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Learning/Improving Digital Painting (looking for critiques)

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CharlesL polycounter lvl 4
To give some background: I'm not an artist (yay for my silly programmer art :P), but I when I'm developing games, my lack of artistic skill is really starting to hold things back. I want to improve as much as possible in a few months, so I'll try to post a drawing/painting every week.

Critiques are welcome, whether they're related to technique, composition, anatomy or whatever else you guys think of (if you can link to a resource or reference, that would be extra awesome :)).

My first painting to kick it off:

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  • CharlesL
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    CharlesL polycounter lvl 4

    Actually super happy with this one. It has plenty of flaws, but it's the most satisfied I've been with a drawing in well over a year.

    • I can't figure out why the wrinkles look like garbage... will have to practice a bit more with those.
    • The eyes and hair definitely need work. All I did was draw the planes of the face (since that's all I really know). Will definitely have to work on that at some point, and the hair was kinda slapped on at the end.
    • The metal texture came out better than I was expecting, but it's still lacking.
    Next week, I'll probably start drawing with one or two colors, since the monochrome is getting old. As always, critiques are welcome :D 
  • CharlesL
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    CharlesL polycounter lvl 4
    Hrm... tried something with color. Definitely too dark, but I'm not really happy with the colors at all :(

    Gonna have to give it another shot next time.


  • RN
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    RN polycounter
    You're right, it is too dark. You need to use a larger range of values.
    If that's a full moon then it's supposed to be very bright.



    Here's some reading on lighting, might be useful:
    - http://www.itchy-animation.co.uk/light.htm
    - http://lowel.tiffen.com/edu/foundations_softlight.html

    Edit: Also, in case you're not sure if what you're working on is becoming "too dark" you can always consult a value histogram, most painting programs have these.
    This is how you interpret a histogram: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/histograms2.htm

    Here are two value histograms, the one at the top is from your original image, the one at the bottom is from that modification I posted:

    Now I realise that the modified version could've pushed the darks a bit more (the blank space to the left). But anyway, it uses more values than the original and that usually makes it a more interesting image to look at.
    Ideally you analyse these things when you're doing a thumbnail or rough version so it's easy to change your plans, not after you've finished the piece of course.
  • CharlesL
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    CharlesL polycounter lvl 4
    @RN, thanks for the links! Definitely will look into those.

    The modified image you made is a lot fuller in terms of the values, I can see how much of a difference the breadth of colors makes. Night lighting is hard :P

    I did pull out the histogram - only I did it after I'd practically completed the drawing, so I'll definitely start focusing more on the lighting in the thumbnail stage. I didn't consider that an important part before (since most of the in between colors aren't there yet), but I now see why you'd handle the lighting there. Thanks for the tips!
  • RN
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    RN polycounter
    Yeah @CharlesL it's a good way to try different ideas and be able to throw out what you don't like without guilt.
    Here are a couple of opinions on thumbnailing:





    The preliminary painting study is done to workout the color and lighting before committing to the larger final painting. I usually paint these studies as small as possible (1.5 inch x 2 inches) because it allows me to make quick revisions and try a variety of color and lighting scenarios. I typically spend about an hour on the studies, sometimes less if everything goes well. This step is mainly about color and lighting and not about details.
    Quote taken from this tutorial: http://www.dchiang.com/robota/studiotips/two/studiotips1.html
  • CharlesL
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    CharlesL polycounter lvl 4
    @RN cool, thanks for the video. I'll rough out a few thumbnails before I start my next painting and I'll post them too. Looked through some of the other videos on that channel, and they looked pretty good too, so I'll watch some of the ones on color as well :)
  • CharlesL
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    CharlesL polycounter lvl 4
    Ugly thumbs (but they did help me come up with a color scheme I liked):


    Final Drawing:
    • Pretty happy with the colors (they could still use some work though)
    • Not really liking the way the rocks turned out, but I wasn't really using a reference either :disappointed:
    • Grass turned out OK for not being rendered properly 
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