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  09 September 2013
Ideally, you should work on background and foreground at the same time, in passes. So for example, you first block in the basic shapes with local values/colors for the entire image (foreground and background--everything), and once you have the main shapes established, you can do the next pass, which will be establishing the general forms according to the lighting setup (keeping in mind the light source's color cast, as well as ambient light sources, radiosity/color bleed, etc). Then you do the next pass and add the more intricate details, and so on. This is the best way because every step of the way, you are considering the entire image's composition instead of working on only an isolated spot without considering how it interacts with the rest of the scene.
  10 October 2013
More detailed one with characters drafts

The colors are different from the thumbnail. I think I will have to rely on this forum for a long while until I can spot the problems myself.
Right now my guess is there is something wrong with the bottom-right character's shape or pose, and the dark shadows of the background buildings.
  10 October 2013
You have some problems with tangents (common problem in composition for beginner/intermediate artists). The left character's sword is "resting" on the top edge of the dome building's first circular level. Her left foot is also "stepping" on a distant building's top corner. These accidental tangents show up very easily if you don't pay attention and try to eradicate them as much as possible. If you don't, the readability of your contour silhouettes and scene's Z-depth hierarchy gets weakened.

The right character's legs look like they are retracted because she's trying to avoid the bottom border of the image, or that she's about to land on it. Try angling her more so he legs are foreshortened behind her and not about to rest on the bottom border of the image.

The right wing's bottom corner and the two little wings on her hat have tangent problems too. Try moving them away from "resting" on the distant buildings and roads's contour edges. Generally, you want your foreground shapes to either clear the background details entirely, or you try and make sure any overlaps are only at spots where the contour edges of both foreground and background elements aren't touching, but clearly overlapping--this helps create a stronger sense of dimensional depth and better readability.

If you are serious about learning/improving in an effective manner so that you can excel in your artistic development far faster than you are now, you might want to consider taking my workshop (linked below in my signature. It just started today, but you can still get in if you want to join us). It is designed as an intense boot camp for artists who are tired of not seeing much improvement in their work even though they seem to be working hard at it, or feeling like they've been stuck in their artistic development and improving too slowly. Many students have said that 8 weeks with me taught them far more than they ever learned in all the years they went to art school (you can read the numerous student testimonials and see how the workshop had a profound effect on their artistic development).
  10 October 2013

I have read further about tangents, but this is some changes I did with what I understood from your comments.

I am really going to join the workshop, but my financial situations are not good right now, thanks to a career mistake. Maybe next time or so, at least not before I am clear of some problems. Do not write me off yet
  10 October 2013
The update looks much better. You're learning fast--I'm looking forward to having you as a student.

The bottom character's feet now has a different problem. See how they are right at the separation line between the two different values in the background? Try having one of her legs drop lower (maybe her left leg), and then have her right leg drop just a little bit so her foot is overlapping that line more obviously.
  10 October 2013
How long the course will remain open for enrollment? I figured out my problems somehow. Is it better to join now or prepare for a while? I plan to change my job the next month or two (Not because of the course. The job is bad itself) but now I'm afraid I have only about 1-2 hours a day and I cannot practice with this. I don't want to forget what I just learned just by not practicing.

So that's why the character looks cramped. I thought it is about the anatomy, but it could be both.

I already went into the sea of details (at those column bases left-bottom side of the picture), before I realized I should take care of lighting first. But with just that I have even more things I am not sure of now:

1. Lighter shadows and darker shadows. As far as I know there will be a lot to fix.
2. Those columns and column bases looks bad when zooming in. Should I care about this? I have been drawing images in 2480x3508 and never had to worry this much because when I worked with my characters with digital approach, they look clean and sharp even when zoomed in.
3. I made some kind of light on the dark wall casting from below(for no reason?) The one on the center-bottom with only one window.

Last edited by Red-Romanov : 10 October 2013 at 10:40 PM.
  10 October 2013
The workshop will run for as long as there are still students enrolling. When there aren't enough students enrolling, it'll stop running. I can't see the future so I can't tell you when that will be. Generally, I try to run them back to back, so that means I can run about 4 to 5 workshops a year, depending on how much break I need between each run. We're about 4 days into this current run, and I think enrollment gets cut off after the first week.

Joining now or later only makes a difference in how quickly you want to start working towards the next phase of your artistic development. There are no deadlines for the assignments and I continue to mentor all of my students in a private forum after they finish the workshop, so it's a long-term relationship, which means you can ask me questions, get critiques, get guidance, etc anytime, for as long as you still need my help. I have helped some students go all the way from being beginners all the way to them becoming professional artists and continued to give them guidance in their career development. Essentially, without any deadlines or time limit, you can do the workshop at your own pace and not have to worry about falling behind or not having enough free time. Just read the lecture notes, watch the videos, and do the assignments whenever you do have time, and I'll always be there to help you. Some student got so busy during the workshop that they had to take weeks and months off, and then later came back to pick up where they left off, and that's totally fine with me--I don't treat them any differently. Once you're a student of mine, you're a student of mine for life, until you no longer need my guidance. (My philosophy about teaching is very traditionally Asian. We believe in life-long teacher/student relationships and not just take a student's money and then stop caring after the workshop is over.)

You definitely have a lot of lighting contradictions in your scene right now, and it's due to a lack of understanding of the fundamental laws of physics that govern the way light and shadow (and in conjunction, color) behaves. You can learn the basics here:

And when you take the workshop, I'll be spending an entire week just working yours ass to the absolute limit on lighting, and by the end of the week, you'll be able to fabricate very convincing looking lighting scenarios out of your head without needing any references. That week's assignment will kick you ass, but it will completely alter the way you understand lighting and values and you'll be forever changed in the way you approach your artwork.
  10 October 2013
I joined the workshop! I'm looking forward to your teachings and assignments.

I asked my friend for more comments of this picture. She said the two character's angles are off with the scene, and I should use better coloring to make them go along with it.
  10 October 2013
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