So I've been working on this piece for a week now, and here are some stuff about the piece:
- I tried to insert the focal point to the bottom-right, and used the trees and branches as some kind of gesture to lead towards the focal point. However, I noticed the largest pillar is rather distracting, and I tried to fix that by putting a lamp thing beside it and also adding fire rings around the focal point to cover the pillar.
- I put the sky and skyscrapers to add some atmosphere and depth. Not sure if it's a good idea or not (should I crop it?) but I'd hate to see it go.
- I had the girl's clothes bluish black to contrast the skin and flames around her. Do I need to add more things to make the focal point pop?
- The wall behind the girl looks a bit plain and undetailed to me, but I have no idea what to add.
- I like the rough brush strokes that's going on at the moment and I don't plan to make it look matte-ish.
Also, if there are any other things that you spotted, please tell me. I for some reason really love this piece (perhaps I've been sketching and doing still life too much recently and just wanted to do something imaginative for a break) and am trying my best to save it from being horrible. Thanks in advance.
To me those flames seem like they are everywhere without intention. Why are the flames there in a first place if everything is frozen? If the theme is frozen, emphasize more on that.
Not sure if that building behind the tree is necessary and it's definitely too light. I think that the piece could also work without those buildings in the back and perhaps you could put the moon there?
For the wall, check out some Japanese architecture stuff so you can get inspired. Is that window that's suppose to be behind her? (small square) thing. There are no warm reflections on any of the objects
if you decide to keep the flames but I still don't understand them or their need to be there if the theme is frozen.
Home of the Killer Concept Art Tutorials
@DAMJAN: Thank you for the critique!
- The story is of a large powerful clan that uses fire attacks and summon dragons. However, they got wiped out and their dragons frozen. This girl is one of the few surviving members and she is attempting to revive the dragons (by unfreezing them) for revenge.
That's my story-wise reason for putting the flames in. Technically, I also felt that it created a color contrast with the overall blue tone. The flames also helped me cover up that annoyingly big pillar in the middle (cheap move, I admit).
- I felt that the building behind the tree was necessary because it helps balance with the big building behind the girl. Is there any reason why you think it is unnecessary? Also, by too light, do you mean the building as a whole is too light or just the shadow part?
- For the background buildings, I thought it created a nice atmosphere and helped portray that this place was once a wealthy, populated city. The inclusion of the moon sounds like a nice idea; would putting some stars in alongside that help too?
My humble opinion as an amateur viewer:
Something about the composition isn't working for me, clearly your highest value point and focus is where your character stands, bottom right corner, but then everything else just kinda annoys the view (at least mine) since I find myself moving my eyes upside down to check other things and going back down, over and over again, it doesn't feels comfortable. But I can't tell if it's the format or the composition design.
Also as DAMJAN says, the red flames look random and without purpose. Also I can't tell if they are behind her or next to her, you should check the atmosphere value between close and far away points in there to try to separate more your figure from the back flames (if they are some). Or maybe push the value on the blue ones around her, to see if you can make her stand out.
It is a bit hard to figure out what is happening in my opinion. the white parts are supposed to be ice? she is melting it Had to look at it a couple of times before realising what the white was supposed to be, thought it was a lot of cloth rags in the trees and on the ground first, because its so dull, ice tends to sparklewith refracted light when hit with any sort of light.
Thanks for the suggestions everyone!
I made a bit of changes to the piece:
- Made the big left tower darker.
- Added moon. Though I think it's better off?
- Adjusted the value of flames.
- Adjusted ice lighting.
- Added details to the wall; finished painting the leftmost tower.
I've also heard comments about how the sky and towers are distracting; there's too much going on. Would it be better if I crop the image like this? I prefer keeping the sky though.
I prefer it with the sky and I like the overall mood of the piece a lot, I just don't understand the reason for the bits of fire being there (except maybe for the composition reason you mentioned). Seems like you've depended on the fire and the blue glow effect in the rendering of the focal area instead of defining the objects and architecture details around the girl, which I think would be more important. So I recommend dropping those light effects and trying to make the area work without them at first. I like the fire in the big lantern thing though, it could make a nice moody light source.
You mentioned the original reason for adding the fire was to make the big pillar stand out less. If it cuts the picture too strongly in half, you could also make it thinner and maybe put more of them behind the girl, or make it shorter by adding a balcony under it.
I like the sky without the moon, it works nicely as a cloudy sky IMO. What I don't like however is how the straws or tree branches on the roof seem to blend into the cloud texture. The furthest buildings also blend into the sky, try to differentiate the values somehow.
I really like most of the picture though, especially the girl's head and calm essence, the design of his dress and the block details just under the roof! Surely a pic worth the polish it needs.
This could be rescued by very, very carefully reworking the lighting.
I'd suggest 1) the blue sky light, 2) subtle moonlight for outlining the form of things in shadow and 3) lighting from the figure and flames.
1 and 2 would predominantly afflict the background structures and trees. The moonlight is directional, the sky light diffuse and mostly seen in, well, the sky.
3 is the trickiest. The blue and red flames should actually light things around them. Assuming that the red flames are the weaker source of light, they will mostly affect things near them. The blue flames seem stronger and so their reach would be further.
Decide on how you want to mix the light from the red and blue sources. They may produce purple, or (if the blue is really cool white) yellowish tone. Experiment.
Don't forget that the figure should be lit by the actual light sources. Right now it seems inexplicably self-illuminated because its color is more consistent with daylight than with your colored light sources.
And yes, this is a very complicated lighting design. You may find you still need to fake a few things in the end, to make it work. But try to figure it out properly, before you resort to that.
I did a quick paint over to show better what I meant, but take it with a grain of salt because I'm not really sure about this (my knowledge and understanding about colour, lighting and painting it's just not good enough yet to actually be able to show you exactly how it should be).
Just took away the flames that were bothering mi sight, added some glow at to bring up intensity on the closest ones and drop the saturation/contrast on the back building.
Thanks, smuli and arenhaus.
@smuli: I intentionally wanted the very background buildings to blend into the sky, as that was inspired by J. M. W. Turner's paintings. I'll adjust the tree branches though, it shouldn't be that blended. I like the idea of adding a balcony thing by the way, and I'll also try to make the objects around the focal point sharper.
@arenhaus: I'll adjust the lighting. Thanks! Maybe I should find someone with a blue flashlight and just mess around with it first...
You need to be decisive about what iforms are in light and what is in shadow. Best way to do that is with a value study. The piece is chaotic because it lacks structure. You also need to be decisive about teh drawing and forms - it is completely confusing as to what is going on...that sort of looks like an ice dragon skull in front of her? (And if that was all described in text somehow...it doesn't matter...it has to be clear in the image). It doesn't feel like there is enough room behind her to the wall for the carcass of the dragon. So things like that add to the confusion of the piece.
I would start over and develop the piece up beginning with thumbnails to work out the composition and value problems.
For whatever reason my comments (without an image attachment) are taking forever to be approved - so I'm gonna write some stuff again:
@damjan and smuli: The flames are firstly a cheap device to cover up the pillar as I said in the OP (which I admit looked bad so I removed), but I was also trying to convey the idea that she's melting the ice.
@Jeff: Thanks. I also realized that this is a failure - it was hard for me to notice the chaos in details because as the artist I know what's happening and what to look for. However it's taking up too much of my time for what is supposed to be a mental break between practices and studies, so I'm just trying to do what's possible to make it look better, and then return back to doing studies. As for the dragon, it's an Asian dragon, so I don't think the body's not going to take up too much space. I think it fits. I might be wrong though.
Anyways, yet another attempt. This time I adjusted the lighting and value, erased unnecessary details (however I decided to keep a bit of the red flames to suggest that she's burning the place up), and added a fence-balcony-thing.
Argh, for some reason, my messages are taking more than a day to get this moderator approval...
@Jeff: Thanks. I understand that I need more practice, and I'll do so right after this. This piece is supposed to be just a mental break between practices, so I won't devote too much time to it. As for the dragon, it's an Asian dragon, so the body is just a cylinder. I think it fits.
So I adjusted the lighting and value, got rid of unnecessary details, and added a balcony-fence-thing. I decided to keep some of the random fire to show that she's burning the place down. I believe it should be more readable now?