Firstly, the lens flare. Very rarely can it be used well, and here it is used incorrectly. I understand why it was used, to accentuate the light bouncing off the trees, but it isn't working, and besides that, lens flare is a preset in photoshop, and generally you want to avoid those, because subtlety is key. Also, it makes the composition too symmetrical, which is dull.
Which brings me to the next point. The brushes you've used are clearly and obviously the preset 'special' brushes in photoshop, and rarely if ever look any good. Now, there are plenty of artists who can use various brushes that emulate leaves and textures and such, but they aren't the default brushes in photoshop, because the default brushes aren't very good, the grass especially is unconvincing. Speed artists use good brushes for this sort of thing, but in the case of your piece here, I'd reccommend on not relying on 'special' brushes, and work on painting with the basic brushes, utilising pressure, colour and shape to emphasise leaves and texture. Using brushes for leaves and texture requires skill and subtlety, which takes a lot of practice beforehand.
Colour! I can't be sure but I have a strong hunch that when you are shading your painting here, you are just adding black or white. That is totally incorrect, and results in muddy lifeless colours. You need to make the shading and highlights dark or light but also add colour. For this, you need to read up on 'colour theory'. That link I sent you to John K's blog has some stuff about it, and there's probably more about it on his blog, but you need to search and find and read about colour theory and then paint it. Do you want your shadows warm or cold? Highlights, warm or cold? Do you want them to contrast or be the same? How do your colour choices affect the tone, theme, mood and atmosphere of the piece as a whole? Just a few things to think about.
Tone and Value. For your next painting, I want you to paint in greyscale. That way, you will focus only upon the tone, and lighting of the painting, instead of worrying about the colours involved. Consider how dark or light something is in relation to the point of focus of the painting. It can be a bit dull, but trust me, you will learn more from doing this. Research greyscale painting for more info. Little tutorial: [link]
As for the drawing itself, Applejack looks alright, although her ear looks a tad small. Her mane and tail could use some more confidence in their shaping but it's nothing major, especially her tail, it looks a bit flat. I think her hind leg looks a bit small too. The trees don't particularly look like their rooted into the ground, they kinda look like they're floating above the ground, or are too flat.
The angle and perspective looks odd. Either Applejack is huge and not on the correct plane (the ground) or the tress are tiny and growing at an odd angle. I don't think this was your goal. Before you start colouring, get your sketch and perspectives right. Now, I know very well how hard perspective can be. I know it is not easy. But practice it. This is a good tutorial [link] For composition, read this: [link] You need to consider the relationship between negative space and filled space, as in, space being taken up by line and colour, and space that isn't. That doesn't mean that negative space is completely blank, for instance, negative space here would be the grassy ground that doesn't catch the eye like the grass around the roots of the trees. Which is what I meant by the lens flare, if we take it away, we have more negative space to contrast the space that has been filled. You can use space to direct where you want the viewer to look. If it were me, I would have set up Applejack further off center (because the center is boring) and made the tree in the bottom right corner bigger to cover the new negative space. You can then have negative space around Applejack to draw attention to her and have the background filled with trees, perhaps slightly desaturated so they don't catch the eye too much. This is an article about photography, but just read it, the composition techniques it talks about is useful to painting too [link] The angle is interesting. What you need to know about angles is that they are a storytelling tool, one that storyboarders and comic artists use. As well as painters, of course, but I always look at it from an animation viewpoint. What does this angle say? We, the viewer, are looking down at AJ, and she is looking up. It gets a bit theoretical over the connotations involved, but generally high angles makes characters look small, perhaps insignificant. Do you want us to think AJ feels small? It's about 'conveyance', and getting your message across. Point is, make sure to think about the angle, and what the angle you're drawing is saying to the viewer. From a painting standpoint this isn't as important as my above critique, but I thought I'd mention it, in regards to composition.
Okay, that's all I can think of right now. I know I said I'd write this last night, but real life got in the way, sorry. I hope all this helps in some way. I also know it's a lot to think about, and a lot to keep in mind and practice. But it's all necessary, so have fun!
So, THATS what real criticue looks like? This is REALLY helped me to realize that i have a loooooooooooooooooooooong way to go. And i have few things to add:
I HATE backgrounds as i hate driving inanimate objects. my sketch consisted only from frame, placement of trees and applejack, nothing more Brushes i used for leaves and grass are indeed default, but i found nothing better. Oh, and to paint all the leaves by myself is an overkill for me. I hate doing drag, long things. That eating mah inspiration
And i am not very good in that type of shading, hafta admit. Thanks for useful tips here
Anyway, you REALLY helped me i hope i will do better when i will decide to do strong shading again. Thanks
Indeed. But with lots of work and practice, you will improve.
I know backgrounds aren't easy, but still, when you start painting, you need to stop and think and plan it out. NEVER do the background last. Backgrounds inform your colour choices.
There are speedpainting brushes out there, but I'd only reccommend those to seasoned artists, who know how to use them. I don't include myself in that list. Of course, most people don't need to paint all the leaves and blades of grass, I can't think of many artists who do that. Instead, paint the darker colour of the whole silhouette of the tree leaves, for example, and then paint in the higher lighter shade. You'll be painting the hint of multiple leaves. Easier just to show you. [link][link] and to an extent this [link]
No problem, eventually you will be good at multiple types of shading.
No problem, glad to pass on what I know for the benefit of others!
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Bluefley has a gallery filled with artwork that whisks you off in to a Sci-fi daydream, and keeps you captivated for hours. Marc has been a member of our community for over a decade and has achieved nothing but success with his astounding commitment to interacting with the community, sharing a prolific amount of video tutorials and generally being an all round rockstar deviant. It is no joke that we are absolutely delighted to award the Deviousness Award for April 2014 to ... Read More