March WIP - Do you understand the story here?

  • Hello all, I was wondering if you could give me your opinions on this idea. Do you understand what's happening, basically? Does it bother you that you might not know how the kids happened to be picnicking on the back of a whale? Here's my sketch:

    whale tea.jpg

    The idea is that they set up their picnic on a rock, but the rock turned out to be a whale, which then zoomed away. I know their expressions would need to change. I'd love your thoughts! Thanks!

  • @sarahlash I thought maybe the tide came in.

  • Love the concept, this is very cute and feels pretty original. If you want to drive home the idea that the kids thought the whale was a rock, then it might be helpful to include some rock formations, maybe one in the foreground and one in the background. Have them be a very similar, but slightly different color than the whale and give them a slightly different texture. Just an idea.

    For the expressions, maybe try some with mouths open to express delight/surprise/etc.

    Great job!

  • @TessaW Yes, I definitely think I should add in more rocks. I'll play around with shapes and textures for sure. Thanks!!

  • Moderator

    This is a good idea. Maybe make the whale a little more island looking. Lol. Bigger? More thumbnails for sure. The kids are great. Lots of action there. Just need to get across the mistake of the whale rock.

  • @sarahlash theres an image that comes to my mind of the sea turtle that carried the world on its shell.

    Perhaps, like the above comment suggested, the whale looked more like an actual Island, it would read more that they had really mistaken this whale for a place to stay.

    It also brings to mind that sometimes it's best to show the before, or the after, of the story. I feel like these kids are in the "currently happening" moment.

    Maybe just as a thought exercise, think about what happens to the kids after the whale has already taken off?

    Are they in the water watching the whale take off with their picnic? Have the grabbed its tail and go for a ride while their picnic is scattered in the ocean?

    Regardless it is a delightful idea and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished piece!

  • Maybe you need to show the island on the whale somehow so that's it's clear he was a part of it? At the moment it looks a little like he's swimming in front. Also what is the little item in front of the whale's mouth? That was niggling me slightly as I couldn't tell if it was part of the whale or not? Really great though, love all of the movement you've created with the children and the objects flying 🙂

  • No. I didn't understand it. Confusing things:

    The girl is in the air. How did the forward motion of the whale put her there? Whales are known for grace. She could be thrown by a flip of his tail but your pic doesn't show that.

    The hill in the background does not stand off from the water and takes a moment to figure out what it is.

    There is not enough room shown close enough to shore for a whale. His tail would not fit between his body and the beach.


    I would try a new camera angle. Set your "camera" on the hill, looking down at the water. Show a bunch of whale sized boulders on the sand and in the water, extending far enough out for the kids to hop across them to the sleeping whale.

    Show the kids setting up on the whale's back as the whale erupts out of the water. Throwing the children and stuff into the air (if that's where you want them)

    Show a trail of their belongings on the boulders that they hopped across, like they had to make a few trips to carry it all, to show us the story leading up to the moment.

    Nice concept. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  • @burvantill Thank you! I'm currently working on some new thumbnail sketches. I definitely think you're right about making the whale bigger.

  • @EliaMurrayArt I think I'll try making the rocks around the whale large and also smooth, so that they could easily mistake him for a rock. And I love the idea of exploring what the children do just after the whale takes off. I was thinking about maybe turning this into a little story, so I'll definitely be looking at that. Thank you!

  • @Rachel-Horne I agree. Going to work on the composition more today. And that object was a muffin that the boy tosses to the whale, but I think you're right - it doesn't quite work. Thanks for replying!

  • @Kim-Hunter Oh, I like that idea!! I'm going to try some new angles today. Thank you so much for the thoughtful reply!

  • @sarahlash I think it's fine to put the muffin in but maybe in a different position?

  • Here's an update. I changed up the composition to look down on the whale and kids, and I also changed their position a little bit (so the girl doesn't look like she's flying, lol). What do you guys think? any glaring problems? I'd love opinions before I really start adding color.

    Untitled_Artwork (10).jpg

  • This is working much better.

    what I wish I could see is the whales tail. It’s such an iconic piece of anatomy that I feel it is miss from this piece. It could also be used to show a lot of movement

  • The problem I see a bit is that the whale is sort of too still. Lets assume the kids were having a picknick on what they thought was a nice stone and suddenly it starts moving and they fall over.

    That movement is not shown in the picture. Instead the whale looks like the moment just before he starts moving, but the kids indicate some sort of rapid movement already.

    Although you first sketch was a bit confusing, at least the whale looked like taking off with some energy.

    Plus the whale looks like being out of the water. Is the whale important? Maybe a giant turtle will do the job better?

  • Hi,
    I like the original picture.
    It has energy and is fun.
    The kids are on a crazy ride on an elephant.
    The ambiguities draw me in.

  • I have to agree that I liked what you had going on in the first version. We were more in the action. I don't think it needed much altering to clarify it's message either. Maybe something like this:

    Sarah Lash.png

    It's a really rough paintover, but i think by just placing a few rocks, adding a tail and some splashes perhaps solves some of the readability issues. Maybe adding some barnacles to both the rocks and whale could help connect the two.

    I'd look for splash reference. Either from boats or animals swimming at the surface of water.



  • I agree with Tessa- in my opinion, I think the original composition was more interesting and engaging- the POV puts the viewer into the scene, we get a better read on everyone's expressions. I love that Tessa included that iconic tail!

    I think you could up the ante by including hints at the answers to a few questions-

    What are the personalities of these kids?
    Are they siblings? Friends? Classmates?
    Where do they live- is this the Arctic? Ireland? Japan?
    Is a whale SUPPOSED to be there or is the whale entirely out of place?
    Why is the whale now moving, what made it move?
    Do the kids know anything about whales (is this a dream come true, or are they going to be totally lost?)

    Looking forward to seeing the next iteration!

  • Ok, you guys are convincing me to go back to my original idea! And comparing the two, I think you’re right. It does feel like we’re more in the action there. I really, really appreciate everyone’s thoughtful responses. Still working hard over here, but I’ll post another update when I’ve got one.

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