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Roubles
11-07-2015, 02:56 AM
MY IMAGE(S):
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/upload_spool/11-07-2015/1977428_image.jpeg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/upload_spool/11-07-2015/1977428_image.jpeg


GENERAL INFORMATION:
Title: Labrador
Year Created:
Medium: Watercolor
Surface: Watercolor Paper
Dimension: A4
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

MY COMMENTS:
I have recently started experimenting with watercolour, and am keen to practice and develop my skills. As I am very inexperienced, any suggestions for improvement would be very much appreciated!

This is a portrait of my fox red lab, George. I am pleased with some aspects (for example, I like the shading of the eye and the surrounding area, and I like the visible layers of paint), but am struggling with others (I'm finding it hard to get a good likeness, and the painting feels a bit flat. And clearly the nose is a bit off!)

MY QUESTIONS FOR THE GROUP:
How can I capture a better likeness?
How do I add depth, and stop it feeling so flat?
The painting uses cooler tones than my reference photo - would it benefit from having a warmer feel?
Generally, is there anything in particular I should work on to improve my technique?

Thank you

Roubles
11-07-2015, 03:05 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Nov-2015/1977428-image.jpeg

Sorry, here's my painting!

La_
11-07-2015, 11:13 AM
here's hoping you've cropped the nose off only in the photo and not in the painting?

la

Artbywinther
11-07-2015, 12:56 PM
How do I add depth and stop it feeling so flat?
Well, Your colors are too bright, use darker color near the bright colors, this will create depth.

Roubles
11-07-2015, 02:38 PM
here's hoping you've cropped the nose off only in the photo and not in the painting?

la

Yes, his nose is in tact on the painting. Clearly I need to work on my cropping skills too!

Mark Szymanski
11-07-2015, 02:38 PM
How can I capture a better likeness?
How do I add depth, and stop it feeling so flat?
The painting uses cooler tones than my reference photo - would it benefit from having a warmer feel?
Generally, is there anything in particular I should work on to improve my technique?

First let me say you've done a great job so far. I see a few things to fix, but mostly it is just a bit here and there. The color, I feel, works well for the subject. (as a disclaimer, I have four labs or lab mixes currently) I recognized this instantly as a Labrador breed dog, so the direction you're going is spot on.

Since you're asking...

To capture a better likeness, you just need to change a few things - probably impossible at this stage of the watercolor, but here are what I see is the main problem.

The right eye is too large in comparison to the left eye. While you did fairly well with the paint in this area ( I like the eyeball a lot) the eye is so large in comparison to what is in the rest of the face it is throwing off where you're placing your shadows.

The muzzle is just a bit too long. Not by a lot, but enough

The top of the head is too close to the eye. Labs have a larger forehead and muscles which attach to give them all those great expressions.

Those are the main points in where the drawing is wrong. The eye needed to be about 1/3rd smaller than you made it. Common mistake, since we concentrate on the eyes of people and animals, we tend to make them too large because of the importance we place on the eye. It is also tilted a bit differently than you have placed it, but not by a great deal.


To the second question...

To add depth, I try to keep one major point in mind. There are only a few areas which face the light and reflect it to the eye. Everything else will be of a lower value than those bright areas. So what I usually do in watercolor is to use a light wash to mark out all the areas not facing the light. Then I gradually darken into the deepest shadows. I adjust the color based on the direction of the light source added to the local color.

For example on the photo...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Nov-2015/1765836-Labrador_planes.jpg

The orange planes are the only areas facing the light. I paint into those areas very sparingly and at the very last. Every other area is not in the primary light and is thus DARKER than the light areas. The blue marks out those planes on the dog which are facing upwards and thus lit by a reflected light coming from above. The purple areas are those planes on the dog facing downward and so lit by reflected light from the floor. The light colored walls will reflect more light than the darker floor so those planes facing up are lighter than those facing down. Neither of these two planes will be as bright as the sunlit side of the face.

To manage these areas, I tend to wash a single wash only as dark as the LIGHTEST portion of this plane facing away from the light. Then I darken and adjust the color and value as the plane starts to roll away from the reflected light source.

I fooled around for a few minutes with a paint program just to make some adjustments and illustrate what I am talking about...

These were the adjustments I placed on your painting... really not that many nor that extensive.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Nov-2015/1765836-labrador_corrections.jpg

They were placed on top of your painting to give this. It's rough, and it certainly could be dialed in a bit more... but hopefully this give the gist of what I am referring to above.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Nov-2015/1765836-labrador3.jpg


You certainly did a great job though, I think your lab is great!

Roubles
11-07-2015, 04:25 PM
Hi Mark,

Thank you so much for taking the time to offer such clear and thorough guidance.

The errors in the drawing/anatomy that you identified now seem glaringly obvious, but I just wasn't able to see them on my own!

I also found your advice on planes and lighting incredibly useful. I am definitely going to attempt to be more analytical of my subject before I put down any paint. I am astounded at what a difference your alterations have made to my original painting. I would be very proud if I created a final piece that looked something like that - you've definitely given me something to aim towards!

Looking forward to having another go tomorrow!

Also, George is my first lab (I've always had mastiffs in the past). I have completely fallen in love with the breed, they are magnificent!

Mark Szymanski
11-07-2015, 09:54 PM
George is a great name and it fits a wonderful dog. I have a coffee cup which has an inscription on it, "It was once said the Labrador is so intelligent it looks like it might speak at any time". I think it's a great breed as well and they bring a lot to the table... balls, dog toys, sticks, whatever they think will make us happy enough to throw for them...

Happy you're giving it another go tomorrow!

lunchbox
11-08-2015, 12:15 PM
Mark has already given wonderful advice. All I can add is to follow the line between the upper lip and nostrils, this "line" then divides the face in half which may help with proportions. Cheers....