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Dawn Watcher by LaughingAstarael Dawn Watcher by LaughingAstarael
Final project for both Painting and Principles of Illustration. I went into this having decided it was time to produce something better than Oncoming Storm, and decided to quite consciously echo its composition. Further, I also decided that I would make the majority of it involve a color I was not comfortable with (read: not blue or a cool neutral).

I'm very, very proud of it... but this is not my favorite painting. Not yet: it was rushed and it shows. I owe it many more hours, mainly for the tree (which is the weakest part), and the shading on the girl (with is wrong and weak).

Oil on 18"x24" canvas.
~15 hours, ten of which happened in one straight shoot, 6pm-6am. God damn it, finals.
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A-OK! Very sorry for the long wait. :c

My first question on this would be- is it a photo of the painting? Some of (but not all of) the colors feel washed out, which could be a result of the photography. If this IS a photo, and the desaturated colors I'm about to mention are more saturated in person, please disregard what I say about them, ha ha.

There are some things going on here that I like a lot. If you were trying to convey some sense of solitary longing (but not necessarily sadness), I think that was effective. The character's position in relation to the horizon line pleases me, and I like how the landscape dips down to create a focal point.

I think the leafiness of the tree might be detrimental; it sort of feels like it's just there to fill up space, and doesn't really suggest the shape of the tree's foliage, or mass. I think making some smaller cut-outs in that overall shape (but not disconnecting it totally from the top edge of the picture) might be helpful. Also, if at all possible, consider pulling more of that foliage into the foreground, so the tree doesn't feel so flat on the picture plane.

The image is too small for me to get a good idea of what the rendering is like. It seems to shift from defined to sort of impressionistic in places.

Sub-surface scatter. Learn it, love it. It's your bro. You hold your hand up to a light, and you see how your hand turns red? Light is bouncing around under the surface of your skin, and reflecting color from all those red blood cells back and forth. The lighting on the figure seems like it should be pretty strong; bringing reds and pinks into the transition between the highest highlights and the mitdone can help give the figure a sense of fleshiness, vs. the viewer just assuming it's skin, because they know you meant for it to be skin. I know your palette doesn't appear to include much in the way of reds here, so you may have to improvise with yellows and purples to get a similar effect.

The tree has a pretty strong shadow behind it, but the figure seems not to. A stronger shadow on the figure's back could help make the figure feel more three-dimensional, like the tree.

While the foreground and background are effectively defined, the foreground feels flat against the picture plane, despite the heavy shadow on the back of the tree. The problem is that all the branches feel as if they are at the same angle in relation to the viewer, and the leaves do not seem to come closer or retreat from the viewer at any point. Try to use lighting to convey the shape of the foliage, as opposed to just painting some leaves in front of the branches, to imply that they are closer to the viewer. Also, I think it's possible to use lighting to make the branch the figure is sitting on look as if it's pointing more toward the viewer than it does currently, which would add some dimension.

My favorite part of this image to look at is the grass. It's very soothing, very relaxing, with rich colors and what looks like a wonderful texture.

Again, sorry it took so long to get back to you. :c Good luck with your painting! Let us know how it goes.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
31 out of 31 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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Kyo-is-my-LoVeR01 Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I really really like this one. The colors are fantastic and I think the fabric is beautifully rendered. I love the light on the figure's skin, you really get the feeling of the stillness of a morning with a fantasy mystique.
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! There's a lot in it that needs to be fixed, but there's something about it that I'm still really pleased with. That stillness is exactly what I was going for (:
Narorater Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010
Woow totally seeing this for first time because i fail
its made of so much awesome <3
its just so pretty I can't stop looking at it
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
lol don't worry about it!

Narorater Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
EnigmaticEmpress Featured By Owner May 31, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Absolutely lovely, I love the yellow contrasting the blue, so very nice ^^
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 31, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! Haha, I don't use yellow very often, I'm glad it worked.
EnigmaticEmpress Featured By Owner May 31, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed, it makes her look very ethereal ^^
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I hope I can keep that up - I plan to edit this thoroughly, but there's a lot I want to keep.
1425364758 Featured By Owner May 7, 2010
You're right to be proud of this! The time you spend on stuff really shows in the attention to textures/detail. Love the hanging part of her dress, too.

The only critique I could offer is that by making the light on her yellow, you're actually darkening those parts. It works on the tree, because the yellow is the lightest value on the tree, but she and her dress are already so light that it just doesn't work. I hope that makes sense! D:
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 9, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you (:. I do still like it, but as time goes on I'm getting more and more anxious to go back into it. I want to show my teachers that I've improved!
and Dan Dos Santos critiqued it really thoroughly, too (oh god i'm repeating myself i know it i just flip out every time i realize what happened), and he might not be my favorite illustrator but hnnnnnnn yesplz I want to show Dan Dos fucking Santos that I've improved.
Please disregard that, I should put a lock on my keyboard after midnight.

...what you pointed out is one of those things that I really should know well enough to just do without thinking about. Fail is I D8.
SineSquared Featured By Owner May 4, 2010
I am excited about seeing it once it's done! Good luck shading the girl, I know making things darker is not one of your strong points.
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 6, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
I am, too. I got some really great critique from a number of people, and once I have the time I intend to make it amazing!

lol, yes. It's hard... xD
BehindtheUniverse Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
Whoa! I love this so so so much <3333

The girl popped out to me immediately in the preview! I love the color contrast and the way the light hits her C:

God, I just love that sunrise and grassy plane <3 I feel like I'm there!

I feel so peaceful and relaxed...i think I'll look at this the next time I'm stressed out xD
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 18, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist

Thank you so much, Universe! And that peace is exactly what I wanted to come across - yay!
nicolehumphrey18 Featured By Owner May 2, 2010
WHAT DO YOU MEAN NOT YOUR FAVORITE?! Crazy person you haha. I find it very pretty!

Her shading seems just perfect to me silly. I love the fabric, you did a great job on that.

What a pretty glow to the piece too! :)
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 6, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH YET. But thank you (:

BUT BUT BUT IT'S NOT D8. It's nowhere near as dark as it needs to be, and the placement is slightly off... but heh, thank you, I do like her dress :3

Thank you!
nicolehumphrey18 Featured By Owner May 8, 2010
You're welcome :)
Wing-Giver1 Featured By Owner May 2, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
its lovely :)
LaughingAstarael Featured By Owner May 2, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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Submitted on
May 2, 2010
Image Size
281 KB


39 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
1/8 second
Focal Length
20 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Apr 30, 2010, 2:33:54 AM