Mermay Concept Thumbnails - Critiques Wanted

  • Hey, all!

    I’m considering entering the Mermay contest and wondered if any of you would look at my thumbnails. I would like a book cover in my portfolio and thought I would give that a go.

    The concept I Ianded on is a nonfiction historical picture book of the mermaid exploring both the dark and beautiful. I have three different attempts to convey that visually.

    I would appreciate any and all feedback before taking one of these ideas to comp.


  • @Amber-Lynn-Benton Hi, Amber. I really like the first two concepts.

    In the first one I like the composition, it looks more symmetrical and gives you the possibility to play a bit more with the details, I think. I like that you made the mermaids interact with the title and the subtitle of the book.

    In the second one, the shape reminds me of the Ouroboros (the snake eating itself) used on Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, which I loved. I may be biased on this, but I think it's a bit of a more bold design this one. Maybe if you make it a bit more symmetrical and somehow have the mermaids a bit more spaced - I'm not sure about the margin areas on the left and right. Hope it helps! 🙂

  • @Roxana-Antochi Thanks for the feedback. I agree the first idea gives me more room and the symmetry is classic. My conch there is to have the hair entertained and actually define each other. I was trying to push myself beyond that straight symmetry solution with the other two.

    I’m familiar with the cover of Neverending but wasn’t thinking about that when I drew this one. I’ll explore that idea of the ouroborus some more.

  • It's the second or third concept for me!

  • I really love the second concept! I like the idea of them being intertwined even though they're opposites and the positioning of their bodies are beautiful and fluid like they are swimming. That's my vote, but all of the concepts are great!! Can't wait to see how it develops!

  • SVS OG

  • I like the second one. It is reminiscent of the Pisces symbol which is wholly appropriate for mermaids. I also like how it is a little like the scrafitto on a Greek Vase. Cool idea. I am excited to see your progress.

  • Moderator

    #2 for me, too!

  • @chrisaakins I’ll reference some Pisces pieces for sure. Thanks for the feedback!

  • @Kerisa You describe what I was attempting to communicate. I appreciate all the feedback and will use it to push me forward.

  • I would also say #2 but you might think about using a middle value for the background so that the light one pops more. You could also do something like put them in a mid value water drop or something if you don't want to do the whole page?

    When I "squint it down" I the dark mermaid stands out much more than the light one.

    Just a thought... good luck.

  • @theprairiefox Thanks - good stuff. Yes, I did include some value in these but they are mostly concept thumbnails. I think the consensus is for #2 which is my favorite concept - #1 is pretty predictable and #3 relies heavily on handlettering. I'm pulling together a mood board now and have gathered reference for my mermaids - underwater belly dancing is a thing, lol. Then I'm going to explore a few options within that concept before going to comps.

  • I like #1..but I wonder how the figures would look facing each other? I think you could still have the graphic design of the heart (intended?) And also play with the placement of the tails around the word "tails" Although... You might want to use the other spelling and let the play on words be visual...?
    I also like the yen and yang of #2.. So maybe combine the value of #2 with design elements from #1. (Yeah! more work!)
    Nice thumbnails!!

  • @Amber-Lynn-Benton So here is a question for you guys. When researching for reference I came across another book design with a super similar concept - not the light and dark mermaids but the same composition. I just scrolled past trying not to let that image get into my head. I know there are no new ideas under the sun - do you scratch your comps when this happens or just move forward pouring yourself and your own ideas into your piece?

  • @Laurasketches Facing each other is something I didn't consider. I did have an idea about having them have a tug of war over a trident or spear so that might work in that situation. Do you think people will get the tales/tails reference without it being spelled out? In my packaging work sometimes I can spell things out and people still totally miss the whole point.

  • I like the idea of the figures looking in because it keeps the focus moving into (as opposed to away from) your design.I like the idea that they have conflict over a spear (maybe disguised as a writing device, like a pencil?.. which would "sell" your story of "tales" even more visually. Go!

  • @Laurasketches Oh, that might just nail the concept for a non-fiction book!!! Concept over craft, right? 😉 And you take all credit for that idea! I'll definitely be taking both 1 and 2 into more thumbnails but you've put a twist on #1 enough to sway me in it's favor so far.

  • SVS OG

    #2 has my vote!

  • @shinjifujioka Thanks, Shinji! Your illustration portfolio is so beautiful! Your illustrations are a rare mixture of innocence and adventure. While your style and techniques differ I think they evoke the same feelings/emotions of David Weisner's work.

  • I only had time to work up one thumbnail tonight. Thank you @Laurasketches - I really love this concept!


    If I go with this concept I thinK I need to work on the scale of MERMAIDS vs TAILS and just the lettering layout in general.