The Honest Feedback Thread

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Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
Ok so... I've been drawing and doing this stuff for a very long time, and to be honest while I have a very good technical understanding, I'm still not super amazing as an artist.

This thread is designed to be a safe place to post work that you don't want ass pats on. If you post here, leave your ego at the door.

Be nit-picky, find everything wrong with the artists piece that is requesting and help push them to be better artists.

Be stern, honest and accurate, and only post one piece at a time, and try and post your best work where you have no idea how to improve.

Lets grow as artists!

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  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    I'm going to start off.

    6Lx9pD9.jpg

    So I'm looking for comments on rendering, folds anatomy and design. Tear me apart!
  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycounter lvl 8
    Character pose and facial expression is very bland. The ping-pong paddle makes me want to see her in some sort of eager, more energetic or "game ready" pose.

    I'm not sure what she's looking at, kind of looks like she's checking out her bangs or trying to see her own eyebrows, I am uncertain of why. Looking directly at the viewer (TOTALLY NO BIAS HERE :poly142:) may make it look more solid, but just something more natural would probably be good.

    Shoe designs are very bland and uninformative, I am uncertain of whether or not they really have soles or if they're more one large solid piece, like rounder, more bland crocs or something. Even just some darker lines to emphasize shape or cut off the toe or something could help here. Subtle "visual interest" and what have you.

    There appear to be some perspective issues/minor design differences in her mechanical arms. Her left arm looks more functional (elbow area, I envision it bending ok), while the elbow area of her right arm makes it look like it might get caught and not be able to bend properly in that area. Hard to explain but you might be able to see what I mean.

    Perspective on the ping pong paddle seems a little off. Looking at the underside of the handle's base - being able to see how the paddle is turned a bit as a result, while also seeing the wood on the lower edge of the rubber-sided part does not seem right.

    Presumably robotic hands seem a bit...wobbly looking - her right one especially, for something mechanical or partially mechanical (covered in some other type of material, perhaps?) Left hand looks unsure of how it wants to hold the paddle.

    There appear to be white (probably not actually white, but appearing near-white) highlight spots on her face - her chin for example. Her hair, however, which I imagine would have much more "sheen" to it, has no such highlights.

    I wouldn't mind knowing what her hair style actually is. It almost looks like it sort of tucks into her right mechanical arm thing a bit but I think it more likely it just goes behind her. The way it appears long but curves tighter lower down makes it look like a ponytail, but I'm not sure if it's one of those fancy, looser ponytail type things (a la Tifa Lockhart) or if there's something else going on back there. Having some longer hair be visible (in the area underneath her right armpit) may help to communicate your intentions so far as her hair length/style. Different pose obviously also opens up possibilities so far as visibility with that.

    Her ear looks pretty high up on her head. Looking at where it is compared to her eye seems...doable, but compared to where I imagine her jawline would start, it seems pretty high up there.

    I am noticing some...Deus Ex sort of "I have been augmented mechanically" type lines on her body (her right cheek is most noticeable). I also see them...I think, around where her right arm connects to her torso - next to her shirt strap? They're very light, I missed them until just now. May consider expanding upon that idea or making it more clear how you want it presented.

    I'm not sure we'd see that bump on her left ankle the way her foot is turned, the one that currently is on the back side of it.

    ----

    All that being said, I do think it feels "cohesive", it follows a consistent style. I like the noisy, almost traditional kind of feel to your brushes.

    I will also say that your style might be able to benefit from some visible linework mixed in with your painting, it has a sort of...simplistic sort of feel to it, bit stylized as well and I wonder if some visible lines might blend nicely.

    Sorry for the book, you asked for nit-picky, and you've always seemed a cool enough guy to interpret stuff well. Those were my observations, just wrote them as I noticed them.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Awesome, Thanks Two Listen. No need to apologize! this is EXACTLY what i wanted.

    I'm going to jump back onto this painting and see if i can go through and systematically fix this stuff.

    The hair style is just loose long hair with a straight fringe, and it's kind of resting on part of her back and tucking behind the mechanical arm bits. I think i can probably make it more interesting adding in a ribbon.

    I think i'm going to change the arms to something a lot more sleek, as i think they might be a bit too industrial.

    Great nitpick on the feet, i always get lazy at the feet, that will be my lesson there.

    And yes i do agree with the visible line-work.

    I'll be back in a few hours!
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Ok.

    So i think it's starting to go in the right direction. Definitley taking a lot of the feedback to heart.

    Let me know if i look like I'm seriously missing anything.

    0Xx0EBw.jpg

    Also i want to see more people posting in here!
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Since the technical aspects have been covered already, I'll throw in something obvious :

    Which visual style are you going for ?

    I could see this image evolve into many different kinds of final products : a realistic, "Deux Ex" photo collage look ; a Capcom, animaton-like image, relying on rough pencil lines and colored markers (think "Cannon Spike") ; or even a Nickelodeon-style image using flat vector rendering. And everything in between ! I think you need to establish your visual target first, otherwise you could end up tweaking the image forever.

    I am bringing this up because character design in itself is a very different topic from rendering - but unfortunately we are often too concerned about the later when working on the former ... and vice versa. In other words, what I am trying to say is that you will probably have an easier time painting/illustrating this character (according to a pre-determined visual style) once you'll have all the design elements solved beforehand, like the mechanical arm, the shoe design, and so on. These parts could be solved and drawn as another set of sketches, photocollages, or even as 3d blockouts. You can probably tell where I am getting at here : there will be no need to concern yourself with rendering style when working on those.

    I like to call this the "no guesswork" approach ; that is to say, not allowing oneself to paint/render/illustrate something until that something is fully solved visually first. There is no shame in taking one's time :)

    I hope this makes sense !
  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycounter lvl 8
    That is great advice pior. I can't count the amount of times I've wound up knee deep in a painting without having given certain design elements more than (if even) a passing thought, and then it's frustrating as hell to try to experiment with design possibilities while adhering to my half-rendered painting. This is doubly problematic if you're not entirely certain of your own rendering capabilities, not knowing what you're going to paint exactly - on top of not knowing how (or if) you can pull off your target visual style is maddening.

    Muzz - Much prefer the new pose, good job with it. Similar to pior's question of visual style, what is your intent for this painting? Character concept? Promotional art for a character? More complete "illustration", or portfolio piece?
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 12
    What are trying to do?
    Make a pretty illustration? fix the form and structure? make the character design better?
    I think it'll be easier for you to focus on one thing and get it straight (similarly to what pior suggested) than focus on getting it all done on the go.

    Overall, the basic proportions look off to me: her knees should be lower and her feet longer/bigger. To resolve this, I'd draw her basic forms/structure in plain lines and block in the primitive masses.

    This will lead me to perspective, which is off as well: the knees are about eye-level and her head is facing upwards, yet the bottom plane of the jaw isn't visible. Get her main forms work in perspective, paying attention to the contour lines that go around the bottom of her dress, around her waist and colarbones.

    Once you get her planted right in 3D, work on her design. Looking at either version, you've got a plethora of shapes, materials and colors. You may have had fun creating them, but I don't believe they work together to form any cohesive design. Before putting in any detail, ask yourself: is this iconic? does this really add anything to the design, or does it just elaborate existing elements needlessly? avoid the latter.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Whoa both shotgun and pior!

    Thanks guys, a ton of great points!
    Which visual style are you going for?
    I was originally trying to go for some sort of rockwell/leyendecker thing, and i think that's what i still want to go for. I think i need to sit back and focus on my angles and rendering to even try to approach that.

    This is definitely meant to come off as a polished character illustration, and yes i feel like you guys have nailed the core issue on the head. I did start this off as some sort of wish to combine an old illustration style with Sci-fi elements, as opposed to coming at it to make a cohesive character. Now at this current stage I'm feeling some sort of capcom fighter esque elements, so that is a direction that could work really well if i push them. I think i definitely need to push it into iconic territory.
    What are trying to do?

    Yeah, it's some sort of push to try and fix a lot of the issues that my concept/illustration work does have. I look at people like Wes Burt and Marko Djurdjevic for the qualities that they manage to get across in their character concept work while, still being fairly clean and polished. \

    Concept wise it did start out as an attempt to make disparate elements work together, which i think it still can, but i think i need to be more strategic in how they combine, and be more careful of the shape language to tie it together. For example the only sci-fi elements are the arms, making them just look tacked on, instead of having any other elements tying it into the design.

    The perspective issues are something i hadn't really realized, probably as a product of working with these quirks for so many years. i think this is a case of I'm not sure it's worth recovering this particular painting, and instead painting the revised version with the issues fixed straight away.

    Thanks for the crits guys, as with any good crit, it's really changed my focus, and i can see things that i was completely missing before. Looks like i have a ton of work ahead of me to get this work to the next level.
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 12
    Mind you both Marko and Bert have exceptional drawing skills. It was years before they went into color. I follow the same dogma
  • MagicSugar
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    MagicSugar polycounter lvl 9
    "Be gentle Im a noob."
    blizzard01.jpg~original
  • adam
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    adam polycounter lvl 12
    MagicSugar, before we offer criticism I think a good exercise here would be for you to criticize your own work.

    What's wrong with it? Where can you improve? Don't think about anything other than the final piece in front of you. It's hard to do this with your own work, but thinking objectively and break the piece down to workable pieces of feedback.

    Go.
  • MagicSugar
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    MagicSugar polycounter lvl 9
    adam wrote: »
    MagicSugar, before we offer criticism I think a good exercise here would be for you to criticize your own work.

    The only elements I can improve or would like to change would be the pilot. It's inspired by Starcraft 1 so I'm okay keeping the old Valkyrie in.

    If I were to change the pilot it would be to upgrade his outfit, jetpack, and maybe his pose. The sniper gun is deliberate (attempt at humor). Also the cropping tangents are deliberate choices.

    I haven't received any previous crit for this piece, so other than what I've mentioned I don't have a clue how to improve it (other than do over with a new composition).
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Hi Man, glad to see you posting in here.

    Ok so there is a lot of different subjects i could cover here, but I'm going to try and keep this focused so as to help you out as much as i can.

    So the first thing is that you are currently at the stage in your development is that you need to work on getting your eye in. As in you need to learn how to objectively see what the differences between your art and a professionals are. Probably the easiest way is to choose an illustration as a quality benchmark, and have it open next to your painting.

    When you have something to compare it to suddenly self criticism becomes a lot easier.

    jeGrgZI.png
    http://sixmorevodka.com/portfolio/#/illustration/misc-2

    But keep in mind this is for a quality benchmark, not as direct reference for your image. Though it does help to try and utilize the same rendering style as the benchmark image.


    Designs! These are solid designs with very particular details, but you messed up the proportions and designs. It would be more excusable if these were your own design, but as it stands there isn't too much of an excuse for going off model like this.

    Pay attention to the design. It's fucking awesome http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130410235559/starcraft/images/0/04/Mutalisk_SC2_Art1.jpg

    The Original Valkyrie kind of sucks though, however the Valkyrie wasn't a 1 person craft and the scales for it are off. I would probably try and incorporate SC2 designs in to make it a bit more interesting though.
    http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100811030715/starcraft/images/8/85/Valkyrie_SC1_Art1.jpg




    Construction and perspective, they are very rough at the moment, and you really need to focus on that. It is the most fundamental skill in drawing, and you absolutely need a super strong grasp of perspective. You need to tackle this on a small study level, or applying it to a scene such as this will kick your ass over and over again. I'd recommend checking out the drawing material from scott robertson if you want a technical approach to perspective.




    The last thing is rendering and light. As a general rule keep your lighting setups stupidly simple. Even the best of the best use simple lighting setups where they can. And it doesn't get much simpler than sun light. Work out where the sun is and shade everything according to that. Don't be afraid to leave the values of everything in shadow as completely flat.

    For lighting practice i recommend doing hard block in value studies. Which is where you try and copy reference but instead of using gradients, you just choose 2-3 values forcing you to use hard lines and actually understand the forms you are rendering. When you take this to imaginary work it will help you wrap your head around lighting and make it a lot easier. I'd cover texture but i think you need to nail lighting before we can touch that.
  • MagicSugar
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    MagicSugar polycounter lvl 9
    Thank you for your feedback Muzz! I'm keeping an open mind to all crits of this piece so your suggestions and pointers to areas to focus on are appreciated.

    Here's my feedback to your first concept. I skipped reading posts after it and your edits so I can give you my unbiased feedback.

    First read, I note the sketchy quality of the concept. Not necessarily a bad or good thing, but not "marketing art" quality off the bat. It's like production quality. Know what I'm saying.

    I didn't see context for the character in your initial presentation post so her face strikes me as comedic type of character (instead of a lead or hero type). Kinda male-ish features. Anatomy overall I'm okay. Her legs make her (to me at least) tomboyish.

    Rendering style I'm generally okay, just my impression that it's more production quality than for promotional or splash screen level of art. Again, not a bad or good judgement call.

    Only thing I'm not sure off is why the bot arms are rendered flat than the rest of the character. There's shading but first read, it's too subtle and looks flat or unfinished.

    There you go, my honest feedback. Thanks too for starting this thread.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Lets not see this thread die! I want to see more people posting in here.

    I'm currently working on the next iteration, which is a total redraw, but I'm heavily iterating and working at it to improve on what I've done. So it might be a few days before I'm ready to post again.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Rn6NVJt.jpg

    Making solid progress i think... Really trying to focus on the face, make it more attractive. I'm really shooting for illustration quality for this, using it as an excuse for working on the rendering. I've tried to incorporate as much feedback as possible here.
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    The redraw definitely feels tighter, though to be honest I'm having a hard time reading her expression. Any chance we could get some color on her kicks to tie them into the rest of the piece? Right now they feel a little divorced.

    I'm always asking to to add color on shoes...
  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycounter lvl 8
    I think you may want to consider scaling down her head (just the whole thing) a little bit. Not a lot, maybe 10-20%. I'm sure if you did a mental headcount it would probably be ok as it is now, but I think if you try it smaller you may find it reads better.

    I think the new pose is a lot more natural, though part of me agrees with Stinkhorse that I'm having a difficult time reading what exactly her expression is. ...actually, if you do decide to try scaling the head - perhaps flip it (horizontally), as well? I feel like that may flow with the pose better.

    Much prefer the new arm designs, good work there, Muzz. :thumbup:
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 4
    Muzz, I'm stoked to see this progress, and you're doing great.
    For me, just one thing is sticking out on the face, and it's that her nose is quite squished back onto her face? It's very small and flat, I feel like for all her freckle-y charm she should have something a bit "cuter" and pointed-- but at the very least it should be protruding more, because right now it just reads as too small.

    Also, agree with Stinkhorse and Two Listen.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Thanks guys! I pushed it a lot further, and fixed little construction issues on the head. I think this needs another good few hours trying to finish it up. it's taking soooo long as i need to consciously break old habits, this is feeling really unatural but in a good way.

    I need to make a solid pass on the hair and knock that out of the ball park and make sure i don't neglect the hands and feed at i usually loose steam by that point and botch them up.

    I think I've addressed everything in this thread as best as i can.

    uzWizdJ.jpg
  • perfectpencil
    Couple of things pop up to me right off the bat.

    1) Her expression is fairly ambiguous. It could mean almost anything, and as a result means pretty much nothing. There is no distinct emotion here and it would require refinement to express something specific. The heads position combined with the direction she is looking could be seductive, but her brows and gawking mouth don't follow along. If you simple close her lips it becomes a tentative stare which can elude to some kind of action in this scene. Is she being followed? Is she eyeing someone she doesn't like? There is story and depth then. You have to pick a direction to go and adjust as needed.

    2) What is she doing with her hands? Resting them on her lap? This isn't a "resting" pose for hands especially with her fingers being positioned in such a way as they are right now. it looks more like she is crunching a piece of paper in her hands angrily, or at the very least holding some kind of cylindrical object. This will also need to tie into what you do with the facial expression since what she is holding (or not) adds or subtracts from the overall storytelling you're attempting.

    3) And lastly, her legs look extremely uncomfortable. This is one of those things that is hard to explain but if you attempt to pose yourself in your chair like she is, you realize how awkward it is. The left foot floating slightly above the right is something she would need to strain to do as she is effectively attempting to float her leg above the ground. The left heel isn't touching the ground and that makes her pose over all feel tense. if you have a full body mirror at home pull a chair up to it and try to mimic her pose. Then try to find a "relaxed" pose that is similar to your girl and you'll see where each limb needs to be moved.

    Over all you need to look at how the body rests in a pose such as this and attempt to alter it to feel more relaxed. Your girl is sitting on a bench, after all. Most people do this while relaxing, not flexing!

    Good luck! :)
  • Makkon
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    Makkon greentooth
    I'm not the best at articulating my thoughts verbally most of the time, so I drew some pictures to hopefully explain what I'm thinking. Overall, I don't think you have developed the character enough to do a full illustration of her yet. You need to figure her out more before you go for a finished render.
    10-16-2014_sketches.png
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Thanks man! That is an awesome sheet. I think again this stuff if all things I'm aware of, but I think if anything this is proving that i still have a long way and you can always improve every aspect of it all. I don't know if i have the energy to be able to transfer all this information into the current drawing, I might have to give it a few weeks for this idea then come back and try and fix these issues. So I'm going to finish the drawing as best as i can for now though.

    Perfect, Thanks for the crits man. Definitely things that i need to keep an eye on.

    I think that I want to write up a post mortem of my experience with this thread so far. It's only been one image, but having the rule set of not being able to receive praise for the work is both the most brutal way and most effective way of pushing improvement I have ever experienced.

    I have kind of stagnated for the last few years, working on my knowledge and technical skillset to a point where my actual work doesn't match what i should be able to produce, or at last as far as i can tell. There is of course a ton more for me to learn, so this has been a breath of fresh air, and it reminds me a lot of what the critique section of concept-art.org used to be, and what eat-poo and Sijun were before that.

    I think that this thread idea has a lot to offer people, but it does mean that you are opening yourself for intense scrutiny, which is very very confronting. I had to set myself a rule of not trying to argue and instead try and implement feedback from everyone who said something, no matter how small or large the feedback was. It's hard, and while i still have a long way to go, i am super proud of how much progress i made in a week from the first version.

    So I want to say thank you to everyone that posted in here. My ego is a bit bruised, but it's still intact and can't wait to get to implement everything I've gotten in here.

    I might hold off posting my next project in here, as most of the feedback in here directly applies to what I'm doing next, but I'm hoping to see other people posting in here and trying to grow.
  • Francois_K
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    Francois_K polycounter lvl 4
    shitmybadi'msostupidplsdelete
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    Wow Makkon that was an awesome suggestion sheet. I'm really thinking I need to submit to this thread but I don't have anything to a point where it's ready to be burn down just yet. SOON!
  • BagelHero
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    BagelHero polycounter lvl 4
    Makkon, that's... a really nice sheet. Good job on that. I might post something in here when I have a 2D project I'm dedicating time to again.
  • Makkon
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    Makkon greentooth
    Thanks guys! I enjoyed drawing that all up. I think I might post something for critique too, when I have something I'm working on.
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 12
    Makkonz: I'd love to see a video of how you break down and compose the human figure
  • Andrew F Productions
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    Andrew F Productions polycounter lvl 3
    My best piece so far, where am I still going wrong?

    5bIGKkY.jpg
  • morr
    Hi,

    Here is a link for my recent character concepts, I would like to know if I can get a job as a concept artist with that kind of art? Also what are things I need to improve?

    Thanks!

    http://pavelmorr.deviantart.com/art/character-concept-art-489101027?ga_submit_new=10%253A1413589506
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Hi Andrew!

    You still seem fairly early on in your painting journey so I'm going to focus on the things that are effective, as it wouldn't be helpful to you to cover everything. The style of feedback here in this thread is probably most effective to people who have a good grasp of all their fundamentals and are looking for ways to push themselves to that next level, so there is only so much you'll be able to get out of this at this stage, as you have such a wide array of things you need to sit down to study.

    The first thing is that there is a certain level of care you need to put into every part of the image. Looking around the image there is not a single part of it i would consider polished. There is messy blending, inconsistent lighting and weird shapes. That's not to say it's a bad attempt, but one of the first steps to improving is to realize that everything you do in an image is under your direct control.

    Every line, every mark, every bit of texture down to the pixel is under your control.

    UpFQ3pB.png

    This isn't my image, but the breakdown to the right is exactly how i would structure studies.

    I think the first thing i want to see if you doing some lighting studies rendering primitives, such as boxes, spheres, cylinders and do it perfectly. Try and get them to a level where they look like a 3d rendering. If you can pull that off it will be a massive step forward in your rendering skills.

    Hope that is what you wanted :).

    Good luck!
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Just wanted to thank you Makkon for that feedback sheet. It covers a lot of what we talked about earlier ... but showing it in pictures like that is about 100% more effective :) Could you tell us a little bit about how you tackled it ? The way you drew it seems loose and effortless at first sight but I would think that you actually spent quite a bit of time on it, right ?

    [edit]
    Just for the sake of clarity I thought I'd be a little more precise in my question, as there are actually two aspects about it that impress me. The first is the overall quality of the imagery, from the accuracy of her morphology to the subtle variations of her facial expressions. Is that a character type you were familiar with coming from another project ? You seem to know that archetype very well, so I'd love to hear more about that.

    The second one is the loose and light nature of your strokes. After years of failed attempts I personally came to the conclusion that I was unable to get this kind of light freehand strokes out of a digital medium without a lot of underdrawing and/or erasing (a tablet requiring a very tight claw grip for precise control and a Cintiq being way too clumsy and imprecise for fast yet accurate sketching). However a traditional pen and paper approach has a flow and weightless feel to it that makes this kind of mark-making very instinctive and immediate for me. In other words, I am a bit frustrated that something so easy to do on paper is so hard to do on the computer.

    Could you tell us a bit more about how you achieved that, and do you have any advice in that regard ? The only viable solution I found is to scan sketches to finish them up digitally later, but it always felt like a waste of precious time :/
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    I'm here to second everything Pior just said.
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    Ok it's time for me to step up. These guys are in a rough sketch stage, but one of the things I've been wrestling with for FOREVER is perspective. I kludge my way through it and I go back and make a lot of adjustments to bring things into line but I have a feeling like I really know what I'm doing with it. I just get things to a point where the suck is at an acceptable level and move on. Any advice?

    iaVohsI.jpg
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 12
    pior wrote: »
    After years of failed attempts I personally came to the conclusion that I was unable to get this kind of light freehand strokes out of a digital medium without a lot of underdrawing and/or erasing (a tablet requiring a very tight claw grip for precise control and a Cintiq being way too clumsy and imprecise for fast yet accurate sketching). However a traditional pen and paper approach has a flow and weightless feel to it that makes this kind of mark-making very instinctive and immediate for me. In other words, I am a bit frustrated that something so easy to do on paper is so hard to do on the computer.

    I have the exact same situation. Drawing freehand is 100 times easier for me traditionally, both in terms of quantity (faster) and quality (linework). I've always envied "those artists" who can just make swooshy lines digitally, it just doesn't come naturally to me. From my experience, it takes a certain mindset which focuses on volumetric feel and rythm, rather than the linear, point a to point b approach I'm used to. Dunno if that helps.

    I have to point out that Lazy Nezumi has helped me *tremendously* but only to a certain extent.
  • shotgun
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    shotgun polycounter lvl 12
    Stinkhorse wrote: »
    Ok it's time for me to step up. These guys are in a rough sketch stage, but one of the things I've been wrestling with for FOREVER is perspective. I kludge my way through it and I go back and make a lot of adjustments to bring things into line but I have a feeling like I really know what I'm doing with it. I just get things to a point where the suck is at an acceptable level and move on. Any advice?

    First of all, I think your perspective is fine. You've got some angles inconsistent but the volumes are there so I think it's cool. Consistent perspective is critical for environments or extreme perspective, which is basically the same. Close-up objects like characters n stuff r more forgiving, imo.

    To push it higher i'd suggest placing ur floor grid and 'ceiling grid' first, with another 1 or 2 horizontal slices in-between, just to separate ur larger masses (feet-legs-tors-head). As side-excercises, 2 things:
    - Lay out a 2-perspective grid and "model" stuff over it. Buildings n shit. That would imprint this type of 3d-grid thinking into ur head and internalize the process. I assume you wonna grid-it-out freestyle, eventually.
    - Design a relatively simple 3d object, like an extruded button (of clothes, with 4 small holes in it) or anything u can design easily from primitive shapes/forms, and draw it from various angles. This is on-the-phone-doodle kinda stuff u can do as exercise daily
  • Makkon
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    Makkon greentooth
    Shotgun: I'll see what I can do, man! I've never made a video tutorial before, I am a bit terrified of trying.

    Pior: I'm seriously flattered! Thanks, man!

    For how I get smooth lines, I'm digging for an explanation where I don't have one. It's hard for me to articulate how I do something when I've never thought about it before. But I can maybe tell you how I arrived at how I work.

    From my perspective I still feel like my lines are very scratchy. And after looking at your portfolio, I'd say you're already there too. I do think that line weight is important and can improve the overall quality of a piece. Little splotches of thicker lines give more information to the piece. It's a habit I picked up after working with brushpens; little cast shadows in places, thicker lines where some shapes converge.

    Also, I hate to say that one of those things is hardware related, but I suspect that it is. A while back I bought an Art Pen for my Intuos4.
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Wacom-KP701E-INTUOS4-Art-Pen/dp/B002BH4Q0A"]Amazon.com: INTUOS4 Art Pen: Electronics[/ame]
    I really have no idea what additional features it offers, but it does seem to get smoother lines. I used the solid black, thick nib that it comes with. Ironically, I like that it eliminates any friction on the tablet surface. Another preference I picked up from using brush pens; they don't depend on surface friction but do depend on angle, direction, and pressure. Drawing digitally has felt about the same for me, minus the stress of making a mistake.

    On a related note, I don't use the eraser nib on my stylus, I just hit E to erase. And I do lot of erasing from laying down structure. It's a small thing, and I'm sure you don't use it either, but in case you do it makes a difference.

    As for getting the loose and free flowing results that I get, I'm not sure if I can really describe that. It doesn't feel like something that I have arrived at. If you take a close look at my drawings, it's still a little scratchy in places. I go over a lot of my lines a lot. But I do make certain that the lines that matter are clear.
    For reference, each figure on that sheet took maybe 10 mins. But I do a lot of figure drawing, digitally, just so that I can get used to it. It's so awkward at first, but when you get the hang of it after maybe 3 sessions you'll feel a lot better about your digital lines.


    I recently gave out my sketching brushes. They've made a difference for me, and they might for you. I use all of my brushes at 100% opacity and 15-25% flow. These brushes will not get the same results if you use 100% flow.
    http://tmblr.co/ZrZZpw1RRUxt3
    Give them a whirl, they feel pretty smooth.


    I'll give it some serious thought the next few days, but I really feel like you have the lines down but, like me, you only see the flaws and remember the frustration. It takes a lot of brute force to get it down.
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Ok Stinkhorse! While i agree with shotgun for the most part, i will have to say i think that there is something happening here that points to a first cause issue.

    I've been helping out quite a few beginners and other artists with some personal mentoring, and one thing i came to the realization of is that there is a difference between drawing perspective, and actually feeling like you are in the illusion of perspective when drawing.

    That might sound weird, but when I'm drawing it feels like my pencil/brush is going into the canvas and is moving around in a 3d space. I also know what it feels like when you aren't in the illusion and suddenly the drawings feel loose and they don't have that solid weighty feel that we aim for.

    I think for me that i can force this illusion with just a few brush strokes on the canvas. Nowadays i draw a cross, and another line to define the lens type.

    7taHbFp.png

    Just like that. From there you can practice drawing cubes and cylinders and the like and make a serious attempt to feel like they are in the same space. But you need to viscerally feel like things are actually there, like you can reach out and touch them.

    Ly3V6Zq.png

    I don't know if this sounds crazy, but it's how it works for me and it seemed to help other people I've talked to.
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Muzz : this is excellent advice, and I think it applies all the more to digital art because, by its very nature, a blank photoshop document doesn't have a intrinsically limiting frame : no visual structure, no boundaries, no ... space. I feel like placing an axis like this is indeed an excellent way of bypassing the problem. Great stuff, I'll have to try this asap.

    Makkon : thank you so much for taking the time to reply in such an in-depth manner. Here are my thoughts on a few points.

    - On smooth lines : this is actually an aspect that I am not too concerned with, as I personally like it when lineart has a certain roughness and sharpness to it. Still, hardware and software definitely play a crucial role in accurate mark-making tool responsiveness, no doubt about it. I spent countless hours over the years testing various drivers and settings to make sure that the tracking on my 21UX is as accurate as possible, and I also developed my own limited set of go-to brushes for lineart and rendering (thanks for sharing yours by the way ! Interesting stuff ...). And yeah, I am not using the erasing tip either :)

    - Something in your reply stood out to me and I feel like it is at the core of what I am looking for. Quoting you :
    I go over a lot of my lines a lot.
    [...]
    It's so awkward at first
    [...]
    It takes a lot of brute force to get it down.

    That's precisely the issue that I am facing. After spending more or less an equal amount of time practicing both digital and traditional art, I still feel like I need to use brute force in order to get something satisfying from Photoshop sketching. Whereas doing a similar sketch on paper is a totally different story - a simple fun and liberating feeling. Here are some recent examples. Feel free to critique harshly, in the spirit of the thread !

    20141019-honestfeedback001_zpse1b1c569.jpg~original

    Leftmost was done a moment ago, and I spent about 10 minutes on it. Very little erasing - just laying down the figure from memory as best as I could. I find this sketch to be extremely heavy-handed, lacking gesture and energy, and pretty bad in terms of stroke economy. Of course I could always go over it again, making a new layer and cleaning it all up but this would defeat the purpose of being loose and spontaneous. I would self-rate it as follows :
    Final image : 4/10 ; enjoyment : poor ; frustration : high.

    The middle one was made a few days ago, with a brush pen. About 10 minutes too, and no way to scribble or erase since it is straight ink. There are of course a lot of issues with this little sketch (perspective and proportions being off ...) but overall it was much more effortless to do, and the result itself is more fluid.
    Final image : 6/10 ; enjoyment : high ; frustration : little to none.

    The rightmost one is a fast study from a live model done last week. Very fast stuff (I like to make a few slightly different drawings of the same pose rather than just doing only one), and fun as hell to do.
    Final image : not sure if it's any good, but I like it ! ; enjoyment : very high ; frustration : none whatsoever.

    This basically sums up my issue with digital lineart sketching : for some odd reason, I seem unable to translate what I learnt from traditional practice over the years to this medium :/ Of course it is always possible to grind over an image multiple times to eventually make it work and make it appear as it was loose and spontaneous from the beginning ... but this somehow defeats the purpose of having a great time while sketching !

    Any suggestions on this matter would be greatly appreciated :)

    Stinkhorse : these little guys are awesome ! As far as sketching goes I think that there is not much to criticize really - they look like very good fondation sketches to be later developed into a nice colorful rendered model sheet. Very cool stuff !
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Hmm, that's all very interesting Pior.

    This is something that i have also been struggling a lot with recently, but kind of for a different reason. I've started getting more into trying to do high resolution key framed animation, and for the life of me I've attempted to find examples of things animated 100% digitally that can compete with paper, and probably the best examples are disneys cintiq animated films. The princess and the Frog and the short "How to hook up your home theater"

    But these are both done on cintiq's and from talking with a lot of artists who use them they say they are a lot better for lines than a normal tablet, though painting on a cintiq is generally worse.

    In the end it is the Japanese animation industry that gave me the conclusion that high quality animation is just faster and more economical to do traditionally due to the extra accuracy the artist gets working on paper.
    Japanese animation is usually ALL about dropping the costs of production and i am skeptical they would be on paper still if it wasn't actually superior. I just point to the fact that the Japanese use all A4 paper so they can use off the shelf office gear rather than custom gear, and their light boxes tend to be just a perspex hole in the table.

    Doing this sort of keyframe animation just isn't economical digitally. http://www.catsuka.com/gengal/artworks/killlakill

    a08_05.jpg


    But what does this mean for sketching digitally? While Makkon is showing it's certainly possible, I would point to his very high draftmanship level as the reason why he makes it look so natural. However good he is digitally he is actually better on paper(Imo). This is from way back in 2008. (Makkon, hope you don't mind me dragging up old work, it's still one of my favorite drawings of yours.) I'm not sure that this means that sketching digitally is worse, though it is fundamentally different.

    sketchexcangemak1.jpg

    With your drawings the main thing I'm noticing is that there is no hand wobble in any of your strokes in the digital, while it's everywhere on the brush-pen drawing and that leads me to believe that you are going too fast making each mark on the canvas.

    Where with the brushpen you used one stroke, digitally you used three. I've had great results slowing down and welcoming hand jitter and wobble, and making sure that the curves I'm laying down all feel more natural.

    This is some random sketches i did the other day, hopefully you can see what I'm talking about, even if I'm not at the same level as others.

    I'm using Makkon's half flat brush, with a key difference where i put roundness jitter on pen pressure, which is a trick to give you a much nicer pressure curve to a brush in PS. http://i.imgur.com/iSxRhPG.png

    XnwbFzV.png

    Anyway, that was a long post.
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Long posts are good ! No worries :)

    I am fascinated by anime layout sheets too. They have an intrinsic elegance to them - stroke economy pushed to the maximum, yet highly descriptive since the color codes are needed for animators and inbetweeners. Great stuff ! Now I need to catch up on KillLaKill :D

    Here's another 10 mins test - same subject matter (hypothetical Capcom-style swimming game ? Hell yeah !), using your grid/space technique. It's getting a bit better, but still far from the loose feeling I'd love to achieve. What frustrates me is that while I am actually quite happy with the number of the strokes being laid down on the canvas and their velocity, I just cannot look past the fact that there seem to be no way to make them look lively, so to speak. It's almost as if I would like it better if I could tell Photoshop to just re-draw the whole thing, but with another lighter and more springy brush instead. I am not giving up tho !

    20141019-honestfeedback002small_zpsdb60ab7d.jpg~original
  • Two Listen
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    Two Listen polycounter lvl 8
    pior - I hesitate to throw anything in the way of harsh feedback at you, as you were making great art before I even began to get real serious about digital work, but I agree with your assessment of your own drawings, I think I'd rate them similarly. I don't think it's a problem with a simple answer, so I'm not going to try and give you one, I'm just going to ramble off (and I mean, really ramble off) some things I'm thinking related to your issue.

    I'm curious - while you're working digitally - why are you not working looser, sooner? I won't pretend to have a good grasp of effective stroke economy or anything of that nature, but from your descriptions and the results, it seems like you're seeking accuracy in fairly bold, solid forms from the beginning. A loose, energetic drawing to me is essentially what you posted as a 3 minute pencil sketch - not necessarily defined or accurate from the beginning, some elements may merely be suggested (hands) if that's what it takes to keep the flow going.

    I also struggle to get the same loose confidence in my linework working digitally, though I utterly adore a traditional pencil for the same thing. I haven't pursued making it work digitally to any significant extent (I don't mind taking an extra couple minutes to scan something in), but in the experiments I did do, I found the digital limitations to be more a matter of...feedback. More distractions (more options), but less actual feedback. Working traditionally, the feel of the pencil, the slight variations in fibers of the paper, perhaps holding my notebook - everything about the process gives me feedback - physical feedback, and I think all those subtle stimuli help establish my ability to do physical things (drawing) myself - just gives my brain more signals to keep the flow going, or something.

    Have you tried implementing anything into your attempts that might help give you more of the stimuli you might be used to having when working traditionally? - A lightly textured background to sketch over, instead of just a blank, solid colored canvas? For me doing that sometimes seems like it just helps my brain fire things off easier, not just lines in the void - lines on something. I also notice your digital work seems to be composed of more strokes than your 3 minute sketch, seemingly out of concern for accuracy. Your traditional 3 minute sketch appears to have some really long strokes - one for what looks like an entire hand/part of an arm? Have you tried using longer, more abstract/suggestive strokes digitally - even if you're not confident they will be "accurate", it may help things feel like they flow a bit better.

    I would be surprised if any of that is helpful to you, but those are things I've all gone over/considered related to the same problem.

    Edit: Looks like you folks ninja'd in while I was taking my time writing this, but it looks like most of it might still be relevant.
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    Wow thanks so much guys! I'm gonna be dropping down that angled framing cross in my next pieces for def!

    Pior: I know what you mean in regards to the stiffness of the digital medium. These days I'm drawing on a Surface Pro 2 and the real estate is super limited and I can't bring a lot of elbow to anything I'm doing. I think a lot of what's lost between analog and digital work is a combination of the absolute authority over pressure that your hand feels in real space, vs the interpretive nature of the program, and the ability to rotate the pencil a touch to utilize the various physicalities of the graphite tip. A stylus is a blunt instrument while a pencil is a living thing that changes shape over the course of the drawing. You can use the point, the sharp edge, or the flat underside to immediately shift the nature of what you're putting down on the paper. Combine those things with the friction grit of the paper, and as much room as you have to swing your arm, and paper leaves you in a better place every time.

    I've recently started working in Manga Studio and it's brush engine is really everything everyone has been saying it is. The stroke-in never blobs up and I can exit a stroke on a hairline. I combined that with Frenden's Super Brush Set, though really I could have done with his pencils collection and been just fine seeing as I havent moved on from the blue sketch pencil since I got them. It's not a complete replacement for pencils and paper but it's closer than I've seen yet.
  • Daew
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    Daew polycounter lvl 4
    Not very constructive but thank you for all those who contributed to this thread, the advice is so indepth and I have a lot to read up :D, good initiative Muzz ^^
  • nakarts
    Hi my name is Naka I'm an artist/Illustrator based in Dubai.. I'm new here in polycount and also this is my first ever forum site I joined.. So Hi... this is my latest piece "Centaur Chic" and I would like to request some crits and advice so I can improve more and correct my mistakes. thanks and hope to here from you guys...?type=1&theater
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Daew, glad you are getting something out of this. Threads like these are the entire reason i hang around forums.

    Pior have you ever seen this video? I think Marko's explanation here is quite applicable. [ame=" djurdjevic and line quality - YouTube[/ame]

    Anyhow all this is causing me to try and push what I'm doing as well. So i ended up doing a sketch based on yours Pior, because I really love the idea of a capcom swimming game. Not sure about playing it, but is sounds visually amazing.

    erHMlhd.png
  • pior
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    pior ngon master
    Two Listen : Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it ! And rambling is good :)

    You are hitting the nail on the head. In the previously posted sketches I just couldn't find a way to loosen up, which I think was mostly due to me not being able to recreate the feel of working traditionally. And of course from there, frustration piles up. Feedback is indeed at the core of it, and I spent a good part of today thinking about it (on top of that I just happened to be watching some videos about UI/UX design too - a field where proper, instantaneous feedback is paramount). More on that in a bit.

    About long strokes : this I think is a consequence of the above. On the rightmost sketch posted earlier (life drawing) you might notice a faint vertical smudge, barely visible. This is actually my main weight line used for construction, done with a charcoal rubbing. Only once I have this stroke established can I build things around it loosely. I now understand that this is what I was missing out on with my digital scribbles.

    Stinkhorse : yeah man - space perception, friction, pen tip qualities, smell even (!), all that contributes to an inclusive experience and makes a world of difference. I need to reinstall Manga Studio one of these days, its brush engine is indeed fantastic ...

    Muzz : great stuff man ! The Djurdevic video is very interesting, as usual. It could probably be argued that part of the confidence on display when doing the second sketch probably comes from him sketching the first one earlier on ... But still, a very valid point. And man, your take on the swimming game is a perfect fit :) Awesome stuff !


    With that being said, on with round #3. I tried to incorporate all the suggestions made earlier (with the exception of a using noisy background layer, which is something I actually tried in the past but not today), and also did some more experiments. Going back to what TL mentioned, I realized that my frustration might not be coming from the eventual shortcomings of a finished illustration, but by the awkward feedback loops happening during the physical act of sketching digitally. No matter how well-designed a brush is, I tend to have a weird repulsive response when the visual effect being created on screen does not match what I feel in my hand. For instance, I never quite liked the advanced conceptart.org kind of brushes simulating all types of textures and painterly effects, because at the end of the day I am not actually holding a wide square paintbrush, or a spray can, or a stick of charcoal - but a mere plastic stylus with a 1mm wide tip. Does Not Compute.

    So I attempted a little brain hack. I have a finely textured screen protector that I sometimes put on top of the Cintiq surface to add a little bit of teeth to drawing area, so I popped that back on. But most importantly ... I wrapped my stylus in thick tissue paper. Lo and behold, Makkon's big soft grainy brush now feels exactly like it should, and I have been able to use it for loose construction landmarks. Like this :

    [ame=" rub - Cintiq brain hack - YouTube[/ame]

    These 30 seconds of rubbing were the most fun I ever had using the Cintiq ! It felt physically involved, which is always my favorite part in any creative process. It was then possible to lightly construct pencil lines around this base, and everything went much smoother than ever from there. The end result is still a little stiff, but I think this is headed in the right direction. I also had a page of Google image results open on the side for reference, which certainly makes a world of difference too. Let me know what you think ! The game is now called Power Stroke :D

    20141019-honestfeedback003-small_zps765d548b.jpg~original

    Thank you guys for taking the time to write such in-depth replies and critiques. And sorry for another wall of text ! <3


    Naka : unfortunately your image doesn't show up. You might want to upload it to a place like Imgur or Photobucket so that you can then link it for us to see. Let us know if you need any help with that.
  • Isaiah Sherman
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    Isaiah Sherman polycounter lvl 9
    This thread is great! Awesome idea to have a singular area to get some strong constructive feedback.
  • Stinkhorse
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    Stinkhorse polycounter lvl 6
    Shotgun: Thanks for the suggestion of adding in a floor, it forced me to think of where this guy's feet are supposed to be.

    Muzz: The cross bar and thinking spatially are something I've never really thought about before. I mean there were moments where I'd consider forms in space to adjust a character, but I've never thought about the space AROUND the character first. Once I had some floors down as a base it became REALLY clear just how off I was and I spent a few hours shoving the guy back into shape. Forcing a sense of form and space onto the canvas really changes how you approach it for the better.

    Pior: Thanks for the thumbs on my critters earlier, I didn't notice it until now. Keep us all updated on how that sketching technique is working for you. I'd be interested in picking up one of those textured transparency sheets. Got a name for the product I could look up?

    a8lPtYq.jpg
  • Muzzoid
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    Muzzoid polycounter lvl 8
    Yes!!!

    Man i got the biggest grin as soon as i saw the first version. That's a massive improvement, well done on buckling down and getting your hands dirty, I can't see a single thing that is out of perspective anymore and everything sits very naturally in space.

    Well Done.


    Pior:

    That is looking better!

    Really interesting how it seems to be a mental feedback thing. I had been drawing with a tablet long before i got serious with drawing on paper so the thought that there is this disconnect between painting/drawing and the implement didn't really cross my mind. Do you think that this is perhaps something that you will use more in the future, or is it more of a case of experimenting? Because it doesn't seem to be super practical wrapping your pen in tissue paper every time.

    Also thanks, It was fun drawing her. It's a really cool idea :).
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