CGMythology's Sketchbook
Great consistency in terms of work ethic, CG. Lunatique actually made a good point in his latest comment, you produce a lot but there's a feeling that the quality of the images has plateaued. It's not bad but there's certainly room for improvement in the points he mentioned. I guess you're aiming for a comic book kinda style, that's my guess, thus being realistic isn't what your seeking i would still encourage you to maybe try to analyze your work. The best way is to take a picture of an artist you like and place it right next to your painting and just compare, see what's missing in you work in terms of values, drawing, color, edges e.t.c. And then maybe do studies to actually change the way you handle those aspects. But if you like the way you paint right now it's perfectly fine i think. When i joined this forum i posted some older works and people pointed that i need to learn how to draw first. :D I was embarassed a little knowing that i studied drawing and painting for 5 years in an Art Academy but later it kinda sunk in and i realised that yeah, my drawing isn't that good, it can be better for sure. So i started paying more attention to drawing and structure and it produced results. I'm not a fan of giving critique. If i don't have anything nice to say i don't say anything because i realised one thing. If you as an artist don't really see your flaws and you're not willing to improve nobody can really get that in to you. As long as you are content with the level you're at it doesn't really matter if people make sense or not. That's why i think many people stay where they're at, because they either don't want to move any further or don't see what is there that can be done. And it's ok, it's what they do. So if one doesn't see or realise that there are things to improve other people's input is pointless.
Anyways, keep up with what you do! Art isn't only about constantly seeking how to be better but it's also a really fun activity so if you're comfortable and you have fun more power to you.

Lunatique:  Great job with the paintover, looks much more believable now!  I incorporated the updated lighting on the image, hopefully it's OK now. 

Regarding your general comments on my work, I agree with everything you said 100%.  I do sometime struggle with lighting at times although I do think I've improved a bit on that aspect... but I will take it a step further.  I love the suggestions of doing studies from film stills, I think that would be a ton of fun to tackle and already have some ideas of the movies I can tackle!

Regarding my figure work, the style I generally aim for is 'stylized realism', with a bit more realism emphasized than a stylistic look.  I agree that I should study references more in that regard, specifically of the surface materials as you mentioned.

I've watched your progress as well and have been impressed with your work from the very beginning.  I know you're trying to achieve a more traditional look with your digital portraits and I feel you've succeeded immensely in that regard.  Thank you kindly for your feedback and suggestions as well, very constructive and I'm very grateful, means a lot coming from you!

one_two: Thank you!  I'm going for stylized realism, still experimenting with my style.  I do feel there's room for improvement as Lunatique pointed out, especially in regards to obtaining a better understanding of lighting which I will follow.  Thanks again for your support!


I did some updates on the Jade image based on 'Lunaitque's' awesome paintover and I feel it's a strong improvement.  I think I'll consider it done for now unless something really major is off, so please let me know!

Next I finished work on the new image, I think it's definitely one of my strongest pieces.  I'd love to hear any feedback on this image so if something feels off feel free to let me know!  Below is the current preview followed by some steps for those interested!

The updated version looks good. I know you mentioned you wanted to move on from that piece, but I just wanted to quickly say that for future reference, in a scene like that, think of the glowing green staff as a secondary light source for the background, so any shadow areas from the first light source (ambient light coming from behind and above the figure), will only not be pitch black because of the green light, so it should be quite green in the background shadows within 10 feet of her.

The latest stone angel looks good. In that final phase, you'll need to really sell that stone surface to make it believable. Where the specular highlights hit will be a critical aspect that you need to nail to make it convincing.

Thank you for the kind words about my recent progress. I feel like I'm only about 60% of the way to my targeted sensibility. I need to force myself to loosen up the brushwork even more. It's a struggle when I grew up on Boris Vallejo and Bouguereau and other artists who rendered very tight, smooth, and detailed and spent all my formative years chasing after that sensibility. It wasn't until my late 20s that my taste changed and I started to lean more and more towards the expressive and painterly look pioneered by masters like Sargent and carried by recent masters like Richard Schmid.
Lunatique:  Thank you, and excellent point regarding the green lighting, I'll keep in mind for future reference.  Also excellent suggestions regarding the specular lights, just incorporated it to the rocky surfaces and refined it a bit further.  

I know what you mean regarding the more loose style, I also have the same inspirations as you as well, haha.  I think you're doing great in regards to loosening up your style, you've made excellent progress since you've first started (I remember your fist portraits from Facebook where you first experimented with the new style).  Thanks again for your input, always very constructive and helpful, and please keep up the great work!


Lots of updates today!  First up is the recent image, I think I pretty much finalized it now.  Basically did some final refinements to push the details and textures even further.  I feel I overworked the image a bit so I'm calling it done for now, unless something major is off so please let me know!  Here is the current progress:

Next up are some movie still studies from various movies.  What I looked for when researching the stills were dynamic lighting.  So far I consider these studies successful as I have a better understanding of how lighting works, so I'll continue to do them.  I'm not trying to refine these too much as well, want to keep the style loose and 'finish' once it looks decent enough and I've learned what I need to:

And finally I began work on a new illustration.  The theme for this one is steampunk, and I wanted a landscape look for this one as I want to emphasize the environment a bit and I might also offer this as a wallpaper, we shall see.  Below is the current sketch, any feedback on it would be most appreciated as I want to get it 100% right before begin work with colors:

The stone angel's lighting on the rocks doesn't quite match the overall lighting. On your figure, the light source is a small one with hard edged shadows, like the sun, and it is coming from the right top of the figure, more to the side than to the front because most of the left side is in shadow. But on the rocks, it looks like the light source is coming from from the front and above instead to the side and above. Also, with specular highlights, there are two things to consider: 1) The plane that faces the light source more directly will be brighter. This is the most common for all materials regardless of smoothness. 2) On very smooth surfaces, light will reflect more prominently than matte surfaces, and there will be an angle of incident where the photon rays from the light source will hit a surface and then bounce off and then hit your eyes, like how a billiard ball will bounce off something depending on the relative angle.

So what that means in this context, is on each piece of rock, any plane that will create a bounce angle for the sun's rays to bounce to your eyes like shooting a billiard ball from the sun, hitting that plane, and then bounced right to between your eyes, will have really bright highlight.

The movie screenshot studies look good. Def do a shit ton of them and really pay attention to their composition, perspective, lighting, colors, surface materials, etc. One tip I have is to keep in mind lighting in movies, TV shows, video games, and most professional photography are not "natural," as there's almost always some kind of lighting modifiers used in scenes that can use them, such as reflectors, snoots, scrims, colored gels, etc. Even a simple shot of two characters walking down the street and having a conversation would be filmed with a lighting assistant just outside the frame carrying a big reflector and following the actors to bounce light into the shadows on their faces so the shadows aren't too dark. When you analyze lighting done by professionals, always ask yourself how they achieved that look because most of the time it's not natural.

This also brings up another important point, and that is how useful it is to artists to know photography. Not only will it help you understand lighting and composition better, it'll also allow you to shoot high-quality references for your work that will elevate your work to the next level.

The latest drawing looks good, but I'm wondering where her thumb is.
Nice studies, nice to see these from you! Just dropped in and saw a couple things that might the most recent piece. Like was brought up above that hand needs a little work before you take to rendering, and the perspective on that hand cannon could do with a tweak considering the angle we are looking at her. If you want to show more of the bottom of the grip then we should probably roll the hand further around the grip and see more of her fingers.  And the last nit picky thing would be the lock necklace, as designed it could be quite uncomfortable. But i suppose fashion and function are not one and the same so who cares  lol.

Did a quick and dirty PO just show the things I was talking about but purely for a second opinion. Good luck on the piece and keep up the great work.

Lunatique:  Great point, great eye!  I'm used to using lighting where it comes from the top right so I wasn't as conscious of the light source as I should have been, I admit.  I made some adjustments to the image now, hopefully it looks more natural!

Glad you dig the studies, learned a lot from them already.  I'll continue doing them, they're fun and very education for me.  Excellent point regarding the artificial lighting as well.  I'm trying to study lighting with one or two sources max to not overcomplicate things and to have a clear definition of the light sources, so hopefully that'll work.

I agree about studying photography, should be a great asset to have.  I think I'll take some reference photos of various subjects in different lighting conditions and do some studies of those as well, should be fun!

Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, always appreciate your input!

CBinnsIllustration:  Thank you! Great input as well, love what you did with the hand especially so I incorporated it to the image.  Hopefully things look better now!


I finished up the painting process on the current image, took a lot of effort and my index finger is in pain from working so long... but I'm happy with how it turned out so hopefully it was worth it.  Below is the current preview followed by the steps for those interested.  As always, please let me know any input as there's still time to make some improvements if needed!

Next up I did some tweaking to the stone illustration, reworked some of the lighting a bit to make it appear more natural.

And finally a study of a movie still from 'The Last Jedi' which was quite fun.  Didn't want to overwork this one as I see no point, learned what I need to in regards to the light.  I'll do further studies soon as well, should be fun!

Wow George — a lot of great work since I last looked in. Great job.

I think this one is my fav:

A nice touch would have been to add a little haze around the feet.

Your skin tones at times seem to be feel a little metallic or plastic so continuing to doing those studies is an excellent idea. Also suggest doing studies of nicely lit studio photos too.


This one is really impressive.

The detail in the props, costume and background is superb.

Jephyr:  Thank you!  Glad you like those two images as I'm very happy with how they turned out as well.  Got some great input from this forum so special thanks to everyone who offered feedback!  I agree about the metallic looking skin, I tend to use high contrast for my images and this can cause the skin tone to look a bit unnatural, so I'll try to be more conscious of this for my next paintings!  Thanks again for the positive words and support, really appreciate it!


I'm currently busy with my studies focusing on lighting, doing a lot of traditional studies as well in my sketchbook.  I'll try to post them when I have a significant number of them done, but right now I want to apply what I've been learning with a new illustration.  

Below is a finished sketch of the 'All-New Captain America'.  I had a general reference for the pose (you can view it here) although I didn't want to be a complete slave to it, didn't just want to do a photo study for this one so I drew him as the new version and attempted something more dynamic with his pose.  Overall I'm fairly satisfied with it but I would love to hear any input before I apply color, so please let me know!

It more dynamic but it doesn't mean it dynamic if you see what i mean.It would be a good idea to do more figure from imagination for now on. Anatomy should no longer be something that so heavily influence by the reference at the level you operate. Otherwise the general dynamism that could be in there will simply be limited by your understanding of how to push the dynamism but if you stick to the ref to closely you also end with a similar composition which kinda force you to work around the reference when it come to the background instead of being in control from the start to the finish it very much depend how much liberty you want artistically obviously.

You got plenty of comic to draw from reference and i don't think it good to be influence that much by the reference.I think the issue with doing illustration is that you are not force to draw your subject matter in different pose like let say a comic book artist would.This mean that you commit to early to a pose.You don't explore you don't warm up... it all fun to jump right in but it hurt you more in the long run.

I seriously wish you would thumbnail more even if it just for the sake of getting the bad pose out the way.

Spend the time to research and assemble your reference material but mostly rely on good fundamental.

Don't forget to add those gesture study to the list i think that the take out of this critic.

I wish you the best -Darktiste

My Sketchbook

Perfection is unmeasurable therefor it impossible to reach it.
Hi George, Happy if any of my suggestions help. Skin tone is something I still struggle with — so we can wish each other well on our journeys of improvement.

Looking forward to seeing your studies.

The latest concept looks very good. I like the way you leaned him up and turned his pose more directly at the viewer.

darktiste:  I'm sure I can do something decent strictly with imagination, but I'm not going for a stylized look for my illustrations.  I want them to look as realistic as possible so I find photo reference essential in that regard.... There's too much information on light and shadow that the brain can't make up by itself, not to mention I can typically draw and paint a bit faster looking at reference so it all works out.  I might try a technique of drawing from imagination first for the thumbnails, then shooting reference material after so I can obtain a more dynamic result.  We shall see, thanks for your input as always!

Jephyr: Yeah skin tones can be tricky.  I'm trying to be more conscious of them when I paint to avoid the mistakes you mentioned, and I feel that helped for the new illustration below.  Glad you like the new concept as well, and keep up the great work!


I finalized the image.  The painting process went extremely smoothly thankfully, and I'm pretty happy with the image overall.  Of course there's still time for changes if necessary so if something feels off feel free to let me know!  Below is the current preview followed by the steps for those interested.

Started on a new sketch.  Wanted to draw something fairly simple to concentrate on dynamic lighting, so I went with a portrait of Poison Ivy from the Batman series.  I based the face on actress Scarlett Johansson and am very happy with the likeness I achieved.  Any feedback on the sketch would be most appreciated!

Personally something with the skin look off don't forget darker skin tone absorb more light so if my understanding is correct that mean a bigger shift from the light side to the shadow side.

I added the skin reference if you want to go more into detail and study the color shift personally i just use the burn tool in the shadow range at around 50%

One thing that as a nice effect is the sweat on is skin in the shadow side it create interest also this sweat change the level of reflection on the skin i think black people tend to sweat more due to there skin absorbing more of the light.For all this reason i think the skin look more realistic if you are aware of how those thing interact.

One small other thing i did is reduce the light in the background on the left to give a the eye the path that seem where you want the attention to go which is the face.The pile of scrap therefor as not an equal read also making thing a bit darker add more ''danger'' ''mystery''.

Also i did not do a paint over on this specific area but the shape of the knuckle seem out of place they don't allign properly with the finger and the are to prodruted the shadow in between the knuckle show be reduce to give more flatness to the shape.

That all hope you get something out of that.

Have a nice day - Darktiste

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My Sketchbook

Perfection is unmeasurable therefor it impossible to reach it.
I've been meaning to do this paintover feedback but had been too busy, but I had some free time today.

The reason why the stones on her still don't have enough fidelity is because the lighting on them doesn't match the lighting you have for the rest of the scene. I painted over one spot to show you how it should look, then a diagram on the right explaining why. 

The brightest plane is the one that will form an optimal bounce angle from the sun to the plane and then to the viewer's eyes. It's a lot like billiard balls requiring the optimal bounce angle to nail the shot you want to make. Too shallow or too steep and the ball will not go where you want it to (from the sun to the viewer's eyes). The little ridge also has the same bright highlight for the same reason--it's also a plane facing toward the light source. Then the plane facing the viewer will be your mid-tone because the plane's angle does not have an optimal bounce angle to get the most light into the viewer's eyes. Then the planes facing downwards will have the darkest value because the photon rays can't even bounce off of them and towards the viewer's eyes--they can't even reach the down-facing planes. But those planes aren't just pitch-black because there will be ambient light bounced off the ground and upwards and fill in those shadows and light them up a little bit. 

Right now, lighting is one of your most glaring weaknesses and my recommendation is to do a ton of lighting studies to improve your understanding of how lighting works. There are some excellent books on the subject you might want to check out: : lighting for artists

Here's also a good free resource to get started on deepening your understanding: itchy animation - quirky illustration and characters by Richard Yot (

One of the assignments I give my students to train their ability to light a scene with believability is to take this flat image with no lighting and then paint the lighting on and make it look convincing:

Here are examples from past students:

This is one of the most difficult assignments in the workshop I taught because it requires a thorough understanding of lighting and form and materials, and the students ranged from hobbyists to professional concept artists and art directors already working in games, film, and animation. These are the best examples from among hundreds--the rest all had glaring issues. 

If you study lighting and form and materials enough, you might be able to nail this assignment. It might be fun to think of it as a long-term challenge to conquer.
darktiste:  Excellent feedback!  Thanks for the paintover as well, very useful!  Made the necessary changes and updated the image, hopefully it works better now!

Lunatique:  Thank you kindly for the paintover, very helpful.  I'll revisit the image soon as I think I can improve it based on what you posted.  Thank you for the book recommendations as well, I'll check some of them out when I get the chance.  Love the assignment you posted as well, it seems like it would be a fun challenge.  I saved the default image and will try out incorporating some light on it after I strengthen my technique.  The last few examples you posted are particularly impressive, very dynamic use of light there.  Can I ask if you still host workshops?  Thanks for your input as always, extremely useful for me!


I updated the Captain America piece, basically revised the lighting a bit and added some darker shading to the face which made it look more natural.  I think I'm calling it finished for now unless something major is off!

I went ahead and finished up the painting process for 'Poison Ivy'.  Pretty pleased with it.  Any final input on the image would be most appreciated!

Here are the steps for those interested:

The ears is getting to much light in my opinion and the interior of the left arm is also to bright if the arm cast a shadow onto itself but i think for clarity sake you might want to cheat it there so the fist read better that up to you to determine how realistic you want this to be.

For the poison ivy piece i would slightly reduce the brightness in the serpentine ''haze'' where it meet with the hearth at the center .Also i think that there is something that read wrong about those hand i would like to see a reference on that if you use one at all to compare.

Good job and have a nice day.

My Sketchbook

Perfection is unmeasurable therefor it impossible to reach it.
darktiste:  Your feedback is on point as always!  I made the changes you mentioned to the Captain America piece, looks much more natural now so thank you for that!

I made the changes mentioned to 'Poison Ivy'.  The hands were referenced from here as well.  I'm happy with how I drew them but when I painted them in it was a bit tricky because there's a lot of information and lines on the hands, so I experimented with how faithful I would make the details there.  I'm sure it's a bit off so any thoughts are encouraged!

Below are the updates based on your feedback:

Yeah i think you made the palm a bit to smooth they look like there are almost inflated.Also you make the underside of the finger to rounded and you simplify the outline to the point where the hand doesn't feel as bony as it probably should.

The reference is kinda fuzzy so i don't blame you on that it harder to read contour because of that.Try to draw over the reference and try to study the roundness of the finger first once you are done put the reference at a low opacity over your artwork and see how much they match.The idea of drawing over the reference is to get a better idea of the shape to clarify it and using the refence over your work allow you to fast track the correction process or you can try to do it by observation which i would recommend since you are not on a deadline.

Also remember to put the occlusion shadow where finger touch and think of where the light bounce when to object are very close.Also for the hand don't add ''texture'' like pore the hand texture is different then the texture of the skin the hand as more fold and it should be that way for extra level of realism.

You can and probably should add nail to those finger.

My Sketchbook

Perfection is unmeasurable therefor it impossible to reach it.
darktiste:  Great feedback and suggestions as always!  I tried to stick closely to the reference via observation, hopefully it's faithful enough.  This is probably one of the most complicated poses for a hand so I did my best, hopefully it's an improvement now.  Please let me know!


Made some changes to the image, refined the lighting coming from the 'magic' a bit to reflect on the skin for a more natural look and revised the hands further.  Hopefully it's better now, please let me know!  Here is the current update:


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