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Critique Clinic – September 30-October 2, 2011

September 30, 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, post a link to the card at GCU 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!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    October 1, 2011 12:31 pm

    with Halloween fast approaching, I know this one will probably not make it. This design has had little exposure and I’d like to work on fixing it up and making it more attractive. Granted, it was one of my first attempts at painting a card in Photoshop so it is a bit rough. Adjustment of this design will help improve several other cards I’ve done so I’d appreciate your assistance in making it nicer if I can or helping me decide to scrap it and start over.

  2. October 1, 2011 1:03 pm

    I had a look at your card… not bad for a first effort, but as you’ve already said, it needs work. One of the things that struck me is the blurriness of the ghosts and pumpkins – I wondered if I was having trouble focusing my vision. The effect is made worse by the moon, which is clear as a bell. And there’s not enough contrast between the red text and the black background.Perhaps if you outlined the text in white? I’m not sure.


  3. October 1, 2011 2:03 pm

    Hi Donna, I like your idea but I feel there is way too much going on. It is hard to focus on it as an overall design.Maybe just keep the ghosts and one set of eyes. I would leave the pumpkin and moon out. I also think the photo moon doesn’t coordinate with the cartoon elements.I agree with Corrie about the text blending in too much.

  4. Donna Lorello permalink
    October 1, 2011 2:24 pm

    Yeah, I know the moon has to go or I have to do a cartoon version of it – that was first on my list after learning about mixing elements together. The text I should be able to outline or I’ll try lightening it up or using a different color. With the ghosts, I was trying to give them that luminescent sort of look but I see how that is a problem. Let me work on this and see if I can post a new version for opinions.

    Thanks to both of you!!

  5. Donna permalink
    October 1, 2011 5:01 pm

    ok I’ve redone the card. I’ve changed the background to a midnight blue, added fog and a couple dead trees and reduced the opacity to 40% so they are but shadows in the darkness and keep focus on the three ghosts. I kept to the idea of odd numbers so all three ghosts are back, repositioned a bit and cleaned up substantially. Moon and eyes are all gone and I’ve added a new text using red (font is called Horrormaster).

    Please let me know what you think. If this is better, I’ll change out all the other cards I made using this image.

    • October 1, 2011 5:27 pm

      Hi Donna,

      First time tuning into this card, so I’m seeing your rework . . . nicely done. At this point what I would suggest is that rather than red text you stick to more traditional orange since your background isn’t black – that would give it just a hint more Halloween feel in my opinion.

  6. Donna Lorello permalink
    October 1, 2011 5:42 pm

    Hi Doreen…

    to give you a feel for the before and after… here’s a link to another card that uses the same image

    I can certainly change the color of the text… please advise if any other things in the new design hit your eye that need adjusting.

  7. October 2, 2011 3:02 am

    Hi Donna,
    I’m late to popping in over here, too, so I’m glad you posted this one so we could see it. I actually love the blurry ghosts, but I think the pumpkin should be sharp. I agree that the moon and eyes just clutter the scene; and maybe change the color of the text to purple, orange or green (although I prefer the text style of this second one rather than what you changed the first one to). I’d also take out the little “Boo” because I don’t feel it adds much.


    • Donna Lorello permalink
      October 2, 2011 12:25 pm

      unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate that drippy text… maybe someone knows where to find something like it… when my other computer died, I was not able to back up my fonts so I lost some fun ones… that particular one included. I found one that’s close but when I put it on the card it looked funny so that’s why I went with the Horrormaster one – it’s simpler but has the same feel to it. I too liked the blurry ghosts – gave them that nether-world sort of look but the newer versions are nice too… I’ll try working on the pumpkin and maybe use him and two ghosts for another card. Again, these were first efforts in digital drawing.

  8. October 2, 2011 3:12 am

    Okay, tell me what you think of this as a photo card AND as a ‘save the date’ card. I think this is my first ‘save the date’ card and I’m not sure if my inside text is sufficient. I figured if a buyer is going to change the date they might just as well change the text, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to come up with something with more substance if it was going to be deleted anyhow. Lol.


    • October 2, 2011 6:33 am

      I like the idea, it’s very cute! I’m not sure what other inside verse you could use, since most of the info is personal to the shopper (names, date, etc).


    • Donna Lorello permalink
      October 2, 2011 12:26 pm

      I like it – it’s simple and I agree that the inside verse is probably best left to the buyer.

  9. October 2, 2011 2:50 pm

    I really like the simplicity of this Cindy. Very colorful and fun.

    • October 2, 2011 4:56 pm

      Yay! No changes needed! 🙂 That’s super because I’ve got a lot going on this weekend and probably wouldn’t have been able to make many changes till later in the week anyhow.

      Thanks, everyone! 🙂

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