Getting to critique the rare good piece of traditional art in the Sonic fandom is a real treat. How ironic, then, that such a soothing traditional piece should come from a character best known for finding a computer room. The stark contrast of the natural landscape and relaxed pose in this piece to Vector's usual frantic attempts to obtain money both pleases the eye and sheds new light on a controversial character.
This pose is actually quite close to some official art of the character; at first glance, one wouldn't realize they're any different. However, the subtle changes made by this artist change the meaning of the pose entirely. In the official art, his hand is in front of his earpiece, as if to protect or adjust the headphones, and his other hand is clenched into a fist in front of him. He stares at the reader wearing a direct and cheerful, but somewhat menacing grin. The slight backward arc of his back, The placement of his whole hand over the earpiece, and the almost backward-hanging position of his other arm create a relaxed appearance, as if he can finally settle down and enjoy the goods he worked so frantically to buy.
Proportion-wise, the deviations from his character model are mostly an improvement over canon. Most noticeable is his substantially thicker waist. Canon vector is top-heavy, even compared to the physique of a human male. This vector's waist is much wider relative to his top, creating a more blocky appearance. The effect is that Vector ends up looking more like a real crocodile than say, Trogdor. His snout is slightly shorter and more rounded, making him seem less threatening. The only place where the changed proportions don't work is in the arm and wrist on the viewer's right, his left. While Vectors arm does get thicker as it approaches the wrist in some canon art, the sharp bend of his elbow makes that look strange. With so many other concessions made to realism, that seems like an appropriate one. Also, his bracelet placement doesn't match the angle of his lower arm.
Shading is supberb here, creating a really strong feeling of light and color, and of different materials. Especially impressive are the eyes, hand, and belly scales. The use of white in the pupil really makes his eyes seem to shine, and the hand above is surprisingly realistic and very professionally shaded. The shading seems to match his light source well. The contour of shading on his belly scales create a bumpy appearance, matching his character model. Shading, however, is conspicuously absent from his back scales. Also, his necklace is lacking somewhat in luster, seeming tarnished. If this artist ever figures out how to make a realistic metal gleam, I hope she'll share with me the secret. That would make this piece nearly perfect.
The use of color here is absolutely incredible. On first glance Vector's a perfect match for his canon appearance, but a closer inspection reveals the use of some slightly warmer warmer colors in places to create an inviting, sunset feeling. This effect was taken too far with his scales, which are too bright for their position relative to the sun, however, and in a few places the lovely muted, natural background bleeds over into Vector's outline.
The much different coloring style of the background gives the piece a sense of depth, but it also suggests that Vector doesn't belong in this natural paradise you see before you. The combination of that warm, natural background and his body language remind me of reading and playing video games on the beach and that strange, guilty sensation of mixing something everyone is supposed to enjoy with something that many people say I shouldn't.
One more thing I want to mention is the stray marks, especially in the background. The ones that are not on Vector add some atmosphere to the piece, suggesting all is not quite as it should be and that this is an artifice, a fantasy. On the other hand they might look sloppy to some, an take away from the reality of the scene. The stray marks on Vector, however, like the random green line down his chest, do detract from the serenity and depth of the piece.
I feel privileged to get to critique such an insightful, beautiful piece of a character I love so much. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a gallery of similar pieces to explore.