WIP The Pumpkinman greeting card design

  • Hi! I know it's June, but I'm working on a Halloween card because the next deadline for Leanin' Tree greeting card design submissions is July 17th for the categories of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020. This image was done in mixed media (colored pencil, copic marker and a few digital corrections). It's not perfect but it finally felt finished today after about 6 months of as-time-permits concept work and redrawing. I wanted to create this playful fantasy I've had about a "snowman" for Halloween! What do you think? (I'm not very experienced on the forums, so I hope I added the image correctly).

    Thanks for your feedback! -Amanda πŸ™‚

    Pumpkinman Edit full size.jpg

  • Hi @Amanda-Bancroft! This is an adorable idea, and the little animals and birds around the PumpkinMan are wonderful touches as well.

    It works well as quite a happy image - is that the mood you were attempting to capture? If you were going for a darker feel, increasing the contrast in the sky and also in the crevices of the pumpkins could work! Otherwise, the level of contrast in this image is working exactly as it should. πŸ™‚

    I think it is a really nicely done illustration.

  • SVS OG

    @Amanda-Bancroft Hi Amanda! It's a really nice image and I like the warmth that emanates from it. You could consider making the owl a bit bigger - I think compared to the cat it looks a bit small. But other than that I wouldn't change much. It definitely does have a happy vibe and I think @animatosoor 's comments are spot on if you want to make it darker. Good luck with it!!!

  • This is a lovely, colourful and eye catching design! I really like the texture you've got going on and your individual characters - that crow wow!
    The only thing I'd suggest is adding a bit more shadow at the bottom underneath the pumpkin πŸ™‚

  • Thanks everyone!!! I'm excited to improve this. It's so much fun!

    Yes I'm going for colorful and playful, not scary. Definitely a happy image @animatosoor you guessed right! The animals are stealing the candy and the squirrel is eating the candy corn button off the pumpkin.

    I will add more shadow under the pumpkin, good suggestion @hannahmccaffery thanks!

    I also want to change the eyes (first I did them 100% hand-drawn but forgot the fireflies inside, so did a digital edit and it now looks too unskilled-digital-blackish). I want to re-draw them with pumpkin-shell pupils looking down towards the cat because originally the cat and the pumpkin were designed to be focusing on each other lovingly and I lost that detail.

    @ShannonBiondi yes haha I have been wondering about my choice of owl species. I chose to draw an eastern Screech Owl - the red morph, because I love them. I actually made it too big so that it's visible at card size. These owls are the size of a large human hand. However, in the land of illustration it can be a fantasy, so the design needs to be easily understood by the audience. I'm not sure I succeeded because most people think of "owl" as the image of a larger popular owl, for example the Great Horned Owl or Snowy Owl. I'll take my chances I guess. LOL

    I'll work on these improvements and post an update soon. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • Oh one more thing - you may not be able to see this, but, magic trick! If I tilt my laptop screen at extreme angles, I can see a hint of the moon's creamy popcorn-like texture which I drew by hand but it got lost in all my scans of this drawing. It's really only visible on the paper. So if you wanna see the hidden moon, try looking at this from different screen angles LOL.

    I don't know what I'll do about that, if anything.

  • SVS OG

    @Amanda-Bancroft Once I tilted the screen as you suggested, I could see the shadows on the moon and they are very nice. Have you tried importing the scan into a photo editor to see if you could reduce the lighting on the moon a little bit, or up the contrast so that the shadows are stronger?

  • @Amanda-Bancroft I love this concept! I can’t add anything except the possibility of adding more depth by including more cast shadows as with your catβ€”that said, I am TERRIBLE at figuring out imaginary/made-up cast shadows, so I understand how difficult this can be to achieve. I have looked at a lot of greeting cards over the years (I am convinced I am solely responsible for the fact that greeting card companies are still in business πŸ˜‰) and I can honestly say I have never seen this concept, so good on you! I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had a β€œnew” idea, only to see it on a another card at some point.

  • I love the detail of the squirrel eating the candy corn. Such a good idea πŸ™‚

    I'd second the cast shadows suggestion, for instance, under the stick arm, bag, bottom of pumpkins...

    Edit: It just occurred to me that since the moon is behind the pumpkins, perhaps your light source is coming from behind? If there's another light off screen that could work well (as you have it), but maybe you could play around with a rim lighting effect from the moon? Just throwing out thoughts incase they could come in handy. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing! I think it's very clever and well designed.

  • Edit: the latest version! It's funny, I just saw some of the recent comments @KathrynAdebayo @BichonBistro and they were so spot-on that I'd already added more shadows earlier today having had the same thoughts! Or actually, since I don't really do digital art, what I ended up figuring out how to do (in order to "get my moon and sky back" from the original drawing, @demotlj ) is take one of the darker scans, layer it behind this lighter scan layer, and erase the top layer in various key areas to reveal darker shadows. The richness of the sky and the moon texture is visible now, I'm very happy about that.

    The eyes, however, are all digital inside - just some firefly effects which I also added to the nose and mouth. Does that look ok? I'm trying to get the pumpkinman to feel alive and in relationship to the animals rather than staring at us viewers.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. How's this version? Better?

    @BichonBistro I've seen your work before! Really like the dogs. Happy to have another greeting card person at SVS - we should chat sometime πŸ™‚ I hope Leanin' Tree will like the design. It's my first attempt at licensing.

    Pumpkinman Eyes Edit 2.jpg

  • Moderator

    @Amanda-Bancroft Beautiful, it makes me think of the old vintage Halloween art out there. https://www.remodelaholic.com/30-free-vintage-halloween-images/ An aesthetic that I really like.

    Good luck, I hope your work is chosen!

  • Here's the final version I'm submitting to Leanin' Tree, unless you all have feedback about something I should change. This piece isn't my best work but it's been the most time-consuming single piece I've worked on. I started thumbnail sketches for it in 2018. Whew!

    I want it to feel like we're out in the graveyard with a flashlight and come upon a scene humans aren't supposed to see. As though this magical, Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween version of Frosty the Snowman put out Trick-or-Treat candy for animals who befriend it; we're not sure its alive, could be just fireflies in its head and a bag of candy left for kids. Yet that squirrel in the pointy hat...and the fact that the right twig is unnaturally higher, holding up the crow instead of sagging down. Hopefully a bit mysterious! Or at least cute enough to buy off a card rack. πŸ™‚

    THANK YOU everyone for giving great feedback! I'm learning a lot at SVS.

    Pumpkinman FINAL.jpg

  • Moderator

    @Amanda-Bancroft Looks great. I love the addition of the scarf, it breaks up the orange nicely.

  • @Amanda-Bancroft Do you know what the pay structure/rights are for images you offer to Leanin Tree?

  • @Joni-Nemeth yes but I only learned through online research so far, not personal experience. I learned that Leanin' Tree greeting cards only pays royalties to artists, no advance payment as far as I can find. Luckily, no work-for-hire stuff. However, they may or may not have different payment structures for long-time artists who have licensed many designs to Leanin' Tree with high sales. I'm not sure. Based on that research, they don't take copyright (the artist keeps it). The company gets a license to use it on products. I emailed Leanin' Tree and learned that they welcome submissions that have been previously licensed or printed, as long as those images are yours, and are not currently under a license with a competing company. Which was awesome to learn!

    I'll make another post in this thread about my mental dilemma regarding licensing...

  • To Submit or Not to Submit

    I'm trying to decide if I should submit this piece to Leanin' Tree by July 17th (or not). I thought I may as well include y'all in my mental dilemma because you might be interested in licensing to greeting card companies, too, and this may help you. (If you want to submit to Leanin' Tree, you must carefully follow their submission guidelines and calendar of submission themes, found on their website at www.LeaninTree.com)

    On the one hand, by selling my designs on greeting cards I had printed by MOO (yes, like the sound a cow makes πŸ™‚ ) for a few years at about 10 regional retailers (but I'm down to 5 now due to stores closing) such as bookstores and grocery stores, I've earned over $5,000. My best-selling card designs have earned about $500 so far. If I were to print this design locally, for Halloween 2019 I would earn about $60 or more, after expenses were taken out. Some retailers pay me immediately when cards are put on shelves, regardless of sales.

    On the other hand, I could submit this Halloween design on July 17, wait 4-8 weeks to hear back from Leanin' Tree (or most likely not hear back, after which time the guidelines said to assume it's not going to happen). If they want my design, I would sign a license agreement. Then the card might be changed or redesigned by other artists and given text or borders. By Halloween season of 2020, the company would have printed and distributed this card to retailers nationwide. Usually royalties are paid quarterly or at least after sales occur. Halloween falls into the 4th Quarter. Checks arrive typically within 30 days after the quarter ends. So IF Leanin' Tree wants to license the Pumpkinman design, I may receive a royalty check for (probably, based on research) 2-5% of sales, if sales do occur. No sales, no royalties. So I may or may not receive a check of an unknown amount in January 2021....long time from now. I don't know how to estimate what range I could earn from Leanin' Tree, without more information like how many of this design they would print and distribute.

    The main reasons I want to license with Leanin' Tree are:

    • I have loved Leanin' Tree cards since I was a child, I've even saved many of the cards I received. They are my Disney of greeting cards and it would just be cool to see my art on their cards.

    • I live in a tiny house and want to explore licensing to companies with nationwide distribution rather than printing, storing, distributing cards from a (small) home.

    • I have no guess, but maybe I could earn more money if I licensed my artwork...I came to this conclusion after taking SVS class on licensing, taught by the amazing Guy Francis. But I saw some greeting card artists only get like $20-50 per card design.

    The reasons I hesitate to pursue licensing is because I won't be able to earn any money from this design until 2021! And the design may be changed in a way that I don't want to be associated with it (changes may be great improvements, but in various ways discussed on SVS we know it can also be bad).

    Should I submit this design to Leanin' Tree and try to license, or stick to selling it on my local cards???
    Edit: I just submitted it, actually. :smiling_face_with_open_mouth: I am having "cold feet" or something, but it's done now. I will let you all know how it goes if I do hear anything. Ultimately I decided that, even if I don't earn anything, it is totally worth it for the learning experience and in case it also helps anyone here on the forums!

Log in to reply