Introduction // The Moment Before Critique Request

  • Hi everyone! I'm new here but have been following SVS for a few years now and just recently made the leap to become a subscriber and really commit to leveling up my illustration skills in hopes of making it a career. With all that being said I realize that I pretty much have a "finished" piece for The Moment Before prompt but I really love the old 3rd Thursday format with the draw overs and critiques (SOO excited that the format is coming back next month!) so I would absolutely love and be so grateful if anyone had any suggestions, tips, etc. on how to make this piece better. My main goal is to put it in my portfolio so please don't hold back, I am 100% willing to redo the piece if that's what it takes to create a solid illustration.

    Thanks in advance everyone! This is my first time joining a forum so I hope I'm not asking for too much, can't wait to get to know all of you more!

    The_Moment_Before_SVS compressed.jpg

  • Moderator

    HI! Welcome. This is hilarious. I had to look for a second before I saw what was happening, though. I think the shadows under the floating cows need to be more defined. If there was a real light, that bright, the cast shadow would have some of that light to define it better. That screaming cow is cracking me up. =)x

  • SVS OG

    Welcome to the forum! The expressions on all their faces are funny. One think to work on with digital art is having more hard edges. Right now everything feels too soft. It's something I still struggle with but I've noticed some improvement in my own work, so there's hope for anybody. The key is to approach it like a traditional painting and make the digital medium act the way the traditional would. I hope that helps some. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  • What a hilarious concept! To improve the final, I'd work on contrast, adding depth and clarity...
    Cows in the back need to be clearly beamed up - so maybe higher contrast with the background by darkening the very, very back, cleaning up the 'beam' edges, and emphasizing the beam light on top of the critters vs. shadow underneath (leaving no doubt they're about to get beamed up!). Consider also moving the three beamed cows slightly to the right so the overlapping hoof-in-beam cow (the AAGGHHH one) doesn't overlap with that beam. Your foreground character, the rooster, is providing a great visual greeting to the viewer, but his feather tone/value is the same-same as the rest of the illustration. You can test whether going with more intense color or adding more detail will help bring him forward. Love your palette, and that pop of blue headphones really pops out - consider a more teal (or a blue with more + yellow color) if you're wanting everything to be in harmony with the palette you've chosen... or keep as is, if it's on purpose.

    Oh, and the soft edges don't bother me because it appears to be a stylistic choice and is quite consistent throughout.

  • SVS OG

    I think you can inprove the scene by adding a beam of light on your main character as well to convey that she’s going to beamed up as well.

  • SVS OG

    @Kerisa First of all, this concept and the way you've depicted your characters is HILARIOUS and adorable. I'm in agreement with much of what folks have already said, but would like to add some additional notes.

    (1) For the beams of light, it might increase the light beam effect by adding subtle silhouettes of objects behind the them (e.g., a tree, a part of a barn). You might also add some specks of dust floating in the light beam.
    (2) Your text is a bit close to the bottom edge. If you shrink the cow on the right a bit, you can lift up the words and allow more breathing space.
    (3) I didn't notice the light above the main cow at first. Perhaps by shrinking the main cow further, you can allow more of the light beam above to show. OR you can bring some rays of its light down a bit further?
    (4) Your foreground rooster/hen character is the same value as the other characters, which gives an overall flat feel. It's good that its wing overlaps the cow in the background, but if you add some shadow and darken its values, you'll add more depth to your piece.

    Hope some of this is helpful. It's a fabulously humorous portfolio piece with lots of energy and movement, and great expressions. Just needs a few tweaks I think.

  • SVS OG

    @Kerisa Hi! I was planning to write a detailed description on the issues I saw in your work but I’m a bit strapped for time so I apologize in advance for not doing so. Instead, i’ve attached an image below which points out the elements that I think we can still improve. I hope you can make out the things I wrote down there. Also, i did a rough paint over of your work to demonstrate how I would go about fixing it. I hope you find this helpful. I’m sorry I can’t explain further. 😅


  • First, all of your guys are AMAZING!! Thank you so so much for all of the helpful feedback and for taking the time to do this, seriously floored by how helpful all of this was! I've been working editing the piece and hope to post an updating version very soon.


  • You guys made sooo many good points and such great advice. Here's my first round of taking in all of the different tips and implementing it into my piece. One thing that was clear is that the story wasn't very clear and I really wanted to make sure that it was easy to read that the cows were being abducted by UFOs, so I drew in a couple and emphasized the spotlight way more ( @nyrrylcadiz your draw over was sooo incredibly helpful, thank you for taking the time to do that! ).

    @Jon-Anderson I definitely saw what you meant about everything looking very soft, I'm trying to find a good balance between texture and making sure the shapes are crisp. Hoping this is a better mix! If you have any tips on what you've done to work on this in your illustrations I'd love any tips.

    @Johanna-Kim You are so right about the text! I was definitely just trying to force it in that space. Ended up moving the cow a bit and placed the text towards the top instead, hoping that gave it a bit more breathing room. Do you think it's too close to the cow now though?

    Everyone mentioned shadow and lighting so I worked on bumping that up a bit. I can't tell if it's too chaotic now, I mean I know it would be a chaotic event if it was real but I don't want the piece to be overwhelming.

    Again, loved all of the feedback, thank you all so so much for all your help! If you have any notes/tips for things that could be tweaked on this updated version I would greatly appreciate it!


  • SVS OG

    @Kerisa this looks amazing! Great job!👍

  • SVS OG

    @Kerisa Looking good! I think the words have enough breathing room now. Their proximity to Moogan's headphones and tail seem fine.

    Regarding the feeling that the overall illustration might be too chaotic now, I kind've see what you mean. I miss the relative quiet of the original illustration, where no space ships were shown. I wonder if the action in the background is drawing too much attention or competing for attention, when the main focus should be Moogan. One thing to try to regain that focus is to dim the lights of the background light beams, and make Moogan's light beam the brightest. There could still be variation in the intensity of the background light beams, but the difference between each other could be subtle. I also think that you may not need two space ships. One is enough to show clearly what is happening. Although, I think most people have seen someone being beamed up by a spaceship, so you may be able to get away with showing no spaceships, as you did in the original.

    Lastly, regarding the chicken/rooster in the foreground, you might consider adding a tiny yellowish rim light to his highlights, to show that he's picking up some up the yellow glow of the beams.

  • Lovely work and such a fun idea haha!
    I agree with @Johanna-Kim that it might all look a bit too chaotic now, so in addition to what has already been said, maybe by making the the 3 other cows smaller too, that would help keep the attention on Moogan (great name by the way)? Maybe also try one of the light beams at more of an angle too, at the moment they all come straight down, which looks great, but it could be something to try and it may make your piece look even stronger 🙂

  • This is such a great concept!

  • Thanks everyone so much for the feedback and push, definitely what I needed to make the piece better. Here's my attempt at making the chaos of the three cows fade into the background a bit more and highlight Moogan a bit more. Hoping this works as a solution!

    Kerisa Greene_SVS April Prompt_Compressed.jpg

  • Kerisa,

    I have read through your initial post for this piece. You had great feedback for areas to improve but you also did a wonderful job of taking direction. Nice improvements. And - I love the way you branded your post!

    I found (and followed) you on Instagram and also checked out your website. Are you really and truly working from your van?!! Are you using Procreate or PS?

    I follow a few digital nomads and am kind of in awe of the guts of this generation of artists!


  • @Amber-Lynn-Benton Aw thank you so much!

    Yay, I'll have to find and follow you too! And yes my husband and I are currently living in our '82 VW Vanagon full-time right, we're stockpiling as much money as we can for the next year and a half and then we'll be starting our road trip around the world! So scary and exciting! If you want to follow along on our van journey our Instagram handle is @pati_goes_places ☺

    I use Procreate to draw everything and then I used PS to add the branding stuff on the side and text. I'd love to eventually get a cintique but I don't think I have the room for that right now.

  • @Kerisa That’s awesome and good luck on your preparations - your work is great!

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