Stylistic Feedback?

  • Hey all, I've been playing around with some of my process the last week or so and I was looking for some feedback.

    I've vacillated between a "sketchy" feel and a more "painterly" feel. I feel like I've bleed one into the other frequently. When I'm dong more sketchy stuff I'm painting over things a lot and it kind of creates I think more interesting textures. My process for painterly is far more in defining solid flat areas and then working detail into them versus a far more loose sketchy process.

    What I'm wondering about specifically is does one seem more modern, appealing or marketable stylistically? I did a real quick example of sketchy feeling and then the more painterly is the more recent one I redid last week. If one feels like it's more what you'd see in modern designs then I'd like to spend some more time cultivating that just to be more appealing for potential work.





  • Well, I don't think one feels more "pro" than the other. I could see someone saying that one style is more children's book, and one is perhaps more commercial, or leans towards concept art (for films). But every time I've heard agents or editors or art directors talk about style, they seem to avoid it lol. I think the truth is that lots of styles have a place in children's books.

    Have you tried doing the dream portfolio yet? Do you personally feel like you enjoy one style over the other?

    Also, I would call the first "sketchy" version painterly, and your other version perhaps "rendered." Painterly is usually referring more to an impressionistic type style like this quick google search result:


  • @carlianne Thanks for the feedback... yeah that's the struggle. I REALLY like both of them 🙂 My concern is that having too many variations will cause a problem if someone looking for someone to fill a role needs to do that work. Maybe "pro" was the wrong word and maybe "marketable" is more apt, but then again it all kind of depends on the project. More widely appealing? I'm struggling with how to define it.

    I had made a dream portfolio a long time ago.. but since then it's change lol. So I think I need to make a new one.

    Hmm that's good feedback about the definitions. I think you're probably right and the 2nd one would fall into a more rendered category. I was thinking about this today after I had posted this, and maybe the right thing to do is have maybe 8 to 10 finished best pieces in each style. We're supposed to present the kind of work we want to get, so that would make sense heh.

  • @jdubz oh yeah doing the dream portfolio would be a great idea since you have changed so much. I did mine when I started my style update and again a few months later when I started to understand what I wanted more.

    Actually when I asked which style you like more I also meant which one do you enjoy doing more? For example, I love super rendered technical paintings and portraits, and I learned to do them but I don’t enjoy rendering. I like how it looks in the end but the part I love is the concept I just lose interest and love for my project once I get to rendering. So I chose a style that matches my temperament. My friends who like rendering don’t enjoy the concept phase as much but LOVE the rendering part, it gives them satisfaction to noodle through and make it all shiny lol. Obviously there are always going to be hard parts in either style, and you shouldn’t chose a style because it is “easier” but in general do you find one of them more satisfying?

    But also, I think the bigger question is what kind of job you would like to get. I know early in your career it’s usually ANYTHING haha but what would your dream job be? Children’s books? For what age kids? Comics? Concept art? Something else? I do have two portfolios, one for my concept art work which is cleaner and more rendered and has character design and environments, and then my children’s books portfolio where it is the style that I enjoy most and is more painterly, young and cute.

  • @carlianne Truth be told, I like doing both equally. The only thing I really don't like that much is the flats stage of any process. So I'm kinda stuck there 😛 I would gladly do either. At this point they take about the same amount of time - maybe a little bit more for the rendered look, but not much.

    Dream job is definitely remaining freelance - after working for myself for the last 12 years, I have ZERO intention of going back lol. I think for kids books I'd gravitate towards the 4 to 7 range - those were my favorite books to read my kids. They're just getting out of that stage now but they're still my favorites (I still read Mustache Baby on my own time lol). Comics is an interesting possibility. I think I'd like to try and graphic novel at some point. I'm not sure I'd like to put myself on the hook for a regular comic schedule though. Honestly, I feel like I'd need to do one to know. But a graphic novel feels more autonomous.

    I need to learn more about the concept art world. I only know partially the video games side, and I don't know if that's for me. If it were a smaller publisher doing more indie stuff that would be up my ally. But I'd enjoy doing board game art for example.

    For the most part, I feel like I don't know the industry well enough to know for sure what my favorite area would be. I'll have to get my feet a bit more wet to know more about what I DON'T enjoy.

  • @jdubz I do feel like your work fits into the age range you said for children’s books, when you do your dream portfolio you could try looking at other illustrators you admire who work on those books and see if you feel like one style or the other feels better?

  • @jdubz just going to add another voice to this discussion. 😉

    As has been said, there are all kinds of styles in children's books. Instead of a popular or "children's book" style, it seems that the deciding factor in choosing a style is one that best helps tell the story. I've seen books published with similar illustration styles for both of the above styles. Recently published books that have comparable styles of your looser style are Paper Kingdom (illustrated by Pascal Campion), Escargot & its sequel A Book for Escargot (illustrated by Sydney Hanson), and any book illustrated by Dan Santat. Comps of your more rendered style could be How to Catch a Dinosaur (illustrated by Andy Elkerton), Goodnight, Astronaut (illustrated by Izzy Burton), and This Book is Upside Down (illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli -- her work is more textured than yours, though). This is just proof that you can find books in almost any illustration style, and both of your styles are marketable.

    Of course, your styles are your own, so none of these is exactly like you.

    And it's okay to work in more than one style, too, if you love both. (If it's not okay, I'm in trouble cuz I work in more than one style too! 😂) There are established illustrators who work in more than one style: Aaron Blaise, Bruce Whatley, and Vashti Harrison. This question came up in a webinar I attended and the feedback from the art director was to organize your portfolio so each style has its own place.

    Hope this helps. For what it's worth, I love BOTH of your styles!

  • SVS OG

    @jdubz Cool work. I like both pieces but I'm going to be direct and say I don't really see sketchy. If you didn't mention that one was done differently than the other, I wouldn't have guessed that was what you were going for. Yes, the frog piece looks a bit rougher but they look quite similar to me.

    Also, before I continue, how do you define 'pro' illustrations for yourself?

  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 Thanks for the feedback and the kind words! Yeah I've read a good amount of those books. That is definitely a good idea to separate it out like that.

    @Nyrryl-Cadiz that actually makes me feel a lot better if there are a good amount of folks will not see a difference in style, even if I split the work into categories it might still look cohesive. The "sketchy" side of it was that I was intentionally leaving most of the sketch marks and adding additional pencil marks on top of the final drawing versus having very little linework in the 2nd one and it mostly be painted over.

    Pro was not the right word - I was primarily looking for which one might be more appealing or modern (or marketable). Using it in that context didn't make sense since it's really more of a stylistic question.

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