Steampunk Horse

I know some people might be tired of all these new steampunk threads but I really wanted to expand on my skills by entering this contest, which I feel I have compared to my last artwork. I need a fresh pair of eyes to go over my work now. Please comment about the lighting and compositing, those aren’t my strong points, but if you feel there are other discrepancies in the work please tell me. There is more work left to do. Still a test render, so it’s going to be a bit grainy. Thank you for looking!


1 Like

I like it, but the shortness of the tether and the angle of his neck, make me think: neck pain. also the neck seems a little bit on the short side.

Thanks for the comment Modron! Generally when tethering up a horse you want to keep the line short to prevent bad things from happening. Like, for example, the horse kicking up it’s front legs and one of it’s legs gets caught in the reins and causes it to fall, it’s neck would be strangled from the line. (This happened to a friend of mine’s horse, luckily they were able to free the poor thing) Your comment does make me see that the line does need to be fixed though. I realize the pipe is too short so I’ll raise it higher giving the reins some more freedom. It does look uncomfortable that it is so short. I wanted the pose of the horse also to be more of a tired look with a hunched back and curved ears adding more to the story of the picture.

Making the pipe longer sounds like a good solution. Also, what about giving the wall some interest. I have noticed about steampunk, there are always these decorative flourishes everywhere. The starkness / modern industrial quality of the wall seems out of sync with the style of the horse. Maybe give the pipework / meter boxes some more clockwork / steam elements? Some steam escaping from the pipes could be good too.

Very very nice start. Not a ton to critique really. i keep getting drawn to the horses eye which I think could be improved upon. It’s hard to say what it should be, but the pure emission doesn’t seem right. Terrific materials and lighting, and of course modeling is excellent. Look forward to seeing progression.

I really like your image already, but I think you could imrpove the composition. Right now we see much wall and not so much horse. I think it would look nicer if the camera was lower, like this image by gleb alexandrov:
This makes for a stronger focal point. Don’t zoom in too much though, that would be a shame for the beautiful background!

This made me think of a hound at first, maybe add a tail, and add some slack in the tether? Looking really great though!

I’ll get to work on this, lots left to do. (I can’t believe I forgot the tail) Thanks for all your input! :slight_smile:


In my subjective view there seems to be slight disconnect with ENV and Horse interest wise. BG gets a lot of attention/canvas area yet Horse(with small canvas area) is just tied up (bit dull). I would either make the horse center of attention by zooming more in on it and perhaps giving it a majestic pose to invoke interest (ref)… or find other ways to tell a story(secondary characters, environment hints etc).

Again really great work!

I agree with cgstrive, image composition may need some reworking: camera placement, image proportions… . How about that horse galloping with background blurred by motion? Too far from your plans?
Maybe the road needs to be more uniform and with a crispier texture (as the wall). Not much else to critique on the modeling/materials side beside what others have already said.

Don’t think it is necessarily the composition. Seems the horse almost feels pasted onto the background, that is the textures or colors or something is disassociating the two, what mik1190 touched on. Otherwise, very cool horse.

I did few adjustments, see if this could be a direction to go for.

I think more contrast could work better. Just have to be careful with the reflections so that the viewers’ eyes don’t wander all over the place but focus on the horse. Puddles and feet might do that so less reflections on the ground and less in the background where the horse outlines are. Enough dark against light and the other way around, and the horse should separate from the background.

I adjusted the back legs but I still don’t like the pose. The horse is still perfectly aligned with the background, front legs are aligned with the leg on the other side, and the head could have better orientation. Maybe more majestic head orientation and overall pose.

Alright, lots to take in. The original idea I was trying to convey with this image was an old nostalgic feeling, opposed to the majestic boisterous feeling that is taken from other steampunk images I see. Since all your reactions are mixed I’ll need to do a lot more work. Should I change my original idea?

I never really wanted this image to be a character study, but I do want the focus to be on the horse. I’ll go through and change things around and see what fits best. I’ll see how much work I can get done tonight. Thanks for all your input!

I really do need to fix the pose. That’s next for sure.

Great image! Reminds me of the quote from Henry Ford, “If i gave people what they wanted, I’d have made a faster horse!”

Only question from me is, where is the power source? Is it steam driven?

@post 12: This is too dark, losing detail. Also over-saturated. Have you seen your corrections on a good monitor?

@Rachel You should tell some story, make the horse the focal point of image with some strong pose and good camera angle. This is too boring now. The BG is nice, maybe the grease on walls is too much everywhere, too regular. Put more under pipes and less where its open imho.

Just for the sake of changing it? No. Go for the image you planned and what looks best to you.

Mine was just a suggestion for a look I would probably take it to and it all started from the horse being in focus by being separated from the background so clearly. The background is so light compared to the horse that it needs a reason for it because it’s not positioned that far off. Could explain the lightness by showing more clearly that it’s smoke/mist/steam but even if the background is more uniform contrast with the horse, there are ways to keep the horse separated from it. All it needs is to have the light/dark read well enough so that the outline doesn’t blend in with the background too much.

So the horse is in focus in the original like intended and would have to be even if you make changes. Because I turned the image much darker the reflections became an issue which you didn’t have in the original.

Sure it is. It’s not using the reflective light to its advantage, the tail is missing from that too, the pose is not fixed, the light could be broken with shadows and many other things to change if it were my WIP piece instead of an image to support the text part of commenting.

Edit 2: what I meant by focus is the first read in the composition, the main element in the image the viewer should first look at. In the original it’s the horse, very obviously so. Could view the image and zoom it way out so it’s just a spec and the horse is still the first read

Which is a good thing of course but it doesn’t need to be that obvious. It can still read well enough if the image is changed.

Its actually the wall with the big tube, because it is the brightest element (thats what a focal point actualy is btw.). Then you read the highlights on the ribs which will lead you to the second (weaker) focal point - the eye. And this is not wanted - the horse should be the prime.

The horse has a readable silhouette, yes, which you test with making him smaller, but that doesn’t make him focal point.

The proof is in that you ask yourself when watching this: What is there where the light comes from? And then: Why the horse is standing away from the light and not towards it? Its not the horse itself.

Seems like I am disagreeing with all you say but thats not true, I actualy like your suggestions! Even the contrast like you said needs adjusting.

Just happened to have this humorous image that fits in the topic

Focal point in an image can be the brightest point in it, but it’s much more complicated than that. It’s about perception, one viewer could look other thing first than the next person but it’s also a relation. With values it can be relative to the surroundings (negative space) so if the image is white and there’s a dark spot, the dark spot is the first read. But even with just color, it still can be relative to the surrounding, like in this one

No question which one is the focal point, yet the values are exactly the same so there is no bright spot.

It’s also about what elements compete with each other in an image and several things can affect which one gets the visual weight over the other. Contrast, detail level, placement, size, compositional lines within the image and text as a special case.
Here’s another, where the focal point gets emphasis with size, color, and shape relative to its surrounding. If it had text next to it, you would be more likely to read it first and then look at the red circle even if the text were written with one of the other colors. It’s because we’re accustomed to reading signs and warnings etc, while a child might look at the red circle first.

In the horse image there’s 2 reads, foreground and background. Foreground is dark and the background is light value. The horse is the first read because

  • it’s separated from the background with quite high contrast
  • it’s placed on the corner of rule of thirds
  • from the separation of the two reads, it’s in the foreground and it’s the largest element in it
  • it’s the element with most detail
  • many lines in the image guide the eyes to it, although they don’t keep eyes within the image that well

I added the mist because with out it the horse looked indistinguishable from the background. The hard light coming from the right is suppose to look like a street light on a dim/dark day. I gave the horse a new pose, which I think looks much better.

The first is the composited version, the second the raw. Was it an improvement?

The pose and camera angle makes it look much more powerful. It kind of looks like it tries to free itself, could maybe push that aspect more and give it a reason to be there in the first place if you have a backstory for the image. That way the camera angle, pose, increased contrast could bring the whole together but not sure if those are the kind of things you want to convey with the image.

Which made me think. Quite often people receive critique/opinions/suggestions about composition and an image itself and then cherry pick some ideas (Not saying that you do). It’s quite dangerous to do that with composition because finished composition works as a whole. It has to help to present the image you’re going for or the story you’re trying to tell. There are so many details to look for, camera angle and position, mood, lighting, how the elements in the image are placed, how big they are, focal point, 123 read, etc. etc. that it’s easy to forget the whole and maybe even the original idea.

Could test the composition with 2D thumbnails. Much faster than making changes and doing another render and compositing a new image.

(These are too big for thumbnails. Working in smaller scale is faster)

  1. Not meaning that you should start drawing the whole image with realistic shading and so on
  2. could instead use big and small hard brushes to put down ideas quickly and with a mess. Solving problems like what is in the image, where the horse should be, which direction it should face, why it is there, how high the camera should be, where the light comes from, where the focal point is, does it need more light, so on and forth
  3. or if those are too many problems to solve and draw at once, could make it even more simpler with shapes. Freehand selection tool, quickly filling them, and maybe figure out camera, how the elements are placed in the image and if it should be dark against light or the other way around and see if it works or not
  4. alternatively, could just use one value per element and more abstract shapes. Gradients could suggest lighting conditions but still useful to concentrate on the big things and the whole without too many distractions.

Yes, it gives it a needed separation. Could also try mixing the mist with a low contrast noise texture (clouds, others). Subtle variations in “density” might look better.