Looking for C&C - "Chess Lesson"

  • Hey folks! I just got back from a month away from home and am now officially done with my former career...wow. I have ten million things I need to get done, but while I was away I started an illustration for the March 'Old and New' challenge. I couldn't complete it in time to submit, but I like where it is going and would really appreciate any comments and critique the community is willing to provide:


  • Hi @pam-boutilier it's a shame
    you didn't get time to enter your piece in last month's competition, as it looks very well done. I hope you don't find my critiques disheartening in anyway but here are my thoughts.

    I'm curious as to why the characters in the scene are dragons. I've no objection to that, but it would be nice to fit other elements in the scene
    that reinforce their world, such as changing the design of the chess pieces or even inventing a new game (the knight saving the princess from the tower board game or something). The characters could easily be human, squirrels or dogs and I would feel any different in my lack of connection to their world.

    I love the background rendering, but that makes the hard lined characters seem a
    little out of place as they are less detailed. That gives the piece an almost animated feel, however maybe that's your style, so I won't go into that so much.

    I also feel that the lighting could be refined and pushed a lot more. At the moment it feels a little confusing as to where the main light source is. I'm guessing that it is coming from the left side, but it doesn't seem to be consistent on certain planes. Also I feel there should be more color variation in where the light is hitting and not hitting, which would give the lighting a more realistic feel.

    Lastly the angle the of the young dragon is a little awkward as it is at an off angle to the table and feels a little stiff in comparison the the other dragon, so a slight more dynamic pose might be interesting to explore.

  • SVS OG

    @pam-boutilier Nice image. You did a great job on the line work and I love the birds. I do agree with the crit above the lighting is off it could also use more contrast between the light and shadow areas. Also, I'd open the scene up a bit maybe a 1/2" inch all the way around so that you get the top of the older dragon in and the edge of the baby dragon is not so close to the edge of the illustration border. Plus it opens it up just a bit more to see the trees around them.

  • Not disheartening at all!!

    @Gary-Wilkinson and @evilrobot thank you both! I truly appreciate you taking the time to make insightful comments, they are greatly appreciated (I'm in a 'leveling up' stage and really want good, honest feedback).

    @Gary-Wilkinson I had to laugh at your comment about it being dragons - the real reason is that I like dragons. The more complicated reason is that animal and fantasy creature characters are my thing, so right now I'm working on using those elements (which I have more fun with) to create illustrations to work on my technical skills. I also play lots of D&D and the older a dragon is the more intimidating they are - so the idea of a granny dragon showing the wisdom aspect of an ancient dragon was a fun idea to play with. HOWEVER - your comment is spot on because I struggled with whether to make them play chess or some imaginary game. In the end I thought chess would be a relatable activity for 'old mentoring young' (plus I used my social media fanbase to give me the actual chess board setup - a little easter egg for those who might look closely at it). I will think more about how I can make the setting and game situation integrate with the characters being dragons.. I have a couple of ideas percolating already!

    You were also spot on with the linework comment - I am really struggling with how I want to develop that. I'm drawn to line (not great at it, but drawn to it to the point that I am starting a graphic novel project to learn more) so at the moment my goal is NOT to try to retrain myself to full digital painting, but rather figure out the best way to use my linework without having the entire piece in full, lined detail. I liked the outcome for the piece below and was trying to recapture some of that feel. I think the lighting and contrast were stronger in the piece below, and the linework not as heavy handed.


    And lighting. So important! So not my strong suit!
    I think it's time to go redo some of the SVS courses on light and make sure I'm really doing the work and not just passively watching!

    Thanks again! All further feedback is greatly appreciated!

    (LOL - nobody commented on the fact that the chess pieces are all leaning a little bit to the right... which I ~just~ noticed now).

    (Also - @Gary-Wilkinson I love your 'Octopus Selfie', it made me literally laugh out loud!)

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