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Moonlit Beauty, Starlit Grace

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Description

Sometimes, you just really need a change of pace.

For the last few months, nearly all of my art time has been spent on my Undertale fan comic, Just Cause. I was starting to feel the need to draw something different. For a while, it has been on my heart to draw something graceful and beautiful - a butterfly, a flower, a waterfall, or maybe a dancer.

The image of a flowing blue dress stuck in my mind, but who to put it on? Not a skinny, conventionally attractive white woman - we're seriously overrepresented in the "depictions of beauty and grace" department. Not that there's anything wrong with pictures of skinny white women, but what about all the other demographics who don't get to see themselves portrayed as often?

While I've never watched Steven Universe, online discussions about it did inspire me to start consciously including a wider variety of races and body types in my writing, and that effect has spilled over into my art. I decided that, for my depiction of beauty and grace, I would draw a big, beautiful Black woman, and make her as lovely and graceful as my artistic skills would allow.

I procrastinated on it a little, since I don't like to have too much of a delay between Just Cause pages, but the idea kept nagging at me. And so, four hours of drawing later, here she is: a beautiful, free spirit, dancing wild and carefree, barefoot under the stars. Graceful, gorgeous, and reveling in it, without a thought for what anybody thinks of her.

(NOTE: it's been gently and respectfully brought to my attention that the description makes it sound like I'm emphasizing her race and weight over her character, and I agree that that's not cool. So, to clarify: the description was written in the order in which the elements of the picture came to my mind: first the concept of beauty and grace, then the desire to portray an underrepresented demographic, then the personality of the dancer herself. I haven't come up with much of a personality for her as of yet, as this was originally intended to be a quick one-shot picture, but I do have a general impression of her, and it's starting to grow in my mind. I think I'll name her Grace.

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© 2017 - 2022 StephOBrien
Comments12
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EduartBoudewijn's avatar
From ProjectComment

I like the original idea behind this image and you did a nice job executing on it. The blue of the dress contrasts nicely with the background and grabs your attention.

I feel like although the dress works nicely, the largest problem of this piece is that the person in the dress isn't as visible. Perhaps this was an intentional decision, but when I originally saw this piece I thought it was just a dress on a black background. Only after reading the description did I increase my monitor brightness and was able to make out the person. I feel like the piece would be clearer if you would improve the silhouette of the character in some way. Either by increasing the brightness of the sky or perhaps placing a big moon shape behind the character would make her a lot more clear to the viewers. If neither of those appeal to you, perhaps even just adding a few highlights to her skin would help in this regard. I do like the minimalist-feel you went for with this image, but I think clarity trumps that and by using the moon as a backdrop for the character's silhouette you can still keep that feeling, I think. 

The dress also feels just a bit flat to me; there's a bit of shading there to help, but I think you could improve upon that to make the forms of this piece stand out better. Again, also adding some highlights besides just the shading could help to make the forms pop more. Perhaps even try some value/photostudies to improve your knowledge of shading and forms better; doing just a few can really help you to learn new things!

I still quite like the image; the way the dress stands out is still a great point of this piece and I think if you were to improve upon the silhouette of the character that could become even stronger. Hope this critique was useful to you, good luck with your future pieces!