critique - storytelling problem?

  • Hi.. I am in the making of another illustration and I bumped into a problem with it.
    It feels so vapid (as would @Jake-Parker say ) I started with a general idea of what feeling I wanted to convey (sweet, warm feeling, nostalgia), but now when I am almost at the end of it.. it is weirdly painful to work on it because it feels like a void to me πŸ˜ƒ

    I know that this is a problem that should be solved at the beginning, but as usual, I was blinded with my vision:) and so I need to fix it now. I know it is a storytelling problem for the most part (which I really suck at πŸ™‚ )

    So any ideas what tweaks I can make or what to add/change? Thanks a ton.
    Love you 3000


  • Ok it feels warm and nice and sweet already. But the left side is really empty. The girl, bird, and flowers are all on the right in the foreground and there’s nothing on the left except the very bright sun. Youcan add so many things that can relate to the story of the bird and the girl in some way, whether it’s where the bird came from, where the girl came from, whatever it is, you have plenty of room on that left side to come up with something. You can also add objects that answer what was she doing out in the middle of nowhere on her own? Gathering berries? Picking flowers?

  • @Aleksey Yeah thats right - I will definitely add something there. Thanks for feeback!

  • Hi πŸ™‚
    First of all, what story are you trying to tell? Who is the girl and where is she? Where is she walking to? She looks like she's in some kind of old fashioned dress so maybe, like @Aleksey says, you can put something on the left like a castle, tower or old house so it looks like the girl has a destination?
    If you know what I mean.
    What you have now is a very beautiful illustration, that bird is gorgeous and so is your composition, but by just adding one more thing to the left it will complete your story.
    A couple of things I would look at though, firstly i would lose those lines you have in the sky, it's distracting and you don't need them in my opinion, it looks like you've painted the sky so nicely already so it's a shame to cover it with lines. Also, is the girl young, a teenager or a woman? Her arm and shoulder is looking a bit muscly for a young girl, maybe you could also do something a bit more with her hair, give her a thick long plait or something and maybe look at a few options of dress colour for her, something that will compliment all the greens you have πŸ™‚

    Sorry I've rambled on there, this is a really lovely piece, your colours are beautiful and so are your characters! I can't wait to see where you take it next πŸ™‚

  • @hannahmccaffery That is the thing πŸ˜ƒ I didn`t start with one. I started with feeling I had and that I wanted to convey. That is why I have to figure it out now. And I will so thank you for some ideas :).

    And no its totally welcomed that you rambled πŸ˜ƒ You wrote something I already felt, but wasnt sure.

    Thank you ! πŸ™‚

  • @Jonas-Zavacky Maybe this could be a scene from Sleeping Beauty and she's walking back to the cottage where her Aunts are? If you're struggling to find a story to go with πŸ™‚

  • Hi, @Jonas-Zavacky. Your image is very well drawn, and delicate. Love your style. I get what you mean - It is hard with storytelling, for everyone I guess.

    I think many artists probably start with a feeling and did not know exactly what the story is going to be, and I think it is a completely valid way to approach image-making. But I think you ran into trouble if you do not figure out what you exactly want to convey during thumbnailing and value study phase. Because if you do not figure out what you want to convey, it is difficult to make decisions down on the road: such as composition, color, details, and rendering. I have done that so many times myself, and often I had to discard the image or start all over again.

    So my suggestion would be to spend more time on the thumbnail + value study phase and try out different things. It is so much easier to change things at this early stage.

  • @xin-li thank you πŸ™‚

    Thank you for suggestion πŸ™‚ I do the mistake each and every time πŸ™‚
    Believing that I can skip that part.

    I am going to have serious talk with my brain πŸ˜ƒ

  • SVS OG

    I think it's a very nice image and it definitely conveys the feelings you wanted. The difficulty I see with the story-telling aspect is that you have two different elements creating the feeling of peace -- one is the valley and sunset and the other is the bird. If the "story" is the peacefulness of overlooking the valley at sunset, then the girl needs to be focused on the valley but if it's the bird, you could crop out everything that isn't that interaction. I think good story-telling actually begins with feelings so all you need to do to increase the story telling in this picture is figure out where that sense of peace is primarily coming from for her and emphasize that as the subject.

  • SVS OG

    I really love the colours in this piece and you certainly convey a feeling of warmth. I also think the drawing itself is gorgeous. Love how you drew the tress and flowers and grass and everything!

    What if you add a flock of birds flying away in the left hand side of the sky, with the little bird in her hand looking over at them longingly. This might convey more of a sense of story? Like maybe he is injured and can't fly away with the rest of his family? And this little girl is going to look after him...

  • @demotlj @ShannonBiondi Thanks a lot for feedback. I am starting to have an idea what i want to do with it πŸ™‚ I will update as soon as possible

  • Moderator

    What is the illustration for?

    As a spot piece of illustration, it might serve an editorial function just fine paired with an article or feature depending on how it's used. But if it's intended specifically as a single image that portrays a story by itself, I can understand why you're struggling. If it's part of a sequential series, it seems like it could hearken to a number of childhood moments of fairy tale princesses.

    But knowing what it's intended for might help you determine what elements are required to do what you want...

  • Ok I did a little draw over πŸ™‚ The girl was lost in woods and her animal friends help her find her home

  • Or it could be just the girl and the bird again... πŸ™‚ just with little changes.
    What do you think? Is it an idea worth pursuing?

  • SVS OG

    I like this! I like the pose and expression of the first one best. I like the interaction between her and the bird. I like the addition of flowers and the little building in the distance. I don't think you need the cow since you get a strong feeling from the third one without it. Removing the lines in the sky was a good move.
    If she's dirty maybe she'd have a little leaf in her hair. Also a photo reference of morning sun may help you pick your colors and determine how dark to go with your shadows.

  • @Jonas-Zavacky Ahh-this dilemma so many of us encounter! I've been listening to the latest podcast and Lee and Will were mentioning that like 7/10 of the images submitted by students in the Brian Ajar class--were short on story. Nice images without story doesn't equal "illustration"--my interpretation.

    I think the first of these 2 recent images--the sense of "home" is well conveyed with the buildings and smoke. But if I were lost--when I "finally" find home, I wonder if my pose would be less beautiful and serene and would be ecstatic, reaching toward home, running toward home, etc. Or come up with a reason why when she finally sees home is she calm? I think she has tears from her eyes-which conveys facially this emotion, but I wonder if it would be expressed also in her posture/gesture.

    The 2nd image doesn't have as much story as the earlier of the 2--and seems much like the first one. Could the bird be carrying a message? Be bigger?

    Sometimes I'll do a wild brainstorm-"imagine anything that could be going on in this story---the wilder and crazier the better"-and sometimes that will shake a bit of story out of me. It doesn't always work. I often feel like I, as well as my characers, are waiting for something to tell us what's going on!

    Good luck, I feel you.

  • @Washu @Susan-Marks - sorry for replying so late. Didn't have much time to do so.

    @Washu - thanks for feedback and tips - I actually think the same and more reference will be needed for sure!

    @Susan-Marks Yeah you are right. The pose is very stiff and not conveying the emotion I was going for with those posts.

    I actually decided to go to thumbnails phase again to explore more possibilities.
    I wanna go back to the original emotion and that is calm, peaceful one. The story will be simple - a girl went to her favorite place and is just observing the surroundings of her home while bird (or some animal) aproaches her and makes her company.

    The environment will be heavily inspired by one area near my home. Spring/Summer scene.

    here are a few sketches for it.

    I welcome any comment πŸ™‚

  • Hi... so after today's podcast I kinda rethought the illustration and finally, I feel it is starting to get somewhere. Here is just a messy sketch of it. πŸ˜ƒ

    The rabbit is currently just in placeholder position, but I will definitely change it accordingly to the narrative text. (More like a try of it hehe)

    anyways I would like to ask if the composition and the story are clear... and generaly I welcome any comment on this πŸ™‚ Thank you ! story sketch .jpg

  • Hi, @Jonas-Zavacky, it must be tough to scrap an idea and redraw it the way you have - that's really commendable. I like the redrawn version!

    As for storytelling:

    1. Maybe it would help to have the cabin just a little more noticeable? If it's the red shape in the distance, could it be just a teeny bit bigger with a clear silhouette to indicate that it is a cabin?

    2. I like where the rabbit is currently positioned, since our eyes have a path to follow. We can start where the rabbit is, which then directs our eyes nicely down the path to where the cabin should be.

    3. Could the rabbit's excitement maybe show in its body language?

    Hope this helps! (:

  • Hi @animatosoor, yeah it was at the beginning but after a while, I detached myself from it and was able to think about it more freely πŸ˜ƒ

    thank you for the pointers, they make sense πŸ™‚ and yes changing the pose was the plan all along.

    Yes, it helps! appreciate it πŸ™‚

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