“The other hatchlings gobbled their meals. Pip preferred to taste his fish.”

 Hi everybody! This is my first time posting for critique on the blog. I am in the early stages of a picture book starring Pip, the penguin at the right in the illustration. I sketched this image for my first set of thumbnails. Since then, the story has shifted—as stories often do—so the scene will no longer be part of the book. But I grew fond of this picture, so I thought I’d make it for my Facebook Timeline cover photo. (The cover photo dimensions are wider than they are tall, which is why I included extra snow in the middle.)

My favorite medium is cut paper collage. For this illustration, I mostly used your run-of-the-mill scrapbook paper and cardstock with a bit of the “good stuff” (a.k.a., Japanese Yuzen Paper from Paper Source) on the fishtails and fin. The snow is a plain white rice paper set on a blank sheet of watercolor paper.

 I’d love to know what you think. Thanks for looking!


10 responses »

  1. Beautiful texture, and composition. I like the story snip… ‘and then what?’.

    Like others, I did have to study it longer than your common pic book page turn to figure out what I was seeing. And as John mentioned, seeing your series in context would probably make a lot of difference. I wish kids were exposed to more fine art experiences/approaches- and your interp definitely is sophisticated!

  2. I love all the different kinds of paper you use–it adds such nice texture. I had a look on your website. I think my favorite was the bat. Also the first in the Launch series–it has a wonderful expressiveness with a very simple composition. The moon is very far away, and he has such a wistful pose. Well done!

  3. It also took me a moment to figure out what I was looking at. Until I read the line, I didn’t know that they were hatchlings. And until I read the paragraph describing it, I wasn’t sure what sort of hatchling it was. One thing that bugged me a little was that I thought penguin hatchlings were light grey. The kind from March of the Penguins are, anyway. But, it’s art, so it doesn’t have to be literal.

    It’s an attractive, well-balanced piece. As artwork, it’s very nice. But as an illustration, I’m not sure it illustrates the text very well. I get the already-eaten fish that the other penguins scarfed down, but the picture of Pip doesn’t say savoring to me. It looks like he’s very happy and excited to have a fish. “Behold my FISH!” It might have been better to show him nibbling delicately at his fish while the other penguins are tossing theirs into the air into their mouths.

    Also, it may not matter in the story at all. But penguins just swallow fish whole. They don’t remove the flesh from the bone. So, no bones like that. It is a good way to show the concept of fish already eaten. But if the actual method of eating matters in the story, that might look inconsistent later. However, if the detail doesn’t play a role in the story, or if they are eating off a plate or something, then it’s fine.

    Also, you might want to think about color choice. If the story’s about penguins, that’s going to be a lot of black and white. You might want to consider adding a splash of color where you can to make things more interesting. In this one, I’d have liked to see that fish be more colorful. It would help with the idea that this is one great fish. Maybe make it a rainbow trout or something bright green? (Okay, yeah, I have no idea what types of fish penguins actually eat) Even keeping the tones very somber, I’d suggest that you should work to make sure you have a good range of shades in the piece. The penguins are very dark, the background white, the fish should probably be lighter. More of a middle grey (or middle greyish-blue) than the dark grey-blue that this is.

    Layout. Where were you planning the text to appear on the spread? The first sentence on the left and the second on the right (both in the white space)? Centered midway down the page? Or at the bottom under the illustration?

    Okay, I’m done tearing your work apart now. 🙂 It really is a pretty piece. I see why you’re proud of it. 🙂

  4. Hi Priscilla! I love cut paper collage like this. It’s adorable! I wonder if you’d be interested in sharing another illustration from this story? I had to study this illustration for a moment to understand what I was seeing due to the looking-down-from-above POV but once I got it, I completely got it. I think that would not have been an issue had I seen another illustration from the story with a different POV previous to seeing this one. Love the paper choice for the fishtails and fins.

    Very cute! Also it makes me want fish for dinner, but I’d probably be a gobbler not a taster.

    • Thanks for your feedback, John! It’s helpful for me to know that it took you a moment to interpret the scene. I can certainly make my POVs clearer in the future.

      I don’t have any other finished illustrations from the story since I’m just about to start on the dummy, but here are some collages from my first encounter with Pip:

      I’m a gobbler, too. But my brother is a taster. The original character was based, in part, on him. 🙂


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