W.I.P. October contest feedback welcome

  • I'm pretty new here but I want to start building my portfolio and use the concepts I've been learning in the SVS classes so I'm starting a contest entry for October. Usually I do quick spot illustrations with no backgrounds and little value so I really want to push myself to start developing those skills. I took the class on composition so here is my rough sketch where I have tried to go in and solve my composition with value. I still have plenty of time and tons of room for refinement so I would love some feedback on the composition and areas I could improve.

    Also, here's a little backstory on this guy: Donstre are lion/human hybrid monsters from medieval European mythology. They can speak every language on earth and use friendly conversation in a familiar tongue to lure foreign travelers away from their groups where they devour them, excluding the head, which they then sit and mourn. The monster knows what he's doing is wrong, he hates himself for it but he is doomed to repeat his actions.


  • @studiolooong I love the back story. If it is set in Medieval Europe, perhaps include a clue to that period in your image. And further for the story, why does he feel compelled to repeat his actions? Is it instinctual, ritual?

    On the side of proportions his head looks overtly heavy compared to his human body, that and his neck is severely angular and not bent over in an arch.

    I was thinking he actually sat on heads (throne or couch), you have them more like trophies stacked up. Perhaps if they all stared at him in their horror, that may grieve him enough to change,

    As I said I like the back story.

    Thanks for sharing,

  • @heather-boyd I don't know that he feels compelled to repeat his actions, its more like he just cant help himself. I couldn't find much on his motivations so here's what I've come up with:

    He's in that cave all alone. He gets lonely so he thinks "Maybe I'll just go out and talk to someone, I'm not even hungry, I definitely won't eat them this time." So he goes out and finds a traveller on the path and they begin to talk and as they talk he begins to smell them and he can't resist that tasty smell. Before he knows it he's gobbled up another person. He's so ashamed of his actions that he slinks back to the cave with the head to cry.

    Maybe I'll try to give the head a peasant hat, I want to stay away from armor or weapons since knights aren't really his M.O. I think making a throne out of the skulls would imply that he was proud of them, I was going for more of a haphazard stack, like he's trying to get them out of the way but they are still there, serving as a reminder of what he's done. I like the idea of giving the skulls horrified expressions, particularly the couple sitting in nooks on the wall.

    I'll keep working on the bend of his neck too. I want to give him more of a long goose neck, maybe the mane is making it look too heavy. Thanks for the feedback! I'll keep working on it.

  • @studiolooong I agree the throne would be too obvious but that's what came to mind first as you said sit on. Though I wasn't thinking an actually throne but anyways. Definitely I would stay away from armour and weapons because that doesn't necessarily signify "traveller" per say and too obvious as "Medieval", so a hat or something a traveller would take with him/her. But then again that may push towards "trophies" which your not going for.

    I would highlight the body position and facial elements for all characters for that emotional response.

    Anyways, I am sure you will make good progress with what you create.

  • Round 2!


  • Another progress update on my misunderstood monster:


  • @studiolooong this is looking great! I feel sorry for the monster and I love the facial expressions on the skulls--especially the ones that look really mad! So fun

  • @eli thanks!

  • Here are my tone and color studies for my misunderstood monster. I found it really challenging to try to get the warm colors of the monster to mesh with the cool cave but I think that the last one (starred) is starting to work. I'm not sure if I'll go with this one or try out a few more. This is the first composition with a full background that I have attempted and also the first time I've done tone/color studies but I think I'll keep it up because this was a super helpful exercise that will save me a ton of time on the final paint.


  • SVS OG

    @studiolooong Something is drawing me to 2 and 4, for what it's worth.

  • I like 2 the coloring feels like it could have a magical fantasy feel when you apply the lighting to the monster

  • @studiolooong I like numbers 2, 5, 6. 🙂

  • Thanks everyone! I tried to incorporate a little of what I like about the last one into #2 and came up with this color study, @rcartwright I get what you're saying about it having a bit more of a fantasy feel, wondering if this one is working better than the previous ones?

    0_1539718766916_Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 2.37.34 PM.jpg

  • So this is my first large-scale paint with a background, let me know if you see any areas that I could improve, I think it still needs some cleaning up and I don't know if I got the contrast right.


  • This looks great, I really like the lighting coming down into the cave, you've got that spot on. Maybe the character needs some lighting on the top of his neck and tail too?
    Great stuff 😃

  • @hannahmccaffery Yeah thanks, I can definitely add some highlights on top monster!

  • @studiolooong I like the subtle textures (rocks, the fur and the lions pants) and I appreciate the head cut emotionally charged but not gory.

  • @heather-boyd thanks so much, I liked the idea of the monster crying over the head but I was afraid that it may be too gross so I worked really hard to play down the gore as much as possible. Glad it isn't coming across as too gross (even though it is a severed head)!

  • Some more slight adjustments:

    0_1540343165163_mis_mon5v4.jpg s

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