Monday, March 7, 2011

Portfolio Rebuild Part 1

OK I think this is the last update unless someone has anything glaring to critique I added the dark rocks on the lower left to solidify the composition, but kept it far enough away so there's room for text. Thanks for the suggestion, Matthew! I think this is the limit of my skill level at this point in time.  Please stay tuned for part 2 of my portfolio rebuild!! (I'm hoping to get 10 pieces by december 31st, then I'll be ready to beg some publishers to work with me) :) Thanks all for the help! If you have ANYTHING more to say, please critique. I may not post it up here, but I will still consider any suggestions. If anything, it will give me things to look out for in the future.

*OLD POST--------------------
 UPDATE!! Adding more darks (darker rocks) really helps! It feels more finished. I added more horse rump form, added an eye sparkle, and added the saturation back in. Does this look ok? Thanks again from the bottom of my heart for the helpful suggestions.

I'm rebuilding my children's book portfolio from the ground up this year. My portfolio last year lacked finesse and focus, and so, taking some constructive criticism from some people from the children's book illustration meetings, I've decided to completely redo my portfolio. Anyway, this is my first try since going to the meetings. Tell me, can you see this image in a children's book? What would you do to improve it?

and here's a bit of detail:

I'm really looking forward to hearing some constructive criticism.

With the few critiques I just got, thought I would try some quick changes to see how things read. Wow, flipping the image looks weird to me. Possibly because I'm so used to seeing it the way I had it originally. Does this look weird to you too? Also, I applied an auto-levels to the image. I worried before that the saturation makes it hard on the eyes, which is why i toned it down in photoshop. I have one of those stupid monitors that changes the value depending on the angle you're looking at it, So I'm never quite sure what you out there are seeing.
Thanks in advance,


Ted Blackman said...

This screams Tiffanny. Totally your style. I like the layout, it's just begging for text.
One thing: my first reaction was the color seemed a little muted. Do you scan your paintings and tweak them in PS? I know Charles Santore does that a lot with good results, plus it's fun as hell.

Marsha said...

Looking great Tiff! The action and composition are awesome. I agree with Ted about the color.

Also, This is not a rule but just a suggestion, in picture books the image flows better when it goes from left to right. Try flipping your image to see how it looks. The only reason why I mention this is because you are going to include text. Which makes it more like a double page spread in a picture book, not just a standalone illustration.

Michaele Razi said...

Love the movement and composition. Just gorgeous and sweet!

Ted Blackman said...

Playing with saturations and levels can be a delicate balance. I usually select certain areas I want to enhance because a lot of times the whole piece doesn't need it. In your case, I think that's true. There's a soft quality to your art that is your distinct style, so altering it can be tricky.

I flop my PS canvas all the time while I'm working, because I want to see my art in a fresh way, which makes any mistakes apparent so that I can correct them. I think you're right, though, the flopped version of your painting doesn't look as right, does it? I haven't a clue why.

tiffannysketchbook said...

Ted - Yeah... and auto-levels just doesn't cut it. I think I will try cutting the foreground and background out and adjust them separately. Whew. Building a portfolio is hard!

Matthew Gauvin said...

This is exciting! I have a few suggestions. First,Please realize that every time I look back at a previous book I did I see a gazillion things that I wish I could go back and fix. So I feel mty work often has many more things to be fixed than anything I mention for yours : ) I've only worked with self publisher so far, so I am also looking forward to one day working with brick and mortar publishers and art directors. I finally feel after my sixth self published book that I have grown enough in my art to start sending samples to art directors again. I see your work and see you have a natural talent and wonderfull quality to your art that children would love!
Enough of that, now for some helpfull (hopefully) critique. The bolders almost read as clouds as they are too white. Overall the colors are a bit desaturated as mentioned. You could use some bolder greens in the foreground grass and even a bolder blue for the sky would be great. The horse is great overall but maybe it could use a bit more attention on the rump putting in a slightyl darker brown around the edge fo teh rump that softly transitions inwards like you've done on the lifted front leg. I think that would round the form. Also maybe a slight sparkle int he horses eye. Just my thoughts. I seriously love your style and the softness and colors but with children's books things tend to print differently than the original so it's often best to go a bit more saturated than what you have. I also agree with the left to right thing but don't think the boosted contrast version reads as well.

tiffannysketchbook said...

Matthew, great suggestions. Tomorrow I have a museum trip planned but I will try desperately to make all the suggested changes tonight. Then maybe we can go though another round of critiquing.

Drawing and painting for a living seems like such an unattainable dream, but with people helping me out, I believe that I can someday do it! So thank you all for your suggestions!

Marsha said...

I just asked my boyfriend about the color issue and this is what he had to say: "If you have a recent version of Photoshop like CS5 try using the Image->Adjustments->Vibrance. If you adjust Vibrance it allows you to bump up the color without to badly affecting the tonal range."

Here's a relevant link: Digital Photography School

Also, yah your painting looks weird flipped. Leave it the way it was before, no biggie.

Sadami said...

Dear Tiffanny,
My say sounds not helpful for a person seeking advice, but I dare to tell, "Listen to your heart." Technically, putting too much info in watercolor makes a mess up. I always tell myself, "(input info)The lesser/the simpler, the better," and "Painting is not explanation." Tiffanny, you're the boss!!!
Best wishes, Sadami

Matthew Gauvin said...

Looks amazing!!! I'm wracking my brain trying to see other things that may improve it a bit. The left side of the image seems like it could use something but I can't think of anything to add especially since it's watercolor. I was thinkig maybe birds in the sky,maybe a couple more detailed flowers up close,maybe a butterfly. I don't know. I think if I was at this stage of an image and felt I wanted to add something I would try a few things in photoshop to see what might look best and decide if the image really needs it. You want to leave room for text of course.hmmmm

wren said...

These are absolutely lovely.

coNs Oroza said...

I actually like it better without the autolevels :D Much more natural.

tiffannysketchbook said...

Everyone, my deepest thanks. A FIRM HANDSHAKE TO YOU ALL. I am so happy you all took an interest in my scary portfolio rebuild. Having all your eyes on it helps. It may still not be perfect but it's definitely improved.

THANKS AGAIN! SINCERELY! If I hit the lotto I wont forget you all!

Matthew Gauvin said...

Tiffany teh rock is the perfect addition! Balances the composition nicely. SO eager to see the new Illustrations.