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View Full Version : Numenorean - advice on expression and technique


the-small-print
10-09-2010, 10:39 AM
Hello there. I've been painting this solidly for about 6 hours, and it's really seemed to flow from the pen, but I'm slightly worried I might be getting tunnel vision so I'd like to get some fresh perspectives on it from you. I'd say it's about half-done at the moment, to give some indication of how far I mean to go.

As the title suggests, this is a Tolkien-based character, so the mood and style of the painting are being oriented towards traditional oils like Rembrandt, Caravaggio etc. Geting there, but it's not quite saying it immediately at the moment, so any advice you could give on how to better express that would be welcome.

Secondly, what does her expression say to you? It's changed about 30 times during the painting - really amazing how small a brushstroke can completely change the message of a painting, so I'd be interested to know if you're all getting the right message from it.

Further to that, any of the more general advice on colour, composition, tone, brushwork etc. would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/Vesp-redo2/web.jpg?

Kanga
10-10-2010, 02:28 AM
Looks like you are off to a good start.
Some things that I noticed are the eye closest to us is smaller (people are asymmetrical I know but a painting needs all the help it can get), the eyes need more life to them, they need specularity and that watery bit on the lower lid may help. The ear looks close to the front of the skull. The hair isnt in groups but is very subdued and looks like single strands which makes volume hard. The painting strokes look very thinly layered and careful. Not too much tolkien yet. The expression is a wee bit, god dont let me blink when the flash comes.

I think you could do more with the body.
Keep it going.

the-small-print
10-10-2010, 06:15 AM
Did a bit more work on this last night, so I thought I'd upload. Thanks for the tips, Kanga... you're right about that eye being too small. It still is and I'll correct that when I get a chance. Also, I noticed just now that the shadow around her closest eye kind of makes her look ill/addicted. Need to fix that too, and I've kind of messed the hair up. Oh well. What did you mean about the body?

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/Vredo3/web.jpg?

the-small-print
10-10-2010, 09:14 AM
Hmmm.. had a bit more of a play with it and shifted some proportions. I think the ear's now too bright, so I might partially cover it or make it duller.

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/Vesp-redo4/web.jpg?

stuh505
10-10-2010, 07:46 PM
Hey again,
Your post caught my eye because I am an old school Tolkien fan. My first question is what elements make her Numenorean? They are not a very distinguished people in Tolkien's writings.

The majority of the Númenóreans, descended from the original Folk of Hador (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Hador), were fair-haired and blue-eyed. The settlers of the western regions, especially of the Andustar, came mostly from the Folk of Bëor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_B%C3%ABor), resulting in their darker hair and grey eyes.[12] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%BAmenor#cite_note-AE-11) It is also recorded that a few remnants of the Folk of Haleth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Haleth) had journeyed to Númenor, and that they were accompanied by several families of the Drúedain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr%C3%BAedain).

Should I assume that she is a descendant of Beor?

The drawing looks really nice. I like how you did the lips. Her expression is difficult to read...I would say she looks jaded and skeptical. Some comments:

1- the apex of the forehead oval does not appear to line up with the contour of the face centerline
2 - the crevasse between eye and nose looks too deep, I think this could alternatively be explained as saying that the eye appears to be drawn from a face having a different angle
3- the patch of hair over her ear looks too thick
4- I think her right eye looks a bit lower than the left eye
5- the technique on the hair could be improved, it looks like of goopy..check out this tutorial (http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=3174)

http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/273/numen.jpg

the-small-print
10-11-2010, 04:59 AM
Hello there. I did a bit more on this last night... sorry, again did this before the comments were posted. Most of the work this time was on the face, so I've closed in a bit. Most of the alterations are in adding colours to the face - yellow, green and blue to avoid the albino look, and reflect the environment.

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/VCU/web.jpg?

Stuh... not too sure about some of those proportional changes: I've checked the proportions against two references and a daz model I made to check... so they're probably illusions created by the expression and shadow. Worth looking into and tweaking though so they look a bit betteer, thanks. Oh, and I always send people a link to that tutorial ;). I haven't done much work on the hair just yet, but I'm also being careful not to make it look too glossy and shampoo-adverty.

Re: geekage, yes, she's a tolkien-based character from Dol Amroth, hence dark hair and grey eyes, very slight elfyness. I actually found if I make her eyes too bright she magically morphs into Liv Tyler, so I'm trying to keep them dark to avoid that - nothing wrong with Liv Tyler of course, but I was trying to draw from the books, and not the films.

stuh505
10-11-2010, 06:05 AM
Stuh... not too sure about some of those proportional changes: I've checked the proportions against two references and a daz model I made to check... so they're probably illusions created by the expression and shadow

Hmm. I'm pretty sure about this...it doesn't look natural to me and the measurements on the image don't add up. It's not an issue of shading, it's an issue of orthogonality (for the eye-line to be orthogonal with face axis), straightness (to determine apex of the top of forehead), and distance (depth of eye corner to top of nose bridge).

Assuming identical 3D structure, the comparison you make against a 3D model is only as accurate as your guesstimate of the camera translation, orientation, and field of view to match the photograph, but I would be interested to see an overlay of that 3d model...

Here is the correction I'm suggesting

http://img139.imageshack.us/img139/5523/num2.gif

the-small-print
10-11-2010, 07:07 AM
Heh, ok... well, I don't know how to make animated gifs, so I set these up with opacity.

First is the Daz model - I didn't change its face shape at all... it was mainly for proportions and pose that I made this one, so not everything lines up perfectly, but it's pretty damn close.

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/dazoverlay/web.jpg?

Secondly, when I noticed she was beginning to look too much like Liv Tyler, I looked for images of Liv to see what I could change to break the resemblance. By luck (first 6 images on google) I found this photo which is almost exactly the same pose and lighting setup. However, as you can see, except for a few things that make Liv's face distinctive, all the important bits are in almost exactly the same place. Sorry ;)

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/Livoverlay/web.jpg?

You did make me look more closely though, and I've spotted a few other things in the meantime.

Oh, and re: the parting... yes, it's not central, but then it doesn't have to be. Long hair can be pulled over more or less anywhere. I might suggest a bit of a curl at the top though to suggest that's not where it normally goes.

stuh505
10-11-2010, 09:14 PM
Hey thanks for posting those comparisons. How lucky is that to find such a similar picture of Liv Tyler?

Heh, ok... well, I don't know how to make animated gifs, so I set these up with opacity. First is the Daz model - I didn't change its face shape at all... it was mainly for proportions and pose that I made this one, so not everything lines up perfectly, but it's pretty damn close.

Well, looking at these overlays does make it appear that major features don't need to be significantly shifted. however I have found that layering faces with partial opacity can be very deceiving and makes any differences between the faces appear to be imperceptible (when they really aren't), because you either get one face dominating the other, or a blend between the two where I can't tell which part comes from which face.

In this case, if I swap between Liv's face and your drawing, I think it does confirm that there is a significant difference in the angle of the eye, as if that piece has been perspective distorted so that the corner of the eye (next to the nose) was moved into the page, which is what I was saying in my first post,

http://img842.imageshack.us/img842/9250/eyef.gif

http://img841.imageshack.us/img841/6180/dist.gif

There are two ways to correct for this. One is to assume this angle is correct and adjust position accordingly (which is basically what I tried to do before), the other is to keep position the same but re-adjust orientation...which based on these overlays is probably the better thing to do.

However, as you can see, except for a few things that make Liv's face distinctive, all the important bits are in almost exactly the same place. Sorry ;) ... Oh, and re: the parting... yes, it's not central, but then it doesn't have to be. Long hair can be pulled over more or less anywhere. I might suggest a bit of a curl at the top though to suggest that's not where it normally goes.

Yup I completely agree it doesn't have to be there, just as a building doesn't have to have parallel walls...but we kind of expect it to, so if you want to paint a building with walls that are 5 degrees off-parallel, it's going to be much more difficult to convince the viewer that its the actual scene rather than a perspective error on the artist's behalf. That was basically the idea behind my suggestion of putting it in the centerline, because at the moment my brain is still saying "eh...not quite right" when I look at this face.

Proportions are hard...and my suggested corrections aren't always right. But it doesn't take an artist to recognize when there's something not quite right about a face, and the more you stare at it, the less you are able to see these things ;)

Keep up the good work man...

Oh, and making an animated GIF is really easy in Photoshop:
1) Open "Animation" panel under Window tab
2) In the Layers panel adjust visibility of layers for first frame
3) In the animation panel click the New frame icon
4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each new layer
5) Select duration of each frame in the drop down tab in Animation panel
6) File save as "for web and devices" and choose GIF

the-small-print
10-12-2010, 12:02 AM
Yeah, like I said , overlaying had made me notice a few things to tweak, since I had tried to measure by eye before. The eyes I was measuring my painting to are actually correct, almost to the millimetre, but I agree she looks better with a slightly lighter nose. Breaking the resemblance to Liv Tyler has made her drift towards Eliza Dushku (or someone with portuguese features) which, fine as they may be, don't seem to fit what I'm going for. Also, since you correctly interpreted her expression as jaded and slightly pissed off, I think I need to be careful not to loose too much sharpness from her face.

Does anyone have any more advice on this painting? I know most people on this forum go in for 3D - which I can't do - but I'd still like to hear your views. Kanga? What could I do with the body?

Back to Stuh, I know pretty well about how people are generally expert on the human face, up to a point (studied psychology last semester on just this subject), but I do also think that people prioritise certain familiar features. For example, I wasn't allowed to take part in a facial recognition study in Psych because the study was Australian and I just moved from Britain, even though all the faces in the study were actually white anglo-descended males, apparently even being from the UK or US can skew results. This is probably expressed in what we recognise and what we paint - I tend to put peoples' eyes slightly too far apart, and you tend to correct them to be slightly too high and close together (with my work and others) - I guess it's just what kind of faces we see about us. I know I'm much better at instantly recognising asian people now than I was when I arrived - I initially was embarrassingly bad at telling the difference, but now that I've got a couple of viet/HK/macau friends I generally don't need to look twice.

Kanga
10-12-2010, 01:32 AM
You cant do anything with the body in this picture. What I meant was composition wise. The setup is very static. If you put a body in a plate it has to help express,... something. Just being a stand for the head isnt enough. Normally it would depend on what you want from the image, but you are here in the hard crit area so I reckon you want the most out of it.

In your setup sketches do more with the elements you are going to use. Test out different positions until you find one in a sketch that is compelling, that is good to do before spending lots of effort on the final product. A nice picture is nice, but an expressive picture can be great.

the-small-print
10-13-2010, 04:11 AM
Fair point: there's next to no movement in this image. I was kind of restricted though, since it's a repaint of something I did long ago, which was a closer crop, looking at only the face and shoulders, and I had most of the references already to re-use.

So, not the most gripping pose, but then I only ever planned to spend a couple of hours on this, and it's ended up much more developed than I'd intended, so might as well push on.

Kanga
10-13-2010, 01:24 PM
Well it doesn't really matter because you have had loads of good advice on this piece already. However when you set out to make a piece that will kick ass what we all forget to do is check the best examples already done. Looking at the work of other artists and asking yourself what it is that you like about the work will reveal that the composition is usually masterful as well as the execution. My comment was a heads up on the next one.

GerR
10-13-2010, 03:21 PM
I do also think that people prioritise certain familiar features.

Definitely true. When we paint or sculpt, everything gets filtered through our current perception of how we believe things to be. Thats why we tend towards the familiar or ideal of our current perception and why certain things are accentuated over others.

I do agree with the points stuh made. The features just seem like they are not quite all in the same angle of rotation in relation to one another. It is a subtle difference, but it is there. I hope this demonstrates. The eye line is currently out of sinc with the rest of the features, and ,as stuh pointed out, the distance between the corner of the eye and nose bridge is too far.

Great job on the shading.

http://img217.imageshack.us/img217/8600/aflip.gif

the-small-print
10-13-2010, 06:01 PM
Thanks for your advice, guys. I worked out what looks wrong: the specular on the corner of the eye that some of you pointed out. I feel I've fixed it now, as well as widening the mouth, tweaking the eyes and lids, lashes; nose, forehead and cheekbone shape

I think that I won't do much more on the face here, but here's a closeup just to show how I've tweaked it. Let me know if you think it's better or not, but I assure you that the proportions are correct. They're not a direct copy of any of my references, but they definitely fall within the bounds of correct anatomy from at least 3 different reference shots. I am of course still interested in your opinions on style, technique etc. and would be very glad for any advice on the rest of the painting as well. I currently think it looks best as a closer crop of the face, but I mean to complete it in its original framing too, to see if I can make it look good as a whole. If not, I can just crop, but still...

http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/V-face/web.jpg?

the-small-print
10-15-2010, 04:04 PM
What do you think? I am getting kind of blind to this painting. I'm sure I could do more to it, but I'm not exactly sure what I should do, and to what areas. I would really appreciate any more ideas of feedback since I'm kind of at a dead end, and might just call it finished, but I don't want to later get a wave of inspiration and realise I released it unfinished.

So, advice most welcome, and the questions in the above post still stand.

Closeup (some minor tweaking after last post)
http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/vfinmbface/web.jpg?

And the full length composition:
http://gallery.me.com/anaconda191/100037/V-finalmbfl/web.jpg?

Eagerly awaiting your thoughts, and thanks again for your help so far!

the-small-print
10-18-2010, 03:10 AM
One last call for advice here...? I'd really like some ideas on how to wrap this up.

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