Vic Monty's 2D WIP


I posted in the anatomy section. I’m seeking guidance on more than anatomy at this point with my piece so I felt it was appropriate to post here as well. If not, please let me know and I will refrain.

I started an anatomical study of a ref photo…

Then I wanted to take it further. I had a vision of an ancient ritual. A priest, if you will, either taking something out of the woman or giving her something. Either way I thought his expression fit perfectly.

I started in color…

I felt I was getting ahead of myself worrying about values and everything else. So I switched.

I started to add a bit of clothing on the male. Nothing yet on the female. This is where poor planning stumps me.

Since I didn’t plan on an actual piece for this I didn’t do my reference search in advance.

What I am asking the community is if, from your experience, is it better to just call this one a study and move on, or see my “vision” through?

I’m interested in hearing how other artist have dealt with these situations.

If I should see it through am I headed in the right direction? What should I do next? I’m keeping it in gray scale because I want to tackle one thing at a time.

Done using photoshop and intuous 3.


Having done all this work is a good thing. You haven’t lost anything and it’s good that you know you’ve hit a wall here.

What I recommend is stopping where you’re at and start again very very small. Do at least 10 thumbnail drawings to explore possible compositions using the two figures you’ve been studying. Just draw in their silhouettes and work with large shapes and find something that’s visually interesting that considers some of the fundamentals of design. Post back with your results!


Wait, are you suggesting I take an imaginative approach? That’s where the fear kicks in…damn that art fear.

Thank you for viewing and replying. I appreciate your time.

I try to never consider any piece a waste. I try to take a way something from everything I do.

I had this vision, but my lack of skills in the fundamentals department prohibit me.

“Brilliant at the basics” is a motto we use at work. It applies to everything, including art.

I really appreciate the design principles link. I added it to my “reading list”.

So, I’ll read the info in that link and then I’ll work on thumbnails. I’ll post what I come up with. Thanks again.


rule of thirds, rule of odds and rule of space. got it!


Alright, so I’m playing around with different comps.

I really like the simplicity of the first and last one.


i started a new thumbnail with a hero, if you will, coming in to save this poor soul. then I remembered an older anatomy study i did.

Is this efficient? Should I not pic from older studies like this and start fresh?


hehe…same model…his clone is coming to kill him. it has nothing to do with the girl. “There shall be only one!”


Ahh, I think I’m going to keep it simple with just the two and work on a good setting for them alone.


Now you’re getting there! Next step is to come up with some kind of ‘stage’ to immerse the figures in.

If I get some free time in the next few days I can do a few paint-overs to help you brainstorm and establish your horizon-line/vanishing point.


Well that’ll be great! Ill work on this some more in the mean time.


well somewhere along this process i lost track of my dpi with all the different files i saved. i found my current black and white version was at 72. I will have to repaint at higher dpi. very frustrated. even though i only painted 2 figures, it was a long process for me. not sure if i want to keep going with this.

should i have just left it at a figure study?


still not sure if i should just go with the 2 figures or add the third.

not sure if the shapes formed make for a good comp.

since i didn’t plan on a comp for this and just a study, i feel i’m wasting a lot of time banging my head trying to get this right.

i really want to see this one through but trying to plan a comp around 2 figures in place is hard for me right now.

i like the above comp draft. odd number of objects, i read, was a good way to go. not sure if that’s always true. then again, when i add the actual background that would all change.

does anyone remember a time when they spent so long on a painting? in between i did take a break to do a photo study…

it helped me come back a little refreshed, but still a bit stuck.

i see what i want, but i’m a bit afraid to execute and fail.


here’s a bg idea. doesn’t feel natural to me.


I like the idea, and you took some strong poses to work with and I admire you for that. If I were you, I’d consider the story more. What kind of priest is he? Who does he answer to? This might give you more inspiration for the environment. Not all priest do their thing in a church, some prefer a mountain or a dark forest. :slight_smile: I’d also experiment with some clothing. Right now, everything is very ‘naked’. I understand the naked woman, it expresses her vulnerabity. But the (half) naked priest might benefit from a little coverage. Perhaps a larger cape that makes a dynamic shape in the background.

Just some random ideas, I hope you keep posting more!


Just some ideas?

Are you kidding me? That’s why I’m here.

Thinking more about the story is already making it clearer for me. It seems like such a basic or obvious concept, but my head is wrapped around so much of the other elements I just overlooked it.

Thanks for that!

I’m thinking catacombs. I may even dress both of them up even more.

My progress is very slow, but I want to see this through.

Thanks for viewing.


alright new ideas. i keep going back to the simpler, just the two.

inspired by roman catacombs.

trying to keep the established wall. I like it there.

a large tablet of sorts. almost flips the concept of the 2nd idea of walls and a doorway.


a little further with the 2nd idea

I want the primary lighting(source of light on their bodies) to come from his right hand. There will be light coming from outside the window as well. how can the two light sources work? perhaps if it’s dark outside and there is lunar illumination?


here’s a quick add of a night sky. Which is best?


I love seeing the different concepts. i am glad you choose to change the composition. the doorway is a good approach. i think if you were to expand it a little and very very subtly add a person in the shadows to re-introduce your third character. perhaps leaning against the wall of the entry way on the right or left and side… just not standing in the middle of the doorway.

on a small anatomical critique his left leg is too small. try doing a small sketch of just the male figure on a different layer over the original without the woman. You’ll be able to see the proportional differences. Flipping the canvas will also really help you see the painting in a different light and lets you see errors and possibly spark ideas.


I’m going to tackle this part. The fear is in your head, and you need to get rid of it, or you won’t progress as an artist.

Bit of my background - I’ve painted and drawn my whole life, thanks to an artist mom. I majored in illustration in college, and have worked as a professional illustrator for 20 years. The fear of failure has to be removed from your mindset. A failed painting is just that - and there will be plenty more in your future. The key is to learn when to STOP working on something that’s failing, and either regroup and rethink it, or let it go for later. I’ve returned to paintings I tried when i was in high school, because later on I had developed the skills required to get the image in my head onto canvas or the computer screen.

The whole point to being an artist is to be fearless. Trying something new should be a pleasure to be enjoyed, not feared. You need to embrace the idea that art is a lifestyle, and will be in your life until the end, and that one failed work is just a very, very small step in the larger journey. They are going to happen - learn to accept it, and learn from the experience - and act upon it. If you don’t quite have the figurative skills, then go study the figure more. If the colors don’t work, go study color. The same for perspective, anatomy, composition, textures, etc.

This is what you really learn when going to school for art - it’s an environment where you can fail, and your rent isn’t dependent on it, and there’s someone there to guide you through the successes and the failures, and teach you how to learn from both, and to look at where you are as an artist critically and honestly.

If you’re afraid of something artistically, then that’s absolutely what you NEED to be working on.

Hope this helps - and don’t think you’re alone - the most common reason why most people don’t try art is the fear of the blank canvas. As an artist, you should see possibilities, not obstacles.


You could set a blue-ish key light coming in the window, but be careful of the balance between two light sources. I would make the main light source a torch or fire - not only would it fit the setting, but you can use red/yellow as the main lighting source, and blue as the highlights in the shadows, and that will make the figure “pop” more off the surface. (It’s a common technique in theater lighting, they’ll light a stage with a cool color on one side, and a warm color on the other side, and that makes the people stand out more onstage than just using white light.)

I would also expand your canvas, and render the entire doorway, cutting it off makes it feel claustrophobic.

The biggest issue I see you struggling with is that you posed the figures before you determined the composition of the scene - that should have happened before you posed your figures, and now you’re stuck trying to fit the pose to environments, and that’s pretty limiting. It’s not a big deal, but generally when I’ve posed people, I have the general idea worked out with lighting and composition ready to go. Personally, I would have tried a different angle, to enhance teh drama of the pose, like a little bit more towards her head, looking a little bit up at them - it would put her face in profile, and make a more dramatic pose for her, and it would put him in more of a dominant position over her - then I would build the environment off that pose, and work out the perspective and such. Free 3D programs are great for that, like Sketchup.

But, as this is technically a student piece, you shouldn’t worry too much. I know you’re going for a finished piece, but i would decide on an agenda for this, like learning more how to light and pose figures and paint them, instead of an overall “finished” piece - if you get both, it’s a great bonus. I think you’re trying to do too much at once, honestly. You can also do studies of this piece before you commit to a final - you have reference, so start playing with it, try some quick color studies for the lighting, maybe do a study of just their heads and shoulders to work out the expressions, etc. Practice makes perfect, after all, and it’s a quite legit method used by the masters to get ready for a final piece.

Also - and I know this might not be possible for you, but if you’re going to paint nude, pose nude. Clothing can make the body shapes different than how they would be nude, and the body squashes and stretches, and you can’t see all of the form if there’s clothing involved. At the very least, I would pose them again with her in a bikini, to reveal as much of the body as possible, or ask her to at least go topless. Again, if your models aren’t willing, it’s understandable. You can hire nude models from your local model’s union (call your local college’s art department), or use online references like Virtual Pose to study the body nude in that pose. Girlfriends are good for this, too. :slight_smile:

Hope this helps!