My first book cover... please critique :)


  • animals

    Hi everyone,
    I choked hard on inktober this year, because I had my first book cover to do:
    alt text

    The author is my older brother, he's launching it on kickstarter soon. This is something we've been working on for many years. This was done with acrylic ink on 22 x 30 inch watercolor paper, except the lettering which was added digitally.



  • Overall its a nice drawing - or maybe better say that each element is quite nice alone.

    It feels like there are 2 or 3 different cultures that are gonna interact here, but the interaction seems a bit difficult in a drawing that aims to show each one of them together yet isolated.

    If you are willing to make big changes, or maybe for future pieces like this, you can check some of "Dune" and "Star Wars" cover art on google images to get some references. Or any other book cover, game or movie poster that has some representation of multiple cultures/races.

    The characters feel more or less equally represented and nothing draws the eye to a specific point (which can be what you want). You made the green goblin looking guy with a bit of a Triadic colour composition (green/purple/yellow), but the overall cover composition are the 3 main characters (I may be missing the stone skin looking ones on the back), so you may want to check your overall colour scheme, instead of focusing on the colour scheme of each character independently.

    Would also take a look at the background again. You have a purple tower in the middle of a more yellow/brown set of buildings. If the idea is to use purple for shadows, so need to project the light and shadows on other parts too. Otherwise, why is there a purple tower there?

    Other small detail for the lady holding the candle: the candle light is too white and the candle is right at the line of the other character hands, which causes a bit of a confusion there (for a few seconds I thought she was holding some part of his sword). That is what people identify as a tangent issue. Also, a candle alone wouldn't make those walls so bright.

    Finally, just a question: Is it "A prince of the North" or "The Prince of the North"?

    Hope this helps!



  • This post is deleted!

  • animals

    @diego_biosteam Hi Diego,
    Thanks for the critique! It's too late for changes on this one, but I will definitely take any constructive criticism into account for the ones to follow. I know it's not perfect, but I made myself listen to Jake's "Finished Not Perfect" advice, and my brother is quite happy with it. But, I do want to improve each time. Good call on the references, I would say my biggest influence on the composition was Drew Struzen, who did so many movie posters. That's the kind of feel I want to get to... I will check out some more of those. I struggled with the color choices a bit- My brother asked for a sunrise sky, to reflect the overall hopeful tone of the story and that it's the beginning of the series. So, I wanted to mostly stick to the sunrise sky colors and their compliments. The large character with the horns has a bright red cloak in the story, so I felt that was necessary. On the tower, I actually really struggled with that and then went with purple as a compliment to the yellow sky behind it... if you were doing this, or were an art director, etc, what color might you have picked for the tower?

    I agree with you about the candle... on my thumbnail, the girl was in a different location and pose, and when I got started, I thought of this change. I'm still glad I made the change, but I wish I would have placed her a little lower to avoid the tangent.
    It's "A Prince of The North"... Thanks, this definitely does help! :)

    To Ben, I'm not sure why you deleted your post, I can assure you I'm not afraid of constructive criticism. I think all artists love compliments but constructive criticism is always more helpful. I read it quickly once, and when I sat down to really digest and reply to both of these, it was gone. If you still would like to share your opinion, I'd still like to hear it :)



  • @Tyler-Blake
    Hi Tyer, I also agree that "finished is not perfect"! I think your piece is good, and if your brother was satisfied with it, then you succeeded! But as you said it, your artwork can always improve, and it's good that you are open to critique and willing to improve!

    I will also add a quote from a great artist that I met a few weeks ago: "Practice by just doing the same thing will not lead to improvement, you need to practice with assessment, that is, assess what you did, identify the errors and what is not good and try ways to fix those. Practice with assessment leads to improvement"! And I agree that we will not necessarily fix the issues on the same piece - we need to train ourselves to be able to delivery work on time. After all, the issue is not only on the piece, but in our brains, eyes, hands, but mainly in our brains - art is still and mostly an intellectual activity, not just a set of technical skills that rely on your hands or on a special paint or software.


  • animals

    @diego_biosteam Hi Diego,
    Well said ! My mom is an oil painter, so naturally she was my first art teacher. When I was about 11, I started to get serious about wanting to learn how to draw. Whenever I would show her something, what I wanted was high praise, and I did get some praise but she ALWAYS had constructive criticism. I accused her of being hyper critical, and she would just smile and say "I want to help you get better. We learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes." When I was a kid, that drove me nuts, but now, I appreciate it. :)



  • @tyler-blake
    Hi Tyler! Yes! I believe learning to give good feedback is about helping the artist to see what she/he didn't see, focus on things that were ignored and maybe even learn something that wasn't known. Giving feedback is a skill that also needs training!
    And receiving feedback is the same: we need to train ourselves to filter it and see what is good in a feedback. And because we can't demand everyone to give feedback in the same way, we need to know when to just say "thanks" if the feedback is only praise, and to ignore the negative judgments.
    And as with art in general, you improve these feedback skills by practicing and assessing. I like the forum for the chance to give feedback and assess how people react to it! And also for the chance to receive feedback!


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