Still Slowvembering...critique please?


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    Yes, I am still working on this piece and haven't really dug into color! (I am going to try using overlay layers for color this time.) I have gotten some good critiques on this one and so figure it's worth getting it right.

    This scene is from the Beavers' house in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in Narnia. If you know the books, you may know the moment, but otherwise I'm not going to tell you so you can have a fresh take. Yesterday I completely re-worked Edmund (the blond boy) and although I like how he's in his own world, I wonder two things: 1) Is he now competing with Mr. Beaver for attention? Does it matter? and 2) Now that his expression is more developed, do the other figures look too cartoony?

    Anything else you want to add? I'm going to spend the afternoon trying out color on top of my value study, so feel free! Thanks!

    Narnia Beaver values Edmund 2 c copy.jpg


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    @LauraA hi I think this is perfect. Mr. Beaver still has a higher contrast against his background compared to Edmund. My main attention is still on Mr. Beaver, Edmund is secondary. I think you’re all set.


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    Oh yay! Thanks, @Nyrryl-Cadiz!



  • @LauraA Hey Laura! Firstly I love how dedicated you are for this piece and it's really showing!

    The main thing that stood out for me is

    • It now seems like the beaver and Edmund are both looking at the same thing. I think you may need to change the angle of the beaver's head a little to the right so that it looks like it's talking to the group.

    • I think working on the eyes of both the beavers a little more can help match the more developed character style.

    • Also, for me, my second read is Edmund because of (1)contrast, (2)proximity to Peter's face and (3) more detailed face. Even though Peter (and everyone else) is looking at the Beaver, I still see Edmund before the beaver. But I don't think it's a problem because the beaver is my 3rd read and it's a nice travel around the piece.


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    @Neha-Rawat Doggone it, you're right! I was thinking I could have him more in profile, especially since he's a silhouette, but I have been very careful the whole time not to have him looking only at Peter.

    I had tried the eyes before and may go back to that. Thanks!

    If Edmund is your second read and the Beaver is the third, what's your first read? Peter?



  • @LauraA Yes, Peter is my first read.



  • @LauraA I think Peter is my first read but Edmund really comes close because of his expression is so in contrast to the others. And then once I see Edmund is difficult to look away -for me at least.


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    Here's a first go at color (it has been tiny-fied, so the transitions lose something). I think it puts more emphasis on Mr. B and less on Edmund, which is the direction I'd like to go. Do you guys thing so as well?

    Thanks for your critiques! I'll be doing some more work on the drawing tomorrow and will see what I can do about these issues.

    Narnia Beaver new Edmund with color smoother.psd .png


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    Ha! After that critique arena I'm looking to draw Susan so that you can see at least some of her face!



  • @LauraA I drew so many spreads with the character from almost back for my recent book. Sometimes, you can see just a bit of the eye, sometimes only just a bit of the face. I have no clue why I keep drawing from that angle, it was so difficult to make it look ok. My November entery for the contest is also in that angle. This is the year I drew characters from the back. haha... Maybe I need to change up a bit as well...


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    You're right, @xin-li! But yours looks perfectly appropriate. Anyway, just did a quick redraw. She should really be looking at Mr. Beaver since he's banking his hand on the table, but here it may be credible that she is looking at Peter.

    I'll figure it out tomorrow! (Which it almost is.)

    Narnia Beavers watercolor version.jpg



  • I think Jake´s rule is a general rule which make sense in most of the cases. I will also think about this when composing a picture. I will try to ask myself if the emotion will communicate better if I draw the character from another angle. I seems to have a tendency to draw characters from the odd angle.

    Your redraw looks really good. To me she is looking at the boy with blond hair though. I am not familiar with the scene you are depicting. But as an illustration, it works for me. You mentioned that Mr. Beaver is barking his hand on the table. It was a bit hard to see that. If you want to emphasis that, maybe you could have him raising his hand in mid air, and as if the hand is going down to hit the table. Or you could move the tea cup a bit towards right, so we see Mr. Beaver´s hand a bit more clear.


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    @xin-li Good call! In fact, I am in the process of redrawing Mr. Beaver's hand and the tea cup right now!

    As for Susan's eye direction, I expressly don't want her to look at the blond boy, Edmund. I was trying to make her look at Peter, the other one. This scene is really tricky because they aren't supposed to notice Edmund leaving, but he's right in front of their noses. (And it's in the story.) So I'm reworking all the glances. I hope to post some new options later today.

    Thanks for your fresh take and your advice!



  • I really admire your work, @LauraA, and I was super impressed with your piece in the critique yesterday. I love how you draw kids! It's wonderful to see your process on this piece.

    I have one suggestion for a clarification on your drawing here. My eye keeps being drawn to the blank space under the table. When I look carefully, I can see that it's possible not to see a table leg or Peter's feet with the way things are positioned, but I feel a little like that area isn't grounded, like the table cloth is hovering. You may be able to solve it with shadow placement, or even some escaped streaks of firelight defining the angle of the floor plane.


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    Do their glances make sense now? Narnia Beavers new glances.jpg

    I'm still not sure Susan is clearly looking at Peter rather than Edmund (the boy who is turned away). But I've moved all their eyes around in order to try to make the gestures work together. I guess the question is Susan is, is there any amount of profile (as opposed to her having her back to us) that makes it clear she's not looking at Edmund? Is it clear that Peter is looking at Susan and not Edmund? He doesn't have to look at Susan, but I thought it would make sense of her being turned.

    @Valerie-Light Thank you for your kind words. You're right about the table, and I have been thinking off and on about those table legs ever since they all got hidden early in the process. You're right that I could either show it with shadows or I could turn the legs in such a way that at least one of them shows. (And likewise, if I keep the current configuration, I will have to figure out what Lucy's feet should be doing.)

    I now have about 25 versions (if not more) of each character. Practice, I guess!



  • @LauraA I know how you feel. I also do 25+ versions with drawing characters. It drove me nuts sometimes, especially when I worked on the recent book. Each spot illustrations took me about 25+ times of try to make the drawing look decent. But the comfort thing is it does get a bit better after 25 times of try for me. You have a strong foundation of drawing. It may just take a bit of practice to speed up. The posture of Susan looks really good, she was surprised and a bit shocked by something - as a viewer, I really want to know what the conversation is on the table now. Her eye seems looking at the Mrs. Beaver now, rather than Peter. You could try to show even less of her eye - that might help a bit. Her hands over her mouth gesture is really good at communicating that she is surprised.

    I think I also lack of the understanding of something, which I can not completely pinpoint. I will try more on draw through when drawing a character. I will also go back to draw realistically from photos, or life drawings for the sake of practice in new year.


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    Thanks! I'll do one turned slightly more away from the viewer. She's supposed to be startled by Mr. Beaver's enthusiasm, but if she's looking directly at him, we won't see her face. So I have her and Peter exchanging glances, as if they're saying, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" Because that was pretty much how they felt!

    Thanks for taking the time to encourage me. I don't mind drawing (after all, we are illustrators), but I do rather mind never finishing anything! 😂



  • Great job on the drawing, and I think the setting looks really nice, however I'm unsure as to what the blonde boy (Edmund?) is doing. I think if I had the context then I could understand things better, but without it I was thinking that he is about to hit something and the beaver is shocked at his actions.

    I presume Edmund needs to be facing the other way in the story, but it feels like it breaks the nice composition you have going on as it is now focused on the bottom left corner of the frame, rather than the beaver in the center. This does make me think, what is happening off screen, but i'm guessing the action should be within the table area.

    Another thing that caught my eye is that the size and positioning of the 2 characters in the foreground is off. In the perspective that you have, they would be sitting quite far from the actual table and quite a bit smaller in proportions to the boy with the black hair.


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    @Gary-Wilkinson, thank you for your critique! The context is that Edmund is about to sneak out and betray the group. At first I just had him slouched and turned a bit to the left, but people wanted to see more of his face, so I turned him more towards the viewer as if he is about to get up, and I gave him a more clearly annoyed expression.

    Would it help if it were clearer that his hand is resting on the table and not pulled back as if to throw a punch? And if it helps, I was planning to put him in shadow and do other things with color and contrast to put more attention on Mr. Beaver.

    Story context: Mr. Beaver is telling them all about the lion king Aslan, and it produces different effects in each of them. The rest of the children feel inspired in one way or another, but Edmund feels disdainful, because he under the influence of the White Witch.

    There is a moment during this scene when, as Mr. Beaver gets more and more excited (not angrily, just zealously), he pounds his fist on the table. That should be more or less the moment at which Edmund decides to leave, but since no one notices that he's gone for a few minutes, I'm using the table-pounding as a good excuse for them to be distracted. The conversation is in fact compelling enough that they might not have noticed their surroundings, but it also has to make sense visually, without the reader knowing the whole conversation.

    As this piece has developed, it's true that Edmund has taken more and more prominence, and also the characters have shifted around and may have gotten off their original perspective points. I realize that these things can be a danger, so maybe it's time to stop, go back to the original intent (and grid), and look at the "big picture" again.

    Thanks again! I keep drawing these characters over and over, but they do need to preserve the original idea somehow! I've now fully realized just how difficult it is to seat five people around a table and have them interact!

    And just in case anyone wants to see how this scene developed, here are the threads. I started new ones because I realize some people have their forum set to see new posts only.

    https://forum.svslearn.com/topic/10451/even-sloooowervember-wip-feedback-please/10 (second thread with some changes to the composition and values)

    https://forum.svslearn.com/topic/10388/slowvember-narnia-project/9 (first thread with thumbnails and the development of the environment and characters)



  • @LauraA I think Edmund does have more a focus but I like that better than mr. Beaver bring the focus. I think the expression looks great and matches the style of the other expressions. Also, I totally knew that the scene was needle I started reading, so good job!



  • I am just so impressed with your commitment and patience to get your image just right. Amazing also to hear from @xin-li how many redraws of images she does to perfect her books, very inspiring! I always feel very unqualified to comment on anyone’s posts as I’m a beginner at all this but I can see how amazingly people’s images develop through critique and want to be a supportive forum member!

    So, here’s my small points but feel free to ignore 😂. I really liked the way you showed the edge of Susan’s face rather than the back of her head as in earlier versions, however I still wasn’t certain if she was looking at Peter, Beaver or Edmund. I wondered whether you might kill two birds with one stone by shifting her body position a fraction so she is leaning forward, elbows on the table with hands still up by her mouth (same expression), but this would allow her to be leaning in to Beaver as the point of focus whilst also showing that she had her side to Edmund who was slinking away unnoticed. I realise this might affect how much of her face can or cannot be seen so feel free to ignore!

    I thought @xin-li’s suggestion to move the cup so Beavers hand was more visible was excellent, as on first sight I didn’t appreciate that he was slamming his fist on table. I wondered if a shadow below his hand an a flatter edge to his paw like his first has hit the table might emphasise this point.

    I also just wanted to say I LOVED your “together” image yesterday. I loved the concept of arguing in the car (which I did for many years with my sisters) but also love your line work and the retro feel to your images. A triumph!


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