Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Critics, please help!

It is usually difficult to get critiques with insightful criticism from people.  Is it because they...

don't want to hurt feelings (Yes, I can be crushed by comments.),
don't know the writer/illustrator well enough for trust to have developed,
are unfamiliar with the type of writing/illustration you have produced, or
aren't confident enough in themselves as critics?

When I'm in critique groups, I try to be gentle, BUT I want to be honest.   I think we all want that.  We want to know if our writing is fluent, clear, visual, free of redundant words, and evokes emotion.

Illustrators also have issues they want resolved.  They want their illustrations to draw out emotion from the viewer.  Does the viewer understand what is happening through the actions of the characters, the setting, the texture and color of the medium, the composition of the objects.  Is the message (or illustrator's intent) clear?  Does everything fit in neatly with the story?

This week, I was pleased with my husband's critique of my illustrations.  He gave me insightful criticism.   Was he right?  I asked myself.   I had something to think about.

Below is the illustration. It is from the story, baby spider. :

He asked why Baby Spider was so big.  He was bigger than the lizard which was in the foreground.  If he's little, shouldn't he be really small?  After some though, I took the illustration and began reworking it.  This is no easy task for someone who is just beginning to explore graphic illustration.

 As I try to improve on my illustration, I wonder how do I focus the viewer's attention on Baby Spider if the lizard becomes the largest character? Putting the main character in the center and using action  strokes to show movement is a start.  Also, the bright color of the spider and blah color of the lizard helps draw the viewers eye to Baby Spider.

Now, what size should Baby Spider be?  To me, he's small enough in the picture below.  He should be about the height of a 5 year old child.  Critics am I wrong?  Do you have any advice for me? Seriously, please help!


  1. I don't think I'm a good illustration critic! After you mentioned your husband's question I thought, hmmm - that's a good point! But before you mentioned it? I wouldn't have said there was anything wrong! :)

    You are in charge of the whole drawing, though. If the lizard in the foreground is a problem, you can just move him, can't you?

    P.S. I love the name Baby Spider :)

  2. Thank you for letting me know you hadn't seen anything wrong. He does have a good point, but I'm also glad that it's not obvious. I was wondering if I should move the lizard, too. The lizard is there because he helps add 3-D which enhances the jump action of Baby Spider. I guess, if I moved him behind the tree and Baby S, the lizard could still be looking at Baby S yet, facing towards the viewer. Hmmm, I'm thinking. Thank you for the help and thanks for the complement on the name Baby S. I'm glad you like it. :)

  3. I also didn't think about it too much until your husbands question - especially as I have a son mad on lizards and likes to tell me about all the tiny lizards that exist. The colour of baby spider draws the eyes, so I didn't notice the lizard at first, but I do like the detail of him being there.

  4. Thanks so much Mellissa. I can drive myself crazy wondering what I should do and how I should do it. Maybe'll I'll leave the lizard alone and not make Baby S so langly. You and Susanna have helped me sort things out. Whew!

  5. Hi Brenda,
    I really like your art. The proportions in the third picture are pretty good. Here are a few suggestions: A baby's features tend to be lower on the face and chubbier. Have a look at Tweety Bird as an example. The baby spider's head could be as large as his body and his legs could be smaller. The facial expressions of the other characters in the third picture are nice and legible. I would like to see their facial expressions in the second picture too. The contrast of their anxious, worried faces with Baby's joy at making the jump will add to the humor. I like the colors best in the third picture too. Perhaps the greens in the second picture could be brighter and the picnic blanket could be a more cherry red.
    Hope this helps. I look forward to seeing more of your artwork.

  6. Hi Karen, Your comments are very helpful. I will work on Baby S. head. I also thought the facial expressions of the other characters were too far away for them to be clearly seen.

    You mentioned the color of the picnic blanket as being a cherry red. Normally, I would say yes, but I worried that with so many bright colors there would be too much noise in the picture, and it would confuse the viewer. You think not? I had thought about putting a pattern on the blanket, but changed my mind because I didn't want to overload the viewer's senses.
    ???Lot's to think about.???
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. :)