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McD Artwork- Crit needed (Some NSFW)

McDMcD Registered User regular
edited August 2011 in Artist's Corner
Hey, I posted some artwork here like... Months and months ago and then just completely disappeared. BUT, I got some really good feedback and ideas for stuff to focus on... My stuff hasn't improved a lot, mainly because I haven't been drawing and painting as much as I'd like, but I'd love to get some advice on where to go next.

This is the main image I'd like some crit on...

MaleDancer.jpg

This is the main image I'd like some crit on... I'm trying to take some tentative steps into digital painting, but I'm not too sure on where to start... I posted this last time:

ShaunOfTheDead.jpg

and the main thing that folk said was that I should try to not make things so muddy looking, which I'm trying for, but I'm not sure how to take it to the next stage... I'm focussing on greyscale just now because colour still seems like a pretty daunting prospect.

And some other things it'd be good to get an opinion on:

Falk.jpg

FuryRun.jpg

CooperRough.jpg

Mia04-2.jpg


Cheers!

McD

McD on

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    IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    I think your black and white portraits are a good start. The gray scale painting suffers from some unnecessary complexity. AOB makes some good points about it around the forums, I collected a bunch here
    http://art-anecdotally.blogspot.com/2010/12/kevin-oneill-part-1-painting-and-light.html
    (looks like blogger busted one of my images though)

    Also Here
    http://www.itchstudios.com/psg/art_tut.htm
    (most notably in the flatten and simplify section. but its all good info)

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    Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator Mod Emeritus
    I agree with Iruka about the full-tone ones being less successful than the black and white ones- but luckily, the skills at work with the black and white ones can be used to your advantage in when going to full tone.

    The big plus of just using 2 values is that you can focus on keeping everything simple and organized- either something is in the light, or it isn't- so you can spend your time and energy on just making those black and white shapes readable. I don't know what your process is, but the full tone ones feel like you may be trying to put in all the values at once, looking at each individual part, and trying to put in a tone for it- a really experienced painter may be able to do that, but for those just starting out it's easy to lose sight of how the value of each individual part will relate to everything else- it's just too complicated to keep track of in your head. This is why you may have gone into an area like the face, and you saw a bunch of shading transitions in the forehead and under the cheek and put darker values there- but when you zoom back out and look at the picture as a whole, you quickly see that those values that made sense at first are far too pronounced when compared to the rest of the picture.

    What I'd suggest is taking a step back and approaching it more like the black and white ones at first- just boiling the whole of the picture to shapes of light value and dark value. This keeps things simple, and makes sure you start off on the footing of your relative values being organized.

    Then, rather than diving into adding a bunch of values on top of that immediately, see how much you can get out of varying the edges between those two shapes- introducing soft transitions, firmer transitions, and hard transitions between those values in order to get a sense of form. Sticking to two values and some good work with edges can get you a long way.

    After that, you can introduce more values, treating it the same way- deliberate shapes, with judicious application of edges. Using this approach, it's much easier to keep track of what's going on across the painting as a whole- plus it quickly becomes apparent that often you really don't need to stress out about slamming a bunch of detail in there to get a good effect, either.

    Paintover example- 2 values on the top row, 3 values on the second (putting it up against the photo reveals some drawing errors in there, but one thing at a time, eh?):
    McD.jpg

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    That's fantastic advice guys, thanks very much! I'm gonna have a go at approaching another piece trying to use some of the techniques you guys talked talked about.

    Iruka, thanks a lot for the links, I've only quickly looked over them so far, but they look like a wicked resource, looking forward to reading through them in more depth.

    AOB, you're spot on with how I approached it in terms of focussing on one area at a time... Definitely something to work on. That paintover was a huge help for me to see exactly where I've been going wrong, so it's much appreciated!

    I think I'll start a fresh piece and post my progress as I go. It'd be excellent to get feedback on something from the beginning, rather than starting this one over from scratch. Cheers again guys! Really appreciate it.

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    So, here's the new piece that I've started:

    GirlOnChair.jpg

    There's some problems with the proportions that I'm obviously going to work into and try to fix, but if any feedback would be great. Also, if it's not too much bother @Angel_of_Bacon, how do you start introducing those softer transitions? Do you use variations in the flow or opacity or a combination of both to get the best results?

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    Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator Mod Emeritus
    I usually just use a standard brush with shape and opacity mapped to pen pressure, and then vary the hardness slider to give me a softer/harder brushes as needed (I leave the brushes window open at all times for this reason).

    Whenever possible it's preferable to keep the brush as large and as opaque as you can get away with for each individual stroke- unlike with physical media, putting down lots of little strokes won't smudge out and blend together nicely, and you can easily wind up spending a lot of time and energy trying to blend together all these little strokes, when you could get a better effect with a few well-placed, high opacity strokes that create nice and clean transitions right out of the gate. Which isn't to say low-opacity strokes shouldn't be used, just that they should be used when you can't get the effect you need with a high-opacity stroke, as opposed to using a build up of small low-opacity strokes as a general way of working simply because that's less committal strategy (something very common among beginning painters).

    Also if you have to power in a hard edge and it's difficult doing it with just the brush tool, or if you need to make a soft, broad stroke and need to keep it within a certain area, don't be afraid to use the lasso tool and paint up to the selection edge, or use masks; they're easy tricks, but they can go a long way towards keeping a clean look.

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Thanks again Bacon! That's good advice, I've been trying to stick to larger brush-strokes, but I still find myself resorting to the smaller stroke method... I guess I just need practice.

    Update!

    GirlOnChair02.jpg

    This is where it's at just now... Still early days and all that, needs a lot of work in terms of the shading, especially the shoulder; but if anything glaring stands out to folk, it'd be great to hear. I had a wee play about with different ways of working into the shadows and (if anyone's curious) I wound up just using a brush with just the opacity mapped to the pen pressure, rather than the size or anything for now.

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Yup, still on this! Saying that, I haven't really had much time to work on it with the way my job's been lately... It's getting there though, and I really feel like I'm learning a lot as I go. Again, if anyone has any pointers or advice that'd be great. Cheers!

    GirlOnChair03.jpg

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    ScosglenScosglen Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    It seems like you are struggling a lot with how to handle photoshop brushes. I might suggest a simpler object to make a study or two from until you can figure out a more sensible working method, before tackling something like full figures.

    If I'm seeing this correctly, I would not call your current approach terribly efficient. You'd be better served in the long run to get comfortable with picking the value you need and making the soft, painted stroke in one movement, rather than this two-step process of laying down a flat and pushing it around every time you want to introduce new values.




    Scosglen on
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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Yeah, I had a bash at just selecting the values, like in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHlEduMhraU but it was turning into a big mess... I probably gave up on it a bit too soon, so I reckon I'll give it another shot, probably on something simpler like you say. Once it's beyond just sketching, I don't have a lot of confidence when it comes to using photoshop, which doesn't help matters.

    At the moment I'm mapping the opacity to the pressure sensitivity and then alternating between the two values, but from what you're saying it sounds like I shouldn't be varying the opacity at all, really? AOB said to try and avoid using low opacity strokes as well, it makes sense to take the time to practice the selection method.

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    ScosglenScosglen Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Many people like to tweak their brushes so that they work somewhat like physical media. Which is to say, if you make a light, soft stroke on your tablet with a black brush on white background, you end up with a whispy light gray stroke, as opposed to making a really strong stroke and ending up with a big fat solid black stroke.

    Mostly people use flow or opacity set to be pressure sensitive to accomplish this. I will sometimes further manually turn down the opacity of a brush if I am doing something particularly delicate like washing in a value on top of something.

    So, no, I'm not saying that you should not vary opacity. You would be handicapping yourself if you did. You should be letting your wrist do most of the talking though, if that makes sense. AOB said to avoid using many niggly little low opacity strokes layered together because it can end up looking busy and messy-- claiming your planes with bold, opaque strokes makes for an easier read. Brush hardness is also very important to consider for getting things to read. Very seldom will you find it advantageous to lay down totally opaque strokes with a 100% hard stroke edge.

    Scosglen on
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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Ah, ok, I see. Well, if I understand what you mean, I think I'm doing that... Except badly... Maybe it's the fact that I'm not being bold or confident enough with it, I'm not sure. I'll take this piece on a bit closer to completion and move on to some quicker, less complex studies to try and work on my technique more specifically.

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    Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator Mod Emeritus
    Just to clear up any confusion, I don't think me and Scos are necessarily recommending wholly separate drawing techniques here- his point just being that putting down confident strokes with appropriate the brush hardness/pressure/value is generally going to be preferable to trying to futz around with small strokes, which I mentioned before.

    And you can see the futzing with your work- how comes there are so many strokes on the torso, butt, legs, etc. when these are all very smooth areas, and could be handled much more easily with a smaller number of strokes using large, soft brushes?

    The one spot we do diverge on (if I'm reading your posts correctly Scos, correct me if I'm wrong) is the idea of starting off with flat values with hard edges, then softening the edges as needed, as I demonstrated in my paintover, rather than putting down the correct edges at the same time as you're drawing in your values. Or to put it another way, if you look at my paintover, why start with something that looks like the second pic when you could go straight for the third, or the fourth, or the sixth or the seventh? And he's right- that's a more efficient way to do things, provided you have a good grasp on value and edge.

    The point of what I did, and why I suggested you work this way, wasn't to ingrain in you an inefficient and inflexible process for the rest of your life, but to slow you down to where you can think about shape, value, and edge and get a handle on each concept separately, before trying to tackle them all at once. It's necessarily inefficient as a drawing process, but at this point in your development, it's likely a quicker way to learn. Once a certain level of proficiency is attained in these concepts, you'll likely want to move on to trying to work on shape, value and edge all at once in a manner closer to how professionals would do it, but it would have been harder to get to that point if you had started out trying to use that methodology exclusively from the start.

    And as an educational concept, I think it's proving to be helpful- as the newer picture, even though it has issues, is still a big improvement over that first pic. The sticking point between what me and Scos are saying is just a difference of opinion on what's going to be the most effective way to go about learning these concepts- I think breaking them down a lot might be the most helpful, he's saying maybe it's better to bite off a little bit more to start. (Again, correct me if I've misunderstood your point, Scos). Who's right, only time will tell I guess.


    That said, moving on to the latest in the actual art work- you're overexaggerating some of those black values in the new version- the values on the side of the heel, the black spots on the back and shoulders- then you miss out darker spots like the shadow cast from the calf muscle on to the lower leg. Again, this is the result of focusing down and losing sight of how some minorly darker values relate to the overall value scheme you've established. There's no need to power in a new value on detail areas, when cafeful management of the shape and edge using already existing values will be more than adequate.

    (Also all this Photoshop talk is making me hanker for just using charcoal pencils to learn, because then more time and attention gets paid to what's important (drawing concepts), and less to all these Photoshop terms that you can learn and stress about without ever actually learning anything about drawing.)

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    ScosglenScosglen Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    To be fully honest, I only skimmed your first post Bacon and saw the paintover, and did not quite realize you were specifically advocating that technique.

    By all means, use whatever technique makes most sense. Bacon's demonstration is great regardless of if you use that technique or not because that process clearly demonstrates the thoughts behind each step. Far be it from me to discredit atelier style teaching methods, and I may have sounded more proscriptive than I ought to. It's just now how I work personally, which is all I can really speak to from experience, as I tend to take a far more from-the-gut approach rather than utilizing more mechanical, step by step processes.

    Scosglen on
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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Well, I've been thinking through what you guys were saying and I've been experimenting a little bit... AOB, I'm glad you think that there's at least an improvement between the two pieces, that's cool to know. In answer to your question about why I fart around with so many strokes on those smooth areas, I just have difficulty with getting a smooth transition between values. I've never been a very confident painter, even back in high school my art teacher would always shout "be bold!" because I would always use those small strokes and screw up the piece! My problem with trying to learn digital painting has been the same problem that I've always had whenever I've tried to learn up a new medium: I end up paralysing myself because I'm under the impression that there's only one correct way to work and if I'm not working that way then I'm going to screw the whole thing up. I know it might not be too evident in the work, but I am listening intently to everyone's advice and I'm very conscious of it when working. In that spirit, I've started another, much simpler, piece with the intention of focussing more on the issues that you guys have pointed out as being problem areas, thinking "be bold!" the whole time.

    AppleStudy01.jpg

    I don't know if this is an improvement or not, I feel like it's looking slightly more painterly at least, but it'd be cool to hear what people think! Looking at it now, I can spot so many problems... Especially in the highlights, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Thanks, guys!

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    kevindeekevindee Registered User regular
    McD, I think you'll be fine with a bit of practice, just judging from how you put values down. I think the biggest area you're being held back in now is just brush technique or control/practice. You said you're not super familiar with working digitally yet, and I understand - when I tried last year or so, I couldn't even grasp how to do it, and I still suck today.

    I did a super fast paintover of your study, which I hope might help:

    applestudy02.jpg

    I didn't touch anything, just took a round soft brush, colour picked the values you laid in and went over it (notice how I mesed up some hard edges, especially near the highlights). I didn't get to the bottom two apples. I think you'll feel some big changes if you try to force yourself to make longer, smooth strokes. I had (still do) the same problem where I'd think the brush worked like a pencil, and it would blend in. It always made everything come out muddy, and it's hard to stop doing it.

    For a start, maybe try doing something similar, and limit yourself only to a soft round brush, then again with a hard brush?

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Thanks for the encouragement Kev, I'm definitely still in that mindset of thinking I can blend things like traditional media, like AOB was saying and I need to get out of that. You're right about the brush technique and control as well... I know the effect I want, but just don't know how to achieve it most of the time... Maybe I need to check out some more tutorials or something as well as experimenting for myself.

    Thanks for the paintover as well, that stuff always helps to point out problems, not only in the technique but in the actual drawing as well. I'll work into it some more tonight and try to follow your advice. Cheers!

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    So here's the latest update:

    AppleStudy02.jpg

    I'm probably gonna work into it some more tomorrow to tidy up some of the problem areas and tighten things up, then probably move onto something else, just to stay fresh... Are there any issues that are really jumping out at folk? What kinda stuff's still going wrong? Also, I was thinking of maybe having a bash at trying a face or two next, would that be something worth doing, or should I keep with the still life work at this stage?

    Cheers!

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    This is probably the last piece of work I'm going to do on this one... After uploading it, I saw tons of little problems, the left apple looks a bit too dark and so does the top of the top apple, but I think it'd be more beneficial to move on to something fresh... Let us know what you think!

    AppleStudy03.jpg

    Cheers!

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    NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I think you're tending to greatly over-emphasize the subtle darker values in pieces...and to a lesser extent reflected light, as well. The apple is more accurate in terms of values than any other piece you've posted here.

    For example, on that last figure study...you've made the detail on her heel, and on her back and shoulder the same value as the shadow under her thigh...which - in your reference - is much, much darker than those other areas. Do you know about the technique where you blur your vision to better see value relationships? You should try that, and look back and forth between your drawing and your reference. Just doing that now, with that last figure study, it becomes really apparent where you went a little overboard with the shadows.

    NightDragon on
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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Yeah, I can see what you mean with the more subtle values... It's definitely something I need to work on, I'm so used to splitting things up into either light or dark that I have a tendency to exaggerate every little value shift. As for that previous figure study, there are a lot of areas that are definitely way too dark, but for most of those I was just marking in as a guide places where I felt I needed to go darker than I had already. Obviously I didn't get around to finishing it, so they're all still there... As Scos pointed out, it wasn't the most efficient way to do things, but it definitely helped to get my head in the right place! I still find myself having to do that slightly.

    Yup, I've been trying to squint as much as possible while I work to compare the piece to the reference. Lately I've just been throwing down a value that looks sort of right, then squinting, comparing and adjusting it accordingly. I've found this the best way to get more accurate results than what I've been getting on the other pieces.

    Anyway, here's the latest piece, trying to go for something with a bit more texture:

    Lemon.jpg

    Tried to experiment with some other brushes to get the waxy texture of the skin right...

    I've also started another portrait, just to get away from fruit, but it's still pretty rough. I need to work into it a bit more before I'm ready to get any feedback on it... But feel free to rip into the lemon!

    Cheers, guys!

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    So so, here's what I've been up to lately:

    Mia05.png

    It's not perfect, but I think it's an improvement... I'm starting to experiment with brushes a bit more, which is a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this one. Any thoughts are welcome, as per usual!

    Cheers, guys!

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Hey, back! I've been finding it really tough with my schedule at work to find the time to work on any of my personal projects, but here's what I'm working on just now:

    Cub1.png

    I could REALLY use some crit on this! I've been finding it so tough to get the fur to look right... I dunno how successful it is right now... Feel as though I've lost all objectivity on it... It's been great fun, but really challenging and something different. Does anyone have any specific approaches to fur or hair? Do you find certain kinds of brushes work better than others?

    I'm still shying away from colour just now, but plan to give that a bash with the next piece.

    Just to show the process this one's gone through thus far (it might also help to advise on anywhere I'm going wrong) I thought I'd post up the various phases:
    CubWIP7.png
    CubWIP6.png
    CubWIP5.png
    CubWIP4.png
    CubWIP3.png
    CubWIP2.png
    CubWIP1.png

    They're from earliest to latest, it might look like one or two of them are out of order, but that's because I kept restarting certain areas that i thought weren't working...

    Cheers!

    McD on
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    lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    One thing that comes to mind is that even though you think of fur as soft and fluffy, you can see that in your painting you are making the fur much blurrier than it appears in the photo, so I think you got carried away with the soft and fluffy feeling. For hair it seems to work better to think of it in large clumps of value. Now the fur has a lot more variation than typical hum hair, but you got a good start laying down discreet blocks of value. Instead of refining it by blurring it all together, you might have better luck just trying to indicate the direction of the fur with some well placed detail.

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Cheers very much for the advice, I think fur and hair is definitely something that needs work in my stuff in general... I asked a friend if he had any advice as well and he sent me this tutorial along, which seems to detail an approach similar to what you're recommending
    Hairtutorial.jpg

    I'm not sure who wrote it, so I can't credit it just now, but I'll try and find out. For now, here's pretty much the finished version of the cub, I know it's still suffering from the fuzziness problem, but it's one of those things where I feel like I'm going mad, I've been looking at it for so long! I'm also getting a bit anxious to start on a piece with colour... I tried something of the approach mentioned in the tutorial above on the body, but I don't know how noticeable it is:

    CubFinal.jpg

    Cheers!

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    McDMcD Registered User regular
    Yeah, it's been a while since I've posted anything up here... Every eight months seems to be a schedule I'm sticking to with depressing regularity... Although, I've still been doing some artwork and would really love some feedback on some of my more recent work. This is a real hotch-potch (hodge-podge?) of random pieces, some life drawing, an acrylic painting and some digital work, all in chronological order for the most part. The main pieces it would be cool to hear opinions on would be the Jonah Hex poster and the colour Avatar drawing... Specifically to do with the lighting and composition on, which are the two things I reckon I need to work on most, apart from the fact that the linework is a bit too angular as well.

    Thanks!

    EarlySitting.jpg

    EarlySitting2.jpg

    JesusEnsemble.jpg

    JesusReclining.jpg

    LyingDown.jpg

    TonalSitting.jpg

    Boxing.jpg

    WayneHexWithCreds.jpg

    aangsketch.jpg

    AvatarFight.jpg

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