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I'm at the point I always get with a painting....unsure about the next step. I hold a painting together in a way I like up to this point and then over-render, leave areas too rough, etc. Any pointers on what to do next, where to focus, what needs fixing before moving forward, etc would be greatly appreciated.
you need to tighten things up with a 100% opaque brush, the plants in the foreground for example. If you use a brush set to pen preasure for the entire painting, things start to get a bit muddy. Take advantage of PS adjustments, and give unsharp mask a try to make things less "muddy"....
And also get a definite light source and some cast shadows in there.
What was your original idea and feeling you wanted to portray?
My first impression of the image is that the water looks rough and disturbed, like the main character is disrupting the surface of the water. The background seems to be the quiet and serene part of the image.
Judging from her pose though it almost seems like you wanted her and the water around her to be calm and the point of serenity.
I suppose my critique then would be to further define why shes there and what the mood around her is and how that contrasts with the rest of the image. Also, if you want to make the lighting through the trees appear more vibrant and "glowy" i'd suggest using a soft brush or some other glow effect and go over the edges of the trees to make the illusion that the light is wrapping around them a bit more since they're cylindrical. As you have it now the edges are actually darker than the center of the trees.
Anyway, hope that gives you some ideas or at least you can say "that guys totally wrong!" and come up with something else
The water looks really deep, but she seems to be standing in a shallow part... it just seems kind of off. I'd say maybe make her shorter. And I agree with fuzziest. Really start going into detail with the trees and the plants in the foreground.
Thanks for the crits! Havent had much time to work on it but I'm working at defining the light source better. I also decided to go with twisted trees in the background for a creepier vibe, and I think I can lead the viewer to the subject better for the composition.
Loose the black
maybe you could change her outfit to something swampy lookin'?
You got some very good tips up there, i hope you are taking them into account. even the concise and precise "lose the black", though the text seems a bit lacking in rhetorical foundations, is a very good idea.
it's strange that no one's said anything about the composition yet. it was the first thing that bugged me. this symmetric round frame the trees politely make around the lady so as not to obstruct the view. the black "shoulders" this gives the painting seem unnecessary, dead areas. plus the eye-shaped frame is just... well, frankly i don't really see a point to it. now, regardless of matters of taste regarding such means of creating layers of value and perspective - this black frame just plain FLATTENS the space in your painting. it doesn't sit well with the perspective of the water, its pure black colour is a killer (look up the impressionists' opinion on use of pure black, i think they had an awesome understanding of such things and some article would prolly phrase it better than i can).
so what i'm trying to say is: i recommend to lose the frame. or break it up, make it uneven. give it some perspective, or make the shape more irregular. just... change it, somehow, really... it's keeping the whole thing back.
another point i wanted to make, about your statement that you "over render" some parts and leave others untended - i was wondering whether you begin to paint on a large canvas from the start? because if that's what you do, the problem is there. if you have the option to zoom in on stuff you like drawing and tinker with it, you will. i suggest you reduce the painting's size to smtng nice and compact, like 700 pix height, and fix all you can in that size. when the composition, colour, value etc. is good, make it bigger and do all the detail work in hi-res. i've heard this tip from many an awesome artist. i'm not sure you'd want to do that to this painting at the stage it is in, i guess it depends on how attached you are to it.
Oh, and the reflection of trees in the water is wonky. it should be completely vertical - not inclined in perspective as it seems to be here. it looks like the trees are casting a sharply defined shadow on the water -- a result possible only if there's an insane, immense, humongous spotlight behind them... O.O i'm not sure the story and atmosphere here is that of an alien abduction story, so i figured that's not what you mean.
also the trees in the bg look like they're all on the same plane, that is - completely flat.
i'll stop now.
have fun with it! good luck.
Things I like:
- The painting as a whole (the first one rather than the second) is really beautiful. The colours are great, though the blacks could really be a tad mire varied, try making the shadows warmer, as the light seems to be cold.
The vertical trees work better for me, but the composition could actually loose some of its staleness. I would keep the dress so simple, its beautiful like this.
Things I'd think about:
-The water, I would either calm it down or let it be rippling where ehe stands. i do not see a problem in it being deep and her standing on it. Kinda messiah like!
-What is she doing there? Maybe you could add some more characters in the forground, very dark though and you could merge them with the silhouette.
I don't know if this is unhelpful, it's just an opinion, but I prefer the trees in the first version.
Thanks all! Very helpful...really.
Happy Satan - I do typically work at small scale, with the painting at about 25% but the idea of making the overall image smaller and scaling it up at a certain point is a good idea. I actually did that by accident as this started out as a small color thumbnail...might be the reason it looks as good as it does considering I've never tackled an environment before. I'm going to make that common practice.
Janos - warming the shadows would definitely help. And you're right - the first one is better now that I go back and look at them. I knew the second was rougher because I went back a few steps, but the composition is way too busy with the curvy trees.