Help please! Someone wants to pay me...
So, I put my, "end of MerMay - vote for the one I should finish," post on my Instagram and Facebook and one person felt so strongly about this one that they want to pay me to finish it. It's so intimidating when it goes from a practice piece for myself to a paid piece for someone else. I could always say no... But it's probably a worthwhile challenge.
The problem is I'm not super happy with the composition. I don't know what it is. It's obviously supposed to be kind of circular, but I'm not sure what to do with it, or how to even begin thinking about values and colors... I played around with it a bit last night... I like the idea of it. I just need some direction, and I can't change it too much, because this is what the buyer likes.
I think the kid on the dock is obviously too big and the trees are too small... But I don't know about the rest of it.
Sorry about the picture quality. It's just a light sketch at this point.
Congratulations. I don't feel qualified to give suggestions . You have some really nice work and I'm sure someone else can give you good advice.
just 1 thought. its sideview , and sideview is easy everyone can do sideview. 3/4 view will present better
@Pamela-Fraley I am not expert at composition, but i think you are on the right track. I quickly made the boy smaller, the mermaid a little bigger and pulled her tail up and her body straight. I think this helps lead the eye around. I also think the trees are the right size since they are in the background. The one tree above the mermaids head also helps pull the eye back to the boy. You can almost make it the shape of a heart. As far as color, I think a night scene would look cool. With the moonlight coming from behind to light them.
@linhb I had that thought too, but I wasn't sure how much I should change the perspective - since they want to pay me to finish it. They liked it as is, you know? Maybe I can turn it just slightly and still keep the composition close to the same...
That is super helpful! ... and more evidence of the fact that I NEED to learn to work digitally. It helps a lot to see it with just those few tweaks. I wish I knew how to do that. I like the idea of making it a night scene too. I appreciate the input a lot!
One more thought, the dock is right in the center, it is such a strong line, maybe move it up or down? Rule of thirds...
oh ok i see.... i didnt read your first paragraph just went to see the work well in that case u dont need feedback then (at least in here) just ask your client does he/she want to make some change or not :)) and just finish it and get the money =))
@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!
@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. ️
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.
@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!
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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!
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.
@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
@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.
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.