Advice for Laura’s Puffin Background

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Laura sent in her lovely picture of the Puffin project from our website and requested some advice on the background. Laura has a membership and part of the service is that she can receive tips and advice on her artwork. Laura writes:


Attached is the Puffin of yours that I have been working on and have come to a stumbling block. I wanted to make his perch more rock looking and to get a sitting by the water water perception in the background.

I chose this because every photo that I was able to reference of a puffin was sitting on a rock with blue water in the background. However when I look at mine, I know there is something wrong with my attempt because the rock looks odd like it’s standing in the middle of nowhere.

I have looked at it over and over and I can’t figure out what the problem is that is making it look funny to me. Can you look at this and give me some advice on where it is wrong?


To listen or read Colin’s advice see below:

Advice for Laura's Puffin Background

Hi Laura. Steve sent me the picture of your puffin which looks really great and I think you’ve done a great job of that rock. I wouldn’t touch that. That’s great but I do understand where you’re coming from. If you were to continue that blue there wouldn’t be anything in it. So it’s a landscape really and what I would do here because you’ve got the rock in and you’ve got the puffin in detail, you’ve got to put an out of focus background. But I would use the sky and water here one third of the way down say halfway down his beak would may be a good idea.

You’ve got to be careful where your line goes. I would put a horizontal line across there and make sky above water below. There’s quite a lot of pictures or videos on our members site that you might well be able to follow. If you look at some of the pictures doesn’t have to be a bird. It can be anything really. You’ll see how I’ve actually done that. It can be slightly out of focus. So I would put the sky at the top and then the water from the  horizontal line come down to the water. And I think you’ll find that would work quite well just splitting up like that.

The other option is to carry on with what you’ve done – the blue and then just do what I normally do with the backgrounds just “fog” them in. The fact you’ve got the rock there, I think you need a little bit more detail. That’s my opinion but well done I hope that helps you.

*Update* Laura sent us her finished picture after following the advice above and I think you’ll agree it turned out brilliantly. Here’s what Laura said:

“Colin’s Puffin tutorial with a bit of a background change. I decided to change it a bit and came to a stumbling block due to my attempt at “going rogue” :-). I emailed Colin for some advice and within hours he gave some fantastic suggestions on how I could make my alteration still work. I applied them and this was the result. I could not have finished this without his input and am very pleased that his help got me through it. If you are on the fence about joining up, this is the kind of service you can expect from Colin Bradley online art classes. INVALUABLE!”

Colin's Puffin tutorial with a bit of a background change

By | 2019-04-11T11:00:22+00:00 March 21st, 2019|Animal Tips, Picture Feedback, Tips & Techniques|0 Comments