ISO Critique: ..What I Saw
This is what I'm working on for one of the old prompts (I can't believe what I just saw). Right now I'm in sketch phase and included what I'm thinking with tone. I'd love feedback on composition, character, ... everything?
Go ahead. Break my heart. I want/need to get better.
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
@awall I don't know if the placement is right or not because I need to learn light and shadow better but, I love your shadows and the contrasting light. I'd like to hear what the pros have to say :-)
I do not really get the story. What is the girl seeing? If it´s something on the wall, she is too close to it (you don´t put your face at the wall to see something on it). If the intention is that she is up close and looking attentively at something tiny, you probably need to change her pose so that her body language suggests that.
In stand-alone images, you should strive to show the face and expression of the main character (also part of storytelling - we read a lot from facial expression). Showing the character´s back or looking away is fine, of course, but mostly done as part of a series, like in a book. If this is the only illustration and this is your only character it´s sort of disappointing not to see her face, and the image lacks a focus point.
The shadows look interesting, but multiple light sources are very tricky to pull off effectively and generally weaken the value structure. The recommendation is generally to avoid them unless absolutely necessary for story (like there must be a fire in the room and a light fairy turns up). Even in that case, one should be the main light source and the other kept as subdued.
Also, light from a window will always be stronger than any lamp (and therefore the shadow from the window light darker than the other one. Unless it´s night, of course (in which case, the window should be the darkest part of the room).
Hope this helps!
Thanks for your input.
I was meaning to practice a mid-story image... but you are right. It's not interesting to look at on its own.
She is meant to be looking into her dream catcher from which a very bright light is emitting. An open portal sort of deal. It is a night scene and I should have darkened the window to indicate that. I was sort of just scribbling that in so I could indicate the large shadow to consider as part of the composition.
... I'll scrap it and keep all your points in mind. They are all good!
@awall First, I think the shadow of the bed would spread out more. I'd keep the dream catcher the brightest object in the room for now, to keep it as a focal point. I don't know what time it is in the piece. It looks like you were planning daytime from the bright window, but if it was my choice I'd make a soft blue moonlight for night time. Honestly, I think this has the possibility to look pretty scary. I'd do a couple first versions (smaller and faster illustrations) to test color and value to see if you really want to keep this composition. Not that the composition is horrible, just that you may be getting a feeling you weren't expecting. Like I said, it could possibly look scary.
Unfortunately, I don't know enough to help out with the light & shadow.
I saw the image as the girl looking at some kind of brightly glowing magic coming from the dream catcher. I just wasn't sure about the papers. It look me a minute to see that they are pieces of paper flying off toward the viewer--especially the closest parts. I think it's supposed to be two pages--one overlapping the other, but it's not clear. The page closest to the book is also questionable (it kind of looks like a paper airplane, maybe). It's unclear if they are supposed to be coming out of the book, or were stacked next to the book, and they seem unrelated to the dreamcatcher. I would erase the one that's under the one closest to the viewer, and re-draw the the one closest to the book. If they are supposed to be coming out of the book, I would make it very close to--or touching the book.
After reading your comment about the dreamcatcher being a portal, I think you may have meant for a strong wind to be blowing from the dreamcatcher, and the pages/papers to be caught up in the wind. If so, that would be another argument for the girl to be a step back from the dreamcatcher. I think you'd also need the wind to affect the girl's hair & clothes. I can see where the braids/pigtails could be being blown back a bit and the bangs are going back, and the tassels of the dreamcatcher are waving, but it would have to be a very forceful wind to blow the papers like that, since they are down on the bed--and then they go up in the air--so it doesn't really make sense. Maybe with a gusty wind? I don't know enough about aerodynamics. But to have the papers blown that far, I think the wind would have to be very strong on the girl. Maybe you could get a fan & do some experiments? Maybe you could take some photos or video to use as reference with someone in front of the fan, with a stack of papers behind them & test different fan speeds.
It's an intriguing piece that makes you want to know more about the story!