Reworking an old illustration
This is an illustration I did for a 3rd Thursday challenge last year. I wanted to rework it since I like it but feel I can do better.
This is the original image
The critique I received from @Will-Terry was that :
- The action needed to be closer to the foreground because it was hard to see what's going on (and I totally agree!)
- Anatomy of the bears need improvement (also agree!)
- It's impossible to open a bear claw trap with pliers (I also agree, HOWEVER... what if the pliers are magical ?! Maybe I can have them glow or something to show the magic ?)
I started reworking the composition. I will improve the rendering after, but I wanted to know if anyone has critique before I go further ? Will had also suggested that I could put the cubs in the trees instead of in the foreground, however this would mean changing the type of tree and I really like these trees...
Anyway, here is what I have so far!
@NoWayMe I really love the colors in this piece - I also love the idea of illustrating "charity". I made a few alterations - I hope you don't mind :) 1. I enlarged the baby bears - their proportions keep them reading as cubs. 2. I changed the forest back lighting color from the magical box light color - I think this is important to tell your readers that this light is different. 3. I changed the perspective on your box a little and added a shadow to place it on the ground. These are all superficial compared to the pliers. I really think you need something that opens rather than closes. Pliers pinch and the bear is already being pinched...my 2 cents. I think it would be stronger if she were opening it with a magic wand, or her own hands. Curious to know what others think?
@Will-Terry Thanks Will! For the pliers, what I am trying to illustrate is reverse pliers (she has the extremities of the pliers inside the bears claw and is trying to separate them). Like these :
But clearly, if it needs all these explanations, it doesn't work (like you always say, I don't want to give any work to my viewers) I am also curious if anyone has another idea! :)
Oh hey, I remember watching this critique! I love the girl's expression.
Maybe there's a way you could combine magic + reverse pliers to create some kind of imagined magical tool? Maybe make the pliers way bigger than normal (so they look like they could actually take on a bear trap and so that you could exaggerate how they work so it's clearer)? shrug
It'll be fun to see where you take this! :)
@NoWayMe I realize that but I don't think many people will understand it. I've lived for 50 years on this planet and I've done a fair amount of work around the house with tools - and I didn't know what reverse pliers were until you mentioned them. When you create an illustration that is targeted at the masses (I'm assuming yours is ) it's better to use really common objects that will read right away. I try to ask myself when creating a piece, "will 90% of my audience understand what I'm saying?" If I'm worried they won't I often change my objects. Your illustration works...but only for people who know about reverse pliers. If this were an ad for reverse pliers you nailed it.
I can't not agree with Will on the 'reverse pliers'. I spend too much of my working time coming up with what I think are great and creative ideas but then I get told that they don't make sense and even after I have explained my simple icon or illustration I am reminded that it doesn't make enough sense or isn't easy enough to understand. I was taught way back in drawing 101 that the little things that I can get attached to in my illustrations too often turn into the thing that will ruin the piece and needs to be taken out, but due to my love for the cute idea or awesome way I executed the drawing of that small item I refuse to take it out. Alex Alvarez over at Gnomon Schools says what separates the superstars from the average, "They seek criticism, and actually listen to it." I will tell you that I have been too slow to ask and when I was the inexperienced artist I was even slower to implement the ideas I got from experienced artists. Good luck, the illustration is looking awesome!
I tried another option instead of the pliers since it was really not reading well. I went with a magic saw instead. @Will-Terry , do you think it works better ? I didn't rework the other things you mentioned yet, as I want to find a way to improve the storytelling before working the details.
Thanks for your input!
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
Well, I can definitely tell it's a saw! Good idea!
@NoWayMe Great choice in tools! I like the saw idea and I really like how this illustration has evolved!
I like the change in tools, I will very hesitantly say it looks a bike lock right now. I think this image has a lot of potential and I don't want to be a downer type of influence. I might suggest a more profile look at a traditional or old fashion hacksaw that has some magical powers. The view right now is more of a forced perspective, dynamic view while it might be easier for the viewer to understand what it is if the girl is in a pose that would mimic bucking a log with an old wood saw but she's holding a clear side view hacksaw. The pose wouldn't have to change much, just the arms but I think it was a wise choice to change the tool.
I tried another option: illustrating the "after"... I wasn't satisfied with the saw, and I didn't have another idea for a tool. What do you guys think ?! Is it reading better ? (of course right now it is very rough, but I wanted to share the idea before starting the rendering process)
I really appreciate your help :) I really want to improve this to a portfolio level!
I like this idea much better @NoWayMe ...the story of what she is trying to do, with the bear in pain, and the cubs watching, is all really clear even without the rendering. I think it is stronger in some ways than having the paw in the trap...because you can see even more of the story this way. And with this version you don't need to render the trap 'cleanly' yet without excessive blood/gore which might be a more realistic way of doing it, but would be less palatable for a children's book. Will be great to see the next version :-)
This is what I have so far!
I am pretty pleased with where this is going! I am glad I decided to illustrate the moment after she removes the trap, I think the story is much clearer this way. Thanks @Will-Terry for pushing me to move past my first idea!
I will still add tools floating from the toolbox and magic swirls coming from it!
Any comments/critique is appreciated!
@NoWayMe This is going in a great direction, I'm changing my earlier critique thoughts - I have to say, looking back on the saw illustrations a niggling thought kept zipping through my mind about what if she slipped using the saw to save the bear, definitely not a safe tool to use and definitely not a warm and fuzzy thought for a kids book, so I really applaud the steps you took to go past that point in time and chose to illustrate the moments after! It put more emotion into the piece, I think....
@WhiteboardJim - I can't agree with you more about having a hard time letting certain aspects in your illustrations go if they are not working - i definitely get stuck on some things and fixate on how wonderful i think they are, when in reality, they may be just as wonderful, not there, if they aren't helping the illustration!
@NoWayMe I like this version the best! It really tells the story. We don't need to know exactly how she got mom out - just that she helped and is giving care says it all. I'm impressed with your commitment to finishing this one! Great example!
I think the progression of ideas here is great (though as a non-tool person, I don't think most people/kids would know or care what would or would not work on a bear trap--but binding up the wound is best for reasons other than that, in my opinion.) I did want to say that I do think you could put a cub up a tree, hanging onto the trunk, without changing the trees.
Here is the final version! It's not perfect (for example I just realized I didn't "pump up" the light coming from the box like @Will-Terry suggested and I should have, but now I think it's time to move to something else! Thanks to all of you for the help :)
Now time to work on a Treehouse for the June competition!!!