It definitely reads as cloudy and muted, so you got that spot on. And all colors appear less saturated when the light is obstructed by grey clouds, so I'd say our color choices aren't really too off. Just a little more color tone and definitely a bit of lightening in those deep shadows on the chest.
Hi there :3 You requested that I give this a looking over in my last journal. I've made my way around.
You said that mostly what you were uncertain about was the lighting so I'll talk about lighting some. It's a tricky business, certainly, and I'm still trying to puzzle through it, myself. Right now it appears as though you have a very subdued lighting, as though the sky is clouded over. If that's what you intended, righton. If you wanted a more bright, directional light, you'll have to think about that.
Something very important to lighting is the way you handle color. Right now the most problematic thing for me are those colors. In painting, using black as a shading tool is generally a big no-no, as it flattens out the picture and makes it unrealistic. In reality, in a photo, say, you'd never see that much flat grey in a white object such as the kitty's chest.
Now, we're not going to see a lot of photos of blue cats on DA or anywhere else, but let's see about cats and blue objects.
Firstly, the quality of the shadows are going to depend very much on the overall color of the image. A photo or a scene can have warm shadows or cool shadows depending on what kind of bounceback lighting you get, the subtle color of the lighting, and, ultimately, the tone you want for the painting.
[link] here's a stock picture. The shadows are very cool. If you do a color select on the white you'll find the shadows are a blue grey color. Most outdoor shots are going to have a somewhat blue shadow because the figure gets so much reflected light from the blue or bluegrey sky.
[link] This is a warmer photograph. The shadows are all varying shades of a grey tan color.
Neither one of these is 'wrong' but they give different visual appeal.
Now let's talk about shading the color blue. Something a lot of people going into painting don't realize is that objects change in color as they get brighter, as well as change in tone. The other thing people don't often realize is that things are usually more saturated in their shadows than they are in light.
[link] Here is a picture of a lady with blue hair. If you take the photo into PS and do a color select from dark to light you'll find that, in the shadows, the color is a blue closer to purple, but as you select closer and closer to the light it moves more toward true blue. It also moves closer to white.
Red objects generally move toward orange as well as white.
Another thing to think about is reflected light. The dark areas in the kitten's chest fur shouldn't be that dark because the white hair collecting light, even subdued light, would reflect it down into those crevices and make it lighter as well as leave behind some color.
It's a bully good start, though. The picture concept and the work thus far is lovely. I like the quality of the markings on the face and you have obviously studied the fur pattern on a cat's face, which is excellent. A lot of people forget about that and it's very important for realism. Also the fact that you made grass so many different tones. Even I fall for the pit trap of making grass too similar in shading <img src="e.deviantart.net/emoticons/b/b…" width="15" height="15" alt="" title=" (Big Grin)" />
You've worked so hard on this, I think it deserves a little more tweaking. If you're sick of it, ditch it for a while and work on something else. But definitely come back later and address some of the lighting issues. Look at lots of pictures of cats, kittens, other animals, in various lighting situations to decide what you want to go for.
P.S. I think the rating system is pure bullshit but it forced me to do it. What I ultimately put down is unmeaningful.