Feedback for thumbnail sketches for Howl's Moving Castle contest


  • Moderator

    @sarah-luann I LOVE that huge button! 😃


  • SVS OG

    I can't remember the film well right now, though I have seen it, so that may be good. I can remember more of the spirit of Miyazaki than the details of the plot. I only recall that Howl is proud and he moves around in a large contraption, and that as usual there are various spirits.

    I especially like your illustration with the silver suit. It flows so well and makes such a nice composition!

    And I really like your "woodcut" technique as well. The color is not my "mentality," but I think it works well. Just looking at the thumbnail for your first one, I might have said the figure needs to be bigger, but I saw the finished piece (I think in the November slideshow?) and I really liked it.


  • SVS OG

    @Robgale Thanks--I am also partial to a muted color palette, obviously. And I made a deliberate effort to choose my warms and cools in a balanced way, thanks for noticing. 🙂

    @Studiolooong Thanks! I'm pretty pleased with how it came out as well, though I'll be coming back to make a few tweaks.

    @Burvantill I love the button too. I think its clear what it is in the larger detailed sketch, but I like how having a second button works in the composition, so both are staying.

    @LauraA Sounds like its time to re-watch the movie! 😉 JK. I'm hoping to have a distinctly different look and feel from the movie, so I hope that means I am succeeding.

    I really like the silver suit composition as well, I'm having a lot of fun as I'm diving into that one. It feels like a kind of yin/yang vibe if that makes sense, with the button on one side and the little section of the castle with Sophie and Michael almost exactly opposite from it. All I can say is: thumbnailing works, my friends! DO IT! Also, watch @Will-Terry 's re-make of the composition course, it is awesome.

    I'm glad you like the woodcut technique--for quite awhile I would tell myself that I need to move on and try something else, but... I just enjoy the process so much. I think that is the point of experimenting--keep trying things until you find something you can commit to, for awhile at least. I'm not bored of the process one bit--in fact, when I get to the point where I get to start "cutting out" the image I get really excited, its where the fun starts in many ways. So, we're sticking with the woodcut process for now. Maybe one day I'll do a tutorial on my process, if that is something people would be interested in. Although I do it all in Adobe Illustrator (vectors for the win!) it could probably be adapted to Photoshop fairly easily.


  • SVS OG

    @sarah-luann Yes, the yin/yang makes sense! And I am re-watching the composition course as well and getting new things out of it. And yes, I would love to see a tutorial of your technique! I really love all kind of printmaking, collage, and especially stone lithography (which I have never found a good way to approximate in Photoshop). It can be so hard to choose a technique!

    Keep us posted on how the other pieces are going!



  • @sarah-luann It was great to see this project develop. Did you get your entry in to the contest?


  • SVS OG

    I did! With the holidays my work was interrupted and then it was a mad rush to get them done before the due date, but I did get them in! I am glad I did it because, win or lose, I feel like they are some of my best pieces to date. I will post them all when the long list is announced (whether I’m on it or not 😉)



  • @sarah-luann Good stuff. Yes having a deadline for something gets you to get stuck in and you produced quality work. I hope you get it.


  • SVS OG

    So true! That’s one of the main reasons I entered really... an external due date to make fanart of one of my favorite books ever. How could I not go all in and make it happen?


  • SVS OG

    So, the longlist has been announced! Take a look at it here: http://bicpeopleschoice.org/book-illustration-competition-2019/

    And no, I'm not on it. I really like many of the entries that are, and some I don't really care for at all--it just goes to show how subjective this field is! (Also the fact that I am a huge fan of the book and a pet peeve of mine is when illustrations contradict the text, but the if art is beautiful I can sort of forgive that, almost.)

    I know my pieces are far from perfect, but they were the best I could do and I'm proud to have them for my portfolio.

    HMCFinal1.jpg
    HMCFinal2.jpg
    HMCFinal3.jpg
    HMCFinal4Cover.jpg

    Thanks again for all your help and feedback! It really helped me to make my entry the best it could be. I think I may enter again next year if it's a book I'm interested in.



  • omg that cover is beautiful.
    I'm actually pretty surprised they didn't snag you - but your attitude is so lovely about it. Beautiful work Sarah - it's been wonderful watching it come together.


  • SVS OG

    Thanks! It was fun to (finally) get the cover to work. Using only four colors was a real design challenge, and the cover went through a really ugly stage before I worked it out 😂 but that’s art for you, right? If I could have one more color I think I would add a few clouds to the background so it would have a bit more texture/interest without drawing away from the main focal points.

    I was both surprised and not surprised that several of the others had a similar composition with the castle on the front cover and the scarecrow on the back. The title of the book being what it is, putting Howl’s Moving Castle on the front makes sense. And what other story element could work in the composition to add interest to the back? Obviously the scarecrow. One could argue that it’s unoriginal, but at the same time the fact that many talented artists went for that solution means, to me, that it is a great representation of the book. 🤷♀


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