Sally- nightmare before christmas fan art- WIP


Ive been working on this for a couple days and would love any feed back or guidance with this piece. Im hoping to improve my painting skills, and Ive seen such helpful comments on the thread. I’ve been practicing my gesture drawing and trying to develop my skills. Thanks in advance for the help!


Sally has a nice gesture and the expression reads well.

Her arms are too short. The elbow should come the her navel. The anatomy overall has a nebulous look as if you’re uncertain about it.

The dominate color in your image is a cool blue. In order for the rest of the colors to work you need to desaturate them. This will help harmonize the entire image. Right now there is a conflict between the low light, cool colors in the background and the bright light, warm colors in the hair and clothing. Remember light makes color; more light=bright color. Low light=cool colors.


Thanks for the helpful feedback. Sometimes somethings wrong and you just cant figure out what that is- since its hard to be objective once you get into painting. Hope to have some updates soon.

This place has been like a ghost town. So it’s appreciated when I get some feedback. :smiley:


I always give critiques here, even if I’m a little late (when I’m busy teaching the Becoming a Better Artist online workshop).

tibbi is partially right. The elbow usually is at about where the waist is, and wrist roughly where the groin is. The hand ends at roughly at the middle spot between the groin and the knee. This is general proportions of the average person, and some people might be a bit different.

tibbi’s advice of desaturating the other colors is also partially right. What’s better, is to paint your scene with normal local colors as if everything’s lit by light sources of neutral color temperature (roughly 5500 kelvin degrees), then you can apply a color mode layer with the color cast you want, filling the entire layer with the bucket tool (in your case, a slate blue color). Then, you simply lower the opacity of that color layer until you see the right balance between the color cast and the local colors. That will guarantee a more consistent color cast for your entire image.

As for the other aspects, it seems your lighting is a bit vague. Do you know exactly where your light sources are located in the scene, and what they are? The sun? Pale magical flame? Overcast sky? Artificial lights? You need to establish the exact lighting scheme of your scene if you want it to look credible and interesting.


Lunatique and Tibbi give some solid advice, but for me what stands out most is a bit more foundational than colour or even proportions in anatomy.

To my eye you’re focusing on outlines but not on volumes, and that’s the root of the problem with your lighting and “nebulous” anatomy and the reason why the drawing is quite flat. Volumes are critical because they establish a sense of depth and substance, and let you know where the light and shadows ought to fall. Some people like to figure this out early in the drawing with basic shapes, i.e., cylinders, spheres etc. or by building muscle over a basic skeleton so they get a feel for density and substance. Speaking of volumes, in regards to the hair, at the moment it feels very flat. A good way around this I think is to consider hair first of all as a single solid object, similar to the way a classical sculptor doesn’t carve individual hairs but instead makes a solid shape.

If you’re not already, do be sure to use references if you can.

Hope any of that makes sense, and looking forward to seeing how it finishes up.


Thank you all for the sound advice!

I really appreciate it. I do realize she’s still flat looking as I’ve mainly focused on her face as far as detail and just really placed flat color with minor shading for her body and clothes.

I’ll concentrate on trying to pinpoint the lighting in the new revision. I should have some updates soon! I was pulled away with other Graphic design projects. Which is my main job. I do so much more enjoy illustrating though!

I’ll see what I can do to adjust the color as was mentioned!

Thanks again



Still working on her- but I figure Id post her in stages so that I can get some guidance along the way. Thanks again all.



Still working on her. Hoping to get her finished in the next couple days. That way she’ll be in time for Halloween. :smiley:


Adding more detail. Any tips would be appreciated! thanks!


Thanks for the guidance guys. Here she is finished.


That turned out pretty good.

The hair at the top is a bit stiff and can use some more finessing.

The illumination from the rose looks inconsistent. You have it reach quite far in some directions but not in others, and the way it illuminates the forms on her body doesn’t look right. For example, you have the hot spots at the center of that breast, but then the actual color of the illumination is above her breast. Why would they be separate? That rose is basically an omni light so you have to cast its illumination accordingly.

The point where her leg attaches to the torso is too high, or you simply didn’t convey that crease where her thigh meets her torso correctly.

The hair that drapes over her face onto her chest needs to cast shadows correctly.

The background gnarled branches look a bit too loose/unfinished in comparison to the subject. You don’t have to give it lots of detail, but it needs to look a bit cleaner/more concise so the style is more consistent.

Her anatomy is a bit vague and needs more clarity.

I suggest you take some reference photos. You can use yourself or family/friends. If using yourself, use a tripod in front of a mirror helps a lot. Use whatever household lighting to replicate exactly the lighting you want to see your painting, and if you have movable/articulated lights, all the better. I don’t know if you know anything about photography lighting, but don’t just point the light at the subject. If you need softer quality of light, you can bounce the light off of ceiling/walls, or use a diffuser (such as a white bedsheet).


Thanks for the advise lunatique,

Sorry I missed your post and just realized it now. I will definitely keep it mind in the next drawing. I have already called this drawing done, with all the mistakes and all. I’ve learned a great deal for this illustration thanks to all the great advise from you guys.

I’ve also learned that I need to be able to stop working on an illustration at some point because I can literally work on it forever- since nothing can be perfect. :smiley:

Im working on a new illustration that Im posting under Brazilian Mermaid.