I wanted to draw something for the February challenge, so here's a first sketch of an octopus riding a seahorse. I seriously doubt I will be able to finish and enter, so if anybody else has the same type of idea, don't feel like the idea has been "claimed". I'll probably just work on this for my own learning. Anyway, feedback welcome if you'd care to :-)
Very cute idea! Yee-Haw! Keep playing around with it and see where it goes. Maybe exaggerate the seahorse a little more to show movement. Stretching out it's neck to make it look fast, or raising it's head for a sudden stop. Good job with the sea grass, bending it over gives the feeling of movement. The arm that's making a curly doesn't match the rest. Perhaps a more "flailing" arms would look more dynamic, like they're blowing in the "breeze" behind him.
@kat very cool idea:-)
Thanks Washu and Aska, for the feedback! I see what you mean about the curly arm and I agree. I see a few more tweaks for the tentacles that might help too - here's an update- thoughts?
@kat Latest sketch is better than first one and your idea is very good. I think you should finish this one :)
@kat Fun, simple idea; I think you should complete it! Even if someone has the same idea, they'll execute it completely differently.
Looking at your 2nd sketch, I like the movement/speed implied by the octopus' pose, the hat flying off, and the bubbles and leaning seagrass in his wake.
Here are some suggestions to improve the composition:
The three extended (not curled) arms on the left, and the two holding onto the seahorse, are a bit too evenly spaced. Try to have them feel less even by rearranging their positions slightly to add interest.
The top arms, on the left and right, seem to be originating too high on the body. Lower them down to at least the level of the next lowest arms, then have them swooping upwards. Then you can change their angles/movements so that they're not completely hidden behind the arms in the foreground.
The seahorse could be leaning forward a bit more, and his nose could be pointed down and eyes forward to further indicate a sense of rapid forward movement. His expression could be more serious and focused, even with that cute smile, and bubbles could also be streaming behind him.
The octopus' arms could be longer, which would allow for more interesting shapes.
I know that octopi don't have mouths on their faces in real life, but I think that in the children's book genre, it's ok to add one. (Try Googling "Octopus children's book" and you'll see lots of mouths.) I do like the seahorse's smile.
Seems a little too similar to the rough sketch I made..... only kidding :P Looking good. I would try to explore your gesture and the shapes abit more though. It seems like you went into the line work a little too early without exploring different poses (although everyone's method is their own of course).
Some things I would suggest are:
Decide on who is in control in the image, the seahorse or the octopus. I am guessing that the seahorse is, but it would be nice to give more motion to it . As it is it feels very static. Try looking at how animals run and the gesture that their body takes.
Make the pose that the octopus has taken with your own body as though you are trying to holding onto something pulling away. You may notice that your arms are quite straight and have a lot of tension in. If you could do it whilst flying your legs would probably flail around, this would give a nice contrast and would give the picture a lot of energy. Small pupils in the eyes would also add to this out of control pose.
If your aim is to have the octopus in control like a rodeo cowboy then again look at reference photos and see how they taking control. Having the hat flying off is a great idea to show motion, but perhaps having the octopus holding onto it as it flies away would convey that he knows what he is doing.
Thanks, @umutdulger , I think I'll try finishing even if it's after the contest ends. I need to finish SOMETHING!
I wasn't sure how to handle the seahorse because they are quite stiff looking in reality, but you're right that in a children's book - and especially in this cartoony style - I can make him move more. The "smile" looks weird to me now, tho. Taking Gary's suggestion of choosing who is in charge will help. If it's the octopus, I think the seahorse wouldn't have much facial expression.
I had considered having the octopus holding onto his hat, but thought it was more silly if the hat was flying off. Again, I think it depends on who is in charge - focal point, really.
Great pointers! I hope I can make this a better image now. Thank you!
Update on this one. Think it looks better?
@kat I think that’s a fantastic improvement! It’s much clearer what is going on and it has a much stronger movement to it. Looks great!
Great improvement to really emphasize the action!
@kat much better, so much more action and energy in the piece
Thanks for the kind words, @beckporter @Jon-Anderson and @Gary-Wilkinson - and Gary, thanks for your help! Thinking about who is in charge (focal point of the story) really made a difference and helped define the poses and expressions of the characters.
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
@kat Love this idea :-) Very cute and seems to be a nice composition too.