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  09 September 2012

Hello, all.

I have been an animator for years, and on the side mainly a character sketch and life drawing sketch artist since those directly influenced my animation. Over the years I've done very few actual paintings, and recently I've been very interested in improving that aspect of my art. I've recently completed a class for oil painting to finally get a real feel for paints and a brush in my hand, and I truly enjoyed it to finally be mentored on it.

I have a couple pieces on which I would sincerely appreciate some sincere critique.

This was my first painting after years of nothing. Just whatever came into my head first that challenged me. Namely trees.

This tropical scene was actually a concept sketch for a wall painting I will be doing for my chiropractor to pay for my care since I have been between animation work. He's a wonderful person to allow me to pay for my care this way, so I'm doing everything I can to give him something great, regardless of my current skill level. The color on the outside is the color of the wall on which it will be painted, so the idea is to have the background blend, with the trees themselves 'popping out.' That being said, I would like to approach this here as a true 'painting' regardless of the kind of flat composition.

Both paintings were done in photoshop. They both took me somewhere over 10 hours worth of trial and error in getting a feel for tools again since I haven't painted in a long, long time.

I am sincerely in need of critiques and ideas with which I can gain some perspective on how to approach my work. I want to improve, and fast. So to put it simply... please kick the **** out of them. My understanding of color and composition has atrophied quite a bit in terms of illustration, and I admit getting easily dejected, because I am good enough to know how inexperienced I am, without knowing how to approach getting better.

I am committed to improving my abilities as fast as humanly possible, and am looking for anything and everything that I can do to expand my abilities as quickly as possible.

Last edited by Gaelstrom : 09 September 2012 at 07:04 AM. Reason: Added information
  10 October 2012
Cherry blossom - The foreground cherry blossom looks clunky because you have painted the blue form shadow over them as if they are one big solid chunk of shape, instead of lots of smaller shapes that clumps into a bigger shape. Don't paint that blue form shadow over the spaces between the smaller shapes--it just looks awkward. Instead, keep that entire foreground tree on a separate layer, then simply Control-Click the layer icon to select all the pixels on that layer, and then you can start a layer in Multiply blend mode, and then paint the blue form shadow onto just the selected areas.

The color of the sky looks strange, because you painted what looks like a sunny day, but the sky is gray like an overcast day. I would suggest you make the sky blue and then have the blue of the sky bounce onto the shadow side of everything. This would also explain why you have that blue in your form shadow in the foreground tree better.

The direction of your casts shadows contradict each other. You need to know exactly where your light source is (in this case, the sun), and then cast the shadows of your entire scene consistently according to the direction/position of your light source. Right now, the cast shadow of the wall doesn't match the cast shadows of the trees.

Hammock - You have blue of the sky bounced onto the cast shadow of the trees and the hammock on the ground, but that blue is missing from the form shadows and the cast shadows elsewhere. You must be consistent--if the entire sky dome is bouncing its blue color onto the entire surface of the scene, then EVERYTHING in your scene will have that blue in the shadow side, because the sky dome will be in fact, the strongest light source for those shadow surfaces (while on the lit side, it's the direct sunlight that's the dominant light source).
  10 October 2012
Much appreciated for replying, Lunatique.

In regards to the cherry blossoms, I found myself feeling like I was doing something unnecessary in the foreground and admittedly kind of gave up. When it comes to close, up-front details such as that, are there any 'tricks' so to speak that can be done to make it more worthwhile? As I was doing it, it just ended up being a giant shape with nothing to make it that interesting I felt. I gave up because I recognized just adding more details to what I had wasn't going to add anything overall. Would you perhaps be willing to suggest a new approach?

The same reasoning goes for the gray background. Like I said, I haven't done this in so long that I've forgotten basically everything. Even basic layout. This was all started on a whim, so I literally sat down and painted without thought or layout, so I didn't even consider background elements. It's embarrassing, but the unfortunate truth.

Which shadow felt like it was contradicting the others, by the way? I kept the light source in mind, but I've no doubt I could have easily missed one.

As for the tropical hammock scene, the issues with the form shadows exist in the core shadow of the trees and the leaves of the plants, correct? I tried something like what you mention, but it felt strange, and looked off. Perhaps I did it wrong, but following my reference the blue wasn't really there, but perhaps I will give another 'glaze' of blue to try and unify the color scheme more. I'll be the first to admit that my eyes are obviously not trained very well toward color yet.

Thanks again, I will work on it and repost soon.
  10 October 2012
Well, ideally, an artist should plan out the image with a strong sense of compositional design, knowing exactly where he wants to draw the attention of the viewer, where the "hook" of the image is, and where the complimentary elements are, and then give each section the attention and detail management they need in order to work together coherently and dynamically, as if the different elements are like the different instrument sections of an orchestra. Not all elements require lots of detail or contrast, just like some instruments in an orchestra will play supporting roles while other instruments will play the lead roles.
  10 October 2012
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