View Full Version : Lyretail Guppy - Please Critique

03-09-2014, 06:33 AM
I keep aquariums as a hobby, and I especially love fish with bright colors and long fins, with guppies being one of my favorites. Although I prefer delta tail guppies in real life, I find lyretails like this one more fun to draw. If this turns out well I hope to use it as an avatar.

Anyway, here's the basic sketch. How does the composition look?


03-09-2014, 12:16 PM
I hope someone else will come along who is better with composition because it still confuses me. I'm just wondering about the way everything seems to be pointing out of the picture.

03-09-2014, 06:35 PM
I don't know much about composition, either, but it seems to me that the way the fins are angled draws my eye to the edge of the fins, but then points me back at the eye.


Isn't that how pictures like these work? (Not mine)

That might just be creator's bias, though. I do know that the human eye is drawn to the eyes of animals and areas of high contrast and detail. In theory, if I make the eye and the base of the tail bolder than the edges of the fins, it should draw the eye back to the center.

03-10-2014, 07:18 AM
New problem: I can't seem to draw in white on my line art layer. I'm trying to change the color of the guppy's eye rim from black to white, but when I try to draw in white, it just disappears. And light colors like pink come out dark and transparent.

Everything looks fine on the line art layer when there's no background:

But the white disappears and the pink turns dark when a background is visible:

How do I fix this? I tried doing a Google search, but got nothing.

03-10-2014, 12:18 PM
The mode is set to multiply. Try normal instead.

I'll leave the comp up to you. Sometimes it's just better to go with your instincts.

03-10-2014, 07:06 PM
The angle of the fish is a little unusual, but could be very effective when you are finished, much more interesting than a simple profile of the fish. Please post your finished piece, I can wait to see all the bright colors.

03-12-2014, 01:35 AM
Michelle- Fixed it!

Elaine- Thanks, I'm glad you like it. This was one of several poses I created while brainstorming for an avatar. It was a challenge to fit a long subject into a square format without leaving a lot of blank space or cropping the fish.

I'm not sure what to do about color. I've learned most of what I know about making digital art from Sycra on youtube. But in this case, I'm not sure how to apply what he says about color harmony (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kQllLy_X4I). Guppies tend to display a wide variety of saturated colors and I'm afraid that if I mute too many of them, the picture will be boring. But I don't want it to be so bright that it hurts the eyes, either.

Here are some five-step value studies experimenting with various lighting angles. I've never done a value study before, but I can now see why people say you should do them. It really forced me to think about the structure of the fish and how I wanted the fins to be angled. I don't think I showed it very well. I want the dorsal fin to bend away from the body at the base, then curl towards it at the tip. The tail is supposed to bend around, then curve inward like a spoon. The swords are supposed to match the angle of the tail, then bend away from the head at the tips.



Okay, in the midst of writing this I realized I wanted to change the curve of the guppy's tail to a simple convex lengthwise curve instead of the out/in/twisty-thing I described above. I decided to redo the value studies, and then made another, more distressing, realization: I lost the pen to my tablet. :eek: Thankfully, I managed to find it under a sketchbook after spending the last hour searching for it in everything from the fridge to the garbage can (seriously, I dug through the garbage can because I thought I threw the pen away along with some candy wrappers :lol: ). Oh, and did I mention that the pressure sensitivity on my tablet completely refuses to work and my computer crashed last night? I'm starting to feel like this fish has jinxed me.

Needless to say, I am taking a break before I redo the value studies.

03-12-2014, 12:23 PM
Sounds like you need a break.

I often like lighting to be from an angle, from the top and to the right or left. In this case I would say to shine it on the face.

As for colours, use the colours that attract you the most.