SCBWI Canada East Blog

April 28, 2015

5:44 PM 1

As the illustrators attending the upcoming Canada East conference work their preliminary sketches for the conference assignment, Peggy Collins posted some helpful tips for giving a good critique. I'm publishing them here because there's some really good advice:
1. Take your time and really look through all work submitted by illustrator. Sometimes it helps to look, then walk away and come back to it to give a good critique.

2. Be familiar with the text that goes with the illustration. This seems obvious, but sometimes the illustrator has a picked up on something teensy in the text that you may not have noticed. Being familiar with the text makes it easier to give an effective critique.

3. Avoid telling the illustrator what you would have done. This is their work, be mindful of that. In a critique we should be careful not to influence an idea, rather the focus should be on make sure the communication is clear.

4. We've all heard of the hamburger (or veggie burger method)... Well, that's because it works. You should always focus on what is working and why before exploring what might not be as effective. Follow that up with something else that is getting some positive attention.

5. If you are unclear about the intent of the illustration, asking for clarification in a respectful manner is ok. We are all working towards the same goal... Making our work the best it can be.

6. Keep it simple, kind and respectful.  Avoid too much feedback - keep it concise.

7. Read your critique to yourself, as if you were receiving it. If you would find it helpful then it is probably a good critique. If not, think about what might help you!

8. Critique is a give and take. If you submit work you must give thoughtful critiques to the other artists. Some people are really EXCELLENT at giving feedback, for some, it's a struggle. We are all in this together, and it's really helpful to hear everyone's feedback (because usually SOMETHING applies to us as well).

Questions to ask yourself about the work:

Do I understand what is happening in the illustration? What could be done to help clarify this if not?

Is there a clear direction in the piece? What do I see first, second... Third? Does this complement the text and add a deeper layer to the story while keeping the integrity of the text intact?

Are the characters consistent? Is there enough difference between the characters?

What is the strongest element of this piece?

What is it about the character that appeals to you? Can you define why?

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