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  03 March 2013
Illustration: Skull Cave (Tomb Raider contest) - WIP


I've been working on the entry to the Tomb Raider dA contest and as far as I'm overall happy, I've got few problems.

Firstly, I'm concerned about the values. It's not my strong side yet to be honest . Does the jungle area make sense? Or should I rather use slight overlay in the center to decrease the contrast in the "nose" section? The same issue applies to the "teeth" section.

Second thing I'd like to ask for critique is a detail level. Did or didn't I go to far with the background? Considering the middle plane hard torch light I guess I need some sharp (and noisy) rock, is it blending with the background too much? Lara herself (yes, I know that she has too long left arm ) will have more equipment on her (bow, belts, maybe holster, ice axe), so it will add some additional details. If so, how can I fix this, another low opacity layer on the jungle section?

The thing that is missing yet is the first plane with some strong caging object. I plan to shoot two birds with one rock and emphasize the depth with adding a flock of bats flying from the "waterfall eye" to the Lara's direction.

Thank you for all your comments, critique and help. Hopefuly, I'll be able to pay back in the future

Last edited by dawidowicz : 03 March 2013 at 10:51 PM. Reason: topic title change
  03 March 2013
Hi, I'm afraid I can't help you with the values :S , but here is what I first notice:

-my eyes tend to go all the time to the highly illuminated rock, but there is nothing there, only texture.
-The whole skull thing is lost imo. It's a guess, but maybe the camera is too much inclined, and that make everything more dificult to read. I think the composition is not balance: too much weight at the top-right corner? but if you are planning to add more layers I can't be sure.
Maybe the torch should light the character, defining a better visual path with the skull and I would consider not adding too much to the scene: it's going to be crowded down there, but this is only personal taste...

good luck and thanks for sharing,

  03 March 2013
Thank you for your time jorgepozo, your tips were at most helpful. Following your suggestion I moved a torch a little bit (not drawn yet, but more less I indicated where do I want it now). Lara will be more illuminated of course, and warm highlights should anchor the eye of the viewer. At the moment she's blocked sillhouette but she isn't finished by any means (the horror of lack of time strikes again ). I also pushed the background with soft brush, it cuts from the middle now (although I'll need probably one more soft layer).

I'm uploading two pics. One is with and the other without cool filter layer (it is a temp and serves as a test now, it's more less what I intend to add after rendering). More updates to come

  03 March 2013
Your overall tonal composition is problematic. You have this really contrasty area at the top that's stealing all the attention, and it's not the most important part of the image. You need to make sure your focal areas has the most eye-catching elements, and that's Lara. Downplay areas that are competing for attention (reduce the contrast, detail, saturation, colors--whatever it takes). And do the opposite for the main focal area--play up those aspects to make it more eye-catching.

You also have a problem with the composition being segmented and not working well as one single organic visual design. It's as if the background and the foreground are unrelated and don't really work well together in the same image. Try overlapping the foreground shapes with the background. Also, your bright background area is roughly taking up the same amount of image real estate as the foreground area that's got the orange light, and you can't want to have matching portions like that--you want one of them to be dominant, and that would be your foreground. Try pushing the camera in much closer to Lara, and perhaps lower the camera for a worm's eye view angle.
  03 March 2013
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