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Submitted on
September 19, 2012
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24 (who?)
Not a Pretty Girl by James-S-Flynn Not a Pretty Girl by James-S-Flynn
Florense ab Flewelling, a character from The Inquisition: Atonement MUD.

"I am not a pretty girl.
That is not what I do.
I ain't no damsel in distress,
and I don't need
to be rescued.

So put me down, punk.
Wouldn't you prefer a maiden fair?
Isn't there a kitten
stuck up a tree somewhere?"
-Ani DiFranco

Testing a colouring technique.

About 7 hours.
Paint Tool SAI
Photoshop CS-5
Wacom Intuos 4.
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Andantonius Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Very nice, you're making good progress, keep it up!

Overall the structure is solid; you've got the perspective going good and overall the rendering and color is working pretty well!

For crits, there's a couple main things I'd mention. First, though you got the overall drawing in the right spot, something feels just a little out of place, I think the eyes/eye sockets are turned more towards us than the nose and mouth as the face feels somewhat twisted. If you didn't, I would shoot some reference of yourself or a friend, or look for some online, just to try and see if you can figure out exactly how everything would be placed at that particular angle. It might just be that the eye closest to us needs to move to the left a bit, more in to the front plane of the face. Also, be sure you work out the structure of the face without hair first; I feel like the jawline is trying to be juuuust a little bit too long, and with the hair covering it up it feels somewhat unresolved.

Then on the painting side of thing, overall your rendering is working well, your edge control is really good and you've got the forms blended and rolling nicely. The next step is to now be more specific with your forms; right now everything is pretty much in the right place, but it's all very soft and airbrushy, and the softness shows a bit of uncertainty like "I'm not quite sure where this would end, so I'll blur it out a bit and it could end around here somewhere-ish." An example would be the smile line; the part of the cheek surrounding the tooth cylinder that goes up to the nose; right now you've got it very soft and ending kind of in the middle of the side of the nostril, when actually that line is from a muscle that wraps up and around the nostril, so it should be a harder edge that flows in to the wing of the nose on top. Again, if you're not sure here, reference is your greatest ally!

Then the last thing is about the values; again, you've got these overall in the right place, but now that you've gotten there lets push for more subtlety. The values of the hair are great, very well controlled and they make a nice clear dark shape against the light in the background. In the face though, you lose control a bit, there's some very bright lights and some very dark darks that are breaking up the shapes and forms and making it look over-defined. Limiting what values you use in any single object is a very important skill, and it's crucial for composition and painting realistic looking forms. Look at painters like Bouguereau, Sargent, take the eyedropper tool in PS to their paintings and see how little value they use to fully render a figure or a portrait. They might only use from 60% light to 90% light across an entire figure.

So yeah, those are my main points, again this is looking great overall! Lots of improvement! Keep it up, and let me know if any of that doesn't make sense or you have other questions!
James-S-Flynn Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hi sorry, I always have to get in a rather quiet place to seriously think about your crits - they're always so detailed. I've read over it and now I know what I have to work on. :D Thanks so much for this. I was doing a lot of studies and value experiments off of Courbet's work, and that might be part of the issue. His darks are really extreme! So are Sargent's, but I feel like its subtler on the figures, and more dramatic in the background. It's a really interesting contrast and I'll need to do some reading up on how he created his paintings. The critiques of other deviants are really all I have to work with for improvement. I'm not in school right now, so tutorials, studies and paintings by the masters are what I have. Not to make excuses, it just means I have to work twice as hard. :)

This image was a really big experiment on my part. The angle on the face is not a position I typically draw in - lots of weird foreshortening, a lot of measuring and swearing at measuring. My reference for the face was -tiny- (I guess I need to work bigger) and the lighting was not great, so I need to chose better refs if I'm going to be attempting more complicated angles. So, in the future, larger, better ref with the actual lighting I'm painting.

I'm still having problems seeing the right values within color. If I were to do this in greyscale, I think the values would be more accurate, but when I go to paint in color, I feel like there's not enough contrast so I end up really pushing things as far as the darks go - I went back and eyedroppered this. Across the face, there's ... %5 - 80/90% contrast. Compared to the much softer rendering of Sargent, I feel a little silly. They were able to accomplish such subtlety without overstressing their values. I wanted to convey she had a really sharp, masculine face, but that may have not been the way to go about it. D:

The rest, I feel, is doing more studies on the skull and the musculature of the face - I hope, at least. Such a complicated, beautiful thing, faces! More references, more drawing. :)

Thank you so much, really, really. Your critiques are always very well thought out and considerate and they've helped me tremendously. If you're ever in Mississippi, I'll get you a pint or three at our local Irish pub. :)
Andantonius Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
No problem, glad to be of help!

As far as the contrast thing goes, there's really no hard and fast 'rule' as to how you have to do it, you just have to know what you're doing and make your decisions in a controlled, purposeful way, rather than letting the painting make them for you because you "can't get it to show up without making it darker." That's a very difficult skill to atttain; doing studies of masterful pieces would probably help you a lot.

And again, it's not that you can't use high contrast; look at Caravaggio's work, he's got all kinds of crazy high contrast in his work, but he controls it. He uses his contrast to make big dark shapes that serve his composition; but then when he needs to be more subtle with his values, like in a white cloth, he can still render just as much depth of form with 2 values as he can with 8 values.

Then if you want to go for the other method of low-contrast painting, like some Bouguereau's work and some of Monet's, you can see that there's still lights and darks but they're limited in how far they go, and they're very, very controlled.

So yeah, the main point being that you can paint however you want, but it should be a conscious choice. "I'm going to paint this high-contrast because I want this specific mood and that's how I'm going to get it." instead of, "I have a hard time making things look 3d, so I add a lot of black so it looks like it has shadows." And again, studying masterful works, even doing copies of them, will help a lot.

And yes, finding good reference is very important! With as much information as you can get; if it's super small, it's going to be hard to see important drawing landmarks, or subtle halftones. Do lots of studies strictly from observation, and when you're comfortable with that *then* start pushing your imaginative side.

As for creating a sharp masculine face, a lot of subtlety can go in to that without pushing values. Think about it in an abstract way; what makes a sharp, masculine face? Square jaw? High cheekbones? Very angular? Straight lines? Well, what if you use a square brush instead of a round one? That will create, just subtle, a little more 'cut' to your brushwork, and you can purposefully change curved lines in to straight ones to make the features more angular and masculine. You could style the hair to be made of sharp angles rather than gentle curls; all these things are subtle, abstract, almost subconscious things, but they will affect the image.

That's a little next-level though, for now really focus on getting your drawing and painting up! You're making good progress, so keep pushing and do lots lots lots of observation and studies from life/photos!

Keep it uuuuup!
PelicanDeath Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
i love her hair. and the way her head is posed. and the colors.
James-S-Flynn Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks. ^^:
cressada Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the picture!! I also love that song and still find Flor to be a very pretty, insightful character.
James-S-Flynn Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Oh wow. ^_^

Thank you for that. I'm always afraid I play her as too boorish, and I'm glad you like her.
cressada Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Booorish? You didn't see me trying to formulate responses to her at the party that didn't involve Maebel hugging her and going 'OH MY DAV YOU'RE RIGHT!' mwhahahaha. *hug*
James-S-Flynn Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
They need to talk more. I MISS YOU.
cressada Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I always miss you! <3 Our characters do not interact enough.
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