This week’s submission comes from artist Shawnie. This is an oil over acrylic on plywood. The artist’s goal was to represent the blight from the wheel of time books. I looove the shading you’ve done on your tree, the contrast there is very nice. The detailing and reds in the foreground is great too!



My first tip on this is to take a better photo and to crop it. You have a baby photo on the wall photobombing it behind the tree. When a viewer sees this photo there attention is not just on the painting as you want it to be. Cropping it is important!


Adjust the Photo

Adjust it in a photo editor to look like the original painting. Right now it looks a little washed out and I suspect it’s just the lighting in the room.

Don’t adjust it so much that it looks different than the original.  When doing photoshop adjustments of your work it is common to hype the contrast a bit more than it looks in the original. If you hype it up more than what yours looks like in person and you like it better, don’t just leave it that way and let people believe based on the photo that that is what yours really looked like. I always recommend trying to get your photo to look as much like your actual painting as possible. You can however go back and adjust the values on your painting to make it match the photoshopped version you liked better. Then you’re not lying about what the painting is. If you adjust the values on the photo more than what your painting is and someone buys it after seeing the photo…they’re not going to be happy with the original.

Creating Depth

Right now your mountains don’t feel far away. Things in the distance are going to have less contrast in value and color than things up close. By simply glazing a bit of the same color from your sky over the mountains it pushes them into the distance.

I’ve adjusted the shape of the mountains as well. On both edges of your canvas you’ve got them going all the way up the sides. This is pulling the viewer away from the center of the canvas, so I’ve softened that out.



Fluffy Tree

The tree in the distance fades from light to dark green with some white highlights. It’s all mid tones and highlights, there aren’t shadows which is really needed considering it’s dark. When I paint trees I will normally use a very very dark green, then a mid range green, then a pale more yellowish green (of course all of this depends on other factors, but the point is three greens) along with highlights. Here, I’ve added more shadows and the tree no longer looks flat. I’ve also added a bit more shading in the trees farther back.



The lighting from the glow on the light ball thing reflecting onto the tree is the same from top to bottom. That glow would fade out the farther from the light source that it was. This is the same on the red leaves. They are going to be lit more the closer they are to that light source. By toning the lighting down at the top portion of the tree it also helps to keep the viewer within the canvas. If you have something that bright flowing from top to bottom it pulls the viewer right off the canvas.


My crappy photoshop sample is just that…crappy, but it lets you see what I’m talking about. You can do this far better by taking a bit more time on your piece 😀