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Dec 27 16 8:57 PM

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Hey guys! So ive been a long time lurker on this forum and ive seen a couple other people do this with success so: i come bearing art for you guys to critique!

-Don't hold back. If the pose looks bad, if the anatomy is off, if the color pallet makes you want to claw your eyes out, tell me
-Telling me what to fix is good. telling me how to fix it is better
-please keep in mind im still a beginner(only 3 or so years)
-add on to the last one: keep in mind style restrictions as well! im not using it as any kind of excuse, but remember that affects how somethings are

Alright to get this started, here are a few pieces i am relatively not to ashamed of:
(sorry if their too big, i cannot for the life of me figure out image scaling on this website)
Go Nuts!
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#1 [url]

Dec 28 16 7:14 AM

Aaalright, first of all: for scaling images, the code is as follows: (replace the { with [ and height and weight with the measurements you wish):

{img=widthxheight} Image url {/img}

As for the images: not half bad! Maybe the colors are a bit too saturated. I have to work on some stuff of my own this afternoon, so I might get some time to check them out in more detail then!

Also, welcome to the forums!

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#2 [url]

Dec 28 16 2:20 PM

Thank you! (i am the least web literate person on this planet aha)

and again thank you for your critique! ive been trying to get better at colors in general so if you have anything for those thatd be amazing

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#3 [url]

Dec 28 16 8:02 PM

Welcome to the forums, friend. I'm also a beginner when it comes to drawing so my contribution would be from what I learned so far:

The initial impression:
  1) You have some adquired knowledge in using software for your digital drawing/inking since you use high resolution from the get-go, and the image has been constructed using layers for the different steps in its process based on the shading and coloring.
  2) You have clean linework and use thick lines with minimal difference in pressure, which means you either have a pen & touch tablet or take care in cleaning your lines a bit with the eraser tool. If its the tablet then you are serious in getting the tools that will make the job easier in the long run, but if its the eraser then you are willing to put some extra work to get things done.
  3) Your coloring doesn't step out of bounds (which suits the clean linework) and you have some degree of success when it comes to bright colors and their combinations, however, this makes dark colors look bland by contrast. The saturation does seem a bit too much like Hyena pointed out, which causes some details to get lost at first sight.
  4) You have developed your own character model from which you create your characters. This by itself is a necessary step in learning character design but only to acknowledge what makes a single character unique and then flesh out the differences that distinguish it from others, all the other characters that once shared the same model must then be given their own model in turn and grow apart. Right now all these characters share the same characteristics: thin body with short torso and long legs, round eyes (some with two colors instead of one), same mouth, same head shape, same eyebrows, no nose, similar hair details (a pointy bit in the back of the skull).
  5) You are experimenting with clothing and other accessories to distinguish characters, but so far you have a limited wardrobe were the majority of items are jeans, featureless shoes, and t-shirts. This too is a part of character design and its fine for the beginning steps since repetition can create skill, but later on you have to manage variations of a single kind of item to accomodate the differences in characters, and because they all share the same build, right now the clothing is virtually interchangeable between them and offer no real value.
  6) There is no fixed light source that justifies the shading as a whole, which brings more attention to the lack of anatomy of the characters and gives the feeling that if you look at them from another side they will be disfigured. In addition, there is no shift in perspective which means you have chosen to improve yourself based on a few set of poses.
  7) The use of colored linework as the "edge" of a character can help in distinguishing them from the background, but depending on the style and setting of their story it can be distracting.

My suggestions for improvement:

  1) I can't say much about the program you use to finish your drawings since I don't know it (I'm guessing is either photoshop or gimp and my bet is with the latter) and I don't know how much it took you to draw these, but if much focus on learning all the keyboard shortcuts you have available to shorten your work time. Practice using as few layers as possible since they can put a lot of stress on your pc if its not too powerful, and make two copies of your image (one high res, one low res) if you want to share it without worrying much about size.
  2) The linework is fine unless you intent to use it to set a more impactful style, in which case experimenting with the thickness of the brush and its color will be necessary. For example, a thicker line for the "edges" of the character can make it feel more robust and be easier to distinguish it from the background; while a color that complements the character's clothes, skin, hair, etc, can help give its design a more "natural" look.
  3) Coloring is a tricky business since it depends on the kind of mood and detailing you are going to use to show your characters and their surroundings, but as a general rule avoid colors that steal the focus of the viewer away from what you want them to see. This can happen when a color is too bright and forces the viewer to look away, or when a color blends in with another color that should be presenting a detail on its own. For example, the red haired guy has a brighter red on his hair compared to his jacket and it drives the eye towards it, but its brightness tires the eyes because the overall color scheme of the drawing is bright which creates a cycle of stress, since the viewer is taken back to the hair everytime they look at the drawing. In contrast, the guy with the glasses loses details because his colors are too dark to tell apart in some areas (look at him, can you tell the boundary between his pants, shoes, and linework?), which also tires the eyes from the effort of making out the missing details without zooming in. You can fix the dark colors by using a lighter shade of the color you need instead of the real color itself, for example, instead of black use a dark gray to emulate black items if your linework is black.
  4) You can keep using the same character model to create different characters for as long as you want if you are practicing, but if you intent on making those characters official you have to pull them away or you will end with "same-face syndrome" (or "same-body syndrome" if it stays all the way). If you want a relatively quick method of learning how to design different body shapes try forfeiting color entirely and ink in black and white, this will force you to give your characters something that tells them apart through contrast created by the use of shade, shape, and size. As an exercise imagine your characters naked of any characteristic that can be easy to modify by external sources in their surroundings (hair, clothing, accessories, skin [sunburn, makeup, sickness]) and ask yourself this: how tall is this character? how bulky or thin is this character? do they exercise? do they eat healthy? do they have a body part that developed different? do they have a physical condition or handicap? what kind of posture does this character regularly take? how do their personality or mood affect their posture? how much did they take from their parents' looks? how do they look when they are rested, tired, or show emotion? Questions like those can help you give your character a better individuality that will remain even when they are covered in accessories.
  5) Like character design, clothing and accessories must abide to their individuality despite being made to be interchangeable. Depending on the size and shape of the item is how they will behave when interacting with a character: a t-shirt that is medium size will look tight on a character that needs large size, while at the same time it will look loose on a character that needs small size. When designing an item for your character ask yourself this: was it build/forged/manufactured/grown/...? what materials where used on its making? how was it made? where was it made? what sizes are available? how much does it weight? what is its intended purpose? did someone else had it before? was it a gift/trade or bought? is it consumable? how much does it last on average? what are its physical properties and limits? does it carry an emotional mememto that compels the character to cherish it? does the character actually hate this item but can't get rid of it for some reason? This and more questions will help you flesh out the items that have an impact and the items that are disposable.
  6) If you want to improve your shading you have to consider the light source, the surroundings, and the character's anatomy and accessories. Light interacts with things in different ways depending on their properties (texture, transparency, size, shape, state [liquid, solid, gas], humidity, climate, among other things) and will do more than just create shadows: it can be reflected to the surroundings by surfaces such as glass, liquids, metal, and even skin, given the right circunstances; create a blindspot if it travels directly to the eye; leave no shadows if it is too bright or comes from different spots with the same luminosity; and create heat if it concentrates on a spot for too long. Of course, this details won't be showing at first sight since not all environments have the same light source, but consider for example the difference between the sunlight at the Sahara Desert and the sunlight at the North Pole.
  7) Using colors at the edge of a character abides to the same rule of thumb I mentioned before: don't let them distract the viewer away from important details. They can work for you by distinguishing characters as part of their overall theme or quirk, but if they don't offer a practical purpose within the story, background or art style, you should leave them behind and focus on doing a robust linework. I like the edges you used for the blonde guy and the red guy, but the guy with the glasses doesn't benefit much from his purple aura.

  This is all the critique I can offer but I'm sure others will point out details I missed. Either way, if you really want an ultimate solution don't forget that real life drawing is the way to go and that Google is your friend for good references. I hope this helps and I wish you good luck in your endeavor.

Last Edited By: Charles Chroniel Dec 28 16 8:05 PM. Edited 1 time.

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#4 [url]

Dec 31 16 11:12 PM

You seem to have a good grasp on the program you're using and you know the style you're going for, well done on that!

Something that can help ya keep the contrasts in mind is turn the picture to black and white and see how the values clash or work together. If you see two colors that are meant to contrast end up merging together, maybe you'll need to wash out some of the colours on these characters so they're a bit easier on the eyes, lower the saturation a bit to balance it out so it's easier to focus and details don't get lost. Some color palettes tend to have a similar sorta tinge sometimes and you can do an easy fix with that in mind, so say, if your character is all about reds but there's too many colors that distract and are too saturated, you might wanna make a clip a new layer on top with a base light orange color and very low transparency to light up and also "merge" the colors a bit more. ...Not good to rely too much on that, but it's a good exercise to see how colors react to eachother and how you can play around with the hues.  

I do like how certain absolute blacks merge with the lineart as a stylistic choice, but I feel it's a bit too much in say, the pants/shoes of the first character since it swallows a lot of attention. I think it works well in the bit around the hoodie of the third character for some reason. I don't know if there's a rule for it, but Invader Zim pulled it off really nicely; I'm willing to bet is the size of the details and how they're balanced out by the rest of the colors being quite pale. The black bits were pretty much an extension of the lineart, which had a lot of weight so the shapes were very easy to tell. If they were colored in they'd probably make the designs feel unecessarily crowded. It'd probably work on yours with thinner legs on the characters? Not sure, but just an observation!

Also practicing work with more exaggerated action lines could really benefit your style, I think! I get the feeling the third character is a much recent artwork because the pose looks lively and makes the other two look stiff by comparison, if it's the case you're going in the right direction. Something I feel works pretty well is redraw the pose again as soon as you finish sketching and try to push it more rather than delete it and try again, since that way you have a side-to-side comparison and can use the first idea as a reference. Also if you can flip your canvas horizontally that'd help in knowing if the character is leaning too much towards one side, so you keep in mind the weight of the picture and can adjust the action line to make it look more balanced across your canvas size :D

Finally, keep in mind the different shapes when it comes to constructing characters, as Charles pointed up there. You seem to have a good idea of where these are going, so what's left is to push the construction to make the designs match (or contrast with) the personalities you wanna give them. The third character once more stands out to me because the roundness of some parts in the hoodie compliment the sharp edges nicely, he still feels like you had a base for the design and then dressed him up, but giving that bit of personality to the clothes and how you drew them makes him feel more intentionally designed than the other two. Maybe making the "round" a consistent thing in his features would really push what he's all about!

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#5 [url]

Jan 2 17 8:31 PM

first off: thank you both so much for taking the time to critique my work, means a lot
second off: 
thank you for your suggestions. i know color pallets are definitely something i need to work on, and ill make sure to use the black and white check(dont know how ive never found this tip before, thank you so much). 
as for the same-body: i have been trying to fix that problem(it was actually, way worse in the past) and your correct on your assumption that the last pic is the most recent. however im not really sure, with lack of a better way to put it, how succesful i am at it. i have sort of a comparison pic of two different characters, who ive tried exaggerating their features on, and if you guys have any specific ideas or suggestions on how i can make it better, please tell me! (ive been having trouble w/ this specific thing for,, a long while)
this is an example of a rounder design VS a more angular one, but im not sure if ive handled it correctly, so if you have anything to say, please do
and again! thank you for responding!!

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#7 [url]

Jan 3 17 9:48 AM

Yuku does that a lot.

Also, glad you are back! Hang around a bit and I'll try to help you with that problem. Also if you wanna PM I can give you a few art books that might be helpful!

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#8 [url]

Jan 4 17 6:19 PM

If your ultimate goal is to create your own fiction and draw a story (be it a comic, webcomic, visual novel, etc) then I suggest you buy these books by Scott McCloud:
 Understanding Comics
 Making Comics

  This author approaches the subject of storytelling from the perspective of comics as the title implies but everything he talks about can be applied to visual media in general, so while it won't teach you to draw point by point, it will give you great incentives on what you should be focusing on when drawing characters, backgrounds, and events that serve a higher purpose for your story.

  Regarding character design once more: I believe your only fault is a lack of focus, you have a lot of ideas based on personality traits that you want to execute on different characters that you don't give yourself the time to flesh out a single character from the ground up, which is why you end up using the same core characteristics you have already practiced anatomy-wise (in this case: slender bodies with long limbs, big eyes, thick hair, and sharp features) so you could show personality as quick as possible. This mistake has nothing to do with style, it's just what happens when an eager artist gets swayed by first impressions from awesome characters and never looks beyond the superficial details, ignoring the underlying structure that defines the characters themselves. Consider the following:

  Shared traits and characteristics between characters:
  1) Biological: Specie (overall physiological properties), race (physiological properties due to environment or heritage), gender (physiological properties due to reproductive role), average lifespan, average height, average weight, average skin color, average eye color, average hair color and length, average muscle growth, common illnesses and diseases, physiological needs (eat, sleep, excrete, reproduce).
  2) Psychological: Common emotional response under similar conditions (for example: success = happiness or satisfaction, failure = sadness or anger), intellectual capability under similar conditions (for example: two people educated on the same job will yield the same results in their average work), common mental disorders due to genetic heritage or physiological deficits and trauma, common personality quirks present in the specie as a whole (are we all prone to become perfectionists at some point?), common psychological development through age and growth.
  3) Social: Language, ethics, morality, laws, customs, traditions, religious beliefs, education, clothing trends, food trends, technology trends, careers, economy.

  Traits and characteristics unique to characters:
  1) Biological: Current age, gender identity, current height, current weight, current hair color and length, current health condition, current muscle growth, current body integrity (did they ever lose a limb, adquired any scars or spots, adquired a genetic condition that handicaps them, or their overall body is limited by something that only defines their peak health but doesn't equal illness?), physical asymmetry (what are the little differences in their limbs and "symmetrical" body parts?)
  2) Psychological: Current emotional response, current intellectual capacity, quirks that repeat on average indicating a possible disorder (for example, are they obsessed with being clean or with symmetry? do they crave other's approval no matter what? do they deeply enjoy other's suffering?), quirks that repeat on average abiding to a personality archetype (are they diligent in their work? are they loyal to family or friends? do they stand up to injustice often? do they love to learn and study in silence? do they enjoy loud company and reckless fun?), current psychological developtment compared to their age and growth (are they a prodigy for their age? are they lacking for their age?).
  3) Social: Current known languages, current skills, current education, current social position, current economical position, current ethics and morality, current customs and traditions, current hobbies and preferences, current taste for clothing and accessories, current home and social identity, current spiritual beliefs, current career.

  It might seem a bit out of place to talk about all those details (which are only a part of the many things that define a character) considering you are interested in fixing your drawing skills right now, but the reason I bring them up is to let you see the subtle differences between them and how they affect your focus at the moment you draw. At your current skill (and based on the drawings you have shown us) you begin drawing the head's shape and build from there until you finish the hair, eyebrows, eyes, mouth and shoulders; ignoring the ears and the nose in favor of your current style. In here you already try to use those details to convey some emotion or personality which means you are not focusing on the anatomy at all. However, it's past the shoulders when you unconsciously forfeit the character's body and choose to finish superficial details like clothing from the get-go, which forces you to decide on a clothing style before you even have a body to dress, switching your focus from the character's anatomy to their social statement entirely. With your focus on clothing your mind turns anatomy to "automatic", filling that requirement based on what you have learned so far without trying anything new so that you can keep on focusing on the surface. You define the limits of the shirt or hoodie with no defined limits of the torso itself and end up creating an accessory of clothing that fits too tight (given another pose it would not cover that body area properly), and because you haven't learned any other body type you automatically made a thin "invisible" torso again. As a plus, since you drew the head from the same perspective or position you find yourself with a limited degree of how you can pose the rest of the body, meaning that when you go automatic with the anatomy you can only choose between a standing position or slightly bending the outer limbs to create a bit of contrast with the middle part, but the result is still a bit stiff. You finish the structure by using jeans as the defining characteristic that will limit the character's legs, giving them a tight fitting as well while automatically going for that thin and long shape, until you reach the feet which are completely ignored and replaced with featureless shoes. The arms and hands are used to contrast the stiffness and convey some personality at the same time but they are not enough to support the characterization, and you don't notice it because you are still focusing on the accessories and cosmetic details that will give that character a superficial difference compared to the previous characters drawn. On their own, these choices are not a mistake since they can be used well (remember Shaggy from Scooby-Doo? that guy had a design similar to the one you use and it became iconic), but you let them become your "automatic" response to drawing in general because you are not focusing in the anatomy behind the characters.

  Suggestions on how to fix it:
  1) Don't think about clothing, accessories, or facial features, until you have sketched the whole body of your character and the position you are thinking of drawing. Remember that stick figures and circles can go a long way.
  2) Every time you wish to draw a new character abide to three different perspectives: front, back, and profile. Create a grid that will measure their size and proportions, the normal unit of measurement in real life drawing is the head: for example, an average adult human male has the height of 7 1/2 heads (their head) by 2 heads when standing right. This can be used as your reference drawing for future depictions of that specific character.
  3) When you are done drawing a specific body type try doing a quick sketch of an opposing body type in the same position you are using, for example, draw any of your current characters as a chubby little guy and then try drawing them as a bulky giant. This will teach you the difference in size and shape.
  4) Use the shadow test to check if the characters can be identified by their silhouette, just ink the whole character in a single color and put them side by side with no linework showing inner details. If two characters seem too similar, ask yourself if they are supposed to look the same and proceed based on your answer: if they should be identical they are either clones or twins, and even then they should have a distinctive feature so we can tell them apart; if they should be a bit similar they should belong to something that justifies it, like an army or guild that demands a specific set of characteristics, but they should be different at some level other than color or accessories; if they should be different change one of them from the ground up.

  I hope this can help a bit in your endeavor, once again I wish you good luck and aim for the best.

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#9 [url]

Jan 29 17 8:51 PM

hey guys! dissapeared for a bit but im back with a few more art pieces. this time id really love critiques on color pallets and the such, since ive been trying to diversify/stop saturating the hell out of them. thanks in advance for reading/responding!

image   imageimage
(the similar poses are intentional, its to keep consistancy with character refs)

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#10 [url]

Jan 30 17 7:03 AM

Hmmm are the images broken for me or for everyone else? I reaaaally can't see them, but it might be my browser....

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Casual User

Posts: 12

#14 [url]

Feb 6 17 2:54 PM

I like it! I think you could try out some different poses though. I looked through your deviantart and while all of your characters look interesting, I started seeing some of the same poses being repeated.
(if you're wondering how I got your dev account, it was part of the images you linked.)

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#15 [url]

Feb 6 17 6:27 PM

yeah, ive been working on diversifying poses as well! though part of the reason a lot of them are in the same 'knees bent arm out' pose is for ref purposes, to try to keep em a bit consistent. i will work on that though! and if you have any pose refs id love some!

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Jacob Jones

Regular User

Posts: 198

#17 [url]

Feb 12 17 7:10 PM

Fellow beginner here, and I would like to say...that's some good shit you're putting out.

My only real nitpick is that the faces feel a little too samey for me, you want to aim for some variety with your face design; like circles or ovals.

But otherwise, keep up the good work man. You have something here.

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#18 [url]

Mar 12 17 9:03 PM

@Jacob thank you! and im definitely working on diversifying faces. the way i tend to go about style expansion is figure it out on normal paper first and then move on to digital stuff, and thats still in the paper phase. still tryna figure out how to make the heads not look like beachballs with faces sharpied on """"^^

also: anyone got tips for poses that dont make the characters look like their floating off the face of the earth. im starting to find theres only so many standing poses i can do

+one last question, less of an actual art thing more of a style thing:
does my style have any obvious resemblence to another specific one? because im trying to build my own and im trying to avoid outright looking like i ripped off someones art, so if its to similar/there are any problems with it i wanna know

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#19 [url]

Apr 22 17 6:50 PM

hey guys! its been a while and i thought i should update on my attempts at diversifying my faces/characters/etc(as suggested by many of you)
so heres one of my more recent pieces:
link just in case
ive given him a rounder face and a different eye and mouth shape from the kind of 'generic' type id adapted
also different hands! and finally started drawing them actually interacting with objcets
im still not sure if its different enough and ill continue messing with different features on different characters, but atleast its a start!

for a comparison heres an older drawing of the same character from a few months back with the generic features(round eyes, blocky face, small square-ish mouth) VS the current one

apologies for the dA challenge format but this was the easiest way to get em side by side

differences include: 
-a more unified color palette, removed that unnecessary eyesore red
-more diversity in clothes other than skinny jeans and tshirt
-his hand is actually holding the staff now instead of hovering behind it for some reason

so thats some improvement. maybe. possibly. for all i know im just getting worse

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Living Spambot

Posts: 1,170

#20 [url]

Apr 22 17 7:04 PM

The design's certainly improved, though I guess anything's a step up from just t-shirts. Which is a lesson that Phillip Brown has yet to learn. The only issue I have is that the irises are too light as they're a bit hard to see, the old color stood out more.

As for diversifying faces, since you're using a minimalist style, perhaps your best option would be to compare silhouettes. That should make it easier to see who stands out more. I remember reading something about Valve's design philosophy for TF2 where every class had to be easily recognizable from a distance, and that meant no two silhouettes were alike.

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