View Full Version : composition?

04-09-2009, 11:03 PM
I was perusing David Mattingly's class posting which inspired me to try something different on a painting I've been working on. The rule of thirds isn't new to me, but while I'm painting I kind of let it stay in my subconcious. For this painting I was going for a sort of majestic waterfall backdrop to a more serene foreground. C+C are definitely welcome.



04-10-2009, 01:13 PM

This is a really great start and you have a great sense of composition. You're building shapes well and it looks like this is "magic time" for you.

As you get better it's going to be really hard to hold onto your sense of composition and the way you build shapes so try not to loose that. Good luck. I see a lot of potential.

04-10-2009, 07:29 PM
Thank you for your kind words Mordecai. You're right, this is kind of a "magic time" for me. My background is more in filmmaking, animation and 3D. But I've always wanted to be a matte painter/concept artist. I hate to admit to watching Gnomon dvds, it kind of feels like cheating, but following Dylan Cole's opened everything up for me. Painting along with him, it would take me three or four hours to get through a twenty minute demonstration, but at this point I'm so glad I did it. Now I'm painting on average three or four hours a day, and when I'm not painting I'm thinking about painting.

04-13-2009, 05:37 PM
You might get some tips/useful hints from my brush demo


but remember to not lose the magic of what keeps you ...you! You might re-invent little pieces of yourself but for the most part keep that brand of magic that you call your soul close to you and paint what's in your heart.

There will long hours and days spent dealing with technical stuff and painting something you don't like so ENJOY PAINTING while you get better.

It can be hard to enjoy painting when you deal with the frustration of being a beginner but try to. Otherwise you might as well work at a normal office job.

04-13-2009, 10:06 PM
Thanks for the link. I started watching the video, and just started painting, so I'll have to go back and finish it at some point. I'm getting weird about brushes lately. Last fall I started using the "concept brush" technique which got the ball rolling for me with painting. At this point I'm really only using chalk and round brushes with varying settings. I've been working more on the waterfall scene, and scattering is a HUGE help with the waterfall. Something about this scene is making it progress very slowly, but I'm going to persevere and finish it one bit at a time. Part of me thinks it just too much foreground.

I've been itching to do a night scene, and improve on my cloud work. And I did both of those tonight.


04-15-2009, 01:06 PM
This was not an easy painting to work on. I struggled with the shadows, colors, sky, everything. I'm glad I stuck with it though.


04-15-2009, 03:14 PM
MPaquin - What reference are you using for these paintings? At the early stages its incredibly important to study nature to see how things work in real life, even if you arent doing exact copies. Its great to exercise the imagination too, but more important that you learn real lighting and colour first.
Having said that, its great to see somebody approaching sketching seriously and not overlooking its importance. Im sure the improvements will come fast!


04-15-2009, 07:02 PM
I'm not actually using any reference for these. Is there a particular feature, especially in the last Red Canyon Waterfall that stands out more flawed than anything else? I'm seeing the light source on the left hitting the canyon wall and flooding it with light, while casting a shadow from the opposite wall. The colors get warmer and more saturated closer to camera, while detail and texture recedes into the distance. The canyon walls are also sharing some bounce light.

Can you recommend a good resource for reference photos? Google Image Search just doesn't seem to cut it. I actually considered throwing down money for an iStockPhoto membership.

04-15-2009, 09:18 PM
MPaquin - I can tell that you are thinking in the right way. Your painting shows that you have been attempting a light source with cast shadows, and other important things such as contrast and saturation falloff in distant objects. However, studying from photo reference will help you understand a lot more about colour, which appears to be the main weakness at the moment in these sketches. The colour stuff all ties in to the light stuff, so its good that you are thinking logically about that, it will make it all fall into place easier IMO.

Ok, so specifically in that last sketch, the colour pallette is the main weakness that i notice straight away. If you get some photos of canyons and rock structures then you will see the range of colour that is present in that sort of environment. Its important to try and capture as much of that colour variation as possible in these sketches. The colours in this sketch dont seem to match what i would expect from this sort of scene.
Also, keep in mind that for everything to gel together, all the elements must work in harmony. Your sky doesnt seem to be affected by the light source, and the land elements dont seem to be recieving shadows from that overcast sky. This makes this appear very seperated. Its clear as i said before that you have been mindful of light direction and shadows, but studying nature will help you hone that skill until you can predict from your imagination what you would expect to see in these circumstances.
Little things like mist from the waterfall will also go a long way to making the shot feel real.

Here is a quick and dirty paintover to show you how i would expect the light to react a little more. I broke my own rule here by not using reference for the paintover, but ill leave it to you to get the finer nuances right. I havent studied this type of environment much, this might help to give you some direction. If you did a half dozen studies of this sort of environment, you could quickly come up with colour pallette from imagination that you know is accurate from nature.


Keep it up man, you seem to have the right attitude and by working hard at these you will improve very fast. Doing some sketches from imagination after every few studies will help to show what you have learned too, and point out anything you are still unsure of. Look forward to seeing the next sketches soon, its good to have more ppl posting sketches here again.

Hope that helped


04-15-2009, 09:32 PM
I missed your question about photo refs, i use flickr a lot, there are some good high quality images to be found there (www.flickr.com). Its hard to come by really good reference tho, which is why i always carry my camera ;)
Also, picking up a point from earlier in your thread, never be ashamed of learning from Gnomon dvds and the like. Everyone starts somewhere, and most ppl if they are wise, will start learning from the masters like Dylan Cole and DUSSO. Those guys are incredible artists, and i think there are a lot of ppl here (including me) that started by watching those guys, and still go back to them for more tips and inspiration every now and then.


04-16-2009, 08:07 PM
Your paint over looks cool. It will be interesting to see how that one develops.

I found this one I did about a week ago that I actually used photo reference for. I don't really like it as much. But I figured it would be worth sharing.


04-16-2009, 10:58 PM
Can you downsize the image? I have a 24" moniter and am still having to side scroll like crazy to view the sketch. Also, these sketches are much better when viewed as smaller thumbnails as they are still very loose.
If you can resize it will be easier to take a look. Also, do you have the original photo ref for comparison?


04-17-2009, 02:07 AM
this is a good site for free large size photos:
just sign up, it's free.

I also use Flickr.com a lot, but you can't always download the large sizes for an image. also, you can always play a dvd of a movie with scenery you like, and take a screen capture.