Character Critique

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  05 May 2013
Character Critique

Hello! I'm new to CG Society and as an aspiring character artist I felt it was necessary to gain the courage to start getting some feedback from other artists with a lot more experience.

This is my latest character. In the world she belongs to, she's supposed to be part of a committee of very powerful people. I chose all the gold silver and embroidery as well as the smirking mask and strong stance to exemplify her position of power.

Some things I'm unhappy with in all of my pieces is the color and blending. I always find it comes out kind of harsh on the eyes. Another thing is I really want to start understanding how to hint at texture and material in 2D work, I want someone to be able to see my work and know what each piece of clothing is made out of. Angled drawings are usually more difficult for me so I try to do them more often - the far shoulder is usually what I have the most trouble with when it comes to these. I always have an extremely hard time with good perspective, that's why I don't have a background here.

I'd like to know what I could do to improve and get to creating convincing, well designed characters. Thanks!
 
  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by lchacon: Hello! I'm new to CG Society and as an aspiring character artist I felt it was necessary to gain the courage to start getting some feedback from other artists with a lot more experience.

This is my latest character. In the world she belongs to, she's supposed to be part of a committee of very powerful people. I chose all the gold silver and embroidery as well as the smirking mask and strong stance to exemplify her position of power.

Some things I'm unhappy with in all of my pieces is the color and blending. I always find it comes out kind of harsh on the eyes. Another thing is I really want to start understanding how to hint at texture and material in 2D work, I want someone to be able to see my work and know what each piece of clothing is made out of. Angled drawings are usually more difficult for me so I try to do them more often - the far shoulder is usually what I have the most trouble with when it comes to these. I always have an extremely hard time with good perspective, that's why I don't have a background here.

I'd like to know what I could do to improve and get to creating convincing, well designed characters. Thanks!


Some notes:

Spend more time learning anatomy and perspective, either through the tutorials here, classes, or books. It's something that requires time and practice. Drawing a figure with no reference takes solid skills and experience, so yes, you will have issues. For a piece like this, it should be easy to find a reference image online to work from.

Texture - while you don't have to draw a texture photo-realistically (learning how certainly does not hurt), what you want to do is give visual cues to texture, and that comes from studying real life objects and learning how to draw/paint them, with color, lighting, and shadow. Take the cape on this figure - not only is it misshapen, it's not flowing realistically like cloth, either blown by wind, or hanging from a figure. The easiest way to study something like this is to drape cloth over someone's shoulders, and see how the cloth folds and hangs. Again, this is just more experience, practice, and study. Look into other artists and how they've handled the problem.

As for colors, that's easy - don't paint on a white background, first of all. The white of the page is going to influence your eye as you're trying to establish values and hue - use a toned background, or a rough background. A 50% grey is always the easiest. That way, you can control your contrasts and colors more easily. This plays into texture, too, metallic surfaces require different ways of rendering, depending on what kind it is - a shiny metal will have strong contrasts and highlights, whereas a duller metal will be softer. (Again, visual cues). Shiny metallic surfaces will also reflect local color, or the color around it, and the background/environment/light source. This brings up another issue to study - generally, unless the light source in your painting is a bright white light, you want to establish cool and warm tones with your lighting, and your highlights and shadows. A common technique is to use purples and blues and greens in shadows, and reds, yellows and oranges in the lighter areas, especially skin. A white cape could easily incorporate violet and blues in the shadows of the fold - the color will help give you volume as well.

Another issue you have is your lighting is all over the place - the shadow indicates a strong source light in front of the character, but you have the figure shaded in parts for a strong light to the right.

All in all, a good start, and hopefully this will give you some key issues to concentrate on!
 
  05 May 2013
Thank you very much for putting in the time for a good response!

Certainly by eye I wouldn't be able to know where the shadow would be, I'll have to look into some rules. I'll definitely try and work without a white background from now on, I can understand your point clearly now, that may be why the contrast is very harsh. I have recently got a lot of books on perspective and drapery - just feels a little overwhelming, like trying to learn figure drawing/anatomy from the beginning again. I'll keep in mind your comment on the texture things - I haven't done any still life studies in a long time, I suppose that will help me start to understand different materials better.

Thanks again for the feedback, I'm glad I'm at least on the right track for the most part!
 
  05 May 2013
Don't be overwhelmed. The path of an artist is a life-long journey, so just take it one step at a time.

If you haven't done so yet, cgtalk has a dedicated Art Techniques & Theories subforum (linked below in my signature) that has lots of excellent resources that will help you become a better artist.

Other than what Bill has pointed out, I'll add something regarding design.

When doing character design, you have to think like a designer. You can't just be someone who draws/paints pretty pictures--you have to think critically about issues like form vs. function, logic, ergonomics, as well as other issues like character personality, time period, aesthetic appeal, etc.

Take for example those strips of cloth on her headdress. They not only will flap around and obscure her vision during action, they also have rows of weights on them that will swing around and smack her in the face. It is an illogical design of style over substance. This is what I mean by you have to use your logical mind too when you design, instead of making up arbitrary stuff that cannot hold up to any amount of casual scrutiny.

Those flaps hanging around her thighs is also problematic. Do you know what they are for? They are supposed to be protective strips of leather that still allows the legs to bend, and they are supposed to just hang down. Take a look:
http://globalnerdy.com/wordpress/wp...008/07/xena.jpg

There's no logical reason why they should angle out like you have them, and they should also be spaced rightly together--remember, they are meant to be armor that protects you. Huge gaps sort of go against that concept.

The high-heels is also a problem. This is a huge pet peeve for a lot of people--they can't stand seeing character designers putting high-heels on characters that are supposed to be action heroes or just very active in general. It's completely lacking in common sense to do that.

You may not have thought about these issues before, but now that you are aware of them, you should keep them in mind and start to use more logic and common sense when you design characters in the future.
 
  05 May 2013
Hello, thanks for the feedback and the link, i'll definitely spend some time looking through that!

The strap things are supposed to be a really soft looking silk, I just, frankly don't know how to communicate that yet, so they'd be really light. So the gold stuff at the end would be more like a lace hem. I honestly can't recall where I had seen the thing that inspired the headdress, but I guess it was supposed to be partly a veil and partly some kind of crown or ornamentation that otherwise shows importance. I definitely did not think about the gems at the end acting as weights - i'll surely remember that.

The waist part I had a lot of trouble with, I tried more variations on that than any other part and couldn't really settle on what I wanted. I think now without the hanging straps it might have been better. I felt like everything was really narrow and i wanted to break up the straight down pattern and have something fan out nicely. Nice transitions from piece to piece is something I really want to get down, I like for the outfit to have some key visual pieces that really communicate that they're all part of the same armor or dress etc. I saw a lot of my peers create designs that had really different appearances on the vambraces than the boots and things like that.

When I do armour on a character that isn't necessarily a fighting type, I try to prioritize protecting the chest above most things. I do find myself doing a lighter more flexible armor beneath a more sturdy plate piece in a lot of my characters though. I've always wanted to find a good resource that shows how people actually put on armor, layers and how things attach.

The boots admittedly were largely aesthetic, she's mostly not a combatant type of character, but at some point she would be active and that type of footwear just looked more "elegant." I'm wondering if heavier looking sabatons or more combat boot look would have been a better approach.

Ultimately, my biggest goal is communication. I want the modeller or even just a viewer to be able to see my work and be able to tell what material makes up each piece of a character's outfit and really feel that the outfit would work - that they can sort of see the articles of clothing on their own and understand how their worn kind of thing. I've always stressed trying to do as much as I can for a piece to be convenient for whomever is relying on the artwork.

Last edited by lchacon : 05 May 2013 at 06:46 PM.
 
  05 May 2013
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