Cat and Mice - please critique!

  • Hi folks, this is my thumbnail for my next illustration. Any thoughts? Do the values work? Can you tell what’s happening? (See story below the image)

    The story is the mice are plotting to put a bell around the cat’s neck. The cat is in the background trying to sleep, with some suspicion about the mice. Thanks for any input!

  • Looks like a good start Matthew. I'm by no means as qualified to advise as many here... however, does incorporating the screen add complexity? Could the mice be sneaking up on the sleeping cat, in a pack, with a muffled bell, and one pointing directions?

  • @Matthew-Oberdier good storytelling! Really looking forward to seeing where you go with this one!

    Could you make the mouse hole a little smaller? It looks like the cat would just be able to stick its head in and have a mousy snack. While you're at it, you may want to extend the illustration to show more of the mouse hole, or the entirety of it. (Make the leader mouse entirely covered by the wall -- again, so it looks like he's entirely hidden and safe in his mouse house.)

    Speaking of the leader mouse, could he have a more dynamic pose, clueing us in as to how he feels about this mission? Is he enthusiastic? Scared? Devious? Nonchalant?

    Could the cat be flipped? That will lead the eye to the main story instead of drawing the eye off the page.

    As far as your question about value -- the lighting on the mice is great but you may want to address one thing: the screen and the background look to be so similar in value that they might compete for attention. Where is the eye supposed to go first? That should be the lightest value. (Because the story seems to be the mice, try knocking back the background to a slightly darker gray and see if that helps strengthens the focal point.)

    These are really nitpicky things and I hope you don't mind me getting so detailed. Please keep sharing your progress on this piece. I'm excited to see how it turns out!

  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 Nice observations Melissa. All valid points.

  • I agree with the things Melissa has pointed out plus one more(though you may have changed it at a later time on your own) I'd like to see the leader mouse more to the left only because it bothers me that the foreground mouses ear lines up exactly with the inseam of the leaders pants. Very small detail.

  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 good points, thank you. @Larue I agree about the tangent. @Iain-Davidson Thanks for the suggestion, I might tackle that scene in a future piece.

  • Hi, I reworked the composition based on some of the excellent feedback I got on my thumbnail. Here's how the drawing looks right now, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

  • @Matthew-Oberdier yes, the composition is better!

    A few questions:

    1. What is the story? Why is he pointing to the bell?
    2. The 3 mice in the foreground have so much more personality than the speaker mouse, who seems really nonchalant. Is he the focal point? If so, could he have more personality?
    3. Love the cat's eye popping open! 😂 Is it possible to show him wearing the bell?
    4. What is the rectangle near the mouse hole? Is it a picture? A window? Is it needed? (You could use value, perhaps a curving shadow, to fill that space and lead the eye back to the action.)
    5. Do you need to show a ceiling? Again, could value and shadow do the trick?

    Looking forward to seeing this piece come together! 👍👍

  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 thanks again for the feedback, the speaker mouse is pointing at the bell to demonstrate their plan to put the bell around the cat's neck. Maybe he needs a more serious expression and posture?

    I like the idea of the cat wearing the bell already, though that would change the timeline to after the plan has been carried out, then I'm not sure what they would be discussing in the meeting.

  • Hi @Matthew-Oberdier, this is a cool idea.

    Admittedly, I like your first thumbnail a little more than your re-worked piece. Maybe because I know exactly where to look and the story is clear. To make it pop more, wouldn’t it be cool to scale the cat larger and possibly just show the cat’s eye peeking through?

    I agree with @Melissa-Bailey-0 comments, I had the same questions. I think it would be cool to show a mock-up of the mission, like a cat toy and catapult to throw one of the mice with the bell. Just some thoughts.

    Look forward to seeing the final piece!

  • @Jeremy-Ross I think you’re on to something with showing a more detailed plan. It’s gonna be tricky to make it readable and simple enough to understand quickly but not too simple that it’s boring.

    I think maybe you’re responding to the first thumbnail because it has values and so it directs your eye more.

  • @Matthew-Oberdier I think the image has greately improved from the first draft and I like the expression on the cat and that on the theacher mouse. It might be that I watched too many cartoons and read too many comics but I got the story right away from this image 😅 though a more detailed plan on the drawingboard would add interest.
    Just one observation - when you finish the image I think you should add a bit of wall thickness to the door! 🙂

  • @Oana I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength lol

  • @Matthew-Oberdier I agree with @Oana I think that the composition is nice, I love how dynamic the students are and how interesting the different components are. The mice are safe, so the teacher is relaxed, but i have a few questions understanding that this is a meeting about a mission to put a bell on the cat:
    this is going to be a dangerous mission, what are the steps or at least how will he show the students the next step? and if it is a projector, how will that lighting affect the setting and the feel of the piece?

    Why are the mice putting this plan together NOW at this moment in time? is it a new cat? a kitten they are worried about growing up to eat them in a few weeks? has the cat been around for a long time, and just recently been catching more mice than usual? did it have a bell before, but it came off? has the instructor or the students lost any family members to the cat? what qualifies these mice to be on this dangerous mission? what qualifies the teacher?

    what size is the cat and how come we can see so much of it from so low? if it is far away, how will you show the distance?

    sorry for all the questions, and surely all this information cant be contained in the image, but maybe it can be helpful for informing your development. I think your idea is really interesting and will keep getting cooler as you develop it.

    some thoughts on the answers to the question:
    --maybe the professor has a bunch of chewed on 2x4 cards that he has drawn on, with a little easel to put them on, the successive steps of the plan rest against the wall or are behind the current step on the easel
    --if the cat has been around for a while, and this is a repeat bell installation, maybe the teacher was the last mouse to put the bell on successfully, but barely survived and is visibly scarred or injured? maybe he is holding the bell?

    i'm sure there is a way to include some of the answers to these questions while still keeping the cartoon feel you have now, which is very nice-- keep up the good work!

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