Hello all! I'm rounding the bend on this piece and am feeling really good about it. Thank you to everyone for your feedback over the course of this loooong patient process. Any last comments totally welcome, too.
Oh, wow. I've had burnout and low periods that lasted for MONTHS, so I'm a little envious that two weeks was your max. But I know when you're used to a steady groove, even the smallest hiccup can feel really intense. I think over the years I've learned to look at the urge to procrastinate and examine what's making me do it.
A lot of the time, that sort of unsatisfied frustration means you're growing and developing as an artist--like having a little fallow period where your fresh seeds are growing and bringing you new crops--and honestly, that dormant period can be super important for your artistic muscles to rest and recharge. So first, I'd say don't fear the downtime! When I hit a wall, I usually disengage from whatever is giving me trouble, whether it's a certain piece or drawing altogether, and do something else to stimulate my brain like cooking or crafting or even just rearranging a room. Your brain keeps working on problems even when you're not directly plugged into whatever it is, so sometimes giving yourself that space you might unconsciously work out what's bothering you.
But also there's totally the kind of procrastination that feels a lot like laziness, and while that might also be frustration, it can also definitely be a discipline problem. For that, I try to get myself into a routine that keeps me engaged and spaces out breaks. Time intervals for working, disabling internet for 30 minutes at a time, rewarding yourself with set amounts of downtime away from work, or even just scaling back distractions in general will work wonders. I also have a lot of lists, because checking things off scratches my particular brain itches. Accountability with creative peers is great--even if it's just posting to your social feed of choice that you're going to do A Thing.
Also be sure to check in with the stakes of whatever you're not wanting to work on--if it's purely a personal thing that doesn't have a hard deadline, then I'm more inclined to think personal forgiveness and disengagement is the way to go. But if it's a paid project that you have to have done by a certain day in order to pay your bills....routine will get the job done. Burnout on something that you're getting paid for is the worst, but having a system for attacking that is a lifesaver.
Hello all!! Thank you all for your comments and feedback--it's been really helpful in getting this moved along and me working through it. Definitely could not have done it without the concrit I got from you! After a lot of mulling over, I'm currently here with it:
I feel pretty good about it, I think?? I finally gave up on the wings, lmao. I'm reaching a point where I actually feel like it's almost there....any thoughts? Thank you again!
Hello all! First post here; I discovered the forum via 3 Point Perspective and I'm really interested in checking out the community as a place to better grow my skills. I've been a professional illustrator and comic artist for a few years now, but haven't really found a place that feels like a peer community, so....hi! hello! I'm happy to be here.
I have one project in particular that I'm chipping away at, which is an illustration for an anthology that is themed around queer historical adventuring. The deadlines are generously spaced out to allow for the fact that the book is about 50% comics, so I'm taking my time and trying to make this as thorough and deliberate as possible as a narrative image. My illo is themed around women in love in the golden age of piracy [late 1600s], so I really want to touch on the concepts of 1. female members of a pirate crew not being able or have the desire to be openly feminine and 2. needing to be at least a little discreet about having a relationship [more of an implication than anything, I know, but this is just one image and it's gotta be safe for work].
In the interest of ~showing my work~, these are the thumbnails I submitted for consideration.
The editors selected the thumbnail on the far right for further development, which I think is probably the strongest choice, since this illo isn't About The Ship but rather the characters.
So now I'm here:
Things I like:
Things I don't like:
I think a lot of this might also change once I start putting values behind all this, so that might also be a consideration. For instance, I know the big white space behind them might not read as a sail right now....but with values, it'll still just be a Big White-ish Space, so I don't even know if that will help to decode the visual information or not. Keep in mind you will be able to see the sea beyond the rigging, so that might ALSO go a long way.
Honestly, at this point, I'm still pretty open to the concept of going back to my editors and lobbying for another thumbnail to get developed [the far left one is promising, I think]. I've been puzzling over this for a few days and would really love to get someone's thoughts.
Thank you all in advance!
Hi Judy! First off, I think this looks really precious! I especially love the framing details--the hand drawn texture is really charming.
I think some of the scale contrast of your design might be throwing the visual rhythm off, though. The text could be shrunk a bit with tighter kerning to give it some room to breathe on either side; the white space can really help visual tempo there. I feel like the firefly might also be a bit large, but if the text gets smaller that might balance out.
The background behind text/firefly is a little distracting as well. Is it just an abstract pattern? Or are the shapes significant within the story? I would recommend either simplifying it or making it a completely flat single color so that it feels less noisy.
Looking forward to see how this develops!!
I think this looks wonderful! Everyone is making very good points about the artwork on front, and I find I'm not really sure where I fall with regard to having your name on it...I'll leave that to your discretion.
As for your back, though, I would recommend cleaning up the design elements a bit. Center aligning your name and illustration can be a bit tricky when it's not actually center-aligned within the piece itself. I would recommend something like this to straighten up the hierarchy of your information (forgive my mouse-drawn bear):
I know the back of the card is probably not going to be prominently displayed, but something like this will help to give your name and information the best real estate arrangement.
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson This is SO CUTE, gosh. I love how it's developing!! I'd go ahead and make the eyes/mouth lines blue as well if you're gonna go with blue lines everywhere else, but really that's up to you. This is precious and I think it's super-sweet. The moon looks lovely as well!!! the texture makes it feel so tangible. Lovely work!
@robgale Thank you so much! That's a really good point about the rigging....I think I'll skim out some of those values and see how that effects the look. I think for lighting, it'll be pretty vibrant, bright sunlight, with them both in the light with nice crisp shadows cast from more or less a noon-position sun. Tomorrow I'll do a pass with some values and maybe thumbnail out lighting to get a better idea. A great suggestion, thank you.
Also a very good point about shoulder/hip line-ups. I'll curve them a bit more and see how that effects things!
Hello all! I've been working on this and refining based on everyone's feedback, and I'm feeling much better about how it feels now.
The lines are currently like so:
....which, in contrast to the original I posted here, changed like this:
I backed off the ropes to no longer be flat and, just for work purposes here, just took out the mast shading. You can see that I mostly just shifted the posing of Mx. Right, but dang that made a big difference. I also worked on their faces to refine expression, and I think it feels a lot more....approachable now??
I've been working on both value and some color and I feel really good about how they're both playing. I would have posted the values here before I dove into color, but I did a lot of going back and forth to tweak both sides, so it really was a simultaneous development, haha.
You can see the work I've done here:
aaand here's a closer look at my color WIP:
My values aren't quite there yet, and I'm working to find a middle ground between a faithful rendering of dark skin while keeping the visual literacy of the image intact. The mast is a bit of a struggle as well; I like how it's visually very heavy, since it's a bit of an anchor for all the other hard lines in the image, while my figures are very organic and curvilinear in contrast. I might bump up its values to keep it from being such a punch in the face, though. I'm also still mulling over @Kristin-Wauson's comment about Right's tangenty hand....I might shift it down (or up??) a bit, but that might make it even less readable as a detail; I think it makes for a good anchor for the physics of the pose, and the rope is there anyway, so the tangent might exist whether the hand is there or not. :|a I'm open to suggestions, though.
And of course, my colors are still in development, so that'll be deepening as I go. I am really liking the balance of vivid blues and kind of worn warm tones of my figures, so I'm hoping to keep that as well as keeping a bit of a nod to the types of colors that can survive out on the seas. (Cue me studying color keys from Pirates of the Caribbean and Black Sails.)
Thoughts still welcome! I really appreciate everyone's feedback and time.
@juliekitzes & @kaitlinmakes -- thank you both so much! it's...well, that's not as frustrating to hear as you might think, haha. I know I've long-since lost my perspective with this and it would be ironic but not super surprising if my initial instinct was right all along.
I tried some things! I brought back my original layers and redrew the swans because I was seeing my original problem, which was the exaggerated separation between points of depth. It really felt like the swans were existing on a completely different plane, or were even cardboard cutout-y...so I tried something I had originally thought about but somehow couldn't get right in my initial sketch. Also added some more fraught face-touching in lieu of shifting Uthkima's posture. I think it helps, weirdly.
I'm on the fence about the wings in the back, but I can see that they're definitely doing something right in activating the space and helping to make my figures more distinct via contrast. Puzzling over what to do with them now that would keep the fill, since just lines would make everything dissolve into a mess again--otherwise my magpie brain would be going hard on making it look like a neon afterimage, sort of like the American Gods opening, which has such a stunning look:
ANYWAY. Thoughts on the swans?? I think they're definitely an improvement. And absolutely yes, I gave the swans jewelry. I love how they pull in the teal/pink/gold colors at the bottom, so that was a really good call. Thank you, everyone who cheered for the birds!! I am so glad they're back.
Hello lovely people! I've got an illo that's been sitting unfinished in my WIP folder since...April, and I'm finally at a loss for where to take it.
A bit of background: this was primarily started as a world-building exercise for a friend's novel. She established a major part of her novel's background on a love story between gods; the predominant religion in her story is named after a goddess of love (Uthkima), whose vast well of compassion came from mourning her lover, a god who was killed by other gods and upon whose bones a city was built (Ujake). My friend made a note for me: "In legend his blood is the ocean and his body is the bones of the city." The illustration is really to help me stretch my legs and play with design and narrative and also to help her flesh out her concept by way of me asking an irritating amount of questions.
Unfortunately, I can't show my work as much as I'd want--I was freewheeling in early stages and have done so many little nudges this way and that that it's a weird mess to follow. But I have a few looks that might help show my thoughts.
Initial concept--which, bless Time Machine for letting me fetch:
You can see that I stopped cold between rough sketching and refined lines. My friend suggested black swans as a major motif for them, but all of this felt like such a stiff mess that I got frustrated and had to take a step back, rather than lean heavily on layering and empty ornamentation.
I stripped out a lot of noise and tried to refine the poses into something more elegant and natural-feeling. Success: questionable. Frustration: high. I thought, hmm, maybe I can push it over the edge by working color and value into it, and I really want to work on painting skin, too.
And, naturally, since I haven't fixed the problem at its most basic level, I'm still not all that happy (even though my inner magpie is in love with the gold and vivid color).
Detail shot, because of course I got too zoomed in and played:
There are things I really love about where I am (ornamentation, skin painting, colors, afro-futuristic vibe), but I can't get over how this isn't actually....communicating anything. I would love to impart the sort of visual narrative you see in Caravaggio paintings and classic religious iconography: something celestial and serene, but still emotionally vibrant. Acceptance in mourning, devotion, and love (even doomed love). The only thing I can really think of is illustrating some of Ujake's manner of death (which really translates to me asking my friend lots of questions, because it's a bit vague to me), but that also seems kind of maudlin and like I'd be leaning on cheap tactics.
I do like the flow happening in the top half of the image, but the lower half is fairly unactivated right now:
Maybe the swans from version 1 need to make a bit of a comeback? Or is that me falling back on my worst tendencies to throw the kitchen sink at an illustration? Heck, maybe the answer is to make it vaguely gruesome with blood creeping up their robes. Or throw out half of what I have and rework their poses? Thoughts absolutely welcome, because I'm really just at a loss. I haven't touched this in about a month and I feel like it has potential to be effective narratively, but I can't see the path to get there.
Thank you in advance!
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson I think that helps a lot! You could even make the moon that nice cream again, but the flat color works much better. I think the kerning on the title could still be a bit tighter.
I also agree with @hannahmccaffery with regard to your character's lines, especially now seeing it with white splashed in the back--the black outline stands out perhaps more than you want it to. If the lines were the same dark blue that the title text is I think it would be a really lovely soft look, and it might unify all those elements.
This is coming along so nicely, and I can't wait to see how it finalizes!
@MikeCañas This looks so good! I love how your narrative suddenly just bloomed into something so cohesive. Your first image had me wondering why things were happening and if there was supposed to be text that would explain everything, and your last one tied it all up into such a concise story that requires no explanation at all. Very well done!!