Thursday, May 06, 2010

Taking Advice From Your Peers

Typically what I do when I finish an image is post it on Facebook. I have a wonderful peer group of illustrators and cartoonists on Facebook who often have things to say about the image. Some of these things are helpful, some less so, and it's important to discriminate between what will work for you and what won't. It's easy to get distracted by too much feedback and lose track of what's important to you, and with this image, after a number of conflicting opinions, I started to lose sight of what was working and what wasn't. So I gave it a couple of days. During this time I had a lot of conflicting emotions to go along with so many conflicting opinions: how dare someone say so-and-so, and are they right? At this point its easier and more appealing to go along with the people who say it's a great image and I shouldn't change a thing. So I stepped back and took what I reasonably could from the experience.

Some of the criticisms were subjective and more about the emotional content of the image, and there's not much I can do with these aside from starting from scratch and making a new image. I also didn't agree entirely with some of these assessments, and though in the end I could be wrong, all I can really do is go with my intuition.

One piece of advice I was able to take and reasonably act on was the length of her legs. In the panel where she is skating, and in the final panel, her legs were quite a bit shorter than they were in the panel where she's tying her shoes. So with the magic of photoshop, I was able to lengthen her legs. This is where it becomes valuable to keep everything on a different layer. I was able to stretch and distort the line art by itself, making the legs longer and the feet a little bigger to match the earlier image. Since the first foot in the skating image is foreshortened, I was able to keep it the same: a smaller foot and a foreshortened leg compared to the full profile leg and larger foot in the foreground. Before this both feet were the same size, but on the same plane, but now since one is in the further in the foreground this distortion makes sense. After this I was able to stretch the color as well, rather than to recolor it, fussing around with it until it fit.

Next I added a shadow under the image where she's tying her shoes. Before she looked like she was floating a little, and this served to ground her butt more firmly onto the ice.

Lastly, I lengthened the legs on the small figure making the snow angel. This one is probably the least "on model" but I feel it makes sense in the image, much smaller and a little more cartoony than the other figures.

So here's the finished (I hope) image, after all of these changes:


  1. Jed really love this series especially the bear and the snow...very light.

  2. Thanks Sheau. It's interesting that people keep referring to this as a series, which I guess it is--maybe it's my background in comics but I see this as all one image.

  3. Very lively little sequence.

  4. Very pretty, in the good sense. Lots of character overall.

    The child doesn't look like just the run-of-the-mill cutesie-poo.