This is a refined version of my Exodus piece - personally I consider it finished, though all comments welcome.
It took me a lot of staring to figure out what is going on with the woman's arms. It would be impossible for them to be positioned how they are. Also, she is a few heads too short, unless her legs end at the knees- which would make walking really impressive.
The little girl's anatomy has some issues. Look at a reference or two and you'll see that when drawing children, a large head is necessary for believability. Going by the size of her head compared to the size of her mom's, that is one odd shaped kid. She appears to have the body of a 6 year old with the head of a tiny 2 year old.
The man looks as though his body is hidden inside that little cloak. Speaking of the cloak, it has no shadows. Judging by his hand being in front of the woman's jacket sleeve, there should be a significant amount of shadow on him from her head and body. It looks as though you guessed at the anatomy on his stomach, too. Lastly, why is his leg casting a drop shadow?
They all share one big blurry blob of shadow that doesn't reflect the kind of shadow that would appear in this light. To that same end, they aren't lit properly for the angle the shadow has taken. The clouds in the background don't look like clouds- they look like you wished you knew how to draw clouds. Grab references and learn how to draw them and you'll be much happier with the painting when all is said and done. Also, give us some indication that there is a background. Right now they all look to be on the same plane.
Everything in the painting has been painted with the same kind of stroke and either a) smudged to death or b) only painted with a 0-15% hardness standard round brush. You have to vary your strokes and your brushes throughout the painting. Right now, everything looks like dough or clay.
Hope some of that helps. ;P
1) All the proportions are based on stock models which I used to proportion the figures, so anatomically they are 90-100% accurate. The woman's arms are in the right place based on the model I used, and the child's proportions are 100% those of the 18 month old child I used as a model. Both the man and woman have their knees bent, though the woman's is a lot more subtle than the man's.
2) I take on board the issues with the shading - the light is a difuse low sunset, and trying to get the right level of shadow is/was proving to be difficult.
3) The background is purposefully drawn that way as it is intended to have an ultra shallow depth of field - I used various source photographs to capture the seascape, and making it blurred was key to focusing the attention on the central four.
Overall I agree that I need to adjust the high/low lights, but as far as drawing anatomy is concerned I take my key direct from stock photos, so I don't see how I can improve on this.
Can you post the reference you used? If something looks wrong, it is wrong; so the question is if the problem lies with the reference itself or with your interpretation of it.
Also, in addition to the link Kaffinated posted, check out the edges link in my signature.
**Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial
Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!
"Work is more fun than fun."
"Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
That edges link in Elwell's signature is awesome. I still refer to it occasionally.
When you use a reference, it isn't always about copying the reference. That works about 10% of the time. The idea is to make the reference your own. See how the body is behaving in that particular position and use it to calculate how it would look in your painting. Generally, if you copy the reference perfectly, it will still look wrong.. unless the perspective and composition are 100% matched to the stock photo. Usually, that won't be the case.
Rendering shadows in diffused light is tough. I recommend making a new layer on top and using a gigantic round brush with 0% hardness and low opacity. Set the layer to overlay, vivid light or soft color. Then slowly work the shadows in using a mid-dark cool hue (it will take a few tries to get the right color). Occasionally erase the edges of the woman to make sure you don't cover her with shadow as well. Then adjust the layer opacity to get the value just right.