that skin texture actually makes it look like an unhealthy skin. Try some soft brushes.

And just to emphasize what Lodratio said - face structure, the shape and form of the object is the most important thing all other things are secondary. If you get the shape right even with bad rendering it will always look better than bad shape with good rendering.

Faces are a bit too long as well as noses, which are too narrow as well. Eyes are a little bit too small on the first one. otherwise it's not bad.

Below just a quick paintover. Notice I went with very simple skin tone.

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Man, you are one lucky so-and-so today. 3 Paintovers :P

Taking the others feedback even further, and using Piotr's paintover because he already did the hard work on structure and proportion. :)

I extended the canvas because it felt a bit claustrophobic. Probably could do some interesting suggestion of shapes in the background even further to add some dynamic angles and shapes to your comp. (maybe a window or large screen or an interior where the scene is set.)

Bold interesting lighting and composition can take a mediocre piece and make it explode.
Don't go with an ambient lit flat lighting scheme if you want drama. Cinema stills can help you there.
Don't be afraid to use shadow and light shapes that may be originating from off-canvas to help the scene you are actually looking at. It creates the impression that something exists off the canvas, and helps storytelling.

Also smudged out some hard edges. Not very well, but to try and counteract that hard silhouette everywhere.

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@Lodratio Thank you for the tips! And I totally appreciate the time ghosting through my work. I will be more mindful of your advice. Especially the upside down construction... that never crossed my mind. Thank you!

@EduardoGaray You caught me. I tried to wing the perspective. You are correct, the blur didn't fix anything at all and did more harm than good. Thank you for the advice!

@Piotr This is beautiful! I will definitely do a side by side check and see where I screwed up. The face construction is solid and the colors are amazing! Man, this is lightyears of improvement compared to mine. I totally appreciate your time painting over my work. I will definitely pick this apart!

@Amit You have no idea how grateful I am! I'm already an admirer of everybody's (including yours!) body of work, and the paint overs are just a godsend. I didn't expect this, and definitely won't take them for granted. Thank you for the correction! I really love the colors you did! And the background! I will definitely pick this apart and learn how you pulled this off. Thank you!

Thanks everyone!

If you are reading this, I most likely just gave you a crappy crit! What I'm basically trying to say is, don't give up!  
IG: @thatpuddinhead
You're definitely a lucky one with all that feedback :)

Just remember not to rush things. I'll be hard to take everything into consideration at once. Definitely start with facial proportions and check Loomis head construction method (I don't reallu use it but it helps to get some understanding). Once you more or less have the basic understanding of head construction you can test some colors, cool lightning etc. according to what everyone advised. And don't worry, you have good study habits, you will improve. I did worse stuff when at first :)


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