Help please! Someone wants to pay me...


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    @holleywilliamson Thanks! I didn't catch that!



  • Throwing my two cents in- I personally like the overall composition, because it really shows off her tail and you get a nice circular flow through the composition, which you could play up even more with the tree in the background. I would, however, firm up the perspective of the dock. The dock support beams seem off in relation to the angle of the floor of the dock. It seem like you'd either expect to see the underside of the dock if you kept the beams as is, or the support beams would recede a little steeper if you choose not to see the underside of the dock. And maybe it's just because I'm analyzing the comp a little closer than I normally would, but it bugs me to imagine how a person is supposed to get on that dock in the first place. With the perspective the way it is, it seems like it might be at chest level and then you'd have to get in the water a bit and then hoist yourself up onto it.

    I would also explore the guy's pose/gesture and his relationship to the edge of the dock. Get on a table and reach over the edge, like you are seeing something curious. How far away are you to the edge of the table? How close is your torso to your knees? I feel like he could be a bit more dynamic.

    One last thing to consider is the placement of the tree behind the guy. Right now it's creating a tangent with his butt.

    Hope you post progress shots. Overall, it's a really fun piece!


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    @TessW You put your finger on one of the things that bugs me. And I'm having a hard time finding good reference - how the dock attaches to the shore and what parts of it you see. I need to look at it so maybe I'll go to our local harbor and take some pictures. I'll try to get some better reference for the boy too. I want him much more curious and dynamic looking and if his body doesn't match his face, it doesn't work.
    Thanks for all the thoughtful insight. I really appreciate it. I'll post progress pics along the way for sure. ☺



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    I did a quick draw over. I'm not the best, so bear with me! I just used some perspective principles and I also covered up the part where the dock recedes with a cross beam. It creates a bigger shape there in the middle, but it stops the eye being drawn into the background as much and I feel you can focus on the figures a little better.

    Have you taken the mastering perspective course? I'd highly recommend it! You can rely a lot less on getting the perfect reference.


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    @TessW wow! That makes a huge difference. Thank you for doing that. I remember starting the perspective class. I'll go watch it again. I usually put classes on while I'm folding laundry and I've got a lot today!😆



  • I think @TessW draw over is awesome! I would make the boy significantly smaller however. And I agree that a night scene would look nice!

    @linhb , I have to disagree about the sideview comment. I have heard @Will-Terry and @Jake-Parker say several times that a sideview is one of the hardest to do (at least for characters). If I was to change it to a 3/4 view, it wouldn't be to make it more difficult, it would be to add more depth. Side views tend to flatten the image and makes it way harder to show perspective. However, for this specific piece (and especially since it's what the client wants) I would keep this view. But for future reference, it is easier to show depth with a 3/4 view!

    Finally, I agree with @holleywilliamson that you should try to apply the third rule, both vertically and horizontally (i.e. I would move the dock, boy and mermaid to the right of the image - leave more space between the boy and the side of the image)

    I love the sketch! Can't wait to see where you go with it!



  • @NoWayMe said in Help please! Someone wants to pay me...:

    for this specific piece (and especially since it's what the client wants) I would keep this view. But for future reference, it is easier to show depth with a 3/4 view!

    First of all my point is 3/4 view the best way and the easiest way to present your designs. sideview is hard to show the design, and way too easy to draw.
    Second of all TBH really this piece has a lot of design problems hasnt solve... for example when i look at this this boy i have no idea who is he ? is he on vacation with his family ? is he a local, tourist, mermaid hunter,.... ? or why there are a dock there ? ect.... just a random boy in a random forest.
    Finally the Client wants this piece exactly like this so... the best thing is just finish it.


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    @linhb this is what I'm struggling with. And how much should I tweak it? It's hard when people latch on to unfinished sketches.
    Just a question? Does it matter where the boy comes from? I don't think I really thought about that. We live in a little fishing village and my kiddos are always on the docks- leaning over the edge to look at the creatures in the water. This just popped into my head from watching my kids I guess. It's so normal for me I didn't see it as a design problem. Would it help if there was a cabin or something in the background? I guess I'm wondering why it's an issue that he's there without an explanation.
    Maybe @Will-Terry or one of the other teachers has an idea about this?



  • @Pamela-Fraley .... if u dont wanna tell a story thru your design thats fine :D. if u do think about the relationship between the mermaid and the boy what bring them together in this piece.... everything has a reason even if they dont give them a reason
    ...Seriously just finish it and get the money the client doesnt wait forever. What are u looking for in here anyway ? just find a lot of refs after that draw and color them nicely, and hand it to your client, thats it


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    @linhb I don't think I'm understanding what you're saying, what wanted feedback on is how to finish this piece that the client liked AND to do what I can to it so I'm not putting something out there that I'm not proud of at the same time. You said it had design flaws. I agree. I just want to fix what I can. If you don't think I can do anything , that's ok. It may be a lost cause. But the feedback I'm getting from the comments is helpful. I'm going to try and fix it up how I can.


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    Now I have another question. Sorry guys. I thought what I was dealing with here was composition issues. But now I'm wondering, in general, what make a piece tell a story? To me, this sketch tells a story...He's finding something more interesting in the water than he expected to... and he doesn't realize he's being looked at too. The whole story isn't there - how he got there, why he's on the dock... just this little piece. But, I like pieces that make me wonder & want to know more. How much do we need to know for a piece to be "storytelling"? Does everything have to be spelled out? Or can there be a bit of mystery? Specifically, how would I help this piece along? I'm really confused right now. @Will-Terry @Lee-White @Jake-Parker If any of you had some insight. Even just to this question in general... what has to be there for a piece to be considered a storytelling piece?



  • I think everything tells the story of a piece. The composition, the "acting" and gesture of the characters, the props, the colors, the lighting, the render style.

    Your piece has a lot going for it. Could it be stronger? Perhaps yes. Do I "get" the story? I feel I do! The mermaid and the boy appear to be the same age. . . probably preteens, which gives it an innocent-romantic-first-crush feel. They both look curious of each other on different levels. The mermaid curious of the boy, but also teasing. The boy curious to figure out what exactly he's seeing. Does he eventually find out? I think your piece effectively invites the viewer to wonder what happens afterward.

    At this point, I think the strongest improvement you can make would be in the gesture and expression of the boy. As you move forward with the piece think about how the decisions you make with color and value add or detract from your story.

    In the future, explore different angles in your thumbnailing process. I know you did initial thumbnails to figure out which piece to do. A step further would be to do more thumbnails once you've chosen your basic idea. Then you know for sure you've chosen the right comp for your tastes and for your storytelling. I know this case is a bit different, because your client jumped forward before you could to this step. You could still offer them an alternative if you'd like, but I wouldn't get hung up about it.

    You've got this! It's good you are being thoughtful in this process. Just don't let it stop you from moving forward.



  • The first thing I thought when I saw this was "this is a lovely story". I only thing I would change is bring the boy closer to the edge of the pier so his arm is not so stretched out and have his head bending down more to look at the tail.Just make sure the client wants it changed at all and make any changes subtle,your client probably loves it the way it is everyone has different ideas and there is no point trying to second guess the client, better to ask before you waste your time drawing.I am sure you know anyway but Pixabay has great free references.



  • Just finishing an illustration to "get paid" is never the way to go. I had someone on Instagram see my early work and asked me to do a drawing from a photo because he "liked the sketchy-ness" of a rough drawing I posted. I kindly told him that I would like to wait until I have a better handle on my artwork before I complete the drawing. After over a year, I still have not done the drawing as I am not yet at a point where I feel comfortable doing a commission for pay.
    If Pamela does feel comfortable completing an illustration in its current state, she will not do her best on the final, as I can imagine she will be agonizing over details she knows could be done better if a bit more thought and time was given to them.
    My suggestion to you, Pamela, is to get with the person who asked for the finished piece and discuss your concerns with them first, taking with you the suggestions offered here, perhaps sending a revised sketch for approval before painting. I posted a couple ideas on the other post, so I won't repeat them here. Best of luck!


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Your piece does have a very nice rhythm to it. I like the circular composition. In terms of story telling, it's ok not to spell out everything in the image. In fact, I prefer that. If you show too much it doesn't create enough for the viewt than spelling it out for the viewer.

    In terms of this piece, the payoff for the storytelling isn't satisfying enough for me. The fact that he's reaching for her tail doesn't make much sense. I would suggest maybe changing the shape of the tail above the water to resemble something else (like maybe a duck or something). So the boy is reaching for something that is familiar, but is off a little bit. That would make sense for him to be curious about it. I don't think he'd reach like that for a random fish tail sticking out of the water.

    Those are the things I ask myself when setting up a story. Does this motivation for my character make sense? Does the reaction make sense? etc. Then I start trying to enhance what is good and get rid of what is bad.

    I would recommend using this sketch as a starting point and doing a bunch of versions of it. Try out some different stuff and play. There is nothing worse than just having one sketch and then trying to figure out what to do with it. Just go nuts and burn through a bunch of options. Post them here and see what people think. It's fun and will free you up so you don't tighten up at this stage (which is tough not to do).


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    @Lee-White Thank you. That actually helps a lot. I'll play around with it more and see if I can get a better working image and then check if the client is ok with it. Thanks for the tips. I thought it had some issues, but some of the feedback made me think the whole thing was a disaster. 😖 I appreciate your help!


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    @tombarrettillo you are very right. If I'm not comfortable with it, I shouldn't feel pressured to just finish anyway. Thank you. I'm going to see what I can do to rework this a bit.



  • @tombarrettillo said in Help please! Someone wants to pay me...:

    Just finishing an illustration to "get paid" is never the way to go.

    that's right :)) but if the client can really see the values in this sketch, that means she successes what else can she do beyond finish it ?
    not everyone can Just finishing an illustration to "get paid" anyway. If i have an opportunity like this i'll finish this 1 right away and take the money, then make a better version if i still interest in this piece. This is business man. Business comes first :))



  • @Pamela-Fraley I think it would be as easy as giving him a fishing pole - or a model sailboat?... 🙂


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