View Full Version : DRAGON ON ROCK WIP - crits & comments welcome!!!

12 December 2007, 03:15 PM
So here I go again...
This is another sketch by my friend Ralph - I will color it and hopefully make something out of it.
I want to stick to sepia and brown color mainly...maybe some other colors for details
Any critiques are welcome!

Here is what I made today:
- started with the sketch
- filled the dragon with a basic color
- worked on my first cloudy sky ever - used some pictures for references but painted it freely with one eye to the reference
- now I start to see where the lights and shadows goes (I want the right side to be dark - I already started this in the sky...) and paint some basic colors for the shading...

and after that it's smudgetime...

01: sketch





12 December 2007, 04:36 PM
And your Light Source is what, exactly, and coming from where, exactly, shining down how bright, exactly?????

VISEone, you keep skipping the foundational steps, and just jumping willy-nilly into the painting part, like a child with a new coloring book. Tsk.

The clouds look very good, but you should adjust them so that you do not have a light patch along the straight edge of the right wing, when the entire rest of the figure is surrounded by dark clouds. It calls visual attention to that spot, for no particular reason, hurting the "flow." The overall composition is good, the drawing by your friend is fantastic. But you need to learn the basic discipline of coloring that is determining where your light source(s) will be, so that you can color more effectively, with less "fix up" and changes.

12 December 2007, 05:58 PM
Well, I guess that's the learning-process I just have to go through right now.:)

Some light comes from above (that's why I have those highlights on the top edges of the clouds)
The main light will come from the left.

That's my plan so far...or better - I thought I would have a plan :eek: pfff
I don't have a lot of experience by lightning & shadowing yet (I just ordered a book to get more knowledge instead of guessing)

I'm kinda lost now 'cause I don't understand what you mean by adjust the clouds in relation to the "...patch along the straight edge of the right wing..."

heres a rough sketch to show what I meant - I would aprecciate if you could explain my mistakes (thanks for your time!)

12 December 2007, 06:58 PM
I don't understand what is the second light source? Is there a second sun on his planet? :D
In this picture u must accent the global illumination - it's the light that's reflected from the sky and comin softly from top. In fact this is not true, but for beginning understanding u must know that the light reflecting from all surfaces(different surfaces reflect it different - some of them reflect very well, some not) and have it's colour mixed with the colour of surface. =) Try to search some tutorials and essays about GI. It'll help you a lot with this picture, if you want it "open space" and with such bright sky. There won't be strong black shadows and the shadows will have a colour like a sky.
Nice sketch. It's a pity that it's not yours... :p
I think Cyber tryin to say, that there's an open cloudless space left from the dragon, and it's distracting attention badly. I agree, but i didn't notice this with a first look, so it's not so crucial, but you better fix it up. :wip:

12 December 2007, 10:12 PM
Okay, so what I mean here is not a second sun ofcourse - but because its a fantasy picture this even could be possible...:)
But seriously - I mean a diffuse light reflection from top - and the main lightsource from the left. Which leads me to a brighter lighted area on the left side of the dragon, some reflections on the top and a darker side (no hard shadows) on the left side of the dragon.
So even with tutorials I went trough and a small light-setup in C4D I come to this conclusion that my thoughts of the shading shouldn't be so wrong...
Also I always take a look in my Books of Boris Vallejo to check how he shades and I wanted to follow this techniques to have a diffuse background and add those colors of the background plus the rest of the environment in the surface of the skin...

Of course I'm not a pro and I just started this - so I still will make mistakes - but I have to start somehow to learn by doing. I have no problem with starting from the top if I understand what I did wrong and someone explains why I did something wrong or what I should change. Sometimes I have to just do it and start again to see how something causes this or that.
Like I said - it's a learning process and I'm glad I found some guys here with a good knowledge that gives me advices for some improvements.

I agree with this open space in the sky - I'll fix that up.

Yes, it's a pity that the sketch is not mine - but it's even a bigger pity that my friend never finishes his sketches or even colors them - this is why we started this collaboration...and I'm glad he shares his talents which are beyond mine and different from my style which is more cartoony...and I always mention if a sketch is made by "myself" or "someone else" right on top. But it will always either be a sketch by myself or one by my friend Ralph...

alrighty then - back to work:wip:

Note: I tried to find some tutorials - but I didn't find a lot of helpful ones - I guess I have to wait for my book...

12 December 2007, 11:51 AM
I thought a lot about this light/shade-thing and all I can do now is guessing and go by "feeling".
After I start coloring the shape I can now better tell where the shadow goes - ofcourse I will have corrections but now I see it more in 3 dimensions...

After I get a better 3-dimensional image of it I can tell better where the shadow goes - so I think I just do a 3D-shape and then correct highlights and shadows.

I now see that the backlight - coming from the top will cause diffuse shadows to the right side - and cause diffuse bright colors on the top-areas of the dragon.

I added some clouds in the background but I might do this all over again after the dragon is mostly done. I never did a cloudy sky before so after some more practise I probably can do this better.

I hope I'm on the right way...I try my best - and this is an exercise for me...

12 December 2007, 12:38 PM
This is how I got so far...
While I looked through some tuts (I also read a lot of CybrGfx postings with similar topics :))
and layed back to think about this picture here I figured that the lightsource comes from the very top and a little diffuse light from the sky surrounded by the dragon. I still have to correct the shadings (especially on the the face) after I get the picture of the whole thing.
I will redo the whole sky though - but I will take care on that later.

also my next step is to setup a little shape-based 3D model to learn more about the lights & shades for this picture...I will post that as well.

12 December 2007, 01:51 PM
Wow, I now see how important it is to follow straight rules of light and far I already learned a lot.
I guess I wasn't that wrong with my intensions and the shading so far isn't that wrong.
The 3D setup was made with 1 lightsource (sun) - smooth shading.

I hope I don't bother anyone with my process of doing this here - I hope other beginners can also learn out of my mistakes and the way I try to figure how to get better in this.

back to work...

shading model:

12 December 2007, 03:09 PM
Thank you for sharing your process. You are most right, in that others can benefit from seeing how you make your choices and changes with an image.

Excellent idea to create a 3d rough for lighting. Utilize the tools at your fingertips. Tools are meant to help you do things easier. It's just that technology makes learning to use the tools harder than just smacking something with a hammer...

Glad you are learning as well as creating, and still enjoying the process.
Look forward to the updates.


12 December 2007, 10:28 AM
Hi VISEone,
i think it will be easier for you if instead of painting where the shadows are (->the areas not hit by the light) you paint the area hit by the light. See this video (
-a dark color is used as ambiant light to cover the whole dragon
-main lighting is painted using a global view
-i localize the area which the main light and the dome sky light cannot reach easily
-i change globally the color of the background to enhance the result and create something less "flat"
I wish it will help you a little bit

12 December 2007, 10:46 AM
Thank you for recording this paintover - I really, really appreciate this!
I will follow this and maybe even start over from the beginning to have a better color-concept.
This is very helpful - maybe you could send me a PM to even download this video for my personal use if possible...

Thanks again this helps me a lot!!!


12 December 2007, 12:43 PM
Ok, I think it is a better idea to share it with everyone so here it is ( (31,1MB)
it is the 1024x768 video at real time 31,1 MB using the techsmith screen capture codec ( (170KB)

I would like to point you a common mistake about value
see the image, you need to paint the whole dragon using a unique global shape, and when done, you can have more interesting gradients per area A, B, C, D instead of the same identical A you can see to the left

Anyway, what i consider as a mistake is only a concept shade you have made and if you already know about that, someone else could learn from this little advice

12 December 2007, 01:06 PM
Yes, It was more to guide me roughly to a more logical shading. This would've been too static anyway.
But this here teaches me a lot - can't wait to start all over again tonight :scream:


12 December 2007, 10:07 PM
After a rough week at work...I finally had some time to go back to my dragon.
I started all over again and tried to keep all advices in mind to set a more logical shading.
I hope I'm on the right way and will update tomorrow...

- I keep the background with the clouds but will redraw this later
- I think I went a little to dark on the right side but I guess I leave it for now and maybe lighten it up after I get a whole view of the image...
- also some highlights are too bright still and not logical -> so I will take care on this too

more tomorrow.

12 December 2007, 11:25 AM
Well, I couldn't come up with an update yet - too many presents to unwrap (lol)...
But at least I had to stop by and wish you all a merry christmas and once again I would like to thank those who spent a lot of time to help beginners like me with wise advises and share their knowledge which helps to improve my own skills.
Especially CybrGfx or Hecartha just to name those who helped me most - thank you!


12 December 2007, 10:01 PM
Here's another update of my work.

Still lot of work to do - (teeth, eyes, the rock, details, cleaning edges, etc.) but I'm getting there...

I've done the sky again - like this more than the old one.

...after all I will see what details I can add or leave :)

Hope the light/shade part isn't too wrong - but I'm learning...gosh this is some experience :)

crits & comments welcome!

12 December 2007, 10:01 PM
hadn't lots of time today - so here's just a little update.

The rock is still "very WIP" - I'll take care on that at last.
I cleaned up a little bit...have to work on the LH wing still - I know...

comments welcome!

12 December 2007, 12:05 AM
I'm a bit late for Christmas :D

1. about the post from the 12-22-2007, did you really paint the dragon using this white background?
If yes, i need to say you it is a bad idea to use a white as background, it is like painting the sun in front of your eyes. The white disturbs your eyes from any sense of contrast, it stifles the color around. It should be a better idea to use a more neutral color, not too saturated according to what will be the mid color of your background.

2. Now about the lighting of your last shot, it is good...but, I'm feeling guilty to say you that, it is good...for another background. I mean the brighter area on top gives a hint about the sun position ->behind the dragon, same thing seeing the clouds. The problem is you have the main light at another place if I'm referring to the dragon lighting -> in the front right of the dragon. It is like an arbitrary omni light was placed there and it gives an unnatural look to the scene. A more correct lighting using this background should be something like this (

3. when i see the 3 last pics, i have the feeling you spend too many time avoiding to paint beyond the dragon's body...i can see the dragon's claws were left perfectly white!
-first, you're using computer so you can paint on a surface an unlimited amount of time.
-second point is we are talking about a dragon's skin, not a human perfect baby skin so it is not important if you can see some artifacts on it, it can be a chance to use them as starting point for new details. Try to paint freely, use a big brush and cover the whole dragon adjusting global lighting, add details here and there, use the color picker to choose the good color etc... everything is too perfect at this step!!

4. i can see you used again these 5 color samples, i don't know what kind of result you want to achieve (you talked about the amazing Boris Valejo's work) but again, a dragon skin can use a lot more color. Using these few samples, you are limiting any color variation. Perhaps you should try to create your color directly on your work; take a blue, a green, a violet and with opacity set to 10~20% paint on the dragon's skin and take the resulting color with the color picker and paint...don't be so rigid in your use of colors.

I've done a full painting starting from the paintover i have made (because i simply would like to paint this creature). I will share it with you when your work on this piece will be finished, perhaps the first steps on the video and what I've said here will have more sense.
I need also to contact your friend Ralph, it will be nice if you could give me a way by pm to contact him, thanks.

12 December 2007, 08:12 AM
to 1. No - I didn't start with a white background - I started with the first version of the clouds.
to 2. so either I have to change the background (sky) or adjust the lightning - thanks fpr your reference!!!
to 3. You're totally right with this. I guess that's a beginners mistake to spend too much time on such things instead of going more roughly and make it more interesting this way.
I definetily have to work on this. But all this is very new to me still - so I have to find a workflow while I'm doing more pieces.
to 4. Yes I tried to stick within a colorrange - I guess I'm just afraid of messing it up with other colors. But at the other way - I read Boris Vallejo Books and there he describes exactly what you just mentioned: use other colors to make it look more natural because of the subdivision colors that shines trough the skin and the surrounding colors that hits the surfaces... But this is a long way to mastery and I just started - so one of these days I hopefully be able to get there :)

About your last point I will send you a PM.

Generally I'm very ambitious about learning all this and I didn't expect to step in this and be an expert from the beginning. I just should've start this years ago...
So I don't have any problems if anybody points me to mistakes or tells me that I was totally wrong on this or that. This only will help me to get better and getting rid of stupid mistakes after a while...

back to work :wip:

01 January 2008, 09:47 PM
Happy New Year!

Here's another update of my work.
I tried to solve the lightproblem - i thought when the light comes from above and more front on the dragon - then the clouds couldn't have those highlights - because this would be if the sun is shining behind the clouds.
So I darkened the edges a little bit and played around with it.
Hopefully this makes more sense now.
Also I've painted the rock again and added some more details on the dragon itself.
Then I played around with the colors in PS and tried to fit all together...hmmm
I wanted this golden/brown look so I guess as far as the colors go - I like it!

After painting hours of one work you really get tired of the painting - so I leave this here so far and call it semifinal (just like my SAD DRAGON" )to come back to it when I feel like it and maybe see more mistakes. So it's not done yet but as far as my skills are by now this has to be it for now...:)

I already got another sketch which helps me to work on this lights/shadings practise. I see more and more how important this is and the only way to learn it is to draw, draw, draw...:)

Well I hope you like this update and ofcourse any comments are welcome!

Next WIP will be posted soon...

01 January 2008, 11:04 PM
The stone has no texture and the dragon's... dunno how to say it right. T_T You see.. there's a sharp edge of shadow on his chest and a few more on his body. And this is not good... Maybe you blend em a lil?

01 January 2008, 03:33 PM
I see what you mean. I agree with the sharp shade on his chest - I'll keep that in mind.
The rock has a smooth structure and after endless tryouts I just leave it that way but I have to practise to paint rocks indeed...step by step.
When I get better at all this - I might repaint this image again or even put him into another scene - and that's exactly what I want to practise too: painting landscapes and environment :) which will be another long way for me...but as I was surprised by myself - I already speeded up with painting - the SEA HUNTER took about 10hrs and this one here about ....days.

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