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I'm still relatively new to digital painting, and I'm trying to improve my compositions and refinement process. This is the latest piece I'm working on. I wanted a composition which has dramatic tension, with no action, which sort of foreshadows a battle about to take place between a paladin and dark knight.
I have a few years of experience with Photoshop, and am attempting to achieve a semi painterly style with my art. I have a great deal of difficulty refining my paintings past a medium level of detail. To give you an idea, a finished piece of mine at the moment, fully rendered is only a bit more detailed than this stage of a painting in black and white. My environments give me a great deal of trouble, especially cityscapes, but in general I feel like my environments are a bit bland. I should stop now before I type all night.
I've heard great things about this community, and look forward to getting involved here, Thank you in advance to anyone who replies.
When your composition depends this much on a dramatic falling shadow, it pays off to get the perspective right and tight. Here, you've literally butchered it, because the figure upstairs has a shadow that seemingly falls on a flat, stripy plane. It does not follow the steps at all! The effect is made worse by the fact that the shadow also darkens the front faces of the steps, which should be away from light and meld with the man's shadow.
Calculate the correct perspective of steps and falling shadows and repaint. Pay attention to what is lit, what is not, and where the rimlight effects will be. Make sure all shadows are darker than all lights. Use environmental ambience and scattering to lighten up the shadows amnnd bring out the detail in them, but not too much - they must stay darker than the lights.
It will make the shadow on steps less visible and broken-up, but the image realism will more than compensate for that.
You can then whip the dramatic effect back up by adding the cast volumetric shadow in the air above the stairs. (I think you had already attempted that, but given that the perspective all off, I am not sure. It could be made much more visible.)
Thank you for the advice, I'll try and tighten it up and correct the perspective and shadows before I work color into it.
necks, they have none.
Your composition is split right down the center, with a figure on either side and lots of dead space in the middle. Moving both figures towards the center will help on both an abstract level and make them relate more visually.
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