Today's review is for Xavier Garcia. Xavier is a professional artist currently working at Gameloft who is working on getting more into freelance illustration in addition to game design work. His website is at www.ragingspaniard.com and his blog is at xgarcia.blogspot.com.
I am very impressed by your portfolio! Your work is vibrant, energetic and detailed. I can definitely see why you've already got steady work in the gaming industry. :) I'd say that overall, your strengths are your color sense and inventive details and compositions. An area to work on would be a more solid blocking in of shadow patterns, and tighter control of values throughout each piece.
Lets look at your first illustration! (Click to enlarge)
It was a difficult to tell the scale at first, though. I thought it was much smaller in scale until I noticed the figure standing under the archway. To help create the sense that this is a larger space, work on separating the light/dark values of background, middleground and foreground colors more. You've got this very well defined in your thumbnails (postead at the bottom). If you pushed it a little bit more here, it would help the space feel more expansive.
There are a lot of areas of high contrast throughout the image that makes the space a little smaller, as well; the doorway has the same high contrast as some of the foreground plant elements. If you lowered the contrast on the doorway a little, it would help push that further back in space. A little more atmospheric lighting/perspective to dampen some of the sharp details further back in the piece could also help.
This is an absolutely stunning piece. I had to dig pretty deep to find something to nitpick. ;)
Here's a quick overpaint that I'm not sure really helps much; hopefully it at least gives an idea of a few things to try. (Click to enlarge)
Great piece! I really like the bright colors and sense of strong daylight. The rich orange on their skin emphasizes to me that they're really working up a sweat. I think the sense of power and movement could be exaggerated a little more, though. I'm not sure what exactly is off; the tangent between their two arms and the weakens the flow of energy between the two of them, maybe? They feel more like they are posing before the fight begins, but they are standing close enough together that it's clear the fight's already started. Consider stronger gestures and poses to emphasize the action, especially on the arms. You don't necessarily have to change the poses, just look to where you can emphasize what's already there. The undulating lines on the bottom of Abel's arm, for example, deflates the energy of the arm's gesture; it looks like he's just holding his arm up instead of thrusting it forward in space. Same for the flow of the fabric around Abel's chest.
As much as I love the color and bright light, the values throughout this piece are a little spotty. I think stronger shadow definition would easily tighten that up. Not *darker* shadows, just a stronger and more clear delineation between light and dark areas. In strong daylight like this, there will be a few more drop shadows and more clearly defined areas of shadow; it won't be quite as evenly lit.
Here's another sloppy overpaint, showing a few ideas of shadow patterns (as well as a different pose idea for Guile so that there isn't that tangent between their arms, though I'm not sure if that makes a difference or not).
This is a damn fine Megaman tribute. Great action, great angle, great composition. This has what I felt was a little lacking in the Guild vs. Abel piece: powerful compositional lines of energy. You've really nailed it here. The sweep of the big bot's main body (as well as the curve formed by his huge knuckles) slices through the piece and points right at the focal point: Megaman. Very nicely done. I love your nice bright complementary color palette as well. It's bold, but tempered with areas of grey, red and orange in the shadowed big blue areas (like on the fingers and on that circular rim on the underside of the robot's chest).
The values are a little spotty here as well, though. You're really close, but I think defining and connecting the big blocks of shadow just a little bit more will help make the image read better and make the forms more solid and clear.
I considered leaving this overpaint out because I think I really overdid it with the shadow shapes and made it much too dark. Don't make it this dark. X)
I love the details on this piece! Really nice character study. This is another case where the values are a little spotty, though; equally dark shadows are scattered across the piece in patchy areas, and individual elements of her clothing/figure are rendered separately, instead of as a unified whole. All it needs is a quick pass uniting some of the shadow shapes and evening out some of the really dark areas. Nothing major, she's looking pretty great as-is.
I really like your bold color choices and the fun character design, but again, watch your values. This is suffering a bit from the "rendering each part individually" syndrome, where each part of the outfit and body is nicely rendered and shaded but doesn't feel like part of a unified whole. You can cheat a lot when it comes to light sources, but it's getting a little too scattered here. The highlights across his body look like they are coming from different angles, and whatever is casting that strong red light on the side of his torso should be affecting all the areas around that light source (whatever it is). Also, this may be just a stylistic/personal preference thing, but his clothes feel a little billowy and disconnected from the figure. To anchor them in place, drop some sharp-edged cast shadows in areas (like where his belt overlaps his pants, or where his pants would cast shadows on his shoes, etc).
Lastly, I know you said to leave these out, but I wanted to comment on these thumbnails. I really love the variety of composition in these. They are all strong, with solid lines and shapes, and each would make a compelling illustration. You could play with mixing up the value pattern a little more just for the sake of variety, but really, these are all solid thumbnails. Love 'em.
Overall, your inventiveness and creativity definitely shows through in everything you do. I can see the thought and care that goes into each piece and I seriously am really impressed. You have a great sense of composition and color, it's just a matter of stepping back a bit and looking at the big picture. Don't get too caught up in rendering small details until you have the value pattern for the entire piece locked in place. I run into this same problem all the time, and often have to soften or knock back areas that were just too high in contrast or that had lighting that wasn't making sense in the overall composition. Keep up the great work! :)