Water Fall painting. Does it read?


I worked on this piece 6hrs to this far and need some feedback from fresh eyes before getting into color. Does it read and is the values working.

I am using Photoshop and Artrage for this art and want to keep it more painterly than a fully rendered piece. Your suggestions and constructive critique is appreciated!



The most distracting thing I see with this is that your background looks very impressionistic, but your trees are finely detailed. The two don’t work well together, especially since the background isn’t a real “blur” like a camera focus would create. It makes your waterfall look messy. I would love to see this as an impressionistic piece in which the trees have more painterly strokes also, but if you want a little more detail, then I recommend including overspray on the waterfall and more specific detailing in the rocks. The rocks could benefit from that anyhow so that the strokes aren’t the same as the falling water.

Also, the far right ridge could use more highlight on the topmost edge.


Thanks for the feedback. You got a good point! Will take it into consideration as I continue with this piece.


I definitely agree with Dorothy. I am also distracted by the angle of the tree on the right. I don’t know why it is growing that direction.

Also, with waterfalls keep in mind the height and the projection of the water. Where is the water coming from? a stream? a river? Is it rushing waters that propel it over the edge or more of a stream that has reached a cliff and drops? Does the water hit projections on the way or does it go straight down to it’s water source? These answers will change the waterfall.

A couple of speedpaints using actual waterfalls as reference I think would help you a lot. Do a few speedpaints then come back to this piece and you will see exactly what to do.

Waterfall references: https://www.google.com/search?q=deep+sea+serpent&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=_coeUYXtDOnq0QHgiYDgDg&sqi=2&ved=0CEoQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=675#hl=en&tbo=d&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=waterfalls&oq=waterfalls&gs_l=img.3..0l10.1460446.1461387.4.1461489.,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42553238,d.dmQ&fp=30d1c0132d40c319&biw=1280&bih=675


Thanks for the feedback and link! I also thought that the tree is growing in a weird angle and decided the re-evaluate the foliage. Some thumbnail size speed paints will really help me out, although I drew some sketches at the start. I am also using some reference images when I started. You gave me some useful questions to consider. I was thinking of a stream the drops from a cliff. I will keep it in mind as I continue.

Thank you everyone! I will update as I get more work done.


The values and tonal composition doesn’t read that well because the trees are pretty close in value to the cliff. Adding lighting information to the trees would help.

The waterfall itself can use some tweaking in terms of the way the water falls. Gravity is pretty consistent, so the water will fall in a uniform trajectory. If there are rocks that protrude out from the cliff and causing the water to change it’s trajectory, you need to show it clearly.

I agree with the inconsistent look of micro-detail in the trees and very vague brushwork in the background (which is actually your main focus).

The overall composition with those trees feels a little unnatural. Maybe move the right one lower and much closer to the camera.


After doing some thumbnail speedpaints with some references & evaluating what I originally had I chose this composition based upon a 3 speed paints. I have also decided to simplify the foliage to paint some bushes and shrubs and just have some trees at a distance. I am going to really dig my heels into this one and learn as much. Your suggestions and critique is greatly appreciated


The simplicity is fine, but you have to make sure there’s enough compelling detail for the simplicity to work, since you don’t have other compositional elements to make the whole image interesting even at low detail. Make sure you use proper references. Also think about what makes certain types of brushwork compelling and to look at. Analyze artists with brushwork that is appealing to you–be it 19th century masters or today’s digital ones.


I think this could lead to a great style!

Here are a few suggestions:
(1) The water needs barriers in which its flows - if there are no barriers it will flow that way (see blue lines) - check some references, as Lunatique wrote.
(2) Same here (references needed) waterfalls are made up of different states of water (foam, flowing water, particles, …)
(3) There could be grass hanging over the edge, so it’s not too sharp
(4) The rocks do look too smoothed to me, how about some cracks and different depths?



I have been watching with interest. I am a beginner and this is fascinating for me. I am studing values myself. I also want to do a waterfall and I am learning a lot from this post.

Keep up the good work.


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