You think you are done? Sometimes the difference between a good painting and a great painting is simply a matter of a few more minutes work and a more careful eye. If you want to be sure that you have done everything in your power to get the best out of your piece, try implementing these steps before you finally declare your piece of artwork “finished.”
Check your values.
Value is one of the most common and universal problems for all artists. Make sure the darks and lights in your painting well defined and well-designed. If you working in Photoshop, simply put a hue/saturation adjustment layer on top of your image and desaturate your painting to see it in black and white. Sometimes a few extra darks and highlights can really make your painting pop.
Look at your painting from different perspective.
One quick thing you can do to check your painting for mistakes is to flip it. If you’re dealing with a physical painting, look at it in front of a mirror. One the computer, simply flip the image horizontally. Many times, your painting will look distorted, and you can fix a lot of drawing mistakes this way. Try looking at it upside-down or sideways also. This will help you see the value and color of your painting, without getting distracted by the subject matter.
50-5-5 stands for “50 feet, 5 feet, and 5 inches.” It means that if you stand and look at your painting at all three distances, is it still interesting? Or are your values so weak that all you see is one big blob when you’re looking at it from a large distance? And are your edges clean or do they look messy and thoughtless when you look at them close-up?
Show a friend.
An artist’s view of his own painting is often skewed. Get a another perspective and try not to work in a vacuum. Show your painting to both artist and non-artist friends. Listen to their feedback carefully and decide what still needs to be worked on.
Let it rest.
You have worked on this painting for hours and hours. Give your eyes a rest and put it away for a couple days. When you get back to it, you will have a fresh perspective and more energy to fix your painting.