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Critique Clinic – August 26-28, 2011

August 26, 2011

How does it work? For three days a week (Friday-Sunday midnight), I will open the clinic to any artist who wants an honest peer review and critique of a card which gets plenty of clicks but no sales, so something’s probably not quite right, or you’ve got a new design you want to test drive, or you’re unsure about the marketability of a card. Or perhaps you’re a newbie who isn’t sure if a recently submitted card is up to a marketable standard. Anyone is welcome to participate. In fact, I encourage everyone to at least look at the cards in question and read the critique comments – you may learn something. The purpose of the clinic is to help artists improve the commercial appeal and marketability of their cards.


  • ONE card per artist only.
  • Card must be for sale at Greeting Card Universe.
  • We will take an unlimited number of artists, including those who have submitted recently, HOWEVER I reserve the right to close a clinic for the day if the submissions become overwhelming. If the clinic has been closed, and you submit a card, your comment will be deleted.
  • To submit a card for critique,ย post a link to the card’s details page at GCUย in the comments section of this clinic post.
  • Any artist is free to comment and/or give a critique of a submitted card. HOWEVER, post-and-run comments like “great card” or “you suck” will not be tolerated, nor will abuse. Criticism should be constructive, not destructive. Play nice or you will be banned.
  • I also won’t tolerate temper tantrums if you decide your “artistic integrity” is being stepped on because you asked for a critique, and someone told you the photo you’re using isn’t in focus. If you can’t take honest criticism, don’t submit. Once gets you a warning; twice and you’re banned from submitting in the future.
  • Artists who critique may do so by giving their opinion, posting an example of another card, or pointing the submitter to a video, on-line article, or other helpful suggestion.
  • Don’t forget that artists who are giving you tips and helpful advice are volunteering their time and trouble. Be nice. A link back to their store on your website or blog is appreciated (but not mandatory).
  • You are free not to take any advice offered. There’s no guarantee any card will be a bestseller, so don’t come into the clinic with unrealistic expectations.
  • Rules may change as we go along and we see how things turn out, okay?

So without any further ado, I declare this week’s Critique Clinic open!

34 Comments leave one →
    • August 27, 2011 2:38 am

      Caryn … the link you’ve provided takes us to the page where we can modify the card. Please post the card link from your storefront. Go to the Sell this Card icon and then choose the top HTML and post it here.


  1. Lindsey permalink
    August 27, 2011 3:20 am

    Hi! this is a card that has just recently been approved and hasn’t had any clicks on yet. I even made a very descriptive Artist Notes part. Anything you would change about this card? Do you like the design?

    I appreciate the tips! thank you!


    • August 27, 2011 6:12 am

      It’s a cute idea, Lindsey, I’m just finding that your fairies seem a bit blurred, and they’re tending to blend into the busy background. The text is visible, though. It takes 3-6 months for new content to be indexed by search engines, so since your card is so recently approved, I wouldn’t expect to get clicks yet.


      • Lindsey permalink
        August 28, 2011 1:07 pm

        Hi there! Thanks for your critique! The butterflies that are kinda blurry are from a set of brushes that I had downloaded from a website. So I don’t know (if I can) change the way they bleed into the background. But the extent of bleeding (or fuzzy-like) outline varies depending on the fairy that you use. Essentially, As I was creating the design, I was trying to put every item on separate layers and then the whole thing appears more dream-like and magical and gives the design more depth.

        I really hope that its a good seller, because I love working with all the colour! I’ve uploaded a similar one to this but I think you might like it better because (I think) that everything in it has cleaner edges and I added a few more other brushes to the design. I’ll post it for you when it gets approved so you can critique it too:)

        Thanks for your help, I’ve never had a critique on my cards before!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Caryn permalink
      August 27, 2011 1:40 pm

      Cool card, Lindsey – yeah I agree with Corrie, the fairies do seem a bit blurred and blend – it took me a few to realize what they were – if you’re working in layers and the fairies are in another layer, maybe lighten the opacity of the background they are on so that they stand out more. I like how you varied the font – cool.

      • August 27, 2011 2:56 pm

        Well … that’s three of us ๐Ÿ™‚ This first thing I noticed was the blur on the fairies. It really IS a cute idea!

  2. August 27, 2011 7:26 am

    Here one… Get lots of clicks on my cards and few sales…Maybe it’s because my store is finally full with lots of cards … I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…

    Donna Collins

    • August 27, 2011 7:59 am

      Well, for the category you’ve chosen, there’s not the sort of festive quality you’d expect in the kid’s birthday card.

      You may have better luck re-purposing the card into category Invitations – Birthday Party for Kids – Princess. If so, you should add keywords like “princess party.”


    • Caryn permalink
      August 27, 2011 1:29 pm

      It’s really a cute card, Donna – at first glance looking at it… I thought she too much lipstick, can you make her lips thinner? It almost looked like a mustache – but she’s a cute princess.

  3. August 27, 2011 7:46 am

    New to GCU and this is my first approved card:

    Can you understand what I am trying to portray?

    Being a UK artist I don’t know what the American market expects with its cards. E.g. does the US market always require some text on the front? On the inside?

    Other questions:
    1. Does the image take up enough white space
    2. I love simple white background cards, but maybe the market does not
    3. Should I add a little butterfly – todate I only do happy flowers

    Any other tips with represent to my store in general?

    Many thanks for offering your advice


    • August 27, 2011 8:15 am

      In general, Paul, Americans like text on the inside of greeting cards, especially cards that serve a purpose such as this one (as opposed to all occasion, blank note cards).

      As to the card…your image is very sweet, I think it lacks a couple of things. I don’t think you need to add a butterfly, but have you considered doing something like putting the illustration in a white circle or box on a colored background? I’m not saying you SHOULD, just that it’s something to think about. Nothing wrong with a simple white background provided your illustration is strong enough.

      Now on to my suggestions…

      First, put text on the front of the card (Happiness Grows would be perfect, just be sure you use a font that matches the tone of your illustration), and that where you put the text makes a nice composition with the drawing.

      Second, you need to improve the title, which is very important to search engines. I’d use something like Sweet Daisies – New Baby Congratulations. Also add to your keywords: sweet, cute, new parents, infant.

      Lastly, improve your Artist’s Notes – this is another important place where you can incorporate many keyword phrases – i suggest something like, “Smiling white and yellow daisies gaze down in love at the smallest, sweetest member of their family – a cute newborn baby.”

      Why you should use Artist’s Notes for product descriptions has been discussed here before. These articles may help you:

      Artist’s Notes & Product Description:

      How to Write Product Descriptions


    • Caryn permalink
      August 27, 2011 1:35 pm

      It’s really a sweet card, Paul – I like Corrie’s idea of putting it in a circle, – a circle represents unity. Keep it simple – if you choose a background keep that simple and light, and keep the background outside the circle or enclosure so as not to compete with the cute illustration. Awwww really cute.

  4. Caryn permalink
    August 27, 2011 1:23 pm

    oops sorry, must have highlighted the link in the wrong tab.

    • August 27, 2011 2:18 pm

      Caryn, when you do this type of typography work, you have to be really careful with the composition. It’s pretty unforgiving. I see you’ve got quite a bit of irregular spacing. In addition, you shouldn’t have any text visible beneath the white rectangle. If you can fix these problems, your card will look more professional, and be more marketable.


      • Caryn permalink
        August 29, 2011 1:03 am

        Thanks for the advise Corrie, sorry it took me a while to respond. My family is in Rhode Island and I was a little consumed with what was going on.

        I will fix the card it is good advise.
        Thanks again

  5. Robin permalink
    August 27, 2011 2:53 pm

    • August 27, 2011 2:55 pm

      It’s a very sweet design, Robin. What did you need to know?


      • Robin permalink
        August 27, 2011 6:16 pm

        Tnak you Corrie,,
        Just wanted to know if you feel the background looks too busy??

      • August 27, 2011 6:39 pm

        Actually, no…I love the background. It’s not too “in your face” and I think it frames the central illustration very nicely.


  6. Robin permalink
    August 27, 2011 8:11 pm

    OK then I’ll leave it,, thank you for your input ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Bettie Watts permalink
    August 28, 2011 1:59 am

    I am sure if I did this link correctly. ing+card-665664?aid=142065#

    I don’t have many clicks on any of my cards. Do you think this is a waste of time for me or is there hope? Maybe I need a new style?Thank for your comments.

    • August 28, 2011 5:53 am

      Sorry, Bettie, that’s not a good link – it doesn’t take me to your card’s page. Just go to your card at GCU, copy the URL, and paste it here. That should do it.


    • Bettie Watts permalink
      August 30, 2011 7:30 pm

      I know this past week’s critique is over. I was hospitalized Sunday for chest pain,and didn’t get home until yesterday.But I wanted to go ahead and give you a link to a photo. This card has 330 clicks and no sales. ( I hope I have the link right this time.)

  8. Priyanka permalink
    August 28, 2011 3:29 am

    Hi Corrie, I have just started uploading some cards. This was my first card. It would be great if you can give some general comments on this and guidance for my future cards. Thank you very much.

    • August 28, 2011 5:57 am

      Priyanka, you realize the link you gave takes us to a page where we can alter your card? Just letting you know.

      As for the card itself…it’s a nice idea, however your photograph seems very warped, not clear at all, and extremely green. The matching green frame is too much. There’s nothing for the eye to focus on. And the font choice is OK for the occasion, just be careful when you’re using those curly, elaborate fonts that your text is readable.


      • Priyanka permalink
        August 28, 2011 4:13 pm

        Thanks Corrie for your comments. I will keep this in mind while making other cards. And will be careful with the link too.

    • August 28, 2011 3:22 pm

      Priyanka – I looked at your card via the PID
      Here’s a good link:

      Using filters in Photoshop and ‘like’ software such as Drybrush should be applied gently and used as a painter uses paint so that the outcome is unique and pleasant. It is a common mistake that’s made to use filters to hide the fact that its a cluttered photograph such as this one (or some use them to hide poor quality). If it helps here is an article where I explain in more detail about using these types of filters:

      Secondly, tinted photographs can be very nice, but rarely when in green or yellow. The naked eye does respond kindly to seeing the subjects that are not naturally green or yellow transformed into those tones. Blue works well sometimes for sympathy and winter; red & purples work sometimes for love and passion and sepia (if well done) works all the time.

      I hope these suggestions help you in your future creations!

      Doreen Erhardt

  9. Priyanka permalink
    August 28, 2011 4:16 pm

    Thank you Doreen. I like tinted photographs for their subtle nature compared to actual photograph. Will keep in mind your suggestions and will definitely go through your tips for using photoshop filters. Very helpful. Thank you very much.

  10. August 29, 2011 12:30 am

    Hello. I have a question about the photo cards and when the design element overlaps into the transparent photo area.

    In my card the leaves that go over the photo are a little lighter than the leaves that are simply on the frame. I don’t know if you’ll be able to tell, but trust me, they are. Lol. How are the rest of you illustrators making sure the parts that interact with the photo do not become lighter during the process of making that section transparent? I hope I’m asking the question so that it makes sense (I use PaintShop Pro 8, btw).

    It may or may not be a problem with this card (depending on what the happy couple thinks of it, I guess), but I’d like to know how to keep that from happening with future cards (I have another photo card where the overlapping part changed from light blue to light grey).

    Also, please critique the card, too. I hope the design works for the occasion I’m using it with (anniversary). ๐Ÿ™‚


    • August 29, 2011 5:47 am

      Sorry, Cindy, I can’t help you with technical advice – I use Photoshop exclusively, and I’ve never had the problem you describe.

      As for the card… it’s very colorful! I’d have chosen a different font and put it in white, but that’s just me. It seems ok as is.


      • August 29, 2011 7:36 pm

        Thanks, Corrie! ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate your feedback.


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