Medusa and Perseus critics please

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  04 April 2013
Medusa and Perseus critics please

Hi everybody,
It's my first thread here. I'm painting for about 9 months now and during those months I've learnt, read, drawn and painted quite bit to improve. Still I most of the time feel unsatisfied with the results. Here is my last painting and after spending an undecent amount of time on it, I end up thinking: "gosh, it's flat and unconvincing!" So please help me to spot my issues and give some ideas to improve it.



http://yinetyang.deviantart.com/art...Ayinetyang&qo=0
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by StefRob: Hi everybody,
It's my first thread here. I'm painting for about 9 months now and during those months I've learnt, read, drawn and painted quite bit to improve. Still I most of the time feel unsatisfied with the results. Here is my last painting and after spending an undecent amount of time on it, I end up thinking: "gosh, it's flat and unconvincing!" So please help me to spot my issues and give some ideas to improve it.



http://yinetyang.deviantart.com/art...Ayinetyang&qo=0


Hi StefRob!

First of all, nice job so far... I understand what you mean about flat and unconvincing but that simply means you just need some more time to work on the image

Although your anatomy is ok, I would definitely consider brushing up on your figurative drawing skills. I think a good portion of what you perceive to be unconvincing is due to the stiffness of your characters. My suggestion would be to take reference photos with a few lights to accentuate the musculature of your models. You dont need a complicated set up, a cheap digital camera and usually one or two strong light sources to cover your base lighting and rim lighting is all you need. Good reference photos go a long way in helping you set up a more convincing illustration.

With that in mind, also take some time to work on your perspective. You can create grid lines in photoshop that can help position your characters better in your environment and thus making your visuals even more convincing.

Lastly, keep at it. Painting digitally is a difficult thing at first and you only get better with practice. When I first started, it was such a pain getting accustomed to a tablet and working in photoshop, and to some extent it still is. But you get better and faster the more you do it. If you need a challenge, stop by the daily sketch thread... Im just getting back into painting digitally again and it really helped me out tremendously when I first started. Hope to see you there! - J
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  04 April 2013
First, thanks for your advices. I'd like to know how to have embeded images in the thread and not links. Is it by the portfolio part? Do I have to use a file hosting site like photobucket?
Originally Posted by MechaHateChimp: Although your anatomy is ok, I would definitely consider brushing up on your figurative drawing skills. I think a good portion of what you perceive to be unconvincing is due to the stiffness of your characters. My suggestion would be to take reference photos with a few lights to accentuate the musculature of your models. You dont need a complicated set up, a cheap digital camera and usually one or two strong light sources to cover your base lighting and rim lighting is all you need. Good reference photos go a long way in helping you set up a more convincing illustration.

So, basically you think that the overall flatness is due to the lack of body details?
About the stiffness, well, the worst part is that I've made several sketches and I found it was the best one . I keep practicing though ;-)

Originally Posted by MechaHateChimp: With that in mind, also take some time to work on your perspective. You can create grid lines in photoshop that can help position your characters better in your environment and thus making your visuals even more convincing.

You're talking about composition or perspective? Do you think there is a perspective flaw? (quite possible, probable actually)
 
  04 April 2013
Hi,the Medusa is good but soldier is bad-his right leg must be shadowed and less far from left leg...keep it up!
 
  04 April 2013
My two cents

I think you need to pump the highlights and shadows to give the figures more dimension. I hope you don't mind but I placed a few ideas on top of your image and attached it to be more specific. Just some ideas. The foreground character could be a bit larger and the background characters a bit smaller too, in my humble opinion. Love the overall concept and again, apologies for adjusting your work. I benefit from visual instruction more than written so I thought I'd give it a go. Best of luck with the final image! John
 
  04 April 2013
My two cents

Ooops! Here is the attachment..
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File Type: jpg medusa_and_perseus_by_yinetyang-d6130ao.jpg (36.0 KB, 19 views)
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by StefRob:
So, basically you think that the overall flatness is due to the lack of body details?
About the stiffness, well, the worst part is that I've made several sketches and I found it was the best one . I keep practicing though ;-)



I don't think that's what he meant. It's not details so much as the underlying arrangement.

I'd say the concept is good but you're making the classic mistake of drawing without reference. Whilst you can do this, you need to have a really good understanding of a lot of technicalities both with anatomy, colour, lighting and materials. Find yourself some good reference photos of a cave, and see how the light bounces around. Ideally have one of someone in a cave so you can see how it interacts with their body. Look at some statues in low light conditions to see what that does to tone, and perhaps most importantly, get some good reference photos for pose and expression.

It is difficult to find these online, so maybe turn off the light in your room and the hallway, take your shirt off and set up a camera to take a picture of you, trying to imagine that there's something really dangerous out there. Look at that picture and you'll learn a lot about tension in certain muscles, where light falls, how your weight is balanced etc.

Also I'd suggest trying to be a little creative about Medusa's anatomy. Currently it's very literal 'this half is snake, this half is woman' and kind of looks like she's wearing a costume with a belt, because the scales stop and the (slightly too long) abs begin. How about carrying the scales up a little way, making her human parts look a bit more reptilian, imply something sinister. Also I'd suggest looking up some pictures of ballet dancers to get a nice fluid, serpentine pose leaning backwards. It currently looks like she's more sad and lonely than anything. I quite like that actually. If that was your intention, a more wistful pose could work, but if not then make her sexy and dangerous. Look for pictures of someone who plays a really good baddie - like Charlize Theron - for an expression.

Similarly I'd check that stone dude again. His pose suggests he's throwing his sword away over his shoulder. Look for pics of re-enactors taking a real swing at each other, see how their weight is balanced and how they grip their weapon. Just an idea but an expression of shock would be a nice touch on the statue too.

So in all I'd say use this as a concept piece and don't be constrained by what you've done already. You *will* do it better if you start from scratch with a positive attitude.

Hope that was more helpful than dispiriting.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by obrienpaint: I think you need to pump the highlights and shadows to give the figures more dimension. I hope you don't mind but I placed a few ideas on top of your image and attached it to be more specific. Just some ideas. The foreground character could be a bit larger and the background characters a bit smaller too, in my humble opinion. Love the overall concept and again, apologies for adjusting your work. I benefit from visual instruction more than written so I thought I'd give it a go. Best of luck with the final image! John

Thank for the effort, I have strictly no problem with over painting, I'm like you: I understand better when it's shown. I'll pump up the values as you've suggested but to be frank I'm not sure about the oily, plastic feel of your overpaint.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by the-small-print: I don't think that's what he meant. It's not details so much as the underlying arrangement.
It is difficult to find these online, so maybe turn off the light in your room and the hallway, take your shirt off and set up a camera to take a picture of you, trying to imagine that there's something really dangerous out there. Look at that picture and you'll learn a lot about tension in certain muscles, where light falls, how your weight is balanced etc.

Excellent idea, when you don't have models you have to be creative I guess ;-)

Originally Posted by the-small-print: Also I'd suggest trying to be a little creative about Medusa's anatomy. Currently it's very literal 'this half is snake, this half is woman' and kind of looks like she's wearing a costume with a belt, because the scales stop and the (slightly too long) abs begin. How about carrying the scales up a little way, making her human parts look a bit more reptilian, imply something sinister. Also I'd suggest looking up some pictures of ballet dancers to get a nice fluid, serpentine pose leaning backwards. It currently looks like she's more sad and lonely than anything. I quite like that actually. If that was your intention, a more wistful pose could work, but if not then make her sexy and dangerous. Look for pictures of someone who plays a really good baddie - like Charlize Theron - for an expression.

Actually sad and lonely is not far from what I wanted. The exact word I had in mind was melancholic I'd say. I've always tought Medusa destiny very sad and unfair, her only sin was to be pursued by Poseidon for her beauty and raped by him in an Athena temple (who turned her into the Medusa). How sad is that?!
But I'll definitvely take your advices about the abrupt transition in account and yes, I'm sure I should modify her pose, problem is I really don't have any idea to keep the mood too.

Originally Posted by the-small-print: Similarly I'd check that stone dude again. His pose suggests he's throwing his sword away over his shoulder. Look for pics of re-enactors taking a real swing at each other, see how their weight is balanced and how they grip their weapon. Just an idea but an expression of shock would be a nice touch on the statue too.

So in all I'd say use this as a concept piece and don't be constrained by what you've done already. You *will* do it better if you start from scratch with a positive attitude.

Hope that was more helpful than dispiriting.

That's more or less what I feared, starting from scratch again but i don't think I can walk away from this. Thanks for encouraging words.
 
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by StefRob: Thank for the effort, I have strictly no problem with over painting, I'm like you: I understand better when it's shown. I'll pump up the values as you've suggested but to be frank I'm not sure about the oily, plastic feel of your overpaint.



Yeah, I wasn't going for texture on the overpaint. I just took a few mintes to throw some value adjustments on top for ideas. You said you were concerned about the flat appearance and that is usually just a result of too much mid tone value throughout. There is no light without dark. So put the oil slick out of your mind and proceed with vigor!
 
  04 April 2013
Some notes:

Your problems are multiple, so lets' take them a step at a time.

Composition - your painting is effectively cut in half because of the black wall between the figure on the left, and the Medusa figure. One of the purposes of composition is to lead the eye through the elements of a painting, and what happens when you look at this, is you look at the left figure, and the eye stops. If you look at medusa, the eye goes from her, to the statue, and out of the painting following the sword. How you place elements leads the eye through the piece, and you should rethink this painting with that in mind.

Anatomy: You can't fake anatomy, and you have some study to do. Nine months is barely getting started, some people take years to get comfortable with drawing the human body without reference - and making up alien anatomy is harder, when you're mixing human and fantasy. You either need to find poses for this, or keep your work more simple as you learn. I know you're ambitious, we all are when we start out, but there is a real reason to slow down and do studies and learn to draw from life, before you can make it up. Even the masters would do months of studies for a painting like this, posing models, trying out different compositions, and taking parts and exploring them in detail, getting more familiar with the subject, before they committed to the final. The scale of the figures is off, too.

Color: this is where the bulk of your flatness is coming from. Even if the ambient color is green, there is going to be more color in the scene, and you can use color as a compositional element as well - using darker, more cool colors the further back in teh scene you go, to great the illusion of depth, and rendering the figure on the left with real skin tones, warm tones with cool shadows and the ambient light as a highlight, and the warmth will offset the figure from the medusa figure. All three figures have the same color and values (greyscale), putting them on the same plane of space, and that flattens the painting.

Focus on these aspects, for now - there's issue with texture and detail, but that can wait until you've mastered these issues. It's all part of becoming an artist, and what you learn in school and working later. For a painting like this, look up some of the masters, to see how they handled the issues you have.

I think this may be too ambitious for you, right now. It's okay to try, but I think you need some more focus on fundamentals before you try something this complicated. Break the painting down to pieces - explore each figure, in terms of pose and detail and anatomy, explore rough compositions of teh whole piece. Do some studies of Medusa's head, then her body. Work on this as a line drawing, and get the composition worked out, then add color and texture.

Hope this helps.
 
  04 April 2013
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