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Critique Clinic – April 19-21, 2013

April 19, 2013

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 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 intended for sale at Greeting Card Universe.
  • To submit a card for critique, post a link to the card at GCU in the comments section of this clinic post. Allowances will be made if you’ve had a card declined, or made a new design you’d like advice on before submission. Give us the link where we can see the card, such as your private gallery, Flickr, Tinypic, etc. If you do give a private gallery link, be sure your private module gallery is ON. Please do not post links to your Manage Cards section – do you really want strangers tinkering with your cards? And please don’t ask us to critique a card that’s pending review – we can’t see it until it’s approved.
  • 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!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    April 19, 2013 12:29 pm

    I’ll toss this one out there for help. No sales at all and not sure what to do. This card did go through a couple different versions already and I’m ready to either remove it or see what else to do to tweak it. Font seems to be questionable to me at this point.

    • April 19, 2013 1:09 pm

      It’s very stark, isn’t it – the square flower photo, the square solid block of yellow color, the black lines of text … if the photo isn’t big enough to cover the card, consider turning your design portrait rather than landscape, make the whole background a nice color that contrasts with the tulip and put a pattern in it, center the photo (make smaller if necessary), be sure to outline it with some subtlety, and choose a less formal font. The photographers might have more advice re: the photo.


    • April 19, 2013 2:49 pm

      Hi Donna,

      I agree with Corrie on her advice to turn the card portrait. As a horizontal card there just is too much yellow space and the font is too formal, as well as too big. So visually, the viewer can not take their eye off the large yellow patch because it’s competing too fiercely with the photograph. If you can, think about increasing the saturation of the yellow tulip a bit to help it pop, then consider something like this to show off the photo and let it pop off the card. Choose a better font or font combination and you’ll have a whole new card.

      Something like this:


  2. Delores Knowles permalink
    April 20, 2013 1:00 pm

    This is one of my declined cards made for pet sympathy.. I like the image and would like to rework it. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Reason for decline: Your card is being declined for COMPOSITION – Unprofessional. Specifically the blending and harmonizing of the layout and elements making up the design.

    • April 20, 2013 1:11 pm

      When you cut animals out of a photograph, it’s obvious you’ve simply cut the animal out of the photo and pasted it on a background with no attempt to blend it into your design. The reviewers are right: it’s not a professional look. I’m afraid your background is also too dark and makes your front of card text almost invisible. You may find help here:

      I’m sure a professional photographer might have more advice.


      • Donna permalink
        April 20, 2013 1:15 pm

        I’d be very interested in how to better accomplish this myself. I’ve done similar type cards cutting out the backgrounds in order to remove distracting elements that would otherwise classify the card as a snapshot.

        Beautiful verse, however.

    • April 20, 2013 3:24 pm

      Hi Delores – Corrie nailed the blending issue. There are two very critical steps to creating imagery using elements from other photographs. One: Choosing from a photograph that has enough of the ‘element’ (in this case cat) to work with and Two: Blend that element into the new background to give a seamless appearance. Corrie offered this which gives links to tutorials on blending this type of imagery:

      In the case of your pretty kitty. The shoulder jutting out on the left hand side is unnatural because you don’t give us the opportunity to see enough of the cat. Many times we just can’t cut out all the distractions in an image without cutting out so much that we leave odd angles, such as the shoulder. In addition, the right side of the cat where a soft brush was used along the edge to remove the background blends better than the right side and head which look like a hard-tipped brush was used, leaving an unfinished look with hard edges.

      I hope that helped enough to get you started learning some new techniques 🙂


      • Delores Knowles permalink
        April 20, 2013 4:11 pm

        Thanks so much. I think I will take the image and start from scratch and see if I can do a better job.

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