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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Illustrating => Topic started by: pjwasek on January 11, 2013, 12:07 AM

Title: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 11, 2013, 12:07 AM
I don't want to mess here, so i have one question.
Can i insert this thread links to exmaples of my work? I'd like to know what i do wrong.
(It is better to insert links or upload images?)
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Joni on January 11, 2013, 06:13 AM
Hi, PJ - the board has a rule about uploading more than two small images (because of storage issues). But you're welcome to insert links and ask people to go there to look and leave critique here. Good luck.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 11, 2013, 06:59 AM
Thank you Joni

There are illustrations for Aesop's fables. They were published.

Illustrations for Hansel and Gretel and  Ugly duckling:

and they weren't.

I would know what i did wrong, because the publisher did not tell me why rejected the rest of the pictures.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: TanjaW on January 11, 2013, 08:46 AM
Without seeing the art direction or notes for each of the illustrations, I can only guess at why they rejected your illustrations for "Hansel and Gretel" and "The Ugly Duckling", while approving the ones you did for "Aesop's Fables."  Did they give you an opportunity to revise the artwork?

In my opinion, the Fables illustrations are nice.  The one with the fox and the crow (?) is my favorite of the three of them...expressions, layout, color and background.
I'm not sure why they didn't approve your Hansel and Gretel illustrations...they appear to be in the same style as the Fables unless your client asked for something different in their notes?
The Ugly Duckling illustrations, maybe the expressions are too dark or difficult to see?  Otherwise, they also appear to be in the same style as the others.

Hopefully, although the art was rejected by your client, you still got paid as per your contract with them (you did have a contract and get partial payment up front?).

Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Artemesia on January 11, 2013, 10:20 AM
Pawel, first I'd like to say all your work is beautiful. I love the detail.

But if I had to hazard a guess as to why Aesop's were published and the others weren't, I do have a couple observations.

I think your humans don't feel quite as alive as your animals (although I love the design of them). They seem a bit static. I would work on adding some movement and expression. For the Ugly Duckling, I don't think there is enough physical difference between the Ugly Duckling cygnet and the actual ducklings. They all look like the same type of birds, really. If the yellow duckies were a bit smaller and yellower and a bit cuter, I think it would capture the story better.

I hope that helps.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Cynthia Kremsner on January 11, 2013, 10:26 AM
Hi PJ.

Your palette and textures are absolutely breathtaking. The Aesop work is wonderful.

While looking at your Hansel and Gretel images, I was a bit concerned about the details in the witch. While the palette tempers her image to a bit of softness, some of the detail work seemed a bit too detailed . . . as if it might serve better to be pulled back (toe nails, etc.) slightly to keep it consistant with the beauty of your style.

Some of the ducks eyes are symetrical while some are off. It's stylized, but maybe pulling back on slant in a couple of the images will work. The one image with the single duck, neck bent, the neck is very angular in opposition to the soft body. Maybe refining it to a curve instead of a bend?

Your work is very beautiful, stylized and really draws me in.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 12, 2013, 12:42 AM
Tanja: I had painted the illustrations then i signed contract, so I'm glad that some of my work were published.

Cythia: I really spend hours carving details. This is my stupid habit.
Artemesia: I prefer painting the animals charactes. I know i have to practice drawing the human beings.

Thank you to everyone. Your advices are very helpfull. You have noticed the things i was not aware.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Cynthia Kremsner on January 12, 2013, 09:34 AM

Cythia: I really spend hours carving details. This is my stupid habit.
I'm VERY guilty of that myself. And your details are lovely. I may have been referring to features, as there is so much beauty and while the witch needs to look grimacing, the extra detail in her nails and the features of her face may need some muting. (Others probably feel differently so it's a matter of taking what you feel works for you).

I looked at your site at your other works, which may not be intended for children's books, and your children are lovely. Maybe a hybrid of that softness into your children for illustration?

BTW, I've been told my animals are stronger than my people too. It's somehow easier to incorporate my feelings into them.

Your illustrations are all so frame-worthy. Beautiful.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Pons on January 12, 2013, 12:24 PM
I am not an illustrator, but from a lay point of view, I must agree with the other comments. Your illustration of the fox and crow is stunning. I could look at the fox's face for a long time and enjoy every minute. His whole personality is written into his expression. The crow is almost as arresting. The color palette is breath taking. I would frame this picture and hang it in my house.

Your people do not carry the same emotional impact as your animals, but so much else about them is good. You probably just need more sketching time with people. Also, I would guess that you have a naturally affectionate nature with animals. It shows in your drawings - beautifully.

Laurel  :tracks:
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Jacqueline Buffinet on January 14, 2013, 03:41 PM
Hi PJ,
First let me agree with the others, your illustrations are beautiful. Your style has a lot of whimsy and "magic" that is just right for the fables. And like Tanja says, I don't see that your style changed very much from one set to the others with the small exception that the last two sets might be a little too literal for the subject at hand. I know I am probably not the one to say so because being too literal is the problem I have with my own art, having come from working years towards being a decent wildlife artist which calls for the utmost in being literal. I am trying hard now to let that go for my own children's art, so perhaps that is why I recognize it here. I couldn't begin to say why your publisher turned your illustrations down, but I don't think it is so much the execution of your subject as it is the need for some tweaking in the concept.

For instance with Hanzel and Gretal:  if you think about it, this is a very frightening subject for children. You might notice that a lot of books these days have ways of lessening the"creep" factor in the old stories. For instance I just read a Cajun style Red Riding Hood story to my grand kids for Christmas where the threat to eat Red came from an alligator. The alligator was goofy and clumsy and Red was depicted as a goose. The closer they got to the possible "eating" the crazier the pictures got. Now I'm not saying turn your children into animals since it's unlikely that that is what your publisher wants. What I'm saying is that for such a story you need some distance from a literal interpretation of the possibility of kids getting eaten by an old lady. To me, your children look a little too vulnerable. The old woman looks creepy enough, but again to me she looks just that, like an old woman that you might tell your kids to stop staring at and act nice. If you can find a way to make the children look stronger and the old woman look more "otherworldly" witch-like, put a crow on her shoulder or whatever, anything to make her look less like someone from normal life, I think it would help. Bring a little more of your whimsical style into it. And for me, add some comic relief to the moment she is shoved in the fire.

For the ugly duckling: well this is where my point about being too literal really comes in. Your rendering of the ducks is really good. They would be perfect for a story about barnyard animals. For that I wouldn't change a thing. But this is the story of the ugly duckling. His story is about being so much uglier than his brothers and sisters. In your illustration I almost can't tell him from the other ducks. To me, he's perfect, but the other ducks need to be more cute here. The mother needs to be lovely. His surroundings softer, and prettier to emphasize that he doesn't fit in. I remember this story as being a bit magical to me when I read it as a kid. It showed that all of that feeling of not fitting in could go away when we had finally grown up. It's a transformation story. The illustrations that surround him should be full of the whimsical beauty that he longs to fit into. Then give him that transformation. I'm comfortable suggesting this to you because I can see in the first set that you showed us that you are quite capable of  it.

I hope this helps and wish you all the best with it.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Artemesia on January 14, 2013, 04:09 PM
very well put, Jacqueline. I think your observation of Hansel and Gretel really hits the mark.

Were the publishers open to another try at this, Pawel? If not, then it's all definitely good advice to keep in mind for your next project.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 15, 2013, 12:47 AM
Thank you Jacqueline, Laurel and Artemesia. I've been told previously my characters are to much realistic but I
did not care about it. For the next time i would try to use the whimsical part of my imagination.
I know i am beginner and i need more practice. It is very difficult to switch from the ordinary watercolour painting to drawing illustrations.

Artemesia: The publisher has found somebody else for the rest of the illustrations however i'm glad that something of my work has been published.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Artemesia on January 15, 2013, 08:44 AM
Pawel, it's not a lack of artistic skill, your work is fantastic. And I don't think you need to change the realism, but you can use artistic license a bit to strengthen the themes and concepts of the story. Exaggerate a little when appropriate.

And congratulations on the pieces that did get published! It's a great accomplishment! Anyone here will tell you there are always a lot more rejections than acceptances in publishing. It's not a reflection on your talent.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: AJSchumacher on January 15, 2013, 10:39 AM
Hey Pawel!

If you're a beginner then you have absolutely nothing to worry about as your work will only get better, and it is quite nice now. I really enjoy the almost surreal, dreamlike style and color palettes you employ. I know there was some talk about the "lessening of the creep factor" these days but I really enjoy your work and think the PB industry is slightly sterile for making everything happy and bright. That's a different topic though...

I will second what everyone else here has said (they are all wonderful people to have critiquing you) and my observation of your work is that some of your expressions and particularly the action seems a little contrived and static. As you said, you spend hours carving details. This is a practice that can absolutely suck the life out of a drawing. The best example I can give is when Gretel is pushing the witch into the oven. First off, the perspective is odd as we're looking at the witch's bottom straight on but we're seeing Gretel from the side. More importantly it doesn't appear that Gretel is pushing at all. It seems as though she is simply standing there with her hands on the witch as the witch herself is laying in the oven. The action needs to be strongly implied especially in single images such as the one you've created. A great place to start would be studying the "line of action". Here is an example:

So my recommendations are to work on expressions and action. Work in a sketchbook, if you don't already, and focus on quick sketches. These tend to have far more vibrancy and life and can help get you in a less trapped and more spontaneous head space. Good luck and keep up the good work!
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Artemesia on January 15, 2013, 11:22 AM
I have noticed that there is a different level of acceptable scariness in European children's illustration. Pawel, are you publishing in Europe? In North America the styles tend to be more warm and fuzzy, but your style is very in line with other European children's illustrations I've seen.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 16, 2013, 01:12 AM
Thank you Alex. Until now i painted static images, so it is very difficult to draw the action. I will practice this with my sketchbook.
Artemesia: I published in Europe (Poland). I got the rough texts in the original version with "all cruelties". The text was published in the student book of the polish language.
Title: Re: Critique
Post by: Abracabarbara on January 17, 2013, 06:14 AM
Excellent comments from people here.

Have you looked at the work of Michael Hague? I think your work has similar qualities... both beautiful and highly detailed.

Have you considered illustrating for middle grade?

Title: Re: Critique
Post by: pjwasek on January 18, 2013, 01:28 AM
Thank you Barbara. I've never seen the work of Michael Hague. His paintings are very akin to my work. When i was a chilld i read books with very similar ones. Perhaps this is the reason i do my illustrations in this way.   

 If i had found the publisher, i would have illustrated for middle grade.