Still Life: Revenge


Hi all,

I hope you can help me improve this work (which I thought was finished), as it is not having the impact on people I was hoping it would. What’s lacking? What can be done better? TIA for any insights you can provide.

PS This was designed to be printed as a spread, so the items on the desk would be readable.

Readable Version


mmm, why not adding some dust here and there. also try to make a horror atmospher.


I found my eye’s darting all over the place not being able to settle anywhere due to lack of a focal point.
Perhaps try darking the whole picture with a spot light on the doll.


Thanks, guys. Both your suggestions make sense. :slight_smile:

What about this: Aging everything in the picture as if it’s been sitting there, untouched, for 50 years or so… like the guy never returned, and the viewer can supply the reason. Would that pique people’s interest more, do you think?

About the focal point: part of the issue is I want people to read what’s on the desk, so I can’t obscure it too much, although I think I can find a way to fix the composition so it isn’t quite so busy. I deliberately arranged things so it would lead the eye in a circle, but it sounds like you may be saying that creates visual confusion?

Thanks, I really appreciate the input.


In my opinion, this is the problem:
All of the items here seem to be random desk items, and there is no reocurring theme, a motif. I think you need one or two objects that become the center of attention, and tell a story.
As it is, the vudu doll and the liquor bottle are the two strongest, most meaningfull objects, but I would make them stand out even more. Blood on the doll would really make it stand out, but I don’t know if you want to go that route. Or you could try a more ragged, darker, unevenly worn texture, like a dark potatoe sack type of thing with the stiches visible.

Another thing you could do is add a colored light or two, like a blue one towards the back, and a red one towards the front, subtle, not
too intese. And you could get away with dimming the image around the perimeter, and have the area around the papers lit enough to read.

Other than, great work, it looks very, very real, specially with the grainy, old photograph look.


Hmmm. I think I see your point. I do want some randomness and regular desk clutter, as I think that’s what you’d find in real life; however, on studying the image further, I can see where the clutter tends to overwhelm the subject, so I’ll work on simplifying the scene.

I like the idea of adding blood, just a little, though, not enough to make it look like a murder scene. I’ll work on that, too.

Here’s a different approach to lighting, and a different desktop with a bit of dust on it. I’m in the process of redoing the typewriter textures to match the new environment. Any thoughts? Too much ambient light? Darker shadows?

(Image removed)


Nice render, it’s not the quality that makes it fail to have the impact you were hoping for :slight_smile:

The doll makes hints that somebody took revenge but it’s not clear right away. Maybe there is another object that can make it clear, things written in the letter, or a torn up love letter, meaningful objects can help here.

The atmophere reminds me of the first Resident Evil for the Gamecube. Rooms were filled with objects for the purpose of telling a story about what the person who used to occupy that room did, which is part of the greater story of the game. They used objects since the are no other characters than the playable characters/some monsters.

For example: there’s a room with butterflies on pins who used to be of a biologist (hence the butterflies).
The makers of the game used objects very well to tell a story.
Maybe reading about how they did that/play the game can help you get ideas for your artwork?


Hi Jawine,

(Don’t I know you from gfx?). Thanks for your input. :slight_smile:

I think I understand what you’re saying, because that was what I was trying to do but didn’t quite succeed at. The novel chapter, letters, and envelopes all give clues to what’s going on, but that doesn’t help if you can’t read them.

I agree that the voodoo doll needs to make a stronger statement; the pins are a little weak. How about this: In addition to the pins, maybe I could stab the letter opener through the doll’s heart (probably a different letter opener, the current one’s design is too busy for that, imo)? That might draw the viewer’s attention more quickly. The cupid was supposed to be counterpoint to the voodoo doll, but I don’t think it works well in the composition and so far, no one has picked up on the symbolism–maybe because they can’t read the stuff on desk. I thought maybe I’d replace it with a dead black widow spider, which may be more symbolic. Also, the colors of the spider would echo the black and red in the typewriter, but the size wouldn’t overwhelm the image. Since the spider is small, I could give it enough negative space that it doesn’t get lost, maybe also putting it on an envelope, or something, so it doesn’t blend in with the dust on the desk.

Any thoughts?


Yeah i’m jawine from gfxartist ^0^ I wondered if you were the marcia from gfxartist but i couldn’t really find out by reading the information in your profile ^0^

The letteropener stabbed through the doll is already much better :slight_smile: Maybe it should stab right through a valentines card that’s been ripped in pieces as well?

I’m not sure yet what else you want to do with the picture, there are too much objects in the original render, so which ones will stay and which ones will go?


Mmmm… I think the cupid and the inlaid box will almost definitely go, not sure about the bottle, depends on whether it fits into the reworked composition… not sure about the rest. It’s going to look a lot different, though.

Edit: Image Removed


Now the type writer is very well, maybe you should touch the voodoo doll a little bit too, it doesn’t seem like a voodoo doll, you need pieces of nails and some natural hair attached to a voodoo doll (eheehe behold the voodoooooo) and mostly they use wax to make a real horrorfull doll…


Hi Redogre, thanks for your thoughts. I want to keep the doll cloth and the hair a little surreal for effect. I’m afraid a wax doll’s features would be obscured by the dust.

Anyway, here’s the latest rendition. I tried to implement as many ideas from the critiques as practical. Still a WIP, though, so additional thoughts are very welcome.


Now that is something creepy…

You should think of moving to the gallery forum soon:)
Well not soon, now!


nice, i like the effect it gives the viewer.


Wohohohohoow, nice… That is intense.

Good texture on the doll too, I like it. You’re doing something right. When I look at it, I feel fear and exitement, and that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re waching a good horror film. That’s great.


Thanks, I really appreciate everyone’s help with this… I like it better this way, too. Please let me know if you have further suggestions. :slight_smile:


The only small crit is have is the balance of the composition, there’s a lot of detail near the doll/typewriter, then empty space and some bottles. Maybe it would be more balanced if you moved the paper/bottles a bit.

Other than that, i think this version will make an impact ^0^
It’s a good image as it is now, and the horror/revange are also very clear ^0^


I think it’s all down to the lighting. I prefer your first render if it had more suspense created through pools of light. The new manic doll make the image more amusing than frightening…to me at least. I wonder if you ran light across the typewriter you’d get some sinister shadows? All the elements are there, great modelling, textures etc. Just needs the right lighting. Good work.


Thanks, Jawine. I agree. That space was left open to accommodate the black widow spider I’m modeling… or trying to model… currently on attempt #10. Some things look deceptively simple. :slight_smile:


Thanks for your comments, UK3D. I thought the light in the first render was pretty flat, so I really don’t want to go back to it. I do like your idea of making the shadows longer/more prominent, though. I’ll experiment with lowering the angle of the light to see if it improves the render.

I know, I think the hair on the voodoo doll is silly (clownish), too, but I kind of like it that way. I may try something a little more fitting to the scene. :slight_smile: