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Submitted on
December 11, 2011
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13.1 MB


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Playful Sealife by KGMomo Playful Sealife by KGMomo
An illustration for school that I decided to take in a different direction than what I usually do; I made myself practice line and flat colors rather than a painterly method, trying to get a storybook effect. I rather like how it came out! Thought it could use a great deal more polish... I still have trouble making art that feels very rendered, finished, and clean. Something is still missing from my work.

But I'm going to work hard to get there!
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Okay, I'm going to be overly critical here; now, you ought to know how much I love your work, and how I feel awful about not giving you, like, six stars in every category. :V But you want critique, so critique I give.

Let's begin with the problem areas, as I see them. It's a tie for the things that bother me the most, but as you've called attention to your lines, I'll begin there. They are too light, and too flat.

The color of the lines calls to mind a rough prelim sketch, which is even a little more jarring against the really lusciously applied watercolors: to wit, your lines feel unfinished. Maybe something as simple as dropping them into Overlay mode in Photoshop or something would mince the problem, but they just feel discordant with the rest of the very nicely rendered watercolors. Add to this the smudginess of the lines themselves in some certain areas, especially where they are thinner on the body of the main focus, and they lose some of their appeal.
The stray lines around the picture indicating the waves up above or the underwater current are distracting and necessary, and similarly with the receding seafloor in the bottom-center of the image.

Now, this is the other thing that gets me here, is the dark figure on a light ground. My eye is immediately drawn away from the creature in the foreground and rarely does it come back but with some concerted effort. My eye tends to focus on the space behind the lower paw, without really giving it any due attention; the business of the lower portion of the image gives it a visual predominance, with some of the lower lines being as thick as those on the most important part - the figure. I almost completely lose the fishing figure as well.
I think part of this issue I have with the colors is I expect an underwater environment (even a crystal-clear coral reef) to be darker than the figure that I am seeing, and my mind expects the background to be drabber than the source of interest in the picture - both of which are reversed in this image.
Not heavily reversed, mind you, but exaggeratedly so for the purpose of this critique.
Also, having expressed a desire to learn more about lines - if you have a bold line which is inherently differentiated from the rest of the image, please, please, please fill it in all the way. If the whole image looked to be made with a natural technique, bleeding around the lines would not seem out of place - but with lines that are obviously digitally painted, at least on the main figure, paint up to the lines you have drawn.

I really like the posing and the location of the figure, and the sort of floaty do-I-don't-I dynamism is has with the hook. I'd like to see more of that sort of underwater dynamism in the hook itself, which looks more like it's dangling from a second story in a slight breeze that floating serenely underwater; which is all the more of a shame because of the beautiful attention to detail you gave the line up above, curving across the surface of the water.
The top of the image feels kind of empty, especially in the upper right-hand corner. It would feel more finished to me if it were framed in with the coral reef above, in the same kind of vignetted fashion as the lower portion of the image is, with the fisherman in his own little opening through the coral - a way of playing a little at sequential art, without separate frames.

I have no critical comments on this, except maybe a footnote on those legs... they seem unnecessary, and would perhaps be better swapped out for fins or more tails, seeming useless in an aquatic environment, and underpowered/undersized if it were an amphibian.

Overall, it is a cute and beautifully rendered image with the kind of playfulness about it that you would expect in a children's book, and I applaud you for that! I would offer one last note on the lines, reiterating something I said earlier. In the case of this image, using line on watercolors, I would say your watercolors are flawless in their execution, but stray, thin, and soft lines (like those in the lower paw) are to be avoided entirely. In this sort of medium, where form and designs can be communicated entirely through the watercolor, don't keep the detail-work lines, but rather use them only to delineate larger bodies. (The rock below the tail works perfectly, even though it has a super spidery line).

That's all I have to say -- an excellent piece of work, Momo. :3
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reb-chan Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aww, I love the pastel colors you used here, and the creature is so cute! :D I love it! :3 Fantastic job~ :)
CAPSed Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The textures and colours in here look simply delicious! they really encapsulate the watercoloury children's illustration feel, especially with the out-of-the-lines colouring in places. I like the perspective of the fisherman/fishing line.
KGMomo Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Aww yes thanks! It was so worth it to try something a little different. I think I could do even better if I attempted this style again, so maybe I wiiiiiiilll~
Perforex Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I love it, so colourful and nice!
KGMomo Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Thank you! :D
Perforex Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
You are welcome :D
MuttInkDreams Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Student General Artist
Heya momo, this is great. It definitely looks like something from a children's book.
I personally like the lineart and I think the color of it matches well with the rest of the drawing.
KGMomo Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I was absolutely going for the children's book feel, that's great! And yeah, I knew I wanted warm lines for such a blue illustration, I generally like how those play off of eachother. :3 Thank you!
bluesonic1 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
That is gorgeous! I really like how it looks unfinished or lacking polish because it really goes with the whole feel of the piece. It really does look like something out of a child's storybook, I got that impression before reading your description :)
KGMomo Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Thanks so much! I'd love to play around with more illustrative styles, and I'm sure with more practice I can even get polished/finished qualities into pieces and have it work out. :3
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