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Commander Rainbow Dash by Neko-me

I have no idea what we mean by 'semi-realism', but it is probably useful to know where we fall short in actually achieving realism. IMO, if we actually want realism, it would probably help to pick a subject that is actually real to begin with. It is very difficult to shoot for realism drawing a non-real subject as you're not going to have photo references that has guaranteed 100% accurate shading and anatomy to learn from. However, whatever you mean by semi-realism, please don't hide behind that term so you can conveniently dodge any sort of critique :x It's possible to achieve something more convincingly real.

Realism is really tough to pull off, and even I know I have a ways from being able to do realism (if I ever get to it anyways). For example, one needs a solid understanding of light sources, how highlights work, where shadows appear, and how reflected light works in order to make something convincingly realistic especially to other artists.

You can look into her eyes and infer that there are... oh gawd... I dunno how many different highlights but there's at least seven different light sources. That many light sources is incredibly difficult to work with as I have enough trouble with just one. At some point, you can no longer carelessly place eye highlights like we can with cartoonistic styles.

Real nostrils are not dots and we can look at our own noses in the mirror to see for ourselves. Nostrils are actual holes you have to draw in. Real mouths are not just a line; they often come with real lips and real muscles to form different shapes. Your cheek also has no volume because the shading suggests that the cheek is totally flat despite being used to squint a little bit. If a cheek is pushing up to squint the eye, there need to be actual flesh to squint the eye with.

Your eye is also shaded by darkening around the edges. While it is totally great that you know that the eye needs to be shaded and not just be kept plain white, it's possible to have more correct shading. There's a term in pixel art about darkening something around the edges and it's called pillow shading. It is incorrect unless you have a clear light source literally very close in front of that eye. Consider how another round object like the moon is shaded. There may be other shading issues keeping this from being totally convincing to me as an artist, but they are very difficult to describe. The eye example is just one of the easier ones to describe.

Overall, a piece that gave itself a very, very difficult goal of 'semi-realism' with a non-real subject. Personally, I also wondered how far I could get to 'realism' with FiM-styled ponies but it's a goal I am no longer interested in. At some point, we'll get so close to real with FiM-style ponies that it will start becoming uncanny. Uncanny is pretty much what I feel about this piece.
10 out of 11 deviants thought this was fair.


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