WIP - Arcania, C&C please?


Hi everyone!

I think the work is close to being a final. Feedback, comments and pointers are appreciated. Thanks


Nice work. My only comment is that the bright streak of blue in the background makes me feel like I lost the nice depth you created by the feet.


Who is this character? Why is her armor/weapon designed that way? What is the premise for the story that this character exists in?



Thanks Emily for the c&c! I’ll try to play around with the background. The idea was to use the background more as an illustrative element rather than a real environment. Maybe if I shift the clouds/sky to be more horizontal it may give the impression of her moving while being in a free fall. Something I will have to play around with :slight_smile:


Hi Robert, this is a rogue-like character that is meant to be a front line tank - hence the scarcity of a full body armour, but with massive armor/weapon gauntlets. Her chest armour is actually meant to be made out of some magic armour with glass-like transparency once put into 3D, but I wanted to try something different for the concept. Arcania is one of 3 main protagonists in Excessum, a short film full cg project that I am preparing. The premise for the story is - what happens when you defeat death.


What’s the point of exposing all the flesh at her chest if it’s supposed to be protected by armor? It can look like gratuitous exploitation, which is getting a lot of backlash in the entertainment industry these days. And with those two curved frames sticking up so far, they would just get in the way of her arm movements, impede her vision, not to mention the scythe/whip things might hit them.

The giant gauntlets with what looks like whips that have scythes attached at the ends–they look kind of wacky and aesthetically not very appealing, and logically it seems very odd also. And why does the left one have those brown strips attached to the body? Maybe in animation it’ll look cool, but until we see it animated, we can’t tell if it’ll simply look silly.

Artistically, the figure needs work. It’s obvious you have a weakness in anatomy/figure, and this isn’t something you can just correct for this image and then move on. It requires prolonged study/practice in order to overcome, and if you aren’t already doing extensive learning/practicing, I urge you to start now.

When depicting figures, make sure you “draw through” so that even the areas that are covered by clothes and armor and other body parts are drawn properly during the sketch/drawing phase, so you can accurately fit clothing and accessories on those areas, as well as make sure the overall proportions are correct.

Your background’s values/colors are divided into two diagonal areas separated by her right scythe/whip thing. You generally don’t want to do that–it looks too contrived when you coincide big changes like that with something too obvious as the marker that’s doing the split. Try having to brighter area of the background stretch a bit further down, past her right whip/scythe thingie. BTW, what exactly is being depicted in the background anyway? There’s ground at the bottom/right portion, but what is that bright area at the top/left portion?

The lighting is inconsistent. You have a frontal lighting coming from her front, but her head is turned at an angle facing us, so she can’t have a flat frontal lighting on her face also, since her face is not facing directly front of her body.

Don’t depict hair with lots of tiny, thin strokes–it tends to look mangy and frizzy. Simplify hair into major strands, and then add some stray single wispy strands here and there.


Hi Robert, thanks for the feedback.

Well the first answer is that since the armour will be glass/transparent, it will still show some skin. Rogue characters are often portrayed with either full body wrap or very loose with revealing flesh, buccaneer-style. Some of the elements that can help categorize a fantasy character as a rogue e.g. tattoos, piercings and overly decorated golden jewelry didn’t seem like the right fit for me to portray this specific character. While other elements like toolbags and such would be something more fit to appear on the back of her belt rather than front as the frontal side is covered in armour. Something I’ll cover in the 3D stage for sure.

As for the weapon being wacky - yeah, as you said, wherever it will turn out great or not will depend on the animation, which is what I was designing it for from the get-go. As for logic, I am pretty sure fantasy settings don’t need logic as long as things look believable. Additionally, current Holywood heroes still display super human abilities/capabilities, so it wouldn’t be that much of shocker.

In regards to the figure, can you please briefly sketch over it to point out what you have in mind? Before I started adding clothes and everything I made sure to check for proportions. Of course I took this piece to wip first to get comments like yours and adjust the artwork, so it seems to have been the right decision haha. After spending some time on this piece, I am not really seeing what you are so I would welcome a sketch over it for pointing it out.

It’s obvious you have a weakness in anatomy/figure, and this isn’t something you can just correct for this image and then move on.
I agree that anatomy is a thing one learns for a long period of time, but in this very instance you are wrong. Reason being that one Can do a single correction and move on with remembering to check and do the same correction again in the next work. Yet for that to happen there has to be a person capable of an ability to teach or generally be able to point out how to percieve a certain faulty/situation. This ability is extremely rare and neither skill, age nor experience can make a person capable of teaching. Comments like “It is generally wrong, lol!” aren’t exactly feedback, just plain comments.

I’ll try that thing with the stretching the brighter background lower. To be frank, I didn’t really plan on doing much with the background, but then again I didn’t want to put there a simple gradient either. The brown bit is of course meant to be ground with the blue bit something like a sky with clouds getting darker towards the camera. Then again, if it looks too forced, I will play around with it and try to change it.


If the bright part is supposed to be sky, then what exactly is the perspective of this scene? Is she walking next to a cliff? If she’s walking on normal ground, then is the diagonal division of the sky the horizon? If so, then shouldn’t she be perpendicular to the horizon if she’s standing up straight?

What I meant by you can’t just fix the anatomy/figure problems in an image and then move on to the next one, is that you’ll continue to run into anatomy/figure problems until you learn the underlying structure. So for example, let’s say you have problems in an image and try to fix them, and you consult a lot of references and ask people to give you critiques, and maybe even shoot your own photo references so you can get exactly what you wanted. And let’s say you manage to fix the problems, but what are the chances that next several images you create will have the exact same poses at the exact same angles, of the exact same body type? Your next images will all be different, and you’ll continue to run into different problems until you learn enough about anatomy/figure to minimize those problems before they become ones that are shown in your finished images.

While you can learn by trying to fix problems whenever they show up in your images, it isn’t an efficient way of improving as an artist. It’s much more effective to systematically learn/study/practice the foundations, so you’re not always trying to fix problems after they’ve already happened. In a way, it’s sort of like training a lot in martial arts before entering the fighting ring, instead of entering and getting pummeled, then go and try to learn the specific moves that will counter the attacks your opponent used. It isn’t efficient because the next time you step into the ring, your next opponent will have different moves, and you’ll get pummeled again, and you’ll have to then go and find more countering moves for that fight. You’ll learn in both scenarios, but one of them is more efficient and you’ll take a bit less beating, that’s all.

I don’t have time to do a paintover right now, since I already did two today for another member, and I’m in the middle of teaching a workshop. I’ll point out a few things for you though:

-The readability of her left foot can be more clear. It’s hard to tell where the heel is since the shape is a bit vague, and depending on which of the two bumps on that foot might be the heel, that foot will either appear too long or too short compared to her right foot.

-Her trapezius muscles don’t seem to match on both sides–they are shaped differently.

-Her left forearm might get squeezed a bit too tight inside that gauntlet, unless the gaunlet’s is made of extremely thin material.

There are some other problems you might want to address:

-The whip thing on her right side is sharing an edge with the trapezius on her right, and confuses the order of the z-depth (this is a common problem that less experienced artists have). Try to make overlaps more obvious and not have two objects share the same edge with their contours–this will create a more clear hierarchy of where each object is in the z-depth of your image.

-Readability of her torso is low, because there are values/colors on the torso that blends into the background too much. Make sure your values and tonal composition and readability can pass the “squint test.” If you squint and important shapes disappear and blend into each other, then you need to improve the readability of those areas.

-Manage your edges effectively. Know why you are using a particular edge type. For example, you have very sharp edges for the hair, her features, the armor, etc, but suddenly the edges for the contour of her neck area becomes soft without a good reason.

There are mainly four edge types you need to be aware of–hard/sharp edges, firm edges, soft edges, and lost edges. You want use all of them in the right areas so your image is more dynamic and have better control of the illusion of dimensionality. You can use two methods to determine what type of edges to use. The first method is to use the logic of camera lens focal planes, where anything in front of and behind the focal plane will get progressively more blurry. The other method is to consider how human beings never just stare at one spot when looking at a scene or an object–our eyes are always jumping around looking at the different parts. So you can mimic that and use sharper edges in areas you want to draw more attention, and use softer edges in areas you want to place less emphasis.


Speaking as a professional artist and illustrator of over 20+ years experience and a degree in art, you can’t be more wrong.

Part of becoming an artist is being able to drop ego/arrogance and accept when you’re wrong, and in need of expanding your abilities.

Human anatomy is not something that’s hard to teach how to draw properly - if the student is willing to listen, and do the work.

I think you’re more responding emotionally to Lunatique’s comment, thinking he’s being rude - he’s not, he takes anatomy very seriously, and he doesn’t sugar coat his opinions. That is rare, and something you should pay close attention too as an artist.

I could tell at first glance you have anatomy issues, along with several others, which may be a lack of training or experience. That’s what this forum is for, to show you what we see, because it’s very hard to self-correct as an artist unless you have years and years under your belt, and even then, you’ll miss things.

In my opinion, your pose is stiff, cliched, and utterly uninteresting - for a character who’s description is someone who’s active, exciting and interesting, you’ve chosen a very static and uninspired pose, that does not showcase the figure in any way to make the character interesting to the viewer, your color composition is muddy, your overall composition leads the eye away from the focal point of the painting, and your lighting needs more attention and work. Your figure is grounded on the brown color, but you indicate that the figure is in free fall - yet you have no visual cues that show the viewer that, or what she’s doing. Your figure is looking at the viewer, which traps the eye on her face, and makes the composition of the rest of the painting irrelevant. I cut fantasy a lot of slack, but your armor is unconvincing, and it doesn’t take being a trained warrior to know those tusks like that are just awkward looking.

Does all that seem harsh? It’s my opinion, based on a lifetime of being an artist. Will you only listen if I sugar coat it?

It’s not a bad piece, but it does need work. I have a question for you: do you have any plans on studying art in a college or private school setting? If so, you need to learn to take criticism less personally, and listen to what people are saying, instead of making claims that it’s impossible to teach art, which is laughably untrue.

Let me also say, I care about you improving. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother writing so much. I mean everything i post, and I don’t post it just for entertainment. I take teaching new artists very seriously, because I really enjoy doing it, and it’s paying it forward for the artists who showed me the way when i started out, and still show me the way. I don’t want to see you be antagonistic towards Lunatique, because he cares, too, even though you may not like how blunt he is.


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