this is a commission I've been working on in the past few days and it went okay, up to the point where I had to start shading and highlighting the dragon.
I've never been very good with light and shade, is there a good way I can train it? Obviously we have lamps over here so I can direct light at, for example, my hand and see how it works, but "fictional" light sources still prove to be very difficult for me (think magic, strange colours, multiple colours).
Either way, I feel like I'm stuck. The more I try to work on it, the more it frustrates me because it just won't look right. Advise, critique and especially paintovers would be greatly appreciated!
Last edited by Lhune; June 12th, 2009 at 07:40 PM.
too much contrast and similar colors, the dragons too dark and blends into the clouds due to the same color scheme, the dragons wings lacks texture which i think is especially noticable in the wing tips.
The way you handled the lightning as well causes issues with the way you handled lighter clouds. They are both the same colors and blend together.
Hope this helps,
I really like the concept and the way it's headed, but your image is not contrasting nicely and the colors are all the same. I think resolving that would fix a lot of the issues you are having. perhaps a deep dark red for the dragon since the BG has green in it
as mentioned the dragon needs more defining. Its hard to see the dragon and its features because its fairly dark. Maybe make the dragon glow? brighten it up somehow though so it sticks out a bit more and you can see the features in particular on the face.
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Try giving the dragon itself a palette of warmer grays, maybe some browns, while using cooler/bluish-grays for the clouds. This will add a bit to the visual contrast, I believe.
My knowledge of scientific biological transmogrifications is only outmatched by my zest for Kung-Fu treachery.
Thanks a lot for the input!
I will try and give it some more contrast, only instead of changing the coloration on the dragon I will try changing that of the clouds.
You see the dragon was a given character with a certain colour scheme, I can't just give it different colours if I wanted to (I don't think the commissioner would appreciate that).
I will try and work on it today and show you the progress. Thanks again!
Any more help is still very welcome!
Right, I did what you suggested anyway, deleted the coloration for the dragon which I had and started over.
In an attempt to create more contrast I gave the dragon more it's actual coloration (blue-ish grey with yellow plates and 'bolts' over it's body, a color scheme that makes me cringe but I can't just go and change it), but I just can't figure out how to work from here. I know that blue contrasts with orange and yellow with purple, I will try and give the clouds some purple-ish tints to add to it.
But then the shading and highlighting. I am pretty much entirely self-taught and found really helpful tutorials all over the net, but working with strong contrasts and daring light sources are a pain. I really need some help with this, guidelines as to how I can make a subject look like it's actually in there, blending in with the background but still jumping out. Whatever I try, I just really can't seem to pull it off.
I know this is probably sounding rather pathetic but I'm getting quite desperate here :/. I really want to learn how to do this.
Oh, and my apologies for the double post.
Last edited by Lhune; June 11th, 2009 at 08:23 AM. Reason: Re-uploaded the picture, slightly edited.
tutorials won't teach you anything, there is no right solution how to draw a dragon in a storm but there are several possibilities. Thought and theory won't help you here,But then the shading and highlighting. I am pretty much entirely self-taught and found really helpful tutorials all over the net, but working with strong contrasts and daring light sources are a pain. I really need some help with this, guidelines as to how I can make a subject look like it's actually in there, blending in with the background but still jumping out. Whatever I try, I just really can't seem to pull it off.
research reference photos for the stuff you need and adapt them to your picture.
If you have rainy weather outside go out for yourself and look at some birds flying, in the meantime there's still flickr.
Here are some ideas:
(this is how lightning looks like, look where the strongest point is and the way it forks)
(analyze what makes the birds in the background stand out from the clouds)
(this is how wings look with strong backlight)
by Nivbed, the rendering of the clouds gives the pictures a bigger depth
I just took a break to post this.
But sometimes I also draw stuff
Lovely image! The only thing I can add that hasn't been mentioned yet is the light behind the wings. The line of light you have coming through almost look like it's meant to be markings. I think this is because it's so solidly defined. Try and fade out the light filtering through the wings so it looks like the feathers are getting thicker, so less light is gradually getting through, if you see what I mean.
Thanks a lot for the references, Kiera!
I will study them all carefully and apply what I learn from them as well as I can in the picture.
As for the tutorials, if you find the right ones, they're certainly not useless. Of course they are not specific but if you are a beginning artist they can provide you with useful basics. But like you said yourself, there are no tutorials on drawing a certain piece and although I used a real life reference for the clouds, I didn't know where to start on the dragon. The bird pictures may prove to be quite useful though, thanks for that.
I see what you mean though and it also shows in the bird reference that Kiera provided me with. Thanks, I will certainly try to get that down!
very nice work ;i just have some critic: in composition may be if you center the dragon in the midle it will be better i think ,and the sky need dept a little ; making a bird wings for a dragon is original idea
i have to disagree with selaheddine. Don't centre the dragon. centering images for studies is fine, but when doing compositions it generally leads to a boring composition
what i can see is:
that the dragon itself isnt lightened by the thunders....atleast at his tail and a bit through the wings should be lightened up...
since he have feather wings like birds, it could help to look up for bird wings when they are directed against light....they should be more transparent or atleast the gradient should be softer from non transparent to transparent...the colors are good....and if you make the clouds a bit purpelish (not all) then there should be a good contrast between dragon and clouds...
and if i see this correctly, his body have some thunder signs on its skin....maybe make them lightened blue? like the thunders in background? like the thunders are flowing through him?
but thats just a suggestion^^
i really like the picture and would love to see it finished....
dont give up! its worth it^^
learning by doing and redirecting all over if its neccesary is the best thing you could do
and a good way to learn new things...
having some lightning somewhere to the right back of the viewer cast some hilights and faint reflect light into the frontal shapes could make it look interesting, if you can make those hilights communicate wetness that would look cool.
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Wow, thanks a lot for all your input!
I've been working on it for hours straight now (need a break), it's progress is stupidly slow but I'm trying.
I defined the clouds somewhat differently, based off of the reference that Kiera sent me. I quite like the look of it, I think I'll keep it this way. Added some more purples as well.
I've been experimenting on that one wing only, the transparent look is a quite difficult one to pull off. It still needs improvement, any pointers would be very much appreciated .
salaheddine: Thank you! I tried adding some depth by defining the clouds differently. I hope it worked? As for the composition, as zedkhov mentioned, I don't think centering him would look very good. It looked okay when I moved him further up, but that doesn't change much otherwise.
Farelle: Thanks for the large comment! I like the idea of making the bolts on his body look like actual lightning, I will play around with that idea later. As you can see I tried making the wing somewhat transparent (and keeping the glowing wing tips as the commissioner requested), but it still needs work. Starting over really helped and I'm learning as I go . Which is why I came here, really.
zaorr: Another light source to the front right? Would that not make the picture too busy? I can try it out though, thanks!
Just a thought, but as it's lit from the back mostly from the lightning, how about a bit of strongish rim lighting and heavier shadows in the front?
whops, wrote nearly the same as my preposter XD
i just noticed he dont have body own shadow...that would increase his depth.
dont know if you know what i mean^^
actually the color on his tail as example is all the same....from beginning to the end....but there should be some light around him(even if its dark) to make it look more realistic.
and to the new wing:
its nice but maybe a bit too much now^^ and transparent wouldnt make it over all lighter...
maybe more like its lightened up where the thunder is in the background and a bit darker on these parts where the clouds are behind his wings.
and again...shadows have more than just one layer its goes from pale grey to nearly black^^
I hadn't started on the highlighting and shading yet, those were just base colours. Thanks for the input though!
Right, I have been stubborn. I'm sorry, feel free to blame the fact that I'm still a teenager. The wings now have colours similar to the background (again).
I will probably make the clouds down left a bit darker as I feel they are very distracting right now. I was going for the impression that there is another light source coming from the front right, as zaorr suggested. As you can hopefully see, I am working on the body right now.
A couple of things I will be working on (advise is welcome):
- Making the dragon's plates and scales look like they are lit from something in front.
- Highlighting the wings so that they give the impression of being lit by something in front.
- Giving the dragon some strong shading to make him stand out more.
- Maybe add rain... Tried already, didn't look very good (chaotic). But I can try again anyway.
yeaaaah^^ that seems to work now^^ and i love how you draw these muscles with light
*is curious how it goes further but now i have to go sleep XD
Wow...Well I think I'd be happy with that result too, well done! Wish I could draw dragons and weather as well as you! ^_^
Useful links for the Aspiring Artist
- A complete guide to drawing Anthro
- Figure and Gesture drawing practice
- CharacterDesigns - Nude Reference Photos
- Loomis Anatomy- Figure Drawing for all its Worth
- Drawing the Portrait
- 10 Top Composition Rules
- Chiseled Rocks' Musings - Fantastic tutorials on lighting and media maintenance
Wow, that was so great seeing this come along nicely.
Wonderful creature design, thoroughly and neatly rendered. I am in awe. And inspired, too!
Doe zo voort!
Continue the critique at Deviant Art
it looks great^^