Serious Feedback Requested on FEB prompt and probably need to be talked down from the tree....

  • Every artists ends up with these types of feeling and questions, probably several times over their lifetime. Remember that as artists we are not just climbing some stairs, we are also building the staircase. Every illustration is a new step to a level you didn't know you could get to.

    As far as a crit would say there are some issues I can point out but understand that they are minor.

    1. The style does not feel fully cohesive. Specifically the smoke looks flat when compared to the other elements in your illustration.
    2. The lighting has some random things going on. The Yeti looks like he is rim lit while everything else looks like it is top lit and the potatoes in the back feel like they are in a neutral light. This will ad to a mental confusion of styles with in the image.
    3. The composition tends to pull my eye away from the Yeti but doesn't really bring it back. These are all small things that add up over time. The smoke curls away from the focus, it could be simply curved back to the character. The spoon and sauce splatters also move away from the character. There are a lot of ways to address the spoon. Lastly the balance of the image is a little off, like it is rotated to the right. Just rotate it a bit and see if that helps.

    Again these are not super obvious nor are they a totally image killer. But you might want to look back through your passed work and see if it is something that is repeating. This is still a good image and you should definitely not be doubting yourself (Need to say this to myself more often), you have great skill and talent.

  • Don't stop entering @chrisaakins! You've got good skillz!! Whenever I feel that way, I'm really close to a breakthrough, so keep experimenting and I'm sure you'll blow us away 🙂

    I really like this piece. You've got great overlap and grouping going on, as well as interesting negative space. LOVE how the yeti's head is tilted back to smell the aroma! I didn't really see any other yetis doing that, and it's a great gesture for in the kitchen.

    I don't think being passed over on the top 16 has to do with your style. I think your style is good. I'm not even at your level yet, but if I were to guess at what would level it up, I'd say to look at it a little more holistically. It kind of has the vibe that you drew and rendered each piece individually, so there's less cohesion in the whole. For example, color: the blue is only on one half of the image; the pink is only on the other half. Each item is painted its most obvious local color, instead of working together. The floor rendering doesn't quite match the style of the drifting aroma. It's kind of nitpicky things, because your design and technical skills are pretty good. I think you're so close and can render so well, the overall effect of the image matters. I like your work and you inspire me to keep going! So keep going!!

    Not sure practically how to practice this, but my suggestion is maybe to try doing a few pieces traditional instead of digital? When your tools and colors are super limited, everything kind of naturally develops a cohesive quality. Maybe someone else at a higher level than me has a good exercise to try or can recommend a class?

    I hope you really meant it about wanting a serious critique. You've got some kind of conflicting messages in your post, and if you just wanted approval, I will feel really really bad... I hope you take this as encouragement, because I truly mean it that way! I really don't think you're as far off as you feel like!!

    Best of luck! And happy creating!! 😁

  • @MarksByMallory I do appreciate the encouragement. I also thank you for your honest critique! I do work traditionally as well and I know what you mean by color choices and a limited palette. That is definitely something I need to work on. YOu are the second person to point out the lack of cohesion. @Aaron-Cutright Thanks for pointing out the lack of cohesiveness and the lighting issues. I will look dor those issues in the future. @Isabel-Reyes-Feeney They didn't like my other Yeti, either, so I tried to go a little cuter. I thought the point of this illustration was the spot part and not the character development part so that probably didn't help matters. I do think some of the ones they chose weren't really spot illustrations, but what do I know. I'm still a newbie.

    I really appreciate all your eyes! I am going to post my other art soon and I would love the same feedback.

  • I have similar feelings, but I am trying my best to keep moving forward. I have only entered three times, four now, and each time I learn something. I think there are just soooo many styles it’s hard to narrow them down, i think it comes down to a preference thing. Which can be frustrating because so many times I’ve thought what? Mine was way better than that persons but I have to step back and put myself in check obviously it wasn’t better... just not catching their eye. I hope you keep entering I really enjoy your style too.

  • I was little put off as well by the character design judging part of critique today I thought they’d focus more on overall design and the cooking with flair part... but oh well

  • @chrisaakins I think for this type of contest specifically, it's more about understanding what it is so that you can't take it personally. Popularity on the forum (people giving good feedback, liking it, upvoting it, etc) doesn't come all that much into play when they are picked for the top 16. These prompts are a bit weird in the sense that they are community voted, but not community chosen. Think about the process - a prompt is given, you post your work for everyone to see and provide feedback, then you finish it and people on the forum love it. It gets posted and upvoted and confirmed as a great piece. Then someone from the SVS staff or instructors pop in couple days before the arena and chooses the ones they like out of the pool of like 100+ images as quickly as their schedule allows. And that's what gets voted on. So the "favorite" of the submissions doesn't even necessarily even get into the top 16 and can't even be voted on by the community that liked it the most 🙂

    Then, on top of all that, they are pitted against each other on a 1 on 1. So, your piece might be really strong against 15 other pieces in the prompt EXCEPT the one it's specifically pitted against.

    Consider a simple change where the top 16 were simply the top 16 most upvoted pieces by midnight on the last day of the month. That alone would dramatically change how these results play out.

    I think the advice that helped me the most was Lee's call to not look at the critique arena as a win or a loss, it's a challenge to help build your portfolio. Winning it is more of a fun surprise. You didn't do bad and therefore need to fix a bunch of problems in your submission, which would then result in a win having fixing it. Look at some of the pieces that have won over the last 12 months. Yours may be technically much better in many ways than those winners. But through the circumstances of everything that goes into the prompt, the wind just didn't blow the right way.

    Chin up bro. Bottom line - your stuff is great. You just did a pro gig for Paramount, so I think you can rest easy knowing you have chops 🙂 Obviously we can all improve, so things like these prompts provide a platform to do something you aren't all that used to or get out of your comfort zone, or simply just have a goal project to do that month as another way to build your portfolio.

  • @jdubz so true, last month I managed to get into the top somehow and in the very first round they’ve pit me next to the great and powerful gazelle grizzly... 😭😭😭 but it was an honor at the same time.

  • @frankiiij thank you for the kind words 🙂

    Your wife is so completely right. Unfortunately by the end of the hour I realized that I didn't even understand what they were looking for, or what the limitations were. It seemed like from the character design, the yeti could be anything, you know? I'll have to listen to it again and take a look at the entries. I would give up a spot in the top 16 each month for a full understanding of the prompt.

  • Chris your entry is already a great portfolio piece which is the ultimate goal. I do completely understand the frustration, I have had several pieces that were not picked which most of the time doesn’t bother me, but the October prompt had so few entries and I felt like I was definitely going to make top 16. Not only did I not make top 16 I wasn’t mentioned in the extra 14 or so honorable mentions so I didn’t even make top 60%. I was so crushed I didn’t participate in the next one.

    But the thing is I keep improving. I can see how much I have actually improved and I can see it in your work too. Winning would be great but your already getting great clients (which is way better than winning an SVS contest. Just keep going. Your already a professional win or not.

  • @Asyas_illos I'm sorry about that... Your concept for yeti house was way cooler than mine !!

  • @chrisaakins I can totally relate on your frustration... Your style is sweet, it makes me wanna smile and share the happiness of that little chef. You're a professionnal artist and that matters a lot. Paramount chose you, not one of the winner! I really love how you render your pieces. I love the way you choose your colors too!

    If I may, though, I wonder if maybe with different proportions, your art would have been in the top 16. I feel like you gave too much space and attention to the text and not enough to the main character... Also, the yeti is about the same size as your smoke and I feel like I wanna see more the yeti and his happy face. I'm pretty sure Will would have say "your yeti is standard size, we wanna see very bug or very small but not an in beetween size". I sure hear Lee too, wanting your yeti to have more rythm (he's so happy, and maybe you may have enhance this happiness with more curves). I'm not sure that I can give more advice, your piece is already beautiful and deserving to go straight to your portfolio!

    I don't know if it's ok (if not, I can suppress my image, let me know), I allow myself to move around your proportions and enhancing your initial gesture... Hope it'll help you with your frustration, that's a horrible feeling...


  • SVS OG

    @chrisaakins Hi Chris! you make great work and you have a great style. I'm sure the guys also see that as well. However, I can see a few issues with this piece.

    1. The yeti looks like he's pouring the secret spice on to himself. Solution: Move out his hand further from his body.

    2. The Yeti is drawn too straight on. Personally, I would draw him in 3/4 view.

    3. Personally, I would also like to exaggerate the Yeti's pose more. I love what you did with his pinky. it's a good rule of thumb to imagine the character as a silhouette. If you can tell what the character is doing just by the silhouette, then the pose is clear.

    4. Lastly, this is purely based on my taste but since this is a Yeti piece, I feel that you missed a great opportunity to experiment with the concept. The current story is good but a bit too common. It would be fun if you added some crazy detail to it. Like what if the "secret" ingredient is made up of crushed up pixies and you had a cage full of pixies in the corner or something just as outlandish. 😂

    I hope this was helpful. Below is a quick sketch I made.

    Don't get discouraged, you make great art and you have made huge improvements too!

    chris akins 2.jpg

  • The only critique I can really think of on the artwork might be the shadows, The flames on the cauldron I think would light up the front of his body more.

  • Hi @chrisaakins, the strain is good! This is the improvement process and you will continue to grow with each piece.

    After entering the contests 16 months in a row, I have been lucky to be selected 1 time for the sweet 16 and made honorable mention 3 times (almost made the cut).

    What I’ve learned personally is that I’m trying my best with the skills that I have and with whatever free time I have after long days of work and being a father and husband.

    To me, just pushing myself to complete the piece in my style is already a win. I know it sounds lame, but I detach from my art and never expect to make it in the sweet 16.

    Expectations lead to disappointment.

    Regarding critique, I do like your style and you definitely have great drawing skills. I agree with the comments provided by others, especially the Yeti size and not looking like a typical Yeti.

    I thought I was being clever with my Yeti girl looking different, but I was way off. Nevertheless, I stuck with my character design through the 3 pieces for cohesion.

    Here’s what I recommend:

    1. Keep doing your best work
    2. Request WIP feedback
    3. Post your submission
    4. Detach from likes
    5. Let go of any expectations

    Remember, the challenges are extremely tough! If you were winning them, you wouldn’t be growing.

  • I think @Nyrryl-Cadiz hit the nail on the head. Most of the issues I see with this are silhouette based. I always at some point convert my image to solid shapes to make sure that things aren't blending together. This is especially important with a spot illo (I think, take all advice with grain of salt, lol)

    That being said, I know how you feel. I've made up a few entries that I really REALLY liked, but they didn't hit the top 16. Sometimes they don't hit the mark and we can't see why because we're too close.

    I don't think it has anything to do with the judges liking one style over another (although I'm sure they all have different tastes). Sometimes entries simply don't make it past the first rough sort 🤷♂

    I'll take breaks between challenges (unless it's one I REALLY like) and I find it recharges my batteries and lets me grow a little between entries. If you're feeling frustrated it may be time for a short breather before getting back into the ring 🙂

  • @Gaelle-Grizzly don’t be silly! like I said it was an honor both to make it to the top and to be paired next to yours! I just knew I was going down lol! I love your stuff!

  • Wow! You guys are the best. I am overwhelmed with good feeling toward everyone. I really appreciate the very detailed descriptions of what could be improved. I appreciate the draw overs especially because I am very visual and they help so much.
    I would tag all of you in my thanks but I am afraid I will leave someone out. I also appreciate the reminders that I need to be working for me rather than to get approval from some guys who don’t really even know me. I thank you for the words of affirmation regarding my style. I have been really working hard towards developing a clear distinguishable style that people like. It was nice to hear, ya know?

    Thanks again!

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @chrisaakins I do understand what you are saying here and we sypathize. I wish all of them could make it to the top 16.

    What people have said here in terms of a crit is fairly accurate to what Will and I debated about your piece. The pose of character being too straight on and symmetrical with the arms was the main things. Look to some animation books on creating a better gesture to get more emotion across. If I filled your character in with sharpie, it would just be leaning a bit to one side, there would be no emotion from the pose. I agree with what @Nyrryl-Cadiz said about the pose silhouette. I also agree with the things @Gaelle-Grizzly said and liked the scale change to the smoke. The pose of the head could be tweaked to a much more expressive 3/4 view and be clearer in design. That nose up pose is really hard to do head on and have it look right. The only character I've ever seen done really well in that pose is snoopy. I will add that your style is fine! It's storytelling and gesture that you need to work on.

    Like I said, I understand the frustration of entering and not getting in. BUT, I will say that is part of the training too! Next weeks podcast is about "dealing with constant failure" and one thing we talk about is that this industry has a MASSIVE amount of it. When I would send out 1000 postcards and get 2 replies, it was tough to deal with. Then I'd send out ANOTHER 1000 and get 1 reply. And then I'd send out another 1000, and another, and another. It really is a numbers game. You can't judge your successes in a single entry situation like a contest. If you do, you are GUARANTEED to feel disappointed. The real goal should be 1. Do work that you like and is your best. 2. Put it out in the world. 3. Repeat. And that is it. That is all you can do. Of course that doesnt mean that you shouldnt try to keep getting better, etc. It just means that you know you are going to make thousands of images. So just keep your head down and produce the best work you can.

  • @Lee-White Thank you for taking time out to respond to my post. I apologize for sounding so pouty. I see now more what you were looking for especially after the comments by @Nyrryl-Cadiz and @Gaelle-Grizzly. I took your advice to heart and did the sharpie thing to my entry for this month and it really does make a difference. Hopefully my March piece will show much improvement! Thank you for the words of encouragement!

  • @Asyas_illos that was the part I was going to review and would like to understand better. They mentioned that people generally did a good job with the spot illustration, so I thought that was why they didn't talk about it! I felt like we got that right as a group, that was kind of nice.

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