View Full Version : Juggler Poem

03 March 2009, 06:19 AM
Hey everyone,

Thanks for all the feedback on my first painting. I'm happy with it, and am about ready to go with my second. Here's the stanza of the poem:

The boys in the village would come out to see
the juggling master from up in a tree.
The girls threw him flowers they loosed from their hair
which he, with a bow, juggled up in the air.

I'm working on composition at this point. The focus is meant to be on his figure - especially his face. If any of you have any thoughts on how things could be set up better, or even new elements for the image, please share. Feel free to do paintovers if you like.

EDIT: Finished Image?

03 March 2009, 12:36 PM

I felt like doing a quick over paint... not to show what's right or wrong. But just how I would tackle your viewpoint and the composition.

Basicly I start with dividing the image in thirds, the four crosses that appear in your drawing are the focal points for a visually balanced image. (the read lines)
Next step is to move the juggler to one of those points, and tried to get children on the other three points.

I filled in the rest of the image according to this basic layout and tried to get as many sight lines to point towards the juggler. (the blue lines) You could add more by angling more branches and trees toward the focal point. But you have to take care that it does not become unnatural.

well and then I ended up with this composition, it differs very little, the angle has gone up a little more and because the juggler came higher up, there is more depth and I had to cut some leaves, which left me room to show some other trees on the other side of the open space in the forest or tree lined square in the village.

Tell me if you think I improved your composition or the way you think about creating a compostion. Once again, I don't think your composition is a "wrong" or "weak" one. Just maybe not one that is build :)

03 March 2009, 05:23 PM
Thanks for the paint over. Let me see if I can explain what I was doing in the previous composition, because I worry that some of the elements got lost in the one you propose.

The idea is that the tree itself has leaves hanging down in the distance, shadowing the girls on the ground. Thus the boys and the trunk are the darkest elements, the girls and the foreground are the next darkest, and the juggler is in the lightest part of the scene. For it to work three dimensionally, the branches need to be hanging down over where they are.

Compositionally, there is a sort of triangle created by the three heads of the boys, and a circle by an opening in the leaves, both of which he might be in the center of. Then I would line up the limbs of the boys and the heads of some of the girls. to be pointing towards him.

Finally, there is interaction between the figures - one of the girls is curtsying to the juggler's bow - another might be loosening a flower, another might be turning away bashfully.

I like the idea of seeing something of the background - to give the idea that we are near a village - especially since much of this poem takes place in a forest. Any ideas here would be particularly welcome. I also like the idea of making him off center like you put him - though I might have to give up the triangle composition. The tree branches I don't think will quite work - the idea is for the leaves to grow down at the very edge of the tree below, rather than being up where the boys are near the trunk.

03 March 2009, 10:48 AM
That is really interesting... and exactly why I was saying nothing is wrong here.

I see your point on dark to light... and that is interesting, but you don't need to have those branches in your picture for them to be there and cast shadow on what you have in your picture, right?

The triangle with the juggler in the middle is okay. The only thing is that keeping your main subject in the middle is usually a bit boring and you have to work hard to either make everything as iconic as possible or as asymmetrical as you can possibly get.
The asymmetry works against the boring aspect, while the iconic strengthens it and going beyond boring (it's what Brom is good at :) )

IMHO the main thing with this viewpoint is that you have very little room to show off what all the figures are doing, the curtsying and flower throwing and the flowers in the hair. Because you have that big tree blocking everything and I feel that while that adds lots more atmosphere I might be tempted to go from the other direction... the children in the trees on the background and the girls on the foreground with the juggler closer too.
especially from a more frog perspective it should be at least as interesting as this POV and you'd have room for some houses in the background I think.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the composition. I like discussing things :)
Once again, just thinking out loud here. Tell me what you think or why you chose this specific POV (point of view)


03 March 2009, 07:58 PM
Fair enough - I'll give your composition a shot and see what it looks like.

As to why the boys in the foreground...well...I've always thought the world looks more interesting from up in a tree than below it. Something from my childhood, I suppose. ;-) But perhaps I'll do one from below, just to see.

05 May 2009, 03:12 AM
Here's my attempt from below. I think it may work better for the book, in that there are a lot of pages where forest scenes and trees are central. I also don't have a lot of pages featuring girls, and so its nice to feature them more prominently here.

05 May 2009, 05:30 AM

The kids on the left side look a little dramatic right now for children being happy and wanting to see the juggler. Not too sure about their placement, maybe just a little further back would be better

Love the one behind the tree.

I miss the actual street theatre crowd thing a little bit though...
something like:
this ( or this (
But at the same time lots of people take lots of time, and there is only limited space in the picture and you want to show some of the village too... (I like the village)

So some thoughts still. :) sorry for not being completely overwhelmed yet :P

05 May 2009, 05:15 AM
Some more detail, a courtseying figure, and some change in the foreground girls.

And here's a look at value:

05 May 2009, 07:44 AM
Oh much, much better... a lot more action going on now... and it really pulls you in with the pointing girl and the light.

Go for it I say :) on to the next stage!

05 May 2009, 05:42 AM
Here's an update with a little color. It's flipped to check subconscious errors.

05 May 2009, 05:35 PM
Hey! thatīs looking really cool!. I would add some atmospheric perspective to separate the colors in the backgroung plane. But you have just started coloring, so I wouldnīt know if you were going to do it anyways :P... just a thought I had in mind. You know, make the floor and the house in the BG have a slightly different tone than those in the foreground, maybe add some blue to them.

Itīs looking REALLY nice way to go :)

05 May 2009, 08:08 PM
Hi MatPan,

Thanks! Yeah, I did want to make things less saturated in the distance. What's the best way to do this? Should I paint it like that from the beginning, or should I paint all the colors at full value and "Paint" saturation changes later on?

05 May 2009, 08:37 PM
Hmmm it all depends on your technique. I like to have the colors as defined as possible from the very early stages. Even if I donīt work into detail yet. It helps visualize the depth and atmosphere from the beginning.

As for the way to show this depth, yup, desaturation does a good part of the trick, but try also altering the hue a little, shift the colours to whatever your atmosphere will go to (warm reddish colours for a sunset, blueish for a morning look, and so on). Remember it is a subtle alteration in the hue and saturation, you just want to convey this feeling of depth. and the further the elements are from the point of view, the more evident this alteration goes.

And also, make colors mix. Light rebounds everywhere, and with it, the colors of the surfaces where it rebounds are slightly translated to where it targets. For instance, in addition to the sunlight directly hiting the juggler and the girl in front of him, there will be a deal of green invading them both from underneath left. Take this always into consideration, as colors near each other tend to influence themselves. This will help keep your hues rich and varied while integrating the piece as a whole (But donīt overdo it :) ). And donīt forget you are out in the open, so there will be a great deal of skylight affecting the elements (that is a blueish tone (or whatever predominan sky colour you choose)) from the opposite direction from where sunlight comes, basically.

And thatīs pretty much about all the tricks in the book :P and yet, as simple principles as they are, they take a long time to master... (still getting the hang of it myself :P)

Well, I just want to see more! :D

05 May 2009, 06:53 AM
This is my first outdoor piece (and only my second full painting - the first is here (, so I'm glad for the advice. I know about indirect lighting, but it's a little tricky to get it just right. In this case I'm not always entirely sure how much of what I see in outdoor photos is the actual color of (say) a tree, and what is due to indirect light. It'll just take some effort, and I'm glad for the continual fresh set of eyes.

One thing I would really like some feedback at this point on is the color of the clothing. The juggler is pretty set, but what about the kids? Should the girl have something stronger than yellow in the middle, since I want her to stand out with the juggler? Or would the viewer then think she's actually part of his troupe or something?

06 June 2009, 07:25 AM
An update - playing a bit with warm light and cool shadows, as well as a more detailed drawing.

06 June 2009, 08:57 AM
Looks promising!
Love the shadow light shadow light from front to back.. adds a lot of depth

Do note though that the flowers who are being juggled with are very hard to see right now.. so you might want to make them more saturated or the background behind it a little less detailed... more atmospheric fogged up :)

And you might want to play a little with the light that comes through the leaves... some splotches here and there.. but that is a little early on.

Keep at it!

06 June 2009, 02:56 AM
Using a few images for color references:

07 July 2009, 06:33 AM
Finished drawing - desaturated to see it more clearly:

08 August 2009, 05:12 AM
A repaint with a new (consistent) color palette. What do you think? Are the hues improved? It's obviously oversaturated, and I'm going to have to work to get the nice value contrasts of the previous version, but I decided to rework it because I felt I had done too much color mixing too early on the other one, and was losing too much color.

08 August 2009, 04:11 PM
I think I like the more saturated version better. But (there is always a but)

I don't like the obvious blue hue in the darker shadows. I know that it usually is a good idea to have light and dark areas a different hue, so they stand out a little better. But the blue here is just to strong for me to get believeable.

If they had a pool in front of the door, okay. But now I would expect the light to bounce from the grass/dirt ground giving a slight green/yellow hue to the shadow parts. Not blue in any way.
On that note. I really like the blue in the sky though... the see through in the valley is really convincing and really gives the image a lot of depth.

Another minor point is that all the wood is the same, which wood, being a natural growing resource is mostly not. Unless it has been painted or factory manufactored. Try to give it a bit more variation especially the difference in the structured wood (houses) and the growing wood (tree and possibly fence)

So I think the image is far better being more interestion because of the colour but there are a few minor glitches right now that spoil the overal effect.

Hope it helps!

08 August 2009, 04:42 PM
Shadows from direct light are generally bluer in hue, since the strongest light source next to the sun is the blue sky above. But I've clearly overdone it, as you point out. It worked better when it was more subtle on the first image.

I would presume that the houses would be made out of the same wood as the tree, though the bark would be a different color. I suppose the wood in the structure should be lighter?

08 August 2009, 05:43 AM
:) yeah... that sky blue is not nearly that strong... And it is also about the colour of the image which is very warm except from the shadows which are really cold, and that clashes.

On the wood, yeah, bark is different from processed wood used in buildings, but the wood in the buildings could easily be very dark since it could be tarred to better withstand the weather. And really with going for a more saturated palette you have actually abstracted the image making it more stylish and comical. Which also means you have more freedom using colours you wouldn't really see in real life. So if you want to make the wood orange you could get away with it, I think.
Subtle changes get you a long way in portraying natural materials.

Greetings! -and excuses for the rant yesterday... I feel I have been going overboard with the last post-

08 August 2009, 05:34 AM
No problem at all! I post here to get helpful rants, not silent approval!

So...I read this forum at work...and am looking at it again from home. The work monitor shows the image as having that super strong pool-reflection blue. The one at home looks more subtle and sane. Which is...rather frustrating!!!

Perhaps a solution is to work in CMYK rather than RGB. Here is the image converted to CMYK and saved again (no change other then some playing around on the woman's face). On my screen it looks almost identical (though I can tell a difference in the palette area). How does it look to you?

08 August 2009, 06:12 AM
Nah no change here... I think you'd better check your monitor colour set-up.. which is very important to have right. You can go through the adobe colour management wizard to fix it by eye or get a colour spider kind of thing (I have a friend who has one of those and I borrow it now and again, its really great to see how your eyes have adjusted to see red or blue things white... white that suddenly seems colorised. But that thing has no human flaws in checking the colour so it is a true setup...)

My replies came from work and home and I have seen the same image at both locations, with no discernible change.

08 August 2009, 03:21 AM
Well, it turns out my monitor setup wasn't so bad - my work was a lot worse! But I've altered the colors some. I think the blue of the house was throwing things off more than anything.

08 August 2009, 08:35 AM
Much bettter... In my head the walls were just a bit more white. But that is for you to decide. I would still make the difference in hue between the two huts a little larger to set them apart a bit more and enhance the fact that there is a sunny plaza in between.

Looking forward to the next step... some more pronounced shapes. I think you need to get on.


08 August 2009, 04:02 AM
Some work on the central figure

09 September 2009, 05:04 AM
Some work on the other figures, and the background.

09 September 2009, 01:20 PM
Go on! want to see the finish pic! Fighting

01 January 2010, 05:32 AM
It's been a while since I posted an update. Here the bulk of the painting is done - need a little cleanup, the purple flower, and the big tree before it is finished.

01 January 2010, 04:17 PM
Some work on the tree. I'm especially wondering about the bark-any thoughts?

01 January 2010, 10:42 PM

02 February 2010, 07:32 AM
Hi! Thanks for the headsup, been a little busy lately and have given up some of my online life... need to find a way to incorporate that into my day again.

May I now as a thank you still critique some points :) -don't bother to change them BTW, keep them in mind for the next one... I'll try checking in now and again.

First of all, I really like your colors in this image, the depth is very clear and the flowers that are being juggled stand out (personally I would say not enought, but that is if it were my image) I also really lover the light leaves of the tree, I think the shaded leaves are a little unnatural since they seem to be floating and don't have the same shape as the more obvious leaves in the front. The bark is a little dark, I would have loved so see some more shading going on there.
Something that is really bothering me is the little girl close by at the left, she has been hit with the ugly stick a little bit to much... (somehow I was convinced you would go for less cartoony faces allover... don't know why) a smaller nose and more subtle mouth would be better.
Finally I seem to notice that the cloud in the background is a little bright seing that everything has a haze over it there and it jumps out because of that (nothing serious here, but you could layer the cloud a bit more to make it longer in depth creating more of that corridor feeling)

Overall congrats on finishing a nice image I would think it a good image for in a childrens book. Unfortunately I don't have that strong an emotion when I see it, definitely something that could be improved.

Oh and I have to mention the reed on the roof, that is really good and shows shading and texture differences really good!

Nice going and see you for the next one :thumbsup:

02 February 2010, 10:47 PM
Well, the girl is based on a photo of my sister, so I can't very well abandon her to the ugly stick, now can I? ;-) Thankfully, it's my drawing, not her... I made the other changes, with a branch in the background to pull the leaves in, the cloud given more haze, the flowers brighter, and a bit more shape to the tree. I had done a post-process filter on the last image that I'm not sure I really like (it made all the bark darker) so I've removed that.

Here's an update:

02 February 2010, 04:33 PM
Well, the girl is based on a photo of my sister, so I can't very well abandon her to the ugly stick, now can I? ;-)

oops... sorry bout that :) for cartoony girls its usually the less detail the better or else things will be considered wrinkles, old age etc. (I would look into those bags under her eyes for example.)

Colours are way better without the filter BTW, also congrats on the extra branches, really pulls the tree together.
Will post about the other sometime later, but actually I really want someone else to join too... people might think we know each other :p not that its a bad thing..


02 February 2010, 06:41 PM
Will post about the other sometime later, but actually I really want someone else to join too... people might think we know each other!

Hah! Well, you know I'm happy to get more critiques! Invite all your friends!

Seriously, I do seem to remember this place being a little more hapnin' than it is now. Where'd everybody go, I wonder?

06 June 2010, 04:38 PM
I really liked the way you painted the tree! specially how we can see thru the leaves

did you use any special brush for the leaves?

06 June 2010, 06:43 PM
Nope - all of those strokes are done by hand. One day I'll use custom brushes, but I figure it's safer to first do everything with the simple round brush, and then later on learn to make custom brushes to speed up strokes I already know how to do.

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