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WIP Crit/Suggestions? I'm not Dead Yet (Updated)

garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
edited September 2012 in Artist's Corner
Hi, I've been lurking here for a little while now and wanted to get some input on a painting that I am planning to give to my mom for Christmas. One of my biggest problems is figuring out what to do with the background, right now I feel like it's kind of lacking. I plan to add some cookies to the plate, maybe add some sort of design to the tablecloth, and of course put a star on top of the tree. Any advice would be welcome, thanks.


Thanks farbekrieg, wasn't sure about the spoiler etiquette here.

garytheunicorn on


  • farbekriegfarbekrieg Registered User regular
    you can drop the spoilers in your own thread, people came here to look at your work :D

    the gifts look really 2 dimensional (due i guess to being perfectly square)
    and yes trees without stars look naked, why do you want nude trees!

  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    For quick things to make this better.

    Put the crumbs on a separate layer and lower the opacity. They're standing out too much.
    The rendered edges on the santa suit are too soft, throw in a few hard ones, particularly in the folds to give in more form and definition.

    Try boosting the contrast on the face, particularly adding more dark around the eyes. The values are too narrow here. Same goes for the table cloth.

    The embossing filter you're using on the belt isn't working, remove it. Short cuts always look like short cuts, so try to avoid them.

    Also try to strike more of a balance between the saturation of your baubles and the tree. At the moment the baubles are heavily saturated in comparison to the tree, you need to try to seat the baubles in the tree. So lowering the saturation a little on the balls and maybe boosting it a little on the tree will merge them together better.

    Hope that helps in the short term.

    Mustang on
  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Ugh the there is a story about those crumbs. Early on my psd file went corrupt and I needed to salvage it from a jpeg. I lost the layers separating the bear, the suit, and the crumbs. :-( However your criticism made me want to tackle that problem.

    Anyway I tried to implement as many of your suggestions as I could, I think the contrast around the eyes is much improved. I desaturated the baubles and saturated the tree, but I think I might have gone a bit too far, I guess I can tweak that forever and probably will.

    Oh and the belt, I didn't touch it yet. But I was wondering, did you mean the belt itself or the buckle? I kind of like the belt but think the buckle needs work. Either way I didn't actually use any filters on it, just a textured brush for the leathery part of it.

    Here's the latest Update:

  • NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    The softness of the bear juxtaposed with the sharpness of the ornaments and gifts is tearing my soul apart.....

  • NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    Also all your ornaments are sitting on the tree. They look pasted there. Try covering a few with branches here and there, and they won't look just slapped on.

  • earthwormadamearthwormadam ancient crust Registered User regular
    Also ornaments wrap around the tree, the way they are now it looks like the tree is a cardboard cut out, maybe try to give it some roundness? Kinda the same thing going on with a lot of the shapes, like the presents. They don't look like they're taking up 3D space, just flat 2D visual representations of the real thing.

    Might wanna get some darker darks in there too, everything looks kinda mid-tone-ish at the moment. Figure out where the light is coming from and darken the appropriate areas. Get some shadows under the plate and cup.

    The crumbs look better though!

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Thanks for the tip on the tree Zergling, how does it look now?

    I also spent a lot of time fiddling with the gifts trying to make them look three dimensional and maintain the patterns I was using but couldn't get it quite right. Anyone have any tips on how to do that properly or am I better off painting the wrapping paper designs by hand?

    Yay shadows?

  • squidbunnysquidbunny Registered User regular
    Big improvement on the 3 dimensionality of the presents/tree. :^:

    I'd lose that muddy shadow behind the bear, cast on the wall? It's giving the illusion that he's sort of equidistant to the wall as the tree, which is of course impossible since he's way in the foreground, and it's flattening everything out.

  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    Don't worry I has to look up what equidistant meant too. :p

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    edited December 2011
    Yeah...math, pfft! <_<

    The shadow behind the bear is there because I was originally trying to make the background look like it is the corner of a room. You're right though, it's not coming across the right way and looks better without the shadow.

    I think this is content complete now

    garytheunicorn on
  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Here's something new.

    It's a purple rooster!

  • evilapathyevilapathy Registered User
    purple rooster rocks!! great shading and texture

  • worstcaseworstcase Registered User
    I like it a lot, though I think the values could be pushed more! It sort of seems like the purple and red are blending together.
    Try looking at in greyscale and you will see what I mean.

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Thanks for the feedback.

    Worstcase, good call, I'll brighten some of the highlights when I get a chance.

    I've been working on this one today, It's a Saturn V rocket. This is definitely still rough, I haven't put any work into the foreground umm ground yet or started the scaffolding so it's a bit empty looking right now.

  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    You're in danger of developing a habit using textured brushes as a shortcut.

    You'll hate this, but I would recommend you use a hard round brush as your only brush for at least the next year. Varying the opacity to give you your softer edges.
    Doing this will force you to fill your toolbox with different methods of problem solving, and you'll learn when and where to use a soft edge or a hard edge.

    Right now your like: "Smoke, smoke is soft and fluffy, let's whip out the soft edge brushes." But if you actually look at the exhaust from a rocket launch there are very few soft edges.


  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    I see what you're saying Mustang, though the smoke in my references looks less crunchy than it does in that image. Do you think the brush needs to be completely hard? Or maybe like 80-90%? Sorry I'm not trying to be weasely here I'm just pretty new to this.

  • NappuccinoNappuccino Registered User regular
    try to make the texturing less blurry. It gives me a headache because my eyes keep trying to focus on something that will never bee in focus. You have to be really selective about what is "in focus" and "out of focus" to make sure you're getting the right kind of illusion about depth.

    Like to write? Want to get e-published? Give us a look-see at
    Rorus Raz wrote: »
    There's also the possibility you just can't really grow a bear like other guys.

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    thats why you have chest helmets
  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    Definitely switch up the opacity, but just don't use the soft round. I still very rarely find a need to use the soft round.

    Do you mind posting up your reference?

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    edited December 2011
    Sure thing. This is the main reference photo I have been using.

    Also, I have been messing around with harder brushes...still not quite right.

    garytheunicorn on
  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    edited December 2011
    Here's an update:

    garytheunicorn on
  • NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    I applaud you for posting a lot and taking crits like a champ. You're improving already! keep up the good work man.

  • Arden CaneloArden Canelo Registered User regular
    edited December 2011
    I say make that purple rooster an astronaut and send him up with your shuttle. I'm sure the moon could use a few more cocks. Also good on ya for the progress in here.

    Arden Canelo on
  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    Yeah that's looking a lot better.
    I have to agree with Zerg, your attitude to criticism is awesome. Detaching your ego from your work is one of the biggest, if not the biggest hump that new artists have to get over on the road to improvement. You're already yielding really positive results.

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Zergling: Thanks! I appreciate the help everyone has offered here, I understand they could be doing their own thing rather than taking the time to give me advice.

    Canelo: I think my next one might be zanier. So far all of the pieces I've posted in here have been intended as gifts for friends and family so I tried to pick subjects that would appeal to them. But I like the idea of a rooster astronaut...perhaps a cosmonaut. USA = Monkeys; USSR = Chickens?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    You might want to paint some simple stuff too, stuff in real life. Painting is all about light and form, and working from reference in the beginning can be hard. You end up trying to just weakly copy the flat picture in front of you rather than trying to understand how the form is working in space.

    Try your hand at painting whats in front of you, like a cup and a sphere on your desk. If you don't know how to approach it, I recommend looking for videos/tutorials, like this

    It'll help you get inspired!

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Hey gang, I did another painting finally. I'm tired of looking at it already, but as always would appreciate your thoughts.


  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    You've still got a very soft, airbrushed look to most things. Your light sources are terribly unclear and in this latest piece you seem to be relying a lot on textured brushes, but it's not producing a good effect.

  • FANTOMASFANTOMAS Flan ArgentavisRegistered User regular
    What tynic said. Also... you seem to use too many "tools", try doing a painting in OpenCanvas 1.1, on a single layer, or two layers. Im sure it will help you keep things more cohesent, because right now I see a lot of disparity between the diferent elements and its not working.

  • MustangMustang Registered User regular
    Stay away from textured brushes for now. They should only ever be used sparingly at the best of times, otherwise you end up with art that looks like a collage.

    A hard round brush is all you should be using, only varying the opacity and size to suit your needs.

  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    Thank you for the input everyone. I assure you, despite the lack of evidence, I have been trying to paint without textured brushes. Unfortunately none of those paintings have been successful either. Fantomas, I looked up opencanvas however it appears that there is no mac version and currently I don't have a windows system to work with.

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2012
    You don't really need other software. Just use the basics on whatever you're currently working with, avoid anything fancy or automated. I think you implied photoshop? Limit yourself to a few layers, use a hard round brush with high default opacity. I think this would be a good exercise for you at this stage.

    And I think we'd all like to see the other paintings! Unsuccessful work is the MOST useful when it comes to improving. It's a good sign.

    I'm intrigued at the disparity between your rocket ship picture and the latest two. What were you doing differently in that?

    tynic on
  • garytheunicorngarytheunicorn Registered User
    For these last two I've been working with sketchbook pro, the saturn v painting was done in photoshop. I think the Saturn V painting benefited from being made up of simpler forms and working from better photo reference.

  • wahaywahay Your Handicapped Hero Cincinnati, USARegistered User regular
    Looks like you're viewing shadows as grey, rather than colours affected by light sources (think of an impressionist painting). That'll make your paintings look mundane and overly digital.

    Aside from that, edge sharpness is your biggest vice. The raptor on the penny-farthing, for example, is sharp everywhere except for the raptor.

    "Sorry ladies, I give my everything to Sallie Mae."
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