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Old 12-29-2004, 02:05 AM   #3
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Holy moly, was this hard to decide.. the first 4 were so close I wanted to rip my hair out. I've mulled over this for a painfully long time, but I think I've finally come to conclusion that I'm comfortable with. First off, all seemingly aesthetic issues aside, I'd like to thank everyone for spending so much time and effort on their pieces. I've always thought of these contests as a kind of reflection upon the kind of artist you are because they test both artistic drive (with deadlines and competition) as well as conceptual thought (with relation to a theme.) I don't want it to seem like there are discrepancies in my judging, either; I judge based on what is most prominent about the work and what the artist accentuates the most. If it's mostly figures, I will judge anatomy, if it's mostly color, I will judge application and use of color, etc.

With all that boring stuff that you most likely skipped over said, let's get down to brass mothraflicking tacks...!
(p.s. exclamation points rule)
(p.p.s. I will go about this much in the way that oolong did)


#1: toetread
Critique: I loled. That was the greatest part about it. Well, actually it wasn't, there were many other things as well. I like the cartoony feel, because it fits very well with the whole theme of humor: the uniform lines, the linear, selective coloring, the extreme values... gives it all a very comic feel and that's just what it needs. This is also pretty creative, with all the different reindeer (and bear) in the background. The relevance to theme is pretty much dead-on, and the use of space is fantastic, especially for how the joke works (Randolph catches your attention first and then the reindeer follow, so it's like a joke afterwards.) Reminds me a lot of those single-word inspirational posters that say stuff like "PERSEVERANCE" or "DETERMINATION." Honestly, I can't see a thing wrong with this composition, but the work and thought put into it is what gets me the most. Excellent work, toetread.
Artistic Merit: 8
Relevance: 10

#2: ChrisHerself
Critique: Impressive says so little about this work, it's insane. I remember seeing the unfinished one and already thinking of how good it was, but I could never have imagined this. Foremost, I love these lines: they are clean, well-defined, fit the contours nicely and are exactly where they should be. The color is just the icing on the cake. The texture of the horse and its hair is just.. so damn near perfect. The choice is also great, I like how the velvet red coat just fits right in this picture. You stick to a lot of low saturation colors, providing for a nice smooth after-a-snowy-day environment, and it does much for a composition as a whole (i'm very anal about the "big picture.") So what kept this wonderful thing from #1? I do have problems with the background. I think it does feel a little bit rushed and that you used the big brushes just to fill it in faster.. not a huge problem, but noticeable when the coloring on the horse, the girl, and the house is so precise.. it kind of takes away from the feeling, for me. The picture also reminds me of christmas so much my head explodes (couldn't think of anything else.) I love this, and the amount of time you put in it really shines through.
Artistic Merit: 9
Relevance: 10

*Oh, how I have thought so long and so hard about 3rd place. I think my brain has leaped from my skull and jumped off a four story building.*

#3: pigeonkill
Critique: Brother, I commend you on spending what seems like such a long time on such an ambitious idea. That won you points right there, the idea of making a short story about Christmas with multiple pictures, and actually going through with it. The soft colors, nice lighting and overall "gentle" type of feel that these kind of things should have, won you more points. Honestly, why I think this should be in the top 3 as opposed to the other two that I was considering is that the sum is greater than the parts; that is how it should be judged ideally. I can't really expect you to crank out 9 masterpieces, but at least 9 reasonably thoughtful, ambitious, artistic parts that will leave some sort of lasting impression, especially if you're going to do a storybook. That is what you have here, albeit with a few problems, such as changing styles (page 4 is so disruptive, the reindeer on page 6 need more attention, page 8 has lines as well but can be considered a detailed close-up i guess) and a few hints of, well, less artistic drive than others. When I see things like the shadows and footprints on page 7, I think of all the detail you went into, but then something comes along and changes it. While that may be, again, I judge compositions on the whole, and this is one of the most impressive entries I've seen that takes full advantage of the range of creativity that was allowed. Very good work, and may I just say that sweetjesusalmighty that was a tough rank to decide.
Artistic merit: 7
Relevance: 10

And now for something completely different:

Critique: Very nice lines, although a bit uniform, and the color added to them is a nice touch. Character feels a bit "flash-y" and two dimensional; there's not much in the way of shading here, but too much dependence on line-weight carrying the idea over. The background definitely could have used a bit more effort, and the compositional space feels a bit disregarded with the subject's legs truncated and this weird feeling of her being sucked to the right side of the page. Overall, a nice job with room for improvement.. I think of how great this actually could have been with a few more things considered and a few more hours spent. I won't comment much about the relevance to Christmas; it's barely there, but enough to give it some credibility. I mean, she is an elf, after all.
Artistic Merit: 5
Relevance: 4

Critique: Kid, I like this work a whole damn lot and I don't want you to stop entering contests because you are going to rule everyone's ass one day. Conceptually, this is the greatest out of all the entries, and that alone was almost enough to carry it into my top 3. This has effort, it has heart, it has a lot of consideration into theme and just because it isn't flashy and colorful doesn't mean it doesn't work. In fact, the whole gritty, smudgy graphite feel contributes a lot to the theme of the piece, and that means a lot, whether you intended it or not. The figure is placed so arbitrary, like a lost boy or something *not a bad thing* , in an environment that could have been a little bit darker and more definted (line wise) to add to the whole thing. Perspective is a bit of an issue as well, and the shading just needed a bit more attention and you could have nailed it. This was a very close call into the top 3, and you should be pretty proud of this. Great work.
Artistic Merit: 7
Relevance: 9

Critique: Haha, I actually like this one (to an extent, don't pm me boobthread people) and like a lot of things about it. The characters are pretty cute, the color selection and shadowing is well done, even your use of space is efficient (considering you had to fit text bubbles in.) That said, I see anatomical issues that irk me a bit.. especially with knuckles, kneecaps, scapula, and abdomen. Not anything to get upset over, but it is quite noticeable in a piece that pays so much attention to figure in more ways that one. The lines are uniform in most parts, though it doesn't affect much, and the coloring on the box makes it way too flat. Relevance to theme? Slight, but it's there. You have the environment going, but I feel a little creativity could have gone a long way. Nice work.
Artistic Merit: 7
Relevance: 5

Critique: Your colors gave me a seizure. No, really, they are great, but the values are very extreme and can be toned down a bit... the first things you notice are the ribbons on the gifts and that shouldn't be the case, unless they are the subject of the composition. That said, they're well done, along with the frames of the window and the picture. The chroma is vivid enough to hide the lines, and I'm not exactly sure if it's a good or bad thing. For one, it hides everything, and makes it take longer to find things in the piece. On the other hand, it gives them substance when you finally do find them. The anatomy is generally good, a bit too small in some parts but it seems well enough. I just wish you had picked colors that go along a lot better and weren't so... in my face. Remember, colors change when they're placed beside a constrasting one. I'm not really gonna go into the relevance issue here... again, it's there, but hardly.
Artistic merit: 6
Relevance: 5

(continued in next post)
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