Friday, October 21, 2011

More Crits!

I will be updating this post as I get more crits in. I will try and do one or two a day for the next week until we are all finished up.

Our next lovely image comes from a long time friend of mine, LA-Fairy. As her name implies, she enjoys drawing fairies. Before I begin I must say that her art has made a great improvement over the years.

That being said here are the changes I would make. First, you are thinking linearly instead of in terms of light and shadow. There is no clear light source and there seems to be conflicting shadow areas in the face versus the rest of the body. So I decided to go with the body shading and take it from there. That means there is a lovely primary light source to her upper right, our left. Light source is very important because it determines how the form will be rendered. Be sure to have a clear light side and a clear dark side with consistent values on either side.

One other thing, the first thing I noticed when I saw this image was that the contrast was very very low. If you put a layer of black turned to saturation mode you will see very quickly that your figure is hard to distinguish from the background. With that in mind, I separated her from her background onto her own layer and popped the contrast immediately on both layers. Contrast is very important. It helps guide the eye to know what to look at and to better understand what is being seen.

Here is the finished contrast difference:

Taking what you already did in the legs, I fleshed out the forms more to show roundness while thinking about core shadow. Core shadow will be perpendicular to the light source and in this case ought to hit about halfway in her thigh and legs with variations based on the volume and roundness. From there I added some cast shadows hitting her thighs. I altered her shoulders and chest to make them more painterly instead of fully outlined. This gives the illusion of depth and will make your work more realistic. From there I changed the hair to include a clear light and shadow side instead of just strings of light and dark. I also added some large chunks fanning outward from her face as that is what would happen if she were really flying around. Also, as I played with the light source I could soon see that the shadow was in the wrong place. The shadow will be at the same angle as the light source. In this case, it is slanting in from the left so the shadow needed to be moved to the right.

I did alter some proportions as I went along. Mainly, the shoulders were a little out of place and the hands and fingers were too small. I didn't bother with reference so you may want to find some or if you do have some, think about proportion and size in relation to the rest of the figure to really get those areas down. Lastly I added some soft green rim lighting to define the form on the other side of her. One thing I did not play with much was the background. You will want to spend more time thinking about how it relates to the figure. You'll notice I did crop the image as there was too much empty space and the composition was getting a bit boring. Perhaps in the future you may think about having a more dynamic pose. Studying line of action may be of help.

Overall, I think you just need to think about light source and contrast. I would also think about the purpose of each image you create. Is it meant to be on the front of a greeting card? Should there be more of a background? Or is it a quick character concept? These are things that will change how the work evolves and what should be included.

While doing this critique I realized that in the future I will want to live stream these so I can explain exactly why I am doing what I am doing when I paint over them. I think it will be a great resource to everyone who wants to know why I make these changes.

Our next image comes from Chris.

As this image is coming from a beginner, as he called himself, I will keep my critic simplified. What I do see are some large blocks of color which is good for starting out. It looks to me like you used some sort of photo for reference. This can be okay to do from time to time but I have found that in the beginning stages of learning art, drawing from life helps you to see shapes 3 dimensionally. This allows you to understand the correlation between spacial planes to a higher degree than drawing from a 2 dimensional photograph where you have only one flat view of the object/subject matter. Also, starting by drawing cones, blocks, and eggs are a great way to focus on learning how to render value without worrying about complex shapes typically found in the face and figure. This is what I recommend for most beginners. Once you have mastered that, drawing portraits would work the same way. Basically, you would want to think in terms of light and shadow and not in terms of drawing the eye, the nose, and the lips. What I mean is, instead of drawing element by element, draw the general blocked in shapes of light and shadow. Turning your image upside down will also help you see these relationships without thinking about your predetermined notions of what an eye or a nose should look like. As this particular piece is in the early stages, and I don't have the reference you used to look off of, I think a paint-over may not be helpful. I will however recommend that you show some sort of a light source as this will help you give some depth to your work. As it is, the large blocks of color don't have enough range of value and look a bit flat. For a beginner however, the proportions look to be in about the right place. If you can do this freehand, you will have a far greater advantage than if you trace, so try to do it freehand whenever you can. It will keep your skills sharp. ;)

Thanks so much for your patience! Expect another one tomorrow!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Perfect Perspective Every Time

So I was browsing some art forums lately and I came across an amazing perspective tool from

It's a tool that adds instant perspective to your canvas by adding path lines radiating from a circle. The simplicity of it is ingenious. These circles are easily re-sized or moved to fit the perspective you have already established or to quickly build it up from scratch. I recommend watching the video tutorial as well.

It came during a particularly useful time. After spending hours mocking up a ship for a book cover using a mechanical pencil, a long metal ruler, and several computer papers taped horizontally to see my distant vanishing points, I realized it wasn't receding drastically enough for the composition. Luckily, I was able to plop the vanishing point tool directly into my canvas, line them up the way I wanted, and draw it again digitally with much less hassle. Whew.

I recommend this tool for just about anything! I can't wait to use it in more environmental works. It's easy to forget about perspective in character art but it's still an important principle to remember, especially when rendering cylindrical objects and ellipses or feet. (If you aren't going to use perspective in your portraits at least be mindful of your eye level as I have discussed before.)

And yes, that is why I haven't updated with all of the remaining crits. I have been working really hard on this new steampunk periodical called Clockhaven Chronicles due to be published mid November. I've done 3 illustrations for the project and I am very excited. It's all done so expect the rest of the crits shortly.

And in other news, Ballistic Publishing contracted me to do a tutorial of my Elven Concept piece which will be featured on page 130 of Exotique 7. It will be included in the DVD for those who pre-order the book. In it I narrate my process including line of action, keeping your values close in range, and light sourcing. A quick step by step video can be seen in the resources section of my website. It was a bit weird trying to put it together as I have never used video production software before, but I was tickled to death when I heard back from the folks over at Ballistic. They said it's probably the best walkthrough they have ever received! =D My trial version of camtasia is already up, but after feeling my way around it I think I may try an open source program and make more tutorials.

Speaking of resources, I posted four free texture packs on my website. These are free stock images with no usage restrictions. My camera is crap, but I've still found them useful.

Stay tuned for more crits and thank you all for your patience!