New portfolio illustration. How would you improve it?
@Nyrryl-Cadiz Thanks Nyrryl. That's a good idea. I think the text would look good on the grass under the unicorn and I can move the birds and take some flowers out and lighten the patch of grass. Thankyou!
lidia-ull last edited by
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson Hi! I do think this is a really fun image and I love discovering all the little elements. I recognize the busyness as definitely a big part of your style/signature look and don't feel it's too much at all.
Perhaps try changing your background to a pale cool blue. That will make the backdrop recede and all those warm colors move forward including the bits of sparkle, those darling birds, and your princess. Also, and this is easily resolved, right now the fairy, the princess and unicorn, and the brown bear read as if they are all on the same plane yet because they are almost the same in richness of color. Yet we know they are not because of other cues in the image ie. Brown bear is behind the trees; the princess is clearly closest to the viewer, and the fairy looks to be somewhere closer to the middle plane along with the party sign. I think if you could just adjust the values of those characters to reflect their position in space it would make it a little easier to read. Hope that helps. Just little things! Composition and content are great.
It's really quite a sweet little image that any child would surely love just as it is!
RachelArmington last edited by
This illustration gave me a flashback to when my son was a toddler...he would sit so quietly, entirely absorbed in an illustration like this one, and sometimes go back later to study the picture again. I love your style!
I agree about the yellow dress, but also noticed two minor areas. I wish the snail-carrying-fairy in the upper left had slightly whiter wings (changing the background might handle this). Also, the pink tree behind the unicorn's front legs doesn't seem to line up straight. The bottom of the trunk seems to be a midge too far the left. I think the base of the tree needs to be a bit wider.
I also think you should market a cake carrier like the bees are holding.
LouD last edited by
It somehow looks sparkly! So cute. I think for me the busy feeling is not because there’s a lot of stuff, but because my eye is not sure where to go. For example those two tree trunks keep getting my attention because they’re so high contrast, dark on a light background. Also you made a nice flow with everyone moving towards the door, and I think the dark vertical trunks disrupt that. Lightening them to be more like the other background trees might help.
KathrynAdebayo last edited by
I really love this one, Judy.
R. Fey Realme last edited by
I think it is perfect I like how spaced everything is, so your eye easily gets lost in all the detail, and the yellow background and yellow dress didnt bother me, but it might be important to keep an eye on if you print it, so the contrast stays high enough to be clearly visible. I like it a lot.
Jeremy Ross last edited by
Hi @Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson, I think changing the dress from yellow to orange will do the trick!
Or, you can try white/grey unicorn with blue dress to contrast the background.
Also, I would increase the size of the bday bunny hat to draw the eyes to the main character. Just a thought
Fun piece and right up your style!
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson super cute style! Really fits the children's book market, if that's your aim. Love all the little details!
Going to agree with other comments: it feels like it needs some "quiet" areas. Here's why:
Where will the text go? If this is meant as a portfolio piece to show how you would illustrate a picture book, a potential client will probably wonder "where will we put the text?" If you fill every corner of an illustration, an art director will wonder if you know how to leave room for text, which is crucial. The bottom right would be a nice place for the text, in the grass, if all those flowers and bunnies and bugs and birds and minor details were removed. (Could the bunnies be grouped more near the door, as they would be for a party?) And keep in mind, there will be at least a 1/2 inch margin to leave room for bleed and hands holding the book. And text often takes up way more space than you think it will -- you may want to test out some text placement options or even some sample story text (at least at a 14 point) to get a feel for how much space text takes up and how to design around it.
Where is the focus? A client will want to see that you can make a main character stand out. Right now, she's standing out because her hair is the darkest value in the piece, but her dress is blending into the background (which is not a good thing!).
Is there too much storytelling? A ton of detail can be a great thing -- it adds so much to an illustration and kids love little details. But having so much going on can also take away from the main story being told. Use color, value, design, and shape to make sure the main story is the main thing going on in the illustration, and secondary stories are visually given secondary importance.
Here are a few things to try:
Zoom out or stand far away from the illustration to view it as a thumbnail size. Is the story still communicated? Can you clearly see what's going on in the illustration? Seeing an illustration from a different point of view can help you pinpoint what's working and what needs improvement.
Take away all those colors and view it as a black and white image. Does the composition still work? Is there a focal point? Is the illustration clear? Has taking the color away changed the storytelling? What stands out? What fades away? Are there high contrast areas of light and dark, or is everything mostly mid-tone?
These aren't my own ideas -- they're things Lee White and Will Terry always recommend in their critiques. And they work!
One last funny little nitpicky thing: the unicorn's tail looks like it's growing out of the princess's dress. What if you extended its behind so it's clear that the tail is connected to the unicorn? It might also help the princess stand out even more.
Hope this helps! And please, if you end up making changes to this piece, share the progress. We'd love to see it!
@Melissa-Bailey-0 This is an incredible critique Melissa. Thank you! You have thought of so many points that will make improve areas of this piece. The grey scale image really makes your points clear.
The main bunny at the moment is not really the focal point and now I can see if the values are tweeked this can read better. I am really looking forward to having some time to make some improvements. Yes, I will share!
@Jeremy-Ross Thanks Jeremy. Awesome points, I just realised how the main bunny in the story is not reading as the main focal point. Good call with bunnies hat, I will do something there! And also I like the idea of seeing what colours work better for the dress of the princess and unicorn. Thank you so much!
@R-Fey-Realme Thank you Fey. Good point about printing. I am going to double check the values of everything to make sure the right things come forward and move to the background.
@KathrynAdebayo Thanks a lot Kathryn!
@LouD Awesome point about the tree trunks Lou. Yeah, I think knocking back the tree contrast and maybe adding an extra tree or two far in the back with a very light value is something I can try. Thanks! Appreciate it.
@RachelArmington Thanks Rachel. I love busy pictures. Yes, I am going to look at the dress, that is the number comment. I see what you mean about the tree trunk. Lol, the cake carrier only works in this picture!!! It looks cute though!!! Really appreciate your comments.
@lidia-ull Hi Lidia, thanks for your comments, they really do help. It makes sense about the planes and the richness of the colours of some of the characters like the bear, he could be a little lighter and I will check each character and their importance in the picture. Birthday bunny could be more obvious too. I will play around with the background colour too. Thank you so much!
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson you're welcome!
Oh my goodness! I didn't even realize that the bunny is the main character -- I thought it was the princess! Yes, tweaking the values should help him stand out. What if you made him the lightest value (toning down the other bunnies so they're not as bright) and made the treehouse the darkest value, to really make him pop? (Is your MC the bunny sitting in the doorway?)
Another trick to help your MC stand out is to have all the action and eyes going toward him, especially if your MC is a small character. If every action is leading towards the MC, it helps the viewer see that they're the most important thing in the illustration. All eyes looking at the MC does the same thing.
You're getting so many great comments -- can't wait to see how you take all of them in, make them your own, and wow us with the changes you make!
Judy Elizabeth Wilson SVS OG last edited by Judy Elizabeth Wilson
@Melissa-Bailey-0 @Nyrryl-Cadiz @Jeremy-Ross @R-Fey-Realme @KathrynAdebayo @LouD @RachelArmington @lidia-ull @Casual-T
So many awesome comments helped me make some changes to this illustration to nudge it even closer being a picture book illustration.
The first important point was so add text space. To do this the unicorn and princess are a bit smaller which I really like because it takes less emphasis off them. The text is 16 point.
All the bunnies are now different colours instead having white fur, the main character who is still white and he has some dark fur patches which still give him the highest lightest value. Two of the bunnies are now closer to the door and they have those funny party things that you blow and they make a noise so they look more like they are ready to party.
The background was easy to change to a pale blue which contrasts with the princess dress and brings her and the unicorn forward, think they have a better silhouette now. I extended the unicorn's bottom past the dress so the tail looks like it is in the right place and not coming out of the dress.
Also lightened the value of the trees as they were quite dark and competing for attention.
The fairy wings are whiter so you can see them more easily.
I kept checking the values too, always a great tip!
Thank you everyone. I am really pleased with it now. I do have one question which is about text. Do you think the text has to be black?
What a change! You really improved it!
Regarding your question about text: no, it does not have to be black. (The last 3 picture books I formatted, the text was dark green, dark blue, and brown. Sometimes it adds a little something extra if the text is not black.) However, there does need to be sufficient contrast between the text and whatever it is placed over -- this is for readability. While you chose a readable font (good job!), I would recommend lightening the grass behind the text so that it is lighter in value rather than mid-tone.
A note about text placement: where you put the text leads the eye. In this composition, because the princess and unicorn contain some of the brightest colors and the darkest values in an otherwise mid-tone piece, and because they are placed directly above the text, my eye goes to them first. Visually for me, they are given the greatest importance. While you have definitely improved the values, in terms of hue and value, I don't think this illustration is communicating what you want it to communicate.
Probably not what you were hoping to hear, but wanted to share what I see, and this is just one person's opinion. Take this feedback how you will.
Judy Elizabeth Wilson SVS OG last edited by Judy Elizabeth Wilson
@Melissa-Bailey-0 Thanks Melissa. I would like to do the text in a dark blue, it is a bit softer isn't it, still very readable.
Good point about the grass, it would look better with the grass area lightened in value.
You know, I think what I can about the princess is make her dress blue or a cooler colour, then she will not be center of attention. Let me see if that brings birthday bunny more to the center. I could also give a t shirt to bunny to bring some attention to him. Love your feed back. Much appreciated. Thank you!
RachelArmington last edited by
@Judy-Elizabeth-Wilson I love the revisions you've made. My favorite part now is the orange door that wasn't as noticeable before...it looks like a carrot!
As far as black type, if your book is going to be printed in four color process (as the vast majority of picture books are these days), you would need to make sure the text is large enough so that there is less chance that it shifts out of register. When a book has black type, all the type is on a single plate (the black plate, which prints last). In 4/c process, color type is made up of a mix of two, three or all four of the inks. For example, if you wanted your type to be a sort of navy blue, it would probably be printed with cyan, magenta and black. Which means the type is on those three plates and the risk of one of them shifting during printing is increased.
If you are considering using print-on-demand, those presses only use four color process at this time (...to my knowledge...if anyone else knows of any POD printers that go beyond 4/C, sing out!).
If your book is going to be printed with spot (aka special) inks, the size of colored type wouldn't be an issue. But it would be more expensive.