First, I'm going to tell you that I'm completely unfamiliar with the game this is apparently associated with from your artist's comments. That said, this is an absolutely stunning fantasy piece! It's clear that you took a great deal of time composing this. The care you took with the beetles is obvious, but I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention how well the extended legs are blended. The only thing that makes them appear to be slightly unnatural (with respect to the image, because bugs that big are definitely unnatural) is the fact that the color is faded a bit from the darker tones of the front legs.
The detail that you put into the background in this piece is simply stunning. You made certain to include the tall mushrooms in the distant terrain at varying depths, and the giant beetles as well. The birds and the dragons are a very nice touch as well, adding a definite sense of atmosphere to this piece that really works to bring the viewer in. The rolling clouds in the sky also serve to do this. If there were one single thing I'd change about this image, though, it's the dragon closest to the foreground. Perhaps it's his proximity to the beetle, but he appears to be a little "out of place".
I love the mushrooms and the way you used the pieces with the details exposed works beautifully. It's especially useful to highlight those ropes with the lamps hanging on them - though I am curious as to where the rope that drops off the third mushroom toward the (viewer's) right of frame goes - does it just fall into the dust? Has it been cut, and is that why the dust clouds has formed? It's another wonderful way to draw the viewer in to the image, to make us question what we're seeing.
The humans (well, I presume they're supposed to be human) on the cap of the mushroom and on the beetle's back are wonderful touches for scale as is the castle in the mid-ground. It's all beautifully constructed, and if you weren't the CV for photomanips, I'd be sending it in with the notation that each and every element used in this image's creation serves a purpose and is masterfully constructed. The dust clouds are some of the best pieces of realism, and I have to point that out because it's absolutely something that might be overlooked when creating something of this magnitude.
Truly wonderful work - thank you so much for sharing this!
Eeeerrr... RogueMudblood, what you call "dragons" are in truth creatures called Cliff Racers - reptavian vermin that infested the skies above the island of Vvardenfell (the setting of the game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind).
As I said, I know nothing of the source material for this work of fan art, so I commented on the artwork rather than its relation to the world in which it's set.
First, I'm going to tell you that I'm completely unfamiliar with the game this is apparently associated with from your artist's comments.I could, therefore, only use terminology with which I was familiar. Thankfully, such terms did not confuse the artist, ErikShoemaker.
Morrowind is widely regarded as being the most atmospheric Elder Scrolls game and I can never tell whether I love a piece of Morrowind art because it is actually good or only for the nostalgia it triggers. So to me, the fact that you never played Morrowind means a lot in this context.
However, I had to chuckle when you wrote that the "dragon" in the foreground was too close to the beetle. Everyone who has played Morrowind for at least 5 minutes knows that stepping outside means having every cliff racer in a 5 mile radius circling around your head instantly.
Also, I think the reason why it looks off to you might be that you imagine those "dragons" to be rather big, so for you the perspective looks skewed. The wing span of a cliff racer is actually around 10 feet and I see it as hovering above the large mushroom, facing the man standing next to the strider so that it's closer to the viewer than the man is, and it looks good to me.
Anyway, thanks for putting into words what I feel when I look at this image, and of course thanks to ErikShoemaker for making it in the first place!
Aww, thank you so much for this awesome (and nicely written) critique, that was a very nice christmas present for me!
Thanks also for pointing out these small bits that stand out. It's those details I tend to miss when I stare at a picture for a long time, like the faded color of the legs.
Happy holidays to you (if you celebrate them)!
You're so very welcome - and happy holidays to you as well! (I presume you do celebrate, since you said "Christmas present". )
It's the small bits that make photomanipulations so wonderful, at least to me. The little details are what make you pause and wonder about an image - and they're certainly what keeps you staring at it!