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What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - Printable Version

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What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-27-2014

So, this is my latest piece, I did it for a weekly activity we have going on over at instagram under the #artistalliance hashtag (we are a bunch of people who take turns on coming up for the following weeks theme)
I'm trying to improve my atmosphere and getting away from my "just a portrait" stuff. What's bugging me is the lower part of the image, there's something about the perspective and the tentacles just look out of place.
Any comments/tips/paintovers and suggestions would be much appreciated! :)

[attachment=46826]


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - MikkelMulr - 03-27-2014

To me it feels like he is almost being welcomed in, the tentacles are just sort of sitting there. Maybe try making them a little more imposing. Also, this might just be because I'm not seeing it how you're seeing it as your painted this, but the lighting situation feels a little off here. Seems like the light is coming from behind the monster (hence the rim light), but the reflection in its eyes is coming from below, which I could buy if the water your knight was standing in came off as a little more reflective, but at the moment it seems pretty cloudy. Last thing, I would try to push the depth a little, the big open area above the monster isn't doing much for the piece.

Hope some of that helpful, good luck :)


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - Wardy - 03-27-2014

Hey buddy, nice idea!
Things which are making this piece static:
1) Compostion- youve slapped both right in the middle of the canvas which means that they eye has a very boring straight line from the eyes/mouth of the beastie to the dude in the middle. This can be done but it takes very fine handling, have a look at iconic and cross composition here: http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/CGSFeatures/CGSFeatureSpecial/phil_straub_composition_tutorial one of the most comprehensive tutorials ive ever read on composition.
Oh and in 99% of circumstances NEVER use a square canvas. it makes things extremely difficult unless you are doing some crazy iconic/symbolic stuff. I work at 7000x3000px personally which is approaching cinematic, or 5000x2000px if my machine is slow.

2) Values- a killer. You have the darkest bit being the mouth of the beast, which makes no sense in terms of atmospheric perspective with the knight being lighter. Also that weird bit of black by the tentacle on our left. Set it up- near black foreground, dark grey near midground, light grey far midground, lighter grey (or darker if you want a somber mood) for background. The tentacles should be reaching out into the foreground I think because at the moment nothing is placing the camera.

3) Lighting- Youve got this really bright blue lighting from that back which is pulling a lot of focus. Not really sure what it is, and its just becoming another element which is confusing things. i would just have soft ambient back lighting if its in a cave, but it depends what the light source is. If its natural light, it is too blue at the moment I would say, and too blurred. You could have shafts of light penetrating through the cave and landing on the beast to pull focus?
After all this you also have some strange pale yellowy green front light from an anonymous source- define define define your light sources. Maybe its a torch which the knight is carrying?

4) Colour and focus- you need to set your main point of interest, then your secondary, and maybe a tertiary. This is a called a focal hierarchy, and is very important. Focus gets pulled to areas where there is a large degree of saturation, contrast, or where form is made up of smaller shapes (ie more detailed). At the moment it goes ( for me) #1 Blue light #2 Monster face #knight/tentacles, but none of these are really holding my eye. Go into some hard edged detail in some of these areas to keep the eye interested and they piece will gain a lot. Think about hard vs soft edge, small shape vs big shape and desaturated low contrast- saturated contrast.

Sorry if this was a bit of a ramble but I think this could be an awesome piece if you really push these factors a bit further, I attached a quick paintover I did (sorry its really quick, im meant to be working right now... whoops.), couldnt decide what the secondary light source was so will leave to you. Do thumbnails first and work from there every time to establish your composition ( i dont do this enough and I ALWAYS pay for it).
All the best man, I hope this wasnt too harsh I dont mean it to be, i just want to help push you to levelling up like everyone on CD does for me :D


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-28-2014

(03-27-2014, 09:00 AM)MikkelMulr Wrote: To me it feels like he is almost being welcomed in, the tentacles are just sort of sitting there. Maybe try making them a little more imposing. Also, this might just be because I'm not seeing it how you're seeing it as your painted this, but the lighting situation feels a little off here. Seems like the light is coming from behind the monster (hence the rim light), but the reflection in its eyes is coming from below, which I could buy if the water your knight was standing in came off as a little more reflective, but at the moment it seems pretty cloudy. Last thing, I would try to push the depth a little, the big open area above the monster isn't doing much for the piece.

Hope some of that helpful, good luck :)

Thank you very much mate!
I'll do some new thumbnails and try sorting things out! :D

(03-27-2014, 07:36 PM)Ward217 Wrote: Hey buddy, nice idea!
Things which are making this piece static:
1) Compostion- youve slapped both right in the middle of the canvas which means that they eye has a very boring straight line from the eyes/mouth of the beastie to the dude in the middle. This can be done but it takes very fine handling, have a look at iconic and cross composition here: http://www.cgsociety.org/index.php/CGSFeatures/CGSFeatureSpecial/phil_straub_composition_tutorial one of the most comprehensive tutorials ive ever read on composition.
Oh and in 99% of circumstances NEVER use a square canvas. it makes things extremely difficult unless you are doing some crazy iconic/symbolic stuff. I work at 7000x3000px personally which is approaching cinematic, or 5000x2000px if my machine is slow.

2) Values- a killer. You have the darkest bit being the mouth of the beast, which makes no sense in terms of atmospheric perspective with the knight being lighter. Also that weird bit of black by the tentacle on our left. Set it up- near black foreground, dark grey near midground, light grey far midground, lighter grey (or darker if you want a somber mood) for background. The tentacles should be reaching out into the foreground I think because at the moment nothing is placing the camera.

3) Lighting- Youve got this really bright blue lighting from that back which is pulling a lot of focus. Not really sure what it is, and its just becoming another element which is confusing things. i would just have soft ambient back lighting if its in a cave, but it depends what the light source is. If its natural light, it is too blue at the moment I would say, and too blurred. You could have shafts of light penetrating through the cave and landing on the beast to pull focus?
After all this you also have some strange pale yellowy green front light from an anonymous source- define define define your light sources. Maybe its a torch which the knight is carrying?

4) Colour and focus- you need to set your main point of interest, then your secondary, and maybe a tertiary. This is a called a focal hierarchy, and is very important. Focus gets pulled to areas where there is a large degree of saturation, contrast, or where form is made up of smaller shapes (ie more detailed). At the moment it goes ( for me) #1 Blue light #2 Monster face #knight/tentacles, but none of these are really holding my eye. Go into some hard edged detail in some of these areas to keep the eye interested and they piece will gain a lot. Think about hard vs soft edge, small shape vs big shape and desaturated low contrast- saturated contrast.

Sorry if this was a bit of a ramble but I think this could be an awesome piece if you really push these factors a bit further, I attached a quick paintover I did (sorry its really quick, im meant to be working right now... whoops.), couldnt decide what the secondary light source was so will leave to you. Do thumbnails first and work from there every time to establish your composition ( i dont do this enough and I ALWAYS pay for it).
All the best man, I hope this wasnt too harsh I dont mean it to be, i just want to help push you to levelling up like everyone on CD does for me :D

Thank you very much man!! I totally see what you are saying and it's probably the most helpful and informative critique I have ever gotten.
I'll take this one back to the drawing board and work on the issues mentioned!
Again thank you very much!
I'll be sure to post some updates soon!


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - Wardy - 03-28-2014

no worries mate, hope all goes well! keep it up my friend, will stay tuned ;)


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-28-2014

So, got some time to work a bit on this tonight, it's still static, but it's starting to appeal a lot more to me than the previous incarnation.
I'll get on this tomorrow, thank god for the weekend haha

[attachment=46892]


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-29-2014

quick little update.

[attachment=46949]


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - Amit Dutta - 03-29-2014

Nice work on the lighting, and you have improved it from the first iteration. I do prefer wardy's composition more. It is much more dynamic and really draws you into the piece and gives you a sense of scale and drama. I know this is hard to hear, but I think if you do your current lighting scheme and render with something more like his composition it could become a great folio piece. At the moment, the composition is bland and not helping your story.I also feel you are wanting to jump ahead to rendering before solving remaining issues.
This is a good two-fold lesson....
1. Doing thumbnails to really nail the best presentation of your idea really cuts down on all this repainting business,
2. Sometimes you have to be willing to hack up your piece even in more advanced stages if it is not working as well as it could.

Really consider it, you could just use warp tools to hack your current render into a better comp. Anyway it is up to you. I know i would do it.
Oh and in terms of the palette, I would consider bringing in a little bit of complementary colour and some variation in palette to make it a bit richer. A little can go a long way. Good luck


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-29-2014

(03-29-2014, 08:10 AM)monkeybread Wrote: Nice work on the lighting, and you have improved it from the first iteration. I do prefer wardy's composition more. It is much more dynamic and really draws you into the piece and gives you a sense of scale and drama. I know this is hard to hear, but I think if you do your current lighting scheme and render with something more like his composition it could become a great folio piece. At the moment, the composition is bland and not helping your story.I also feel you are wanting to jump ahead to rendering before solving remaining issues.
This is a good two-fold lesson....
1. Doing thumbnails to really nail the best presentation of your idea really cuts down on all this repainting business,
2. Sometimes you have to be willing to hack up your piece even in more advanced stages if it is not working as well as it could.

Really consider it, you could just use warp tools to hack your current render into a better comp. Anyway it is up to you. I know i would do it.
Oh and in terms of the palette, I would consider bringing in a little bit of complementary colour and some variation in palette to make it a bit richer. A little can go a long way. Good luck

Thank you very much for your reply, I'm taking a step back and trying to incorporate the suggestions and starting over with a more engaging composition. I think my biggest issue is not doing thumbs, I just sit down and start drawing til there is something to render out (makes for terribly static imagery, it's something I'm going to work on, a lot! :D haha) these critiques are truly helpful, I feel I'm stuck in a way of doing things because I have been doing the same thing for years. Got some new books I'll be reading on dynamic lighting and poses. I was thinking about getting some comic-composition books for tips and inspiration.

I'll work on finishing this and I'll keep all the tips and suggestions in mind from now on, and I'll do loads of thumbnails! :)

Quick pencil sketch.

[attachment=46968]


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-30-2014

need to figure out the lighting, and the armor is just placeholder for now.

[attachment=46996]


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - astrosim - 03-30-2014

[attachment=46998]

bah.... lighting troubles....


RE: What dwells below (driving me bonkers!) - meat - 03-31-2014

Lighting is partially determined by the geometry of the subjects in the painting. Right now I'm unsure what the monster's volume is like. Is his face very flat triangle, or is it in fact voluminous with layers and it's just the silhouette that happens to look triangular at this angle? I took liberty in guessing in this paint-over.

Also, I'm using higher contrast of black and white at the edges of areas I want to bring to interest, such as the left tentacle, the drools, the back of the knight's helmet, etc. When 2 objects are in strong contrast, they stand apart from each other, creating a feel of distance between them, then sense of space, and also grabs viewer's attention more. To achieve that, sometimes you have to darken out parts of your illustration that you might have planned, but now will not be seen in detail, or at all, in order to achieve better lighting and mood.

These are just my 2 cents... and strangely the jpeg I saved gets all washed out look, like the gamma is up-ed when I saved the JPEG. It didn't used to do that last Friday....

By chance I just got and started playing Dark Souls. It's really really hard... and the camera makes me want to hurl from motion sickness...

[attachment=47081]