Hi thar. I'm a self-taught digital painter and texture artist, and I'd really like to get better, even though I only do it for personal enjoyment. I've been working in a vacuum for a very long time, and I've reached a point where critique is something I feel I really need in order to improve.
So, here is something I'm currently working on in Painter, using photo reference. I'd welcome any feedback, particularly with respect to color--I'm trying James Gurney's gamut mask method and I have no idea if I'm succeeding. Color is the bane of my existence.
Thanks in advance
I like it the way it is now tbh.
I had to look several times because I couldn't tell if this was a painting or a photo... but I think it's a painting now yeh the Knife could benefit from some light on it to make it shine a little... great job.
As others have said, very nice paint job!
I don't know if it's just me, but when I saw the thumbnail for this, I sort of thought the girl was wearing some kind of track suit or a racecar jumpsuit type thing. It's mostly the color scheme, that doesn't seem very natural or 'romantic' to me. I appreciate that you changed up details from the stock photo, but I just don't personally agree with that decision, unless you were intentionally going for that somewhat surreal look.
It looks to me like a pretty solid piece as is. Most of the advice I could give would be subjective at this point, like maybe considering adding something with a rougher texture to balance the smoothness and act to emphasize the insidious undertone in the piece.
I have one nit pick. The woman's right ring finger is not painted to match the rest of the piece.
Other than that, sweet piece!
lemming-clone: Yeah, I dunno what was going on in my brain with her right hand. It's like I just stopped working on it at some point and never went back. Thanks for pointing it out. You're right about the need for texture--noted.
wooblood: Interesting, thanks for mentioning this. I was kind of going for weirdly unsettling with my color selections, but I wasn't expecting this type of feedback. Very much appreciated.
wozza & lhune: The knife has been giving me fits, and I think to fix it I need to fancy it up slightly and add something in the way of highlights/reflections. Y'all are definitely right about it being important but missing from the overall composition. I think he might need to bleed just a little.
So my current plan is to add texture & detail to the heart shaped central section of the composition that encompasses the embrace, knife, and two faces, leaving the rest of it sort of the way it is after some minor cleanup and value fixes. In terms of detail I only considered this halfway complete, but based on these comments I am rethinking it a little.. I do have a terrible tendency to overwork and slavishly cling to my reference(s). I'm trying to loosen up.
Thanks again, all.
Why not add some really nice ornate engraving on the knife...
could get some really nice details on it just to finish it off.
Is she actually cutting him? It looks by the flesh-colored highlight around the edge of the knife as if that's the case. If so, I'd also suggest adding a drip of blood to grab the attention of the viewer. I looked at this for more than 30 seconds and didn't notice there was a knife until someone pointed it out in a post. So definitely try to make it stick out more! Overall the style is very clean, I like how neatly you've defined the edges. Very nice!
Impressive work. I'd enjoy seeing other stuff you've done. Do you work from imagination too or mainly just photo references?
And then God said, "Let us make man in our likeness and our image. Let us make him ridiculously hard to draw so that poor artists everywhere will have to spend 10,000+ hours failing repeatedly before they can begin to capture the form and likeness onto a two-dimensional surface." And there was man. And it was good. And artists everywhere lost their minds.
It's a wonder how I look at the thumbnail, instantly think "copied photo", then look at the reference - and discover that though the original photo had a different ambient light color, and the copyist tried to change it, she still managed to make the lighting look like a copied photo.
The only advise I can give you is: stop copying photos. You're following the camera's image too slavishly. If you go on like that, your works will always look like copied photos, not like artwork. I have no doubt that you could develop a good artistic eye for color and value, but to do that you must banish photographs from your working method. They are not doing you good.
Start working from life. If color feels challenging, work in monochrome: values are easier to work with, and they are the necessary basis for color. But you must always look for the color; not for the proper color of an object ("paper is white") but for its color in the current lighting context ("under this light, this piece of white paper is light orange while the shadow on it is purplish neutral").
This ability is trained by abstracting yourself from color labels and consciously trying to discern the color in context. When you begin to see blue shadows on yellow pavement, instead of registering dark gray shadows on light gray pavement, or red leaves on the green trees in the sunset, you'll know you got it.
Then you can go back to using photos for reference if you wish, but never for direct copying. That activity is one of the most pointless things an artist could do.
Artists don't copy, they interpret.
I like the subtlety of the knife. The piece was beautiful enough in itself to lend to some scouring around it, and when noticing the knife I went "whoah"...
The knife does look a tiny but underworked compared to the rest of the piece, but choosing to make it stand out more or not I think depends on how you want the viewer to interpret the piece.
my stuff @ deviantArt if you're interested. It's far from comprehensive, but I do try to show some progression. I have trouble finishing things. =( I also do 3D stuff--texturing primarily, and a teeny bit of modeling. I use 3D for reference also.
I used to work only from imagination but I decided to have a "referenced only" period while I worked on other issues, like composition, value, color, draftsmanship, etc.
The biggest problem I see is the cookie cutter effect of the hard edges you are using. Nothing interacts with the rest of the scene. There are all kinds of subtle reflected lights and varied edges that tie everything together that you've ignored. I would go back and really look at what you are doing and get more of the color hue variety of the photo into your image. Especially in the skin tones which are monochromatic right now.
It's a difficult case, really. It's not a typical copied photo. There is a lot in it that I like. But it still jumps at me from the thumbnail: "copied photo"!
I do like the broad areas of color you make; they do mesh together all right. In the clothes, very successful. It looks much less interesting or true in the faces, though. Perhaps you ought to vary your technique a little: paint cloth like this, but paint faces differently. Right now the faces aren't any more of a focal point of this picture than the clothes; should that be so, honestly? Try to find a warmer approach, a less generalizing one. When the cloth folds look this much more detailed and lifelike than the human faces, it's not really a good sign.
You need to read the structure of the face better. You're probably copying what you see as planes in the photo, and the result is inferior: your guesses are wrong in many, many places. You need to analyze the structure in order to get it right; photos are terrible liars, they emphasize incidental stuff but gloss over the characteristic. You have to delve deep to get the structure out of them.
That is probably a major part of why it looks copied: lack of awareness of the structure in a picture with a lot of incidental detail, optical rather than artistic perspective, formulaic color. But that's not all of it, because it is much more evident in the thumbnail where the details are lost. Maybe it's in the composition, or the tonal blocks. I can't say.
What I can say with certainty is: if your work done using photos looks like copied photos, it's not a good symptom. It's a sign that you are following the photograph instead of using it for your ends. Don't be a slave, it's degrading.
OK, I've got an update. I tried to remodel the faces and ears, work on skin tone, and I've done a rough redesign on the knife. I'm trying to pull away from the photo look, but it might be too late for this one. Feedback on my changes and anything else I'm screwing up (or doing right, so I can keep doing that) would be most welcome.
Still the same problems with the faces. Slightly more detailed, but the planes aren't right and the texture isn't right.
I don't think this picture is worth the extra work: you aren't training the right skills with it. I'd recommend ditching the computer and photo reference for a while. Practice from life with natural media. Draw the heads and hands: structure, plane breakdown, anatomy, lighting... You need to build a greater awareness of the human form, and you need to wean yourself off the photo.
I agree with arenhaus about "ditching the computer and photo reference", and going with natural media and drawing from life.
Here's why: the basis of all that we, as artists, do is Drawing. The act of drawing isn't simply to output "a Drawing"; it does so much more. On one level, it's like taking notes. Your visual, motor, and cerebral processes work more and more in sync. New neural pathways get made and practice makes those paths stick. You're also storing a whole lot of knowledge, even though you're not consciously aware of all of it.
Finally, there are two Biggies that will interest you: 1) Practice and lots of time logged gets you comfortable with your Marks. All drawing and painting are (at their abstract baselines) are a series of marks you've put down to translate what you've perceived. 2) That practice and time will also make you comfortable with your own Drawing Funk. Anything that deviates from the "exact" form/etc that you're drawing is that Funk. And this, after a while, turns into your style (in the good sense, not the put-on/fake sense). The Funk still has to be based on good observation and skills (and it can't be arbitrary, careless, or tacked-on), but it's what everyone is looking for.
I'll bet if you start changing your thinking about drawing, you'll improve quite a bit.
Nick Rusko-Berger's Art Website: http://www.ruskoberger.com
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This looks pretty good to me.
There are some issues with composition and color---the cropping seems really awkward and the flesh tones feel too waaay too dark overall. I'm not sure with the flesh tones whether you intended to change the Caucasian figures in the reference photo to South Asians, but even if that was your intent, it feels like their skins are absorbing light rather than reflecting it. I'd recommend you cheat the lighting so the two heads have more volume and are more prominent in the composition. Right now the eye is immediately drawn to the white of his shirt and the red in her dress, and I think the focus should be on their faces.
As far as working from photos goes, I'd submit that if an artist is working realistically and has any kind of interest in human emotion or psychology, he/she's going to be using photography at some point. The key thing is to take what you need from the photo rather than mechanically copying it. If the passion and drama of this couple kissing (+ knife) is what interests you, it might be a good idea to think about the parts of the image that convey that (kiss, knife) and how you can emphasize them to get the point across---which I don't think you've really done enough of here.
As always, just my two cents.
Take it with a grain of salt as this is mixed with personal preferences but I think you should give the girl an other outfit.
Perhaps one should not judge a book by it's cover, but clothes and accessories can say a lot about your characters and right now, her's are bland (His' a bit to). You should take a moment to think a bit more about your characters. Is she a vengeful wife? A dangerous seductress he fell for? A thief? A murderer? Or does she just have a blood fetish? xD Give us hints.
I think it's a good rendering - and much prettier than the original photo.
If your goal is photo-realism then I would say start with a better photo, though you are getting really close.
The original photo was not that interesting in my opinion -- I guess I'm supposed to believe that she was torn between kissing him and killing him and now that they're embracing she has completely forgotten she's holding a knife to his neck? At the very least she should be pointing the knife away from him - maybe it's starting to slip out of her hand, you know... Her body language is contradicting itself, because she's clutching both him and the knife equally. *sigh* anyway.
So, yes, I would say the photo you used is the problem, if there is one.
well I tend to be quite skeptical when a photo looks photo real because odds are it is a paintover. I looked and I think it is definitely a paintover. Thats not such a bad thing except when you want to get better. You really wont get better by working that way you will only work around your weakness. If you didnt paint over this at all then I apologize. But you can see why I might think that. Just dont kid yourself if you did. Its not a good practice.
I think composition wise you need to focus on what makes scenes dynamic. move the viewers eye to focal points using tools like composition, pattern, value, color, etc. tell a story. I think on this it could be much more interesting. Right now its kinda generic like the picture is. That tends to be because you are working too closely to the photo. You need to break away and be creative with it. Right now your level of understanding of the medium is getting in the way of your creativity. So your attention is "waisted" on working with the brushes rather than being used on the artwork. Just something I like to point out. So take that and work on getting used to the program too.
Dude. Jump to conclusions much? They even stated that they used a grid.
I gridded this one out quite closely and checked my values against the original. I didn't paint over, though I can see why you think so. I agree-I need to be much looser and more creative with how I use my source materials.
Thanks for the feedback.