Rainy Day WIP

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  06 June 2014
Rainy Day WIP

So here's my latest pic. It is an attempt to try different lighting styles; I've found myself getting into a groove where the lighting is always from the right-hand corner. There's not really any background for this drawing, but it's supposed to show the girl's delight at having found the flowers. The composition isn't very good, but it's too late to change at this point. Right now, I'm having a lot of trouble with her face. The colors, esp. in her rainboots and face look kind of flat or just not right. Also, it's raining in the pic, but I'm having trouble depicting the rain in a way that fits with the rest of the painting. Any help with lighting/colors plus any additional comments would be greatly appreciated.

  06 June 2014
It's never too late to change anything. Even with traditional paintings you can repaint entire areas if you wanted to, so in comparison, it's actually quite easy to do it digitally, since we have amazing tools like cut, paste, transform, liquify, stamp, etc.

To improve the composition, you can try expanding the canvas on both sides and give the flowers and the girl a bit of breathing room, which will prevent the image from looking so cramped.

Are the flowers the light source? If so, the amount of light they give off is quite bright, as seen on the girl--it's about the same level of light as a car headlight--yet we don't see the same amount of light hitting the leaves nearby, which visually doesn't look quite logical.

The girl's face, boots, and forearm/pocket area have incorrect forms that look unnatural and awkward. You should take photo references and use them to check why those areas look wrong. Always use references--especially references you shot yourself, so you can set up the lighting and pose and facial expression exactly as you envisioned it (instead of hunting high and low on Google for other people's photos that don't match your needs). Everyone's got a digital camera of some kind these days--make good use of yours for the research phase of your artwork--it's one of the most important things a good artist must do, and it's one of the most misunderstood aspects of being a good artist (too many beginners and intermediate artists have this misconception that they should feel ashamed to use references. The people that started and regurgitated this misconception needs top get slapped upside the head).
  06 June 2014
Sorry it's taken so long to update; I've been traveling for the past week or so. Anyway, I expanded the canvas and redid the bushes just in block colors to see if the light is enough or not. For now I've gotten rid of the rain texture so that I can focus on everything else. I changed the perspective a lot because it was pretty screwy in places and I also redid the jacket and the face. The boots I've changed a bit, but I'm going to need to look around some more to see if I can find some boots that I can use for a reference.

  07 July 2014
When you expand the scene that much horizontally, you start to create a sense of loneliness, because it's a vast and dark and featureless scene.

What do you want to convey with this image? What is the emotion you want to evoke? What is the visual narrative here?

Make sure you use reference for the face (shoot it yourself with a household lamp that can be articulated). You don't have to follow the reference exactly the same down to the person's likeness, and can stylize as needed, but you need a credible structural base to work from when you don't have the advanced knowledge/experience necessary to do it out of your head with a sense of authority.

The calf muscle on her left leg is too pronounced for an almost frontal lighting.
  07 July 2014
So the point of this picture is to show the girl's delight/wonder. It's a dark, bleak day, and yet she's found something beautiful in spite of that. I tried cropping the canvas back a little more, but I'm not sure what to do in order to get that message across.

I also fixed the face and the leg. The picture's a little blurry... if you want me to upload the photoshop file I can do that too.

  07 July 2014
Based on what you described, the imagery I saw in my head might help improve the image:

If you turned this into a landscape orientation, with the girl and the flowers on the right side, and then on the left side, we can see in the distance a house in the middle of a field, looking kind of lonely against the dark night. Maybe that's her home and it's not a happy home, and she takes walks to get away from the oppressive sadness and loneliness she feels in that house. So this night, she's walking in the light drizzle, and she comes across the glowing flows, and it makes her feel a sense of wonder. In that moment, she's forgotten her depressing life and is captivated by the strange vision in front of her.
  07 July 2014
It's an interesting idea, but I think I'd prefer to keep the painting the way it is for now. I've started rendering the shrubs, this time going for a more heather-ish look.

  07 July 2014
Are you using references for the face? If you haven't shot reference photos for the face, you should do that, because the kind of subtle and complex emotions you're trying to convey is not easy to achieve at all, so the more help you can give yourself, the more you'll be able to nail the expression. Right now, the expression looks a bit vague and awkward. I can see what you're trying to do--the sad brows mixed with the smile on her lips, but it's not working very well because the degree in which you're pushing both elements isn't optimal. I suggest you shoot some references of either yourself or someone else, and try different takes of that expression--for example with a closed mouth smile, an open one, a very subtle smile with the lips more tightly pressed, different degrees of sadness for the brows, etc. Don't just do one and settle on it. Try to think like a movie director doing different takes with actors to get the most effective take that conveys the emotion perfectly, with the right amount of impact and subtlety.
  07 July 2014
I have multiple references. The problem is there isn't any one with a similar face structure to her so it's a little difficult.
  07 July 2014
Facial structure can be altered--the important part is to have a credible structural reference so you don't deviate too far from a convincing/credible looking face, regardless of the unique proportions/forms for that character. Very often, professional illustrators would use their own faces/bodies as references when they shoot photo references, despite the fact they might be of the opposite sex or a different facial/body type.

When you have a starting point that is credible/real, you can they stylize it and customize the features and proportions to match your needs. One very simple trick you can use, is to take your reference and they use the Liquify filter in Photoshop to reshape the features/proportions to something that's much closer to your intended ideal for that character. But that alone is not enough, because forms are conveyed with not just shapes of values, but the level of values themselves, so you'd have to also change the values in certain areas.

But of course, your experience and aesthetic sensibility are important too, since you have to rely on those instincts/knowledge in order to create the result you're after. This takes lots of experimentation and study, and the more time you spend on stylization and idealization, and studying people structurally as well as aesthetically, the stronger your instinct and sensibility will become.
  07 July 2014
Okay I changed the face a little bit and fixed her teeth.
  07 July 2014
I modified the bg a little bit to try and make the picture more interesting. The plain dark bg seems gloomy to me, so I thought a sunrise type thing would more convey the hopeful/wondering feeling that I was going for.

  07 July 2014
If you're doing a sunrise, you need to consider the behavior of light as it scatters through the atmosphere and creating a specific color casts:

Here's a related lesson on understanding lighting:

Regarding the girl's face--do you have a specific aesthetic standard you want to uphold, such as make her look attractive to a certain degree? Aesthetic sensibility is a big problem for a lot of artists who haven't learned enough about idealization approaches in depicting characters.
  07 July 2014
About the girl's face, the idea was never really to make her pretty or anything. The only important thing is if her expression conveys what I'd like. At this point, I feel like the lighting is more-or-less correct because it matches up pretty well to my reference photos. I'm not sure if the expression is correct.

As for everything else, I changed the lighting to be more like a sunset, but now I think that it's too bright and takes the focus off of the girl. Also I'm pretty sure the backlighting isn't right. I wanted to show a sunset through a really overcast day, like this girl went walking in the rain, and just as the sun was beginning to set, and she found these flowers, the rain suddenly stopped, but the clouds are still there. I think I'm going to tone the sunset down and add more clouds, but in the meantime I just figured that I'd update this.

Also, thank you sooo much for the link. I've been looking for that kind of step-by-step explanation of light and shadow for an incredibly long time, and that's going to be useful for way more than just this painting

  07 July 2014
That link is just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more to learn about lighting and values beyond those basics. The workshop I teach here at CGS covers both the basics and the advanced lighting concepts, as well as lessons on how to manipulate values for stylistic effects. You can take a look if you're interested (linked below in my signature).

If you want the sunrise to be filtered by overcast sky of thick clouds, then it would be a bit like a cross between your previous version and the current version. Less contrast, a bit darker, more diffused. The hue will be more reddish too, because even more of the shorter wavelength color spectrum would be filtered/scattered by the thicker clouds.

As for the face, I personally think an open-mouthed grin that she has is a bit much for the kind of serene feel you want. Maybe a more subtle smile would be better?

The low angle lighting is problematic, because it is what horror/mystery movies like to use to create a creepy look, so putting that on her face makes her look creepy. It's possible to counter that creepiness a bit by making her inherently more attractive. That is why I brought up the subject of aesthetics.
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