My first digital painting: Contrast

Hey guys. I got a Wacom tablet over a year ago and so far it’s just been collecting dust on my desk. So recently I decided to to try and do a serious digital painting. This is what I came up with:

Comments and crits, please! Thanks, all.


As a social statement I think it looks very nice. I think I could suggest, however, a couple of technical improvements.

One of the basic rules of perception is that (1) our eyes always look for the brightest and/or the most contrasty area in any scene … and then (2) they naturally search for a path through the picture starting at that point. Pleasing arrangements are those which allow the path to be well-defined and more-or-less circular. Compositionally, then, you’d like to arrange your picture to take advantage of this.

Right now, the bright-and-contrasty area is the cloudy-sunlight area, upper left. Your eyes are attracted to this. Which is good because the next thing that your eyes come to is the ladybug, probably as you intended. But where does the eye go from there? Geometric lines and shapes provide the next clues… sliding over to the cooling-tower, dropping down to the line formed by the cooling-pipe, but otherwise basically getting lost before stumbling onto the flower, which is neither brighter nor more contrasty than anything around it. Maybe we latch onto that unexplained semicircle next to the flower, which simply tosses us out of the right edge of the frame. In any case we are a long way from that ladybug, and completely bereft of any sense of “a pleasing circular path.”

Think about ways of recomposing the shot, rearranging the elements therein so that the visual path is well-defined to the viewer and it visually reinforces the intended message of the picture. What do you want this picture to say to me? How do you want to affect me by my having seen it? Recompose the shot in various ways to achieve different messages. Your message as I see it is carried mostly by the bug and the flower, juxtaposed over this most foul, un-nature-al scene. My eyes need to be gently guided in turn to each of these… taking in the backdrop as I go.

The various elements in the shot are quite convincing and satisfactory. The overall lighting is adequate if a bit monotone (which is good at this point because it gives you a position from which to make powerful adjustments). The smoke and fumes are quite prominent. There is a very nice sense of three-dimensionality and depth. Nice textures, painting style, and converging-lines. So you have dealt yourself a nice, full hand of cards that you simply need to rearrange a little to come up with the strongest play.

(Some folks might quibble at the “artistic license” of making a cooling tower into a smokestack…)

For some reason, I find this very emotionaly moving, almost tear-jerking, perhaps because I am somewhat of an enviromentalist. Very nice concept and implementation. I love it the way it is.

very nice pic,

i like the clouds and the smoke.

dont let wacom collect dust again,keep using it.

…someone beat me to my own crit.
still, the smoke and clouds have a very…uh…smoke and cloudy texture
I think you did a great job.

Perhaps there could be little light on the grass at the lower right corner, too. Otherwise I think it’s great.

Wow, thanks for the comments! sundialsvc4, thanks for taking the time to give me such an in-depth critique. I totally agree with your thoughts about the composition. I noticed recently that it looks much better when turned upside-down!

I’ll fool around with that before posting it on my site. :smiley: Thanks very much!

And Rocketman, I’m really pleased that this painting moved you. :slight_smile: I definitely wanted it to be dramatic, and to say something about industry and pollution, and how the entire natural world is suffering because of it. It didn’t turn out as well as I had envisioned it, but I’m really glad it still has some emotional effect!

Thanks guys!