View Full Version : Cold Shadow is getting the cold shoulder

12-17-2011, 09:24 AM
Cold Shadow is a piece I did a few months ago after reading the book "Madeline" and I thought I was done (the original was in the neighborhood of 70cm x ? at 150 ppcm and worked out to about 790mb. Anyway I know there are some problems, looking at it now and I really want your opinions as my true objectivity seems to have left me. So please be brutal its easy to hack up other peoples stuff but not so much your own!

12-19-2011, 11:21 PM
:banghead: 40 plus views and not one word, I know its missing something.... for some reason (unbeknownst to me) I have only been able to post a thumbnail here??? For a better quality image have a look in my gallery and comment in either place or both! Also if you happen to know how to post a better image than a thumbnail please let me know

12-20-2011, 07:00 AM
I'll take a stab. :)

Lets look at this a couple of different ways, starting with the composition.

Your composition is a bit stale, there's no energy in the placement of the elements, and you have divided the piece with the orange lamp(?) right in the middle, which leads the eye out of the bottom of the frame. The castle has a nice angle, but then you have an extreme closeup on the figure, which feels uncomfortable. Here eyes are too "popped" - which capture the viewer's eye in an uncomfortable way. (Remember this, for when you *want* that, like for a horror scene)

I would redo the piece, with the figure in the foreground, but with most of her body visible - leaning against a tree, or sitting, doing something other than just staring at the viewer. I would remove the orange lamps, other than the ones on the walls, the other two are simply too distracting. Or, as an alternative, move the frame, and have her at the gate, and have the background the corridor, with those elements, leading to the castle. The sky isn't working at all, and neither is the ground. Again, a lack of a foundational drawing is apparent here. I think I know what you're going for, a book cover kind of layout, but it really needs some reworking and thought. What's the narrative here? I havent read that book, so what's the story here?

The figure:
I see a lot of common "cheating" going on - not fully drawing out the figure and the clothes and the hair, and the details, using the fuzzy airbrush to hide that. As a result, it's simply not working. Are you working from a reference? If so, you need to study it more, if not, you need to use one. The face is unmodeled, unlit, and has no texture, or expression. I know faces are challenging to beginners, but you have to put the study it, the human eye sees flaws in facial drawings fast. The hair is simply not good, it needs to be redone, it looks like straw. The white fur on her cloak is too bright, fur like that would be made up of blues and greys, with pure white as a highlight only - and you have no lighting on the figure.

This is a very washed out piece, is that intentional? The colors are too close in value overall, except for the green, so the eye sees all of the colors as equal, except for the green. The green is dominant over everything.

Again, and I hate to be a broken record, but it all needs to be thought out and reworked. Everything has the same texture, and it's that "airbrushy" look, which, while it can be used, is not working as it's not done right. If you want more realism, you need to start with a stronger drawing, then work out the lighting and textures. Her cloak should feel different from her skin, which should feel different from the castle wall. I'm hesitant to mention the trees, because I'm wondering if they're a special element from the book.

So, lets start there, let me know what you think. I don't think you should walk away from this one, but I do think it needs a lot of work - but the work will be good for you to go through, to learn from - and we can discuss it more if you want.

12-21-2011, 12:56 AM
First off Billy,
thank you very much for your greatly appreciated help :beer: as I know it takes time to do what you have done for me!!!
The image started as a bust type sketch (cut off above the burgundy heart and inside the shoulders) and yes is now in a book-esk layout...all done in Photoshop E 6. Its also a bit of an experiment too in that I did a piece in Painter (with less than favorable results) and now its Photoshop E's turn. I am an airbrush guy with a graphics/mural and fine art background that's trying to go digital. Other than the things you mentioned (thanks again) part of the issue is, I'm used to scaling things tangibly and am having trouble with scale per the detail (i want or can get ) digitally. I have not used any ref material (just winging it)..not even the book as per the description. So I have tons of room to move. I found with Painter and now with PS E6 part of the issue may also be lack of understanding the tools or maybe its the process in keeping the files small or both, I just don't know ??? The file before I merged all the layers was around 790megs at 150ppcm...merged its 490megs at 150ppcm. What should it be? The canvas/image dimensions are 70.67cm x 51.8cm = 10600.5 x 7770 pixels????? What the "FAAAAAAACK" am I doing wrong?
Also I'm using an Intuos 3 graphics tablet 4.5X6.5 inches (nothing like my Iwata hpc's) and I desperately want/need my digital stuff to come out as well as my airbrush work does!

The story : Madeline was the daughter of a lady in waiting and when she became of age she became a member of the empresses court and lady in waiting too. Then the revolution came and everything changed......Eventually madeline was doing first aid cart driver along with dealing with folks that had the plague (fun times and not exactly lady in waiting work) In the end, she died in the winter with cold overcast weather and smokey air, mucky snow, close to the edge of the battle field ( the french and german's had just started using canon apparently?).

The Image Idea: Show "M" somewhat as described in the book in a similar environment to the book without any of the actual landmarks etc. All very fantastical in nature but, I didn't want her all be-dragled looking nor all clean and proper lol either... M was portrayed as a smart talented individual, a bit of a rebel and a mind of her own. She was punched out by her new step dad and if she could have would have left the castle when it happened (and thus this image) but she and the rest of the court were sorta under house arrest so she couldn't .... Her face/look was to be as though she had just been stopped by the guards(who would normally have been her lesser's) as she made good her escape...without running!!!
This like I said is an exercise to try and figure out how to get the same results I get in the real world. I started another piece a month ago because as I got closer to a finished image with this I just couldn't get the detail I needed (the lamp directly behind M, tree's, hair and a couple other things clued me into that and yes I agree the sky sucks like nothing I've done since the 80's lol) I have asked a few people about hair and tried it with the same results as you see here (crap) so I figure there is something I'm missing or, aren't being told perhaps the truth about how some things are done..... :argh: did I mention I used to retouch photo's the "old skool" way so I'm pretty certain its info not so much skill. I wish I was a beginner so then I wouldn't feel like such an idiot lol

Your insight Billy is spot "freekin "on so far (imho)..... Any more thoughts now that you know the whole story?

12-21-2011, 10:20 AM
I think your image needs sharper edges to define the shapes. Obvious airbrush makes it looks like a blur.

Umm this tutorial looks terrible but the explanation is perfect on how to use clip masks.
Like they say it's how you use it that matters.

Clip masking your shading onto a base layer will help you shade things without painting over things you want to keep untouched and it helps keep things neat. Also you won't lose the hard work you did on the rendering if you do this because you can change the base shape any time.

I think you should try using some different brush shapes when painting to get different textures and so on. Speckle brushes can be brushed onto a layer and then you can layer mask some of it off to retain the smooth airbrush feel if you prefer.

You're making things digitally so there's a lot of undo and saving a different version of the file so just go for it.

Have you seen Serge Birault / PapaNinja? They are sort of out there and a bit pinup but technically they are brilliant.
http://www.sergebirault.fr/ or http://papaninja.cghub.com/images/
I think he does the airbrush style really well.

http://algenpfleger.deviantart.com/gallery/28996547 this guy has some psd files you can look at to see how he compiles his work and he also has some custom brushes on offer.

12-23-2011, 05:36 PM
Thanks for the helpful info Frostblade! :beer:
Any thoughts on a canas size for an image with detail potential like what I'm trying do here. Part of my problem with this is its too small to do some elements justice like the hair strands (1pixel wide) and the trees which are suppose to look kinda shot up. the canvas is just to small OR I'm doing something terribly wrong!

01-27-2012, 02:19 AM
Sorry its taken so long to post an update but this is where the image is now...I tried to follow all the helpful suggestions, but if you have more constructive comments have at it... The final image will have snow blowing through it but I removed that layer so you could clearly see what I've done!Cld Shdow REDO1 v4

01-27-2012, 05:09 AM
Sorry I dont have much time but two things.

Her pose and placement is awkward, sort of like, yeah I just killed those people and now i'm staring blankly at you. Maker her look more vicious if she is supposed to be vicious.

Second, get rid of or move that orange lamp hanging right in the center of the image. We want to see the castle, not the lamp.

Otherwise its improved over the original and i'd like to see this progress.

01-27-2012, 08:02 AM
Thanks for the input rluto77!As I had inferred/stated before, this was/is a book cover-ish layout (so the lamp stays, as it would be off center and on the spine) it was created from only a loose description and I didn't/nor will I, use any reference material/photo's,....for the purpose of visualizing "Madeline" (also the books name and published in the 50's with only a fountain on the cover) What I'm looking for are comments on the "execution" of the elements.

Here is a bit more background story. Madeline was a "lady of Marie Anttonet's court" as was her mother and I'm sure not scary. She was a bit snootie and everyone liked and knew her...also she/they didn't ever run! Madeline left the castle and bluffed her way through the guard(in theory) about the time that it was "supposed", the Empress said "let them eat cake/brioche" and many months before the "tennis court oath", to find her hero. He was suppose to have been injured in the fighting with the revolutionaries and was in hospital...He wasn't actually, but she stayed a month to help the medical staff with wounded soldiers hoping to find him, and eventually drove an ambulance-cart (lol if you could call it that) Anyway she did however eventually find her guy's footman, who said her guy was in fact wounded and in hiding...the two of them found her guy,... in a coma, they snuck him through the battle lines nursed him through his coma...he eventually came to.. At about that same time... she caught the plague and died... End of story! This layout/design "IS", but the execution of the elements is what I feel needs improvement so all comments are welcome!

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