In the meantime here's a little tutorial based on the critiques I was given on a previous version of this piece:
- I thought I was being clever by having a circular composition for the piece. I was told that this was a mistake however, because what I was really doing was creating an infinite circle for a composition wherein the viewer's eye would never rest on anything. Or if it did it would rest in that awkward spot between the based of the tree and the samurai's sword, which is kind of a boring spot to rest your eyes on. To fix this I repositioned the samurai and the tree such that the eye could start from the tree top then swing around to the samurai's face and stop there, which is what I want since I spent a lot of time on that face. :P
- One person made mention that the tree in the original piece looked rather awkward in that it had no dimensions, like it was just the perfect profile view of the tree. To remedy that I introduced some more branching and tried to control the lights and darks to suggest more volume to the tree. One commenter also suggested that I introduce some atmospheric perspective on the tree to push it backwards a little bit and give the piece more dimension. I did that ever so slightly, and now I worry that it's not noticeable enough.
- The last critique I'd like to mention also pertains to the tree. In the original piece the thickness of the tree truck towards the bottom becomes quite pronounced, making it seem like the ground is very much near the bottom of the artwork. This is a problem because tonally the samurai and the tree seem to be in the same visual plane, meaning the samurai either has really short legs, or the tree is floating. The critiquer, Tinybird of the conceptart.org forums made this funny and useful image to help explain the problem. He was absolutely right. This happened because I was using a Bonsai tree as a reference , and unthinkingly copied the general shape of the tree without considering how it would look when it extends outside the frame.
Well that wraps it up for this post. Hope you found reading about all of my mistakes useful! It's interesting how most of my issues had to do with the tree. I still have trouble with foliage, so maybe that's something to focus on when I'm sketching outside.