During the "First Impressions" portion of the SCBWI event, "The Big Picture of LIttle Lit," three of my more recent collage illustrations were reviewed by two art directors, Scott Magoon of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books and Susan Sherman of Charlesbridge Publishing.
They both had some very encouraging words about the images as well as constructive suggestions to improve them.
I've attempted to make those improvements digitally as a way of testing out various solutions before pulling apart the collages to make the final art.
The above image was seen as too cluttered with foliage and point of the illustration unclear. (By way of background, this image is one of three I created as an exercise. Each image focuses on a Viking girl who discovers a dragon's egg hatching and befriends the hatchling. There's no actual story...yet! Also, Scott and Susan thought the twist of the blond girl's neck was too awkward.
Here I reduced the foliage around the window to focus the eye into the window. I darkened the background of the window to give more contrast to the two figures. Also, I adjusted the blond girl's arm, neck and hand to seem more natural in addition to taming down the texture in her face. I also played with the edge of the image mostly just for fun. I think I need to keep working on the revision.....there is still too much green!
They liked this image but suggested that I remove the tiny section of text visible to the right of the nest (it is the label part of the old manila folder I used in the collage). They also suggested that I tone down the figure's cheeks as they are distracting.
Here's the revised image! I think the revisions help the viewer (or at least me) focus on the scene at hand without so much visual noise.